Red Sox 8, Pirates 8. Box.
Pittsburgh  110 030 030 -  8  13  1
Boston 010 041 020 - 8 12 0
Adam Hyzdu's two-run single in the eighth inning salvaged a tie with Pittsburgh. Boston erased a 5-1 deficit in the fifth on David Ortiz's two-run single and Ellis Burks's two-run homer. The Pirates retook the lead in the top of the eighth, on Humberto Cota's homer and Chris Stynes' RBI single. ... Bronson Arroyo allowed two runs and five hits in four innings. Relievers Keith Foulke (1 inning, 3 hits, 3 runs) and Scott Williamson (1 inning, 4 hits, 3 runs) did not do well.
Nomar On DL -- Out Till Early May. Nomar Garciaparra was placed on the disabled list today and will rest his right Achilles tendon for the next three weeks. If everything goes right, Garciaparra could begin a minor league rehab assignment and be back on Boston's roster by the beginning of May.

Ramiro Mendoza made his third appearance of the spring against Toronto. He needed only four pitches to get through a perfect 4th inning, then allowed three runs and three hits in the fifth. Terry Francona said Mendoza is healthy enough to break camp with the team. Mendoza: "Last year, I had a problem with my arm and I couldn't throw my sinker, but this year my arm is good. I'm throwing my sinker good and my changeup is nasty. ... I don't want to stay here [Florida]. I want to go with the team." ... Boston optioned left-handed pitcher Mark Malaska to Pawtucket.

On Pedro's way to the clubhouse after his outing yesterday, Martinez "noticed a couple young boys reaching over the fence with baseballs to autograph. Martinez took his off his cap and placed it on one youngster's head." Francona: "I'll be very excited to watch him pitch Sunday night, and then the next Saturday. He's going to be fine. What's the word, aberration? I think that's a [expletive] good word. Put that one down. Don't be missing words like that. I'm not sure what it means, but get it in there."

Dave Wallace: "It sounds crazy, but I think [Pedro's] stuff was a little better than it's been. He just didn't execute some pitches. Sometimes, he gets a little too fast [in his delivery] and ends up pulling the ball through the strike zone. He might have been anxious to get through his last [spring] start. He warmed up as good as he has all spring."

Robert Cremins, a former Boston Red Sox pitcher who in his first big league appearance had to face Babe Ruth, died Saturday at age 98. Cremins made his debut against the Yankees on August 17, 1927. Ruth was the first batter he faced and Cremins retired him on a grounder to first base. He appeared in three more games for the Red Sox and left baseball the following year.
Sweeping The Dust Of The Dead Under The Rug. There can be no doubt now. The 9/11 Commission is a sham. It is a pure political whitewash; it is obscene theater; and it is a disgrace to the memory of the nearly 3,000 people murdered on September 11, 2001 (and the tens of thousands they left behind).

"Under the agreement announced Tuesday, Ms. Rice will testify before the commission as early as next week. In exchange for her appearance, the panel agreed not to seek testimony from other White House aides at public hearings, although it can continue to question them in private. Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney will not testify under oath. But they will submit to a joint, private interview with all 10 members of the commission, with what commission officials said was no predetermined time limit."

Regarding the Cheney-Bush meeting, there will be no audio, no video and no transcript. A staff person will be allowed to scribble notes. ... Why would the White House demand that Cheney and Bush testify as a team? TPM: "[T]his is simply another way to further dilute the Commission's ability to ask questions. If, say, the meeting lasts three hours, that's three hours to ask questions of both of them rather than three hours to ask questions of each -- as might be the case in separate meetings. ... Explanation number two would be that this is a fairly elementary -- and, one imagines, pretty effective -- way to keep the two of them from giving contradictory answers to the Commission's questions. It helps them keep their stories straight. ... The third explanation is that the White House does not trust the president to be alone with the Commission members for any great length of time without getting himself into trouble, either by contradicting what his staff says, or getting some key point wrong, or letting some key fact slip. And Cheney's there to make sure nothing goes wrong."

And this Commission has the gall to still call itself "independent."


It Doesn't Count. Pedro Martinez's line was ugly: 3 innings, 8 hits, 6 runs, 84 pitches. Martinez threw 46 pitches in the first inning, when Toronto scored six runs. Yet Dave Wallace, Terry Francona and Jason Varitek all had good things to say. Pedro: "I'm fine. It's the best I've felt all spring. I got my pitches in. It's Spring Training. The results don't matter." ... The Blue Jays feed was allegedly available online, but because MLB is MLB, I was unable to get the broadcast. ... So I have no idea what's up with Pedro. I guess we'll all find out on Sunday night.
Blue Jays 13, Red Sox 8. Pedro gets put six runs under in the first inning.
Boston   000 130 031 -   8 11 1
Toronto 600 031 03x - 13 17 1
Derek Lowe believes that "it's a hundred percent clear" the Red Sox will not sign him before Opening Day and judging from what he termed an unacceptable offer two weeks ago, he will likely become a free agent at the end of this season. "From a positive side, they've made it easy. ... All indications are that we may not talk until the end of the year."

Nomar is still in pain. Neither Garciaparra nor Bill Mueller will go to Atlanta for exhibition games this Friday and Saturday. Some reports say Mueller will be ready on Sunday and others say he is questionable. ... Boston will start the season with Pokey Reese at shortstop and Mark Bellhorn at second. David Ortiz will bat cleanup.

Pedro Martinez said he doesn't intend to speak with the media following his final spring start against Toronto today. He indicated he was insulted by reporters questioning his fastball velocity -- but he will speak after his Opening Day start. ... Trot Nixon is off to the University of Miami Spine Institute for an intensive two-week rehab program. ... Alex Speier takes a close look at Jason Varitek.

Idiots Abound: Newsday's Steve Zipay was in Boston yesterday, and after listening to sports radio for a few hours, he thinks he found the pulse of Red Sox Nation. We're "worried about the Boston offense and beyond that, the 2005 season" and "the sense of approaching dread remains."

Following up on an article in last weekend's Globe, Bruce Allen correctly notes that it's not Red Sox fans who will be lost when the team finally wins it all, it will be the media. "They will have no more 'curse' angle and story to fall back on and write about. ... [That] gravy train will have left the station. While Red Sox fans are celebrating and enjoying the thrill of victory, Shaughnessy, Littlefield and co-horts will be wondering what in the world are they going to write about now."
Predictions, Part 4. From the New York Daily News: Bill Madden, John Harper, Anthony McCarron, Vic Ziegel, Sam Borden, Bill Gallo, Adam Rubin and Mighty Quinn (my previous prediction posts: 1, 2 and 3):
              Madden    Harper     McCarron   Ziegel
AL EAST Yankees Yankees Yankees Yankees
AL CENTRAL Royals Twins Royals Royals
AL WEST Angels Angels Mariners Angels
AL WILD CARD Mariners Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox
AL CHAMP Angels Red Sox Yankees Yankees

NL EAST Phillies Phillies Phillies Marlins
NL CENTRAL Cubs Cubs Cubs Astros
NL WEST Giants Giants Giants Giants
NL WILD CARD Marlins Astros Astros Cubs
NL CHAMP Cubs Cubs Phillies Astros

WORLD CHAMP Cubs Red Sox Yankees Astros

AL MVP Delgado A-Rod A-Rod A-Rod
NL MVP Pujols Thome Berkman Pujols
AL CY YOUNG Mussina Pedro Pedro Pedro
NL CY YOUNG Wood Prior RJohnson Pettitte
              Borden    Gallo      Rubin      Quinn
AL EAST Yankees Yankees Yankees Red Sox
AL CENTRAL Royals Royals Royals White Sox
AL WEST Angels Angels Angels Angels
AL WILD CARD Red Sox Red Sox Red Sox Yankees
AL CHAMP Red Sox Yankees Yankees Red Sox

NL EAST Phillies Atlanta Phillies Atlanta
NL CENTRAL Cubs Cardinals Cubs Cubs
NL WEST Giants Giants Giants Giants
NL WILD CARD Astros Cubs Astros Phillies
NL CHAMP Phillies Cardinals Cubs Cubs

WORLD CHAMP Red Sox Cardinals Cubs Cubs

AL MVP A-Rod Jeter Guerrero Nomar
NL MVP Thome Pujols Thome Sosa
AL CY YOUNG Mussina Schilling Schilling Pedro
NL CY YOUNG Wood Prior Trachsel Prior
Steve Trachsel for NL Cy Young?!?!? ... Madden also predicts the standings:
Yankees    99  63  
Red Sox 89 73
Blue Jays 87 75
Orioles 81 81
Devil Rays 71 91
He also has the Royals winning the Central by 6 games over the White Sox and the Angels edging out the A's by 3 games. In the NL, the Phillies top Florida by 4 games, the Cubs (with 101 wins) waltz past the Astros by 10 games and the Giants finish five games ahead of Arizona.
Trying To Cut A Deal. Condoleezza Rice will testify in public and under oath before 9/11 Commission, as the White House has reversed its position (i.e., flip-flopped) that she was prevented from doing so by executive privilege. The White House is willing to allow George Bush and Dick Cheney to testify in private (not under oath) before all 10 commission members (they had previously said they would appear only before the chairman and co-chairman).

If Rice testifies, the pressure to have Bush do the same will increase -- and that is probably the White House's worst nightmare. It looks like the administration is trying to fashion some type of deal (a plea bargain?) that if Rice talks, the Commission will ease up on Bush and Cheney. Under this scenario, Bush wouldn't be questioned alone. Cheney will hold his hand and probably spend half of his time saying some variation of: "Uh, what George really means is ..."

From the text of the White House's letter to the Commission: "As we discussed last night, the president is prepared, subject to the conditions set forth below, to agree to the request of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States for public testimony, under oath, by the assistant to the president for national security affairs, Dr. Condoleezza Rice. ... The necessary conditions are as follows. First, the commission must agree in writing that Dr. Rice's testimony before the commission does not set any precedent for future commission requests, or requests in any other context, for testimony by a national security adviser or any other White House official. Second, the commission must agree in writing that it will not request additional public testimony from any White House official, including Dr. Rice. ..."

This is pure 100% horseshit. When the Commission decides to accept or reject these conditions -- and I can't believe they are even considering them -- one important question will be answered: Who is in charge of this "independent" commission?
Good Morning Tokyo. The Yankees won't finish the season in last place (darn!), but that's where they are now. Mussina held a 3-2 lead, but began the 6th by allowing a home run and 3 consecutive doubles. Tampa Bay 8-3.
            W    L   PCT.   GB
Tampa Bay 1 0 1.000 --
Boston 0 0 .000 .5
Toronto 0 0 .000 .5
Baltimore 0 0 .000 .5
New York 0 1 .000 1


Red Sox 8, Orioles 3. Box.
Baltimore  000 120 000 - 3  4  0 
Boston 070 100 00x - 8 9 1
In six innings, Tim Wakefield allowed two runs, struck out four and walked none. He will make one more start before the season begins -- an exhibition game in Atlanta. Johnny Damon, Kevin Millar and David Ortiz hit home runs.

On Sunday, instead of making the 2:45 drive from Fort Myers to Jupiter, Derek Lowe chartered a private jet, taking Millar, Jason Varitek, Gabe Kapler, Brian Daubach and Alan Embree with him. Time of the flight? 19 minutes. ... Good news: Lowe has that sinking feeling. ... Pedro Martinez is slated for 85-90 pitches against Toronto on Tuesday; Ramiro Mendoza will pitch two innings of relief. ... Bill Mueller will be ready by Sunday. ... Damon flies under the radar. ... Palm Beach Post: 60 Seconds with Kevin Millar.

EE News: Kenny Lofton will begin the season batting ninth, not first. Torre: "He wasn't happy." ... From the Daily News: Striking back at the Empire and Yankees-Red Sox getting bitter by the season (Jeter: "Unless it's just brawls every single game we play, I can't see it being any more intense than last year.")
Whatchoo Talkin' 'bout, Clarke? From Fark.


Marlins 4, Red Sox 0. Recap/box here and some pitch-by-pitch here.
Boston   000 000 000 -  0  3  1
Florida 010 001 20x - 4 7 1
Derek Lowe gave up three runs on four hits in seven innings; he threw 88 pitches, striking out two and walking one. ... David McCarty extended his hitting streak to eight games with two singles. Boston's only other hit came from Kevin Millar.
The Boys Of Summer Are Coming! Kevin Millar had a running diary last season at redsox.com. His first installment for 2004 is chock-full of cliches and it's here:

"I remember that last year I was one of the new guys and didn't really understand what it was like to play in Boston. I was just talking to Pokey and explaining it to him. He doesn't understand what he's about to experience. It's the most unbelievable thing in baseball, to play for the Red Sox and experience that atmosphere every night. ... Even a guy like Schilling, who played in Philly and won a World Series in Arizona, never experienced an atmosphere like you have playing in Boston. ... Opening Night is almost here, and we can't wait. This is the game, man, it's going to be on ESPN. The boys of summer are getting ready to go at it."
Let's Declassify All Of It. On Meet the Press this morning, Richard Clarke was asked if there was any inconsistency between his testimony before the 9/11 Commission and his statements two years ago before the congressional committee.

"No, there isn't. And I would welcome it being declassified, but not just a little line here or there. Let's declassify all six hours of my testimony. ... And I want more declassified. I want Dr. Rice's testimony before the 9/11 Commission declassified ... Let's declassify that memo I sent on January 25th [2001] and let's declassify the national security directive that Dr. Rice's committee approved nine months later on September 4th, and let's see if there's any difference between those two, because there isn't. ... [T]hey're basically the same thing and they wasted months when we could have had some action. ...

"[L]et's go further. The White House is selectively now finding my e-mails, which I would have assumed were covered by some privacy regulations, and selectively leaking them to the press. Let's take all of my e-mails and all of the memos that I've sent to the national security adviser and her deputy from January 20 to September 11 and let's declassify all of it. ... As well as her responses."

Clarke wants everything out in the open. Rice (who this week changed her nearly-two-year-old story about being clueless about "planes used as missles") says she'll talk but only if it's behind closed doors and not under oath. Who sounds more credible? One side wants the world to know what happened; one side does not. ... The question becomes: Why do they want to keep everything secret?
More on King/O'Nan Red Sox Book. "It began as an email exchange last summer. ... [Now Stewart O'Nan and Stephen King,] lifelong Red Sox addicts, will chronicle the season from spring training and Opening Day through to the highly anticipated events of the fall, in a hardcover book that Scribner will publish in late 2004. They'll go to some games together and each will keep a diary. They'll argue or agree about plays and trades, and the result will be a fan's notes for the ages."
Completely Ready. Has a pitcher ever thrown a complete game in spring training? It crossed Curt Schilling's mind yesterday. "I've gone eight in a spring training game before and had I made some better pitches early in the game today, I could have stretched it out that far." ... He threw 112 pitches in 6.1 innings (Herald and Globe say 108). In his 21.2 spring innings, he has 21 strikeouts and a 2.08 ERA. "Physically, I feel like I'm throwing the ball as good if not better than I've thrown it in the last five years with all my pitches."

Latest Nomar news: inflammation persists. Players must sit out at least the first six days of the season if they are placed on the disabled list retroactive to spring training, so Garciaparra will likely return no earlier than April 10. ... Nomar's absense means Cesar Crespo, who leads the team with 18 hits, has a chance to make the team. ... Trot Nixon travels to Miami for an extensive rehab program with the specialist who worked with Vladimir Guerrero last summer. ... A chat with Doug Mirabelli. ... The Fort Myers News-Press on 3B Gabe Kapler. ... David Ortiz smacked two doubles Saturday, giving him 11 extra-base hits this spring. ... Derek Lowe makes his final spring start today against the Florida Marlins.

From the Herald: "A Fort Myers TV station reported Friday night that Pedro Martinez was so upset about Boston reporters questioning his loss of fastball velocity that he will become a free agent at the end of the season. The report was apparently based on an overheard comment from Martinez to a friend. Martinez was unavailable for comment but club officials shrugged off the report and insisted the comment, if said at all, was just the pitcher expressing aggravation with the media."

He's cracking jokes, but it appears that David King of the San Antonio Express-News is picking the Red Sox and Cubs for the World Series. ... Ken Rosenthal does the same, but he says the Cubs will come out on top. ... Boston and Chicago seem like popular picks, so that means we'll be subjected to lots of "lovable loser" articles. Here's three:

Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Hexes mark their spots: Red Sox, rabid fans grimly face Yankees"
Boston Globe: "Fever Pitch"
New York Times: "Oh, No, Not Again: Chronicling Chronic Losing"

The Times article begins: "The baseball season starts this week, so expect to hear the usual songs of despair from the Chicago Cubs and Boston Red Sox, who are to futility what the Yankees are to success. Their World Series droughts of 96 and 86 years, respectively, are easily the longest titleless streaks in North American professional sports. ..." Wrong. The two longest titleless streaks belong to the Cubs (96) and White Sox (87). The White Sox last won the World Series in 1917.

Finally, Blue Jays pitcher Justin Miller has been ordered to wear long sleeves because his multiple tattoos are distracting to hitters. He apparently has 50% of his body covered, including "I Love Billy Koch" inked on his ass.
Another Patriot. Sibel Edmonds's story may get overlooked amid Richard Clarke's allegations. It shouldn't. Edmonds was a FBI translator who was fired in 2002 when she reported misconduct, security lapses and incompetence in the terrorism units.

The AP says Rice's refusal to appear in public, under oath, before the 9/11 Commission "is blossoming into a public relations nightmare. Michael Gerhardt, a constitutional law professor at the College of William and Mary: "This is mostly about politics, not about the legalities. ... It hasn't kept her from talking to the press." ... Kerry's getting the hang of it: "If Condoleezza Rice can find time to do '60 Minutes' on television before the American people, she ought to find 60 minutes to speak to the commission under oath."

The Center for American Progress couldn't find even one reference where Rice, Dick Cheney or George Bush said "al Qaeda" or "bin Laden" in public between 1/20/01 (Inauguration) and 9/10/01. If you have one, they are offering prizes. ... Donald Rumsfeld says the 9/11 attacks were a "law enforcement" issue. ... The Pentagon acknowledges that "[t]o meet the demand for troops in Iraq, the military has been deploying some National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers who aren't fit for combat." Also: "Army sent mentally ill troops to Iraq."

A devastating article on the WMD Hoax. David Kay: "If Powell had said to the Security Council: 'It's one source, we never actually talked to him, and we don't know his name,' as he's describing this, I think people would have laughed us out of court."

OMG. "You can't see what you think is a threat and hope it goes away. You used to could when the oceans protected us, but the lesson of September the 11th is, is when the President sees a threat, we must deal with it before it -- before it comes to fruition through death on our own soils, for example." George W. Bush, March 26, 2004, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Finally -- don't drink the Kool-Aid!


Red Sox 7, Phillies 2. Box.
Philadelphia  101 000 000 -  2  5  1  
Boston 212 010 10x - 7 12 1
Curt Schilling pitched 6.1 innings and struck out 10. Ramiro Mendoza got the final two outs in the 7th inning on two pitches and breezed through the 8th. Tim Hamulack pitched a perfect 9th. ... Boston's final run came on a triple by Cesar Crespo and a single from Brian Daubach, who notched his team-leading 14th RBI of the spring. ... Red Sox doctor Bill Morgan was in the radio booth and said Trot Nixon improved quite a bit last week and Byung Hyun Kim is recovering quicker than expected. Kim will throw off a mound on Thursday. ... More on Nomar.
Nomar Will Miss Opener. Nomar Garciaparra will probably not be ready for opening day. "I think it's more unlikely as time goes on," team doctor Bill Morgan said Saturday. "We wouldn't rule it out, though." Garciaparra took about 20 swings in the cage and about 20 grounders at short this afternoon and said, "I'm definitely going to be out a few more days. I'm still optimistic, though."

Bronson Arroyo, who pitched six strong innings yesterday, was hit on the right hip when a bat slipped out of Gabe Kapler's hands and flew into the dugout. Arroyo was not hurt. ... The Red Sox are believed to have interest in re-acquiring Damian Jackson, who is being shopped by the Colorado Rockies. ... The 25-man roster should be set by the time the team leaves for Atlanta on Thursday. ... Players are antsy for the season to start. So are the fans.
Backing Away From A Fight. So Bill Frist says Richard Clarke "has told two entirely different stories under oath" and possibly "lied under oath to the United States Congress," but when he's called on it, he retreats, "telling reporters that he personally had no knowledge that there were any discrepancies between Clarke's two appearances."

C-SPAN is rebroadcasting Clarke's testimony at 10:00am tomorrow (Sunday) morning. Several news reports have taken clips wildly out of context, so if you have any interest in this story, please watch the whole thing. ... Also: a well-sourced list of 34 lies being told regarding Clarke's testimony. ... Condoleezza Rice will be interviewed this Sunday on 60 Minutes. What can she tell Ed Bradley that she can't say in front of the Commission? ... Remember: Democrats lie, Republicans misspeak.

I've said all along that I do not care who is implicated in allowing 9/11 to happen -- Democrats, Republicans, Ralph Nader, whoever -- we deserve to know the truth. Plain and simple. ... The terrorist attacks were allowed to happen. At this point, looking at the totality of the evidence, that cannot be denied. As Josh Marshall: "What this is about isn't Condi Rice or Richard Clarke or even George W. Bush. It's about what happened -- finding out what happened. One side wants to find out; the other doesn't. This whole story turns on that simple fact."

Support The Troops, Part 1,693: "Soldiers headed for Iraq are still buying their own body armor -- and in many cases, their families are buying it for them ... Last October, it was reported that nearly one-quarter of American troops serving in Iraq did not have ceramic plated body armor, which can stop bullets fired from assault rifles and shrapnel."


Red Sox 5, Pirates 1. Recap and box.
Boston      010 000 400 -  5 13  0
Pittsburgh 000 001 000 - 1 7 1
Bronson Arroyo limited Pittsburgh to one run on four hits and a walk while fanning four batters in six innings. Kip Wells held the Red Sox to one run on two hits and three walks. Both starters breezed through their outings thanks to a stiff wind blowing in from the outfield. ... Cesar Crespo's RBI double off of Mark Guthrie broke a 1-1 tie. Jimmy Alvarez followed with a two-run double. David McCarty chased home Alvarez with a groundout to third base to cap the big inning.
More on Pedro's Fastball. It was an issue after his last start and it is story #1 today.

Some fans and media have hinted that Pedro Martinez has claimed his mid-90s velocity is back in order to improve his chances at getting a lucrative contract from the Red Sox. But since we know the Red Sox watch him like a hawk and could easily tell if he was bluffing, that seems silly. ... Yesterday, after throwing 70 pitches over five innings against the Twins, Pedro seemed to back away from his earlier comments. "If you look at the last few years, why would I worry about velocity? ... If you're referring to '97, '96, or '95, you'd find me at 97-98 miles per hour on every pitch. I'm not. I got hurt. I'm older. I've got a lot of innings in this shoulder. I actually pitched the last three years around 91, 92. And then when I have to click, I click."

However, the AP reported that Pedro is throwing hard. "Pedro Martinez says he hasn't lost his fastball - and the radar gun shows he's right. ... Martinez's heater topped out at 93 mph against the Twins, and he threw three consecutive 91 mph fastballs to former Red Sox infielder Jose Offerman to end a Minnesota threat in the fourth inning." Pedro: "I haven't lost my fastball. Ninety, 91, now that's a good fastball. And if anyone wants to test it, go ahead. Let the scouts stand there with a bat and I'll give them a 91."

But radar guns are fickle and far from precise. A gun-toting scout sitting behind the plate said Martinez topped out at 91 mph. "He had a couple 90s and a 91. The rest were 86, 87, some 88s. He had his pretty good changeup and curveball. But hell, they're going to get to you if you don't have that little extra. He just wasn't the Pedro we all know. I've seen him four times. This is the best he's thrown. He didn't have 90 before. Maybe he's pacing himself. He looks fine. He just doesn't have the velocity. Maybe he will."

Another scout, who had not seen Martinez pitch this spring, said "it seemed like he was throwing from a different angle, from a lower arm slot than a year ago, getting underneath the ball instead of on top of it - there was no zip on his fastball." This scout said Pedro topped out at 90 only once.

A report from Bosox-L: "The announcers said he wasn't looking particularly sharp today. Although it should be noted that he hadn't fallen behind in the count until the 1st batter in the 4th inning. He was using a lot of off-speed pitches with runners on base. He wasn't hit hard, although he didn't collect a K until the 5th. The 4 hits were all either blown by the wind over the outfielders' heads or blooped. His only K, Luis Rivas, struck out swinging (a fastball up & in), the same batter he fell behind in the count to ... the announcers noted that this was the first time he came after a batter."

Martinez: "If I ever feel I can't compete, or I can't put up the numbers I've been putting up or somewhere near, I'll just pack my cleats and go home ... [W]hy would I worry about velocity? Why would I worry about anything at all? I'm still No. 1 on top of a lot of good guys that we have on this team. They have me as the ace."

Martinez: "I think experience is going to dictate what I have to do. ... Earlier (in my career), I was just a thrower. I was a young buck and I'd come in and just let it go: Here, this is what I have. But nowadays I know what to do and what to work on."

Theo Epstein: "Velocity is not important this time of year. And velocity is one of the most overated aspects of pitching. (Martinez) is very comfortable with where he is. He knows himself well."

Ramiro Mendoza threw a scoreless inning in his spring debut. Although his first pitch hit Torii Hunter, Mendoza retired the next three batters on two groundouts and a strikeout. ... Today, Bronson Arroyo starts against the Pirates in Bradenton and tomorrow Curt Schilling faces the Phillies. ... Horror writers Stephen King and Stewart O'Nan are collaborating on a book about the 2004 Red Sox. "Diaries in hand, they are to attend Red Sox games, taking notes to be compiled and published by Scribner when the season is history."
It All Depends On What The Definition Of "Prior Knowledge" Is. "Condoleezza Rice had asked, in her private meetings with the commission, to revise a statement she made publicly that 'I don't think anybody could have predicted that those people could have taken an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center ... that they would try to use an airplane as a missile.' Rice told the commission that she misspoke; the commission has received information that prior to Sept. 11, US intelligence agencies and Clarke had talked about terrorists using airplanes as missiles."

But it looks like Bush is out of the loop: "On a visit to New Hampshire [March 25], the president said if he knew terrorists would use airplanes to attack America, he would have used 'every resource, every asset, every power' of the government to protect the American people."

Three items that prove Rice is lying:

1. On the morning of September 11th 2001, Mr. Fulton and his team at the CIA were running a pre-planned simulation to explore the emergency response issues that would be created if a plane were to strike a building.

2. November 3, 2000: "The fire and smoke from the downed passenger aircraft billows from the Pentagon courtyard. Defense Protective Services Police seal the crash sight. Army medics, nurses and doctors scramble to organize aid. An Arlington Fire Department chief dispatches his equipment to the affected areas. Don Abbott, of Command Emergency Response Training, walks over to the Pentagon and extinguishes the flames. The Pentagon was a model and the 'plane crash' was a simulated one. The Pentagon Mass Casualty Exercise, as the crash was called, was just one of several scenarios that emergency response teams were exposed to Oct. 24-26 in the Office of the Secretaries of Defense conference room." Check out these three military photos.

"A plane crash is simulated inside the cardboard courtyard of a surprisingly realistic-looking model Pentagon. This 'tabletop' exercise was designed to help emergency relief personnel better prepare for disasters when they occur."

3. "The single best refutation of Bush Administration assertions that no one could have known about an al-Qaeda attack by crashed airplane is Bush's attendance at the G8 summit in Genoa in July 2001, where the Italian government installed surface-to-air missiles at strategic locations around the city to protect Bush and the other leaders from just such an al Qaeda attack. This caution was based on information received by American and other intelligence agencies. Weeks later, in early August in Crawford, Bush received a report from George Tenet on the al Qaeda threat." Bush slept on an offshore military ship during the summit.

The second paragraph of a New York Times about Condoleezza Rice's refusal to testify under oath before the 9/11 Commission begins: "As she prepares to leave her job at the end of the year, Ms. Rice ... " WTF?

John Dean: "The [2003] 9/11 Report Raises More Serious Questions About The White House Statements On Intelligence" ... "Testimony from the former Bush administration counterterrorism czar and a new book have a 2-year-old story from The Tampa Tribune back in the news - secret flights of Saudi nationals out of the country in the aftermath of Sept. 11."

John Kerry on Bush's WMD jokes: "585 American soldiers have been killed in Iraq in the last year, 3,354 have been wounded and there's no end in sight. George Bush sold us on going to war with Iraq based on the threat of weapons of mass destruction. But we still haven't found them, and now he thinks that's funny?"
On The Newsstand. I was quite surprised.

Now it would be nice if the many instances of Bush comparing 9/11 to getting lucky at the horse track could receive some attention. See here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here (all from the White House website, by the way).
Ah, The Liberal, Bush-Hating Media. Elisabeth Bumiller, New York Times White House correspondent, on criticism that reporters were too easy on Bush on the eve of the Iraq war: "I think we were very deferential because ... it's live, it's very intense, it's frightening to stand up there. Think about it, you're standing up on prime-time live TV asking the president of the United States a question when the country's about to go to war. There was a very serious, somber tone that evening, and no one wanted to get into an argument with the president at this very serious time." ... The Daily Howler is, like me, absolutely dumbstruck.

It's not surprising, but Fox distorted Clarke's testimony. Its online story includes these two paragraphs:

"You've got a real credibility problem," John Lehman, former Navy secretary under President Reagan, told Clarke, calling the witness "an active partisan selling a book."

Clarke responded: "I don't think it's a question of morality at all, I think it's a question of politics."

However, Clarke's response was not made to Lehman, but was a comment to a different question posed by another Commission member, former Illinois Governor Jim Thompson. Check out the transcript of Day 2 (Day 1 is here).

Re the timing of Clarke's book: As with all books written by former government officials, it must be submitted to the White House for review to insure that no classified material is included. The White House apparently sat on the book for at least three months (it was scheduled for release in late 2003). It appears that the White House hoped to delay the book's publication until either (a) Clarke testified before the 9/11 Commission or (b) (and ideally) the Commission had finished its work. But when the White House was forced to give the Commission a two-month extension of time, its plan backfired. So when they whine about the book's release in the middle of the "political season," they have no one to blame but themselves.

The Guardian: "The central allegation - that Mr Bush was so obsessed with going after Saddam Hussein that he openly challenged his counter-terrorism adviser to find a link between September 11 and Iraq the day after the attacks took place - is serious. ... 'The conversation absolutely took place. I was there, but you can't name me,' the witness said. 'I was one of several people present. There was no doubt in anyone's mind that the president had Iraq on his mind, first and foremost.' This former national security council official was too terrified to go on the record - he knows how vengeful this administration can be."

Some very important questions. ... I've linked to many stories, but for a daily wrap-up of the major media stories, you should check out Dan Froomkin's White House Briefing.


Twins 12, Red Sox 7. Box.
Minnesota  100 020 054 -  12  14  0  
Boston 001 001 104 - 7 14 0
Alright, here's some baseball news. ... Pedro Martinez did not seem particularly sharp this afternoon, allowing seven hits and three runs in five innings. Adam Hyzdu, Brian Daubach and David McCarty homered for Boston; for McCarty, it was #6 home run. ... Michael Restovich put the Twins up for good in the 8th with an RBI single off Mike Timlin that broke a 3-3 tie. Later in that inning, Michael Cuddyer ripped a grand slam off Timlin, who took the loss.
Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them. Dick Cheney claims Richard Clarke was "out of the loop", but Condoleezza Rice says Clarke "was in every meeting that was held on terrorism." ... Does anyone know why this administration believes that admitting its counterterrorism chief was kept "out of the loop" as threats increased throughout the summer of 2001 is something to be proud of? ... The public record is devastating.

On May 8, 2001, Cheney was put in charge of the new Office of National Preparedness -- to oversee a national effort to coordinate all federal programs for responding to domestic attacks. Cheney said terrorism is "one of our biggest threats as a nation ... We need to look at this whole area, oftentimes referred to as homeland defense." (New York Times, 7/8/02) Cheney's committee did not meet -- not even once -- before September 11.

Clarke kicked more ass on Larry King last night (I missed it because I was watching the Red Sox game): "The president was being told on a regular basis that an al Qaeda threat was coming, an al Qaeda attack was coming. Now, what does the president say in his own words to Bob Woodward in Bush at War? ... Bush acknowledged that bin Laden was not his focus or that of his national security team. ... 'I didn't feel a sense of urgency.' Well, how can you not feel a sense of urgency when George Tenet is telling you in daily briefings, day after day, that a major al Qaeda attack is coming? ... I think [sic] heaven for the family members of the victims who caused this commission to come into existence over the objections of the White House and who have now been able to get it extended over the objections of the White House."

Bush's Brand New Enemy Is The Truth: "One of the first official acts of the current Bush administration was to downgrade the office of national coordinator for counterterrorism on the National Security Council - a position held by Richard Clarke. ... Bush put him in a box where he could speak only when spoken to. ... Clarke was not the only national security professional who spanned both the Clinton and Bush administrations. General Donald Kerrick served as deputy national security adviser under Clinton and remained on the NSC into the Bush administration. ... 'I said they needed to pay attention to al-Qaida and counterterrorism. I said we were going to be struck again. They never once asked me a question, nor did I see them having a serious discussion about it.' ... [If Clarke was out of the loop] then the administration was either running a rogue operation or doing nothing, as Clarke testifies."

If the Bush administration indeed made terrorism an urgent priority before 9/11, there should be mounds of evidence to support this. In the last two days, the White House has immediately declassified documents and emails with which to attack Clarke, so where is the paper trail showing their eight-month "battle station" preparedness for al Qaeda? ... Jamie Gorelick, the only member of the 9/11 Commission who has read the President's Daily Briefings, said during the hearings that during the summer of 2001 the PDBs "would set your hair on fire" and the intelligence warnings of al Qaeda attacks "plateaued at a spike level for months" before September 11. ... So if Bush was on top of the threats and proud of his administration's actions, why is the White House fighting tooth and nail against the release of these PDBs -- and not a release to the general public, but simply to all 10 members of the Commission?

Also, if the White House believes Clarke is lying, charge him with perjury. He was under oath -- he actually referred to being under oath during his testimony several times -- so if he is lying, prosecute him now!

Update: MSNBC reports that Condi the Liar is willing to take time off from her busy media schedule to testify before the 9/11 Commission, but (again) only in closed session. ... "[W]e expected to be transparency, people who have got something to hide make us nervous." George W. Bush, February 16, 2002.
Yankees 8, Red Sox 6. A ho-hum night in Tampa. Box.
Boston    100 300 101 -  6 10  0  
New York 011 220 20x - 8 12 1
Gerry Callahan writes that resigning Pedro is an easy call: "Only one of the Sox' free-agents-to-be has said he is ready and willing to take a pay cut. After all of the aforementioned accomplishments, Pedro knows his years of earning $17.5 million are over. He's ready to settle for a scant $13 million or $14 million. So the Sox can actually re-sign the greatest pitcher they've ever had (who is only 32) and cut their payroll in the process."

Alex Rodriguez suffered a bruised left cheekbone last night after being struck by a thrown ball that ricocheted off Brian Daubach's leg. Boston third base coach Dale Sveum: "It got him good. It wasn't a grazing blow at all. You could hear it." Joe Torre: "He thought he got hit by a knee. That's how hard it was." Rodriguez was taken to the hospital as a precaution, and a CT scan was negative.

Notes: Nomar Garciaparra hopes to get some at-bats in a minor-league game early next week. ... Trot Nixon is at Stage three of a five-stage rehab program, which includes swimming and cariovascular work; he said that yesterday was by far the worst day he's had in terms of pain. ... Boston's starters had a 2.27 ERA before last night. ... Howard Bryant Q&A Part 2. ... Matthew Namee: "Is Mariano Rivera a Hall of Famer?"
588 Dead Americans -- Bush's Idea Of A Punchline. I'm disappointed that in the two days of public hearings before the 9/11 Commission, these two stories were not mentioned:

1. July 26, 2001: "In response to inquiries from CBS News over why Ashcroft was traveling exclusively by leased jet aircraft instead of commercial airlines, the Justice Department cited what it called a "threat assessment" by the FBI, and said Ashcroft has been advised to travel only by private jet for the remainder of his term. ... Neither the FBI nor the Justice Department, however, would identify what the threat was, when it was detected or who made it."

2. September 10, 2001: "The state of alert had been high during the past two weeks, and a particularly urgent warning may have been received the night before the attacks, causing some top Pentagon brass to cancel a trip. Why that same information was not available to the 266 people who died aboard the four hijacked commercial aircraft may become a hot topic on the Hill." (Newsweek, 9/13/01) The only additional media mention of this story is in the next issue of Newsweek: "A group of top Pentagon officials suddenly cancelled travel plans for the next morning, apparently because of security concerns." (Newsweek, 9/17/01) These two stories were at "http://www.msnbc.com/news/627963.asp" and "http://www.msnbc.com/news/629606.asp" respectively (as well as the print editions of the magazine), but are no longer operative.

Condoleezza Rice: "[Clarke] was in every meeting that was held on terrorism. All the deputies' meetings, the principals' meeting that was held and so forth, the early meetings after Sept. 11." ... WH Press Secretary: "Dr. Rice, early on in the administration, started holding daily briefings with the senior directors of the National Security Council, of which [Clarke] was one. But he refused to attend those meetings, and he was later asked to attend those meetings and he continued to refuse to attend those meetings."

"President Bush's national security leadership met formally nearly 100 times in the months prior to the Sept. 11 attacks yet terrorism was the topic during only two of those sessions, officials say." AP, June 28, 2002.

Meanwhile, at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Association 60th annual dinner last night, George Bush presented a slide show, calling it the "White House Election-Year Album." He showed a picture of himself looking under furniture in a fruitless, frustrating search. "Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be somewhere." ... That might be mildly amusing, except for the fact that Bush's lies about WMDs have caused the deaths of at least 588 Americans and thousands of innocent Iraqis. And he cracked this joke only a few hours after Richard Clarke apologized to the 9/11 victims families. ... Maybe Bush ought to take his act on the road. He could show it to the families whose sons and daughters have died for absolutely nothing. I'm sure they could use a chuckle.


Richard Clarke. Earlier today, I wondered why I still hold out optimism for the findings (or even the process) of the 9/11 Commission. Listening to Richard Clarke this afternoon, now I know why -- and my sliver of hope has grown just a little bit. Clarke was incredibly well-informed, concise and more than willing to criticize both the Bush and Clinton administrations where he felt it was necessary. At one point, Clarke said, "by invading Iraq the president of the United States has greatly undermined the war on terrorism" and there was dead silence in the room for 10-15 seconds. I actually thought the television transmission had frozen; it was like the proceeding was put on freeze-frame.

Will Clarke's testimony become a turning point in the overall investigation into 9/11? I hope so, but I truly don't know. It depends on how his devastating comments about the Bush administration's inaction regarding the intense warnings and threats over the 8 months before September 11 are taken by the public and the media -- and of course, the media will control how much, and which sections, the public hears. Tonight's newscasts and tomorrow's headlines should tell us a lot. ... Speaking of which, on Monday, Condoleeza Rice appeared live on all five morning shows speaking out against Clarke's book and she is scheduled to be a guest tonight on Fox's Hannity and Combs. Yet she refused to appear publicly (and under oath) before the 9/11 Commission this afternoon. ... It's well past time for a subpoena.

I thought the firestorm of criticism was coming back in May 2002 when it was widely reported that a mere 4 weeks before 9/11 Bush had been warned that Osama bin Laden was planning to hijack American airplanes in a massive terrorist attack. And we know now that the briefing said the attack would come within the US. But nothing happened and the story disappeared.

In his opening statement, Clarke said he welcomed "the hearings because it is finally a forum where I can apologize to the loved ones of the victims of 9/11. To them who are here in the room, to those who are watching on television, your government failed you, those entrusted with protecting you failed you and I failed you. We tried hard, but that doesn't matter because we failed. And for that failure, I would ask -- once all the facts are out -- for your understanding and for your forgiveness." ... It was the first such statement by any official appearing before the Commission.

As I type this, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is laughing and chuckling with several members of the Commission. Donald Rumsfeld was doing the same thing yesterday. Why? Is there something funny about 9/11? Why are these men making jokes while they testify about their action or inaction regarding an event that killed almost 3,000 people and has inspired this administration to kill thousands more? Coming so soon after Clarke's apology and blunt testimony, it must be salt in the wounds to the victims families in the room.

Another huge story surfaced today: FBI translator Sibel Edmonds claims she was ordered to retranslate and/or adjust the translations of terrorist intercepts received before September 11, 2001 by the FBI and CIA. In a press conference in Washington after CIA Director George Tenet was questioned by the 9/11 Commission, Edmonds said she was offered a substantial raise and a full-time job in order to not go public with her information.

New York Press: "During a city council meeting last week that dealt, in part, with budget cuts set to affect the DA's office, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau ... let slip that the NYPD plans to arrest up to 1000 street protestors a day during this summer's Republican National Convention. ... Planning security for such an event is one thing, and is to be expected. But to have someone like Morgenthau or Ray Kelly come out and say, essentially, that they intend to arrest 1000 people a day because they don't like the Republican party?"
Thoughts on the 9/11 Commission. Gail Sheehy was with Kristen Breitweiser, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza yesterday at the 9/11 Commission hearing in Washington, DC. From her excellent report: "The Four Moms had submitted dozens of questions they have been burning to ask at these hearings. Mr. Rumsfeld is a particular thorn in their sides. ... When the widows had a conference call last week with the commission staff, they asked that Secretary Rumsfeld be questioned about his response on the day of Sept. 11. They were told that this was not a line of questioning the staff planned to pursue."

In the public hearings I have both attended and watched on television, the members of the Commission seem to have assumptions about the terrorist attacks that they believe are true and ask their questions as though those assumptions are incontrovertible facts. The Commission has consistently refused to question the fundamental assumptions about 9/11 and by deciding that certain questions are not important, the Commission seems intent on reaffirming the "official version." Having the Defense Secretary describe what he was told and saw and did on 9/11 is apparently not worth the Commission's time. Of course, it's possibile these questions are being asked in private, but there are dozens of questions that deserve to be answered in public. (Rumsfeld's account as told in Sheehy's article is completely implausible.)

Despite my near-constant bitching about the Commission, I still hold some slim hope that it will do its job. I don't know why I have any shred of optimism; the less I expect, the less likely I'll be disappointed. The Commission's final report -- due at the end of July -- may contain some nuggets of truth, some new information to fit into the existing Timeline, but any truly groundbreaking information will come from researchers and the pressure applied by people like Breitweiser and Kleinberg, not from "independent" bodies like the 9/11 Commission.
Some Dates. Mostly from here.

June 22, 2001: CIA Director George Tenet is "nearly frantic" with concern about a terrorist attack.

June 28, 2001: Tenet writes a memo to national security adviser Condoleezza Rice: "It is highly likely that a significant al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks." Some officials say Tenet "repeated this so often that people got tired of hearing it."

July 5, 2001: Richard Clarke, the government's top counterterrorism official, tells officials of a dozen federal agencies, including the FAA, FBI, Secret Service and INS: "Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon." For six weeks, the US government is at its highest possible state of readiness against imminent terrorist attack.

August 6, 2001: As George Bush is briefed that al Qaeda might plan a hijacking within the US, the government had begun to lessen its alert of the previous month. Both Bush and Dick Cheney remain on vacation for the entire month.

September 4, 2001: The White House holds its first meeting on terrorism.

September 9, 2001: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld threatens a presidential veto when the Senate proposed to divert $600 million from ballistic missile defense to counterterrorism.

September 10, 2001: Attorney General John Ashcroft rejects a proposed $58 million increase in FBI financing for counter-terrorism programs.
Red Sox Talk Contract With Pedro and Nomar. Pedro Martinez was "happy" after he and his agent met with John Henry, Larry Lucchino and Theo Epstein for two hours last night. Neither side offered much comment on the negotiations; Epstein said the talks were "good and productive." ... The Globe says the team is also making a concerted attempt before Opening Night to reach a long-term deal with Nomar Garciaparra, who turned down a recent offer. The Red Sox have not yet responded to his counteroffer.

Derek Lowe was scheduled to throw about 80 pitches yesterday, but he needed only 70 in his six shutout innings. He gave up three hits (all singles) and walked none. Ten of his 14 non-K outs were ground balls. In 18.1 innings over four starts, he has walked only three batters and has a 0.98 ERA. ... Ellis Burks went 2-4, with a three-run homer and 4 RBI. ... David Ortiz on why he likes hitting home runs: "You don't have to run like if you hit a double or something like that."

Two looks at 3B Gabe Kapler. ... Byung Hyun Kim has stretched out to nine minutes of long-tossing at 80 feet. ... Manny Ramirez, Kevin Millar, Pokey Reese and Bill Mueller are the only regulars who will make the trip to Tampa for tonight's game against the Yankees. Tim Wakefield will start and Ramiro Mendoza may finally see some game action.

Rivals in Exile: Wild Cards -- Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken "take a look at what, if anything, could stop the Yankees and Red Sox from making the post-season, and wonder if the Wild Card is worth it." ... Steve Treder: "The image we're often given of baseball in the 50s is one of static conservatism; we may be led to believe it was a dreary and monotonous time of stolid teams in baggy gray uniforms, relying upon tried-and-true formulas. The truth is entirely different: the 1950s in baseball was almost certainly the decade involving the most fundamental, startling, and dynamic change of any in modern baseball history."


Red Sox 7, Devil Rays 4. Lowe pitched six strong innings. Timlin allowed a grand slam in the final frame.
Tampa Bay  000 000 004 -  4   7  2  
Boston 300 030 10x - 7 10 0
Questions About Pedro's Velocity. Sean McAdam: "Martinez has been pain-free all spring, but some in management are asking why Martinez has yet to top 90 mph on radar guns in three Grapefruit League outings. There's also some fear that his lower arm angle ... is indicative of some soreness in the shoulder. ... One theory is that Martinez has deliberately held back from throwing as hard as he's capable of this spring because the Sox have not been more aggressive in their efforts to sign him. ... At the same time, Red Sox management could be asking the same question from their perspective: Why should we commit to him if he won't -- or can't -- throw harder than he's thrown?"

It is believed that if a deal isn't reached before the end of spring training, both the Red Sox and Martinez will not negotiate until after the season. I would be heartbroken to see Pedro in another team's uniform, but I don't have a problem with waiting until November. Everything Theo et al. has said and done shows me that they are content to wait. They want to see how Pedro performs this season and how his shoulder holds up before committing to him for another 3-4 years. If Martinez has another superb season and remains healthy, I don't see any reason why a deal could not be reached in the fall.

Player notes: Ellis Burks has not been cleared to play the outfield, but he believes he's getting close. ... Bill Mueller strained his right triceps swinging a lead-weight bat on Saturday, but says it is "nothing major." ... Byung-Hyun Kim threw from about 75 feet Sunday and did well, according to Terry Francona. ... Trot Nixon has begun his core-strengthening program. ... A look at two former replacement players -- Kevin Millar and Brian Daubach.


60 Minutes Transcript. Thanks to Sadly No (html and text files). ... One quote from Richard Clarke offered without comment: "He [Bush] asked us after 9/11 to give him cards with pictures of the major al Qaeda leaders and tell us when they were arrested or killed so he could draw X's through their pictures."
Los Angeles 3, Boston 2. Monday afternoon.
Red Sox  000 000 002 -  2  7  1
Dodgers 010 000 20x - 3 8 0
Curt Schilling pitched 5.2 innings this afternoon, allowing four hits and one run. That run came in the second inning when Jolbert Cabrera bunted for a one-out single. Luis Garcia followed with a single to center and Cabrera beat Johnny Damon's throw to third, allowing Garcia to advance to second. Cabrera scored on Jose Hernandez's groundout to shortstop. Bubba Trammell and Koyie Hill each knocked in a run in the seventh off Frank Castillo. ... Odalis Perez pitched five innings, allowing three hits and striking out five. Boston rallied for two runs in the bottom of the ninth off non-roster pitcher Rick White, driven in by Mark Bellhorn and Michael Hernandez. ... Ramiro Mendoza was scheduled to pitch in the game, but he cut his finger on the seam of the ball in a game of catch.

Schilling hoped to pitch seven innings, but after his 87th pitch -- strike three to Paul Lo Duca for the second out in the sixth -- he was pulled; he walked one and struck out four. "Command-wise early, I didn't feel like I was hitting one of my corners consistently, but I felt like it came as the game went on. ... That's what I'm going to try and do, my next start, hopefully stretch it out, get it to 100, 105 pitches in and then tune it up for the season." Schilling also said he would continue working on his changeup. "The one thing that the changeup is going to do is allow me to throw fewer pitches. In counts where I might get a swing and a miss, I can throw a changeup and get an out."

Also: Projo: "Boston has three spots open -- two in the bullpen and one on the bench -- and just a few short weeks to decide who will fill them." More info from the Herald and Globe. ... LHP Nick Bierbrodt has decided to become a free agent rather than report to Pawtucket. The Red Sox then traded Tony Womack to St. Louis for RHP Matt Duff, who was 4-2, 2.62 last year in Memphis (AAA). ... The pitching matchups for the first series at Fenway Park (against Toronto): Arroyo/Pat Hentgen, Pedro/Roy Halladay and Schilling/Miguel Batista.
Richard Clarke -- The Week Begins. Here are stories from the New York Times and Washington Post; the Post also has a Condoleezza Rice Op-Ed countering Clarke. ... One of the Times articles is written by Judith Miller, whose credibility issues regarding terrorism and the invasion dwarf those of Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass and Jack Kelley. ... Even the Wall Street Journal -- which actually ran several excellent investigative articles in late September and October 2001 -- sees fit to examine the gross inaccuracies in the Official Version(s). Better late than never.

Josh Marshall has several posts regarding Clarke and TPM promises to be one of the best guides to this story in coming days and weeks. Here's his latest; and then going back and coming up to today in chronological order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. All of these are essential reading. ... Clarke and other Clinton and Bush administration officials will be testifying publicly before the 9/11 Commission on Tuesday and Wednesday. If this story doesn't have legs, then it's a fair bet that no story critical of the Bush administration will.


Getting Away With Murder. Steve Gillard on Richard Clarke's charges (watch 60 Minutes):

"Rumsfeld wanted to bomb Iraq for 9/11, despite ample evidence Al Qaeda was responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans. ... Perle and Wolfowitz, despite all available evidence, would have let Osama sit in Afghanistan untouched just to get Saddam. ... Let's keep this in mind, and it's really simple: the Bush response to 9/11 would have let Osama get away with murder, killing thousands of innocent people. ... Americans are burning alive, falling from the Twin Towers, and Bush is more concerned about his vendetta with Iraq than hunting down the people who murdered them in cold blood."

The Junta's first response -- on the very afternoon of September 11 -- was to allow Al Qaeda off cost-free for killing thousands of innocent people in the US and instead kill thousands of innocent people in Iraq. Why? Why would they want to do that? ... It should be crystal clear at this point that the Junta had specific plans when they assumed office and nothing -- not even 9/11 -- was going to interfere with those plans. Indeed, their gut reaction was to use the attacks solely as a reason for bombing (and taking control of) an innocent country. Read the books from Clarke, Paul O'Neill, Paul Waldman and David Corn, and one fact is inescapable: it was all part of the plan.

"[T]he Bush response to 9/11 would have let Osama get away with murder, killing thousands of innocent people."

And if recent polls are any gauge, approximately 150,000,000 Americans don't give a damn.

Update: The Family Steering Committee is demanding the resignation of 9/11 Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow. Its letter to the Commission:

"Very disturbing information has surfaced regarding Philip Zelikow's participation in the failure to heed warnings about al Qaeda and imminent attacks on America in the months prior to September 11th.

"It is clear that Dr. Zelikow should never have been permitted to be a member of the Commission, since it is the mandate of the Commission to identify the source of 9/11 failures. Dr. Zelikow has a conflict of interest that extends beyond just the transition. It is now apparent why there has been so little effort to assign individual culpability. We now can see that trail would lead directly to the staff director himself.

"What little time the Commission has left must be spent without the taint of Dr. Zelikow's influence. We demand his immediate resignation."
Red Sox 4, Orioles 2. We win again! The SoSH game thread has a pitch-by-pitch description of Arroyo's outing.
Boston     000 011 002 - 4  9  2  
Baltimore 000 101 000 - 2 6 0
MLB: Bronson Arroyo allowed one run and four hits in four innings. The run came in the fourth when David Segui singled, Miguel Tejada walked and (one out later) Jay Gibbons singled. Boston evened the game in the fifth when David McCarty broke Bedard's no-hitter with a home run to left-center field.

[The line scores show Boston scoring in the 4th (not the 5th) and Baltimore scoring in the 5th (and not the 4th); I've fixed the line score here to reflect the game summary.]

The Red Sox took the lead in the sixth when Manny Ramirez scored as Tejada threw late to first on McCarty's bases-loaded grounder. In the Baltimore half, Tejada doubled off Mark Malaska, stole third and scored on Doug Mirabelli's throwing error.

Terry Shumpert singled to begin the Red Sox 9th. Jimmy Alvarez then whacked a triple to right-center. Shumpert scored but may have strained a hamstring. David Murphy singled in Alvarez.
Kim, Nixon, Arroyo, Ortiz, Etc. Byung-Hyun Kim will start the season on the DL. The Red Sox want him to be able to throw off a mound by Opening Night, and if all goes well, be back by mid-April.

Trot Nixon talks in detail about his injury and says he'll likely play a few games in Pawtucket before returning to the big club. ... Tim Wakefield pitched four shutout innings Saturday, by far his best outing, according to Terry Francona. Wakefield has allowed 1 run in 9 innings and will pitch on three days rest Wednesday against the Yankees. ... Bronson Arroyo will start the home opener April 9 against Toronto.

Ortizzle: "In his first year with the Red Sox, he entertained teammates with jokes and treated fans to soaring homers. For doubters who thought that was a fluke, he's at it again." Sure, they are spring stats, but Ortiz is hitting .345 (10-29) and slugging 1.034.

Theo Epstein has been answering questions at SoSH. ... What was Kevin Millar's day like on March 12? ... A look at Dave Wallace. Tony Massarotti: "Different paces for Sox' two aces: Martinex, Schilling approach excellent from opposite directions" (yes, the typo is on the website). ... Ramiro Mendoza will pitch tomorrow against Los Angeles. ... The Toronto Star says even if you hate the Red Sox, you can like Terry Francona.

The Yankees are dealing with injuries as well. Bernie Williams has missed more than a month after an appendectomy (he may play as early as Wednesday, though). Jon Lieber, who hasn't pitched since mid-2002, has been sidelined by groin pulls. Travis Lee has an inflamed left shoulder and will likely be on the disabled list. In yesterday's loss to Pittsburgh, Enrique Wilson twisted his ankle and Miguel Cairo felt his right hamstring tighten up (possible subs at 2B include Homer Bush and Felix Escalona).

Quote o' the day: "I am on the juice. The juice of Jesus of Nazareth." Julio Franco (Cleveland Plain Dealer)


Red Sox 9, Blue Jays 4. The happy recap.
Blue Jays  000 000 400 -  4 10  0
Red Sox 000 105 30x - 9 9 0
David Ortiz broke up a scoreless game with a solo shot off Brandon League. It was Ortizzle's mlb-leading 6th home run of the spring. Kevin Millar's three-run homer and a two-run blast by Doug Mirabelli highlighted a five-run sixth against David Bush. The Jays cut into that lead with four runs in the seventh against Keith Foulke (Josh Phelps's two-run single was the key blow). Boston stretched its lead to 9-4 in the seventh on Brian Daubach's sacrifice fly and Mike Curry's double.

Tim Wakefield blanked the Blue Jays through four innings in his third outing (second start), giving up four hits, with one walk and one strikeout. Toronto starter Justin Miller allowed only a single to Millar in three innings of work; he also struck out three.

The Dark Side: Mike Mussina and Kevin Brown will begin New York's season against the Devil Rays on March 30-31 in Tokyo; both games start at 5:00 am EST. They will also probably pitch April 6-7 when the Yankees resume the series in Tampa Bay. (Jose Contreras and Donovan Osborne are scheduled to start exhibition games in Japan on March 28.) Javier Vazquez will then likely pitch the team's home opener April 8 against the White Sox.
Let's Start With The Good News. Nomar Garciaparra says he'll "be out at least another week [but] I still plan to be there for opening day." He'll wear an immobilizing boot for the next week and will take about another week to get back into game shape. Opening Day is 16 days away.

Trot Nixon will miss approximately 6 weeks with a mildly herniated disk. Theo Epstein said the six-week plan is "a very conservative treatment." Most of Nixon's ABs will go to Gabe Kapler and Ellis Burks. Kapler played 30 games in RF last season and is hitting .344 (11-32) this spring. ... Terry Francona said Kevin Millar could also see time in right, though probably not in Fenway's vast meadow. Manny Ramirez will remain in left.

Pedro Martinez worked on his mechanics and fastball (which was in the 86-91 range) in the early innings Friday afternoon. "The first two innings, I was a little flat. ... I was still pulling the ball to right-handed hitters. But after a couple of innings, I got better." Martinez struck out his last four batters. "From now on, I start pitching ... like it's the season and get ready for the first outing. In the last inning, I tried to pitch like it was a regular-season game, and just use all my pitches, mix them all, and use my experience." (Also here)

Pedro ended his Q&A session abruptly: "Asked about his spring training preparation, Martinez said, 'To me, once I step in the white lines, it's a game. At the same time, it's spring training, same routine, same - I'm actually tired of talking to you guys, right now. I'm bored.' He got up and was asked how his boredom could be alleviated. 'Just let me go, thank you.'" ... Pedro has two more spring starts: Thursday against Minnesota and March 30 against Toronto. That will give him five days rest before Opening Night.

Also: Byung-Hyun Kim's shoulder will be re-examined today. ... Ramiro Mendoza threw 35 pitches of live BP and may pitch in a game either Monday or Tuesday. ... Pokey Reese and Mark Bellhorn were sent home with flu symptoms and Johnny Damon had a personal day. ... Cesar Crespo is still smoking (.464 BA, .581 OBP). ... Moves: OF Jeremy Owens and C Kelly Shoppach reassigned to minor-league camp; RHP Edwin Almonte, LHP Phil Seibel and 3B Kevin Youkilis optioned to Pawtucket; RHP Jerome Gamble optioned to Portland; LHP Nick Bierbrodt sent outright to Pawtucket.
"'Conspiracy stuff' Is Now Shorthand For Unspeakable Truth." New York Times: "Senior Clinton administration officials called to testify next week before the independent commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks say they are prepared to detail how they repeatedly warned their Bush administration counterparts in late 2000 that Al Qaeda posed the worst security threat facing the nation — and how the new administration was slow to act."

Two of the people briefed were Condoleezza Rice and Philip Zelikow. Zelikow is currently the Executive Director of the 9/11 Commission -- conflict of interest? don't be silly -- and Rice (now National Security Adviser) refuses to answer any of the Commission's questions in public.

Shortly after taking office, the Bush Administration ordered the FBI and intelligence agencies to "back off" investigations involving Osama bin Laden while they negotiated with the Taliban over an oil pipeline. (Also here and here; in this light, many people see the 9/11 attacks as a "pre-emptive strike" against the US.)

Former White House terrorism advisor Richard Clarke will be on 60 Minutes this Sunday. "Clarke was surprised that the attention of administration officials was turning toward Iraq when he expected the focus to be on al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. 'They were talking about Iraq on 9/11. They were talking about it on 9/12. ... Rumsfeld was saying we needed to bomb Iraq. ... 'There aren't any good targets in Afghanistan and there are lots of good targets in Iraq.'"


Red Sox 11, Pirates 8. The linescore says Pedro, the winning pitcher, is now 1-2, but he's really 1-0.
Pittsburgh  201 004 010 -  8  6  1
Boston 050 400 20x - 11 15 2
           IP   H   R  ER  BB   K  PIT   B/S   WP
Martinez 4 2 3 1 1 7 63 23/40 1
Pedro's play-by-play:

1st: Bobby Hill struck out swinging. Jack Wilson walked on a full count. Daryle Ward grounded to Febles, but he threw wildly to Crespo covering 2B. Wilson scored and Ward advanced to 3rd. Randall Simon struck out. Rob Mackowiak was safe on another Febles error (ball through legs). Orlando Merced flied out to short right.

2nd: JJ Davis walked. Chris Truby popped out to second. Humberto Cota popped out to shortstop. Hill popped out to left field.

3rd: Wilson singled to right. Wilson stole second. Ward struck out catcher to first, Wilson advanced to 3rd. Mackowiak singled to right, Ward scored. Merced struck out looking.

4th: Davis struck out swinging. Chris Truby struck out swinging. Cota struck out swinging.

Mike F's report. ... Manny Ramirez went 3-for-3 with three RBI and Kevin Millar had two doubles and two RBI. The Red Sox fell behind 2-0 in the first as a result of errors by 2B Carlos Febles. Boston came back in the second, scoring five times; Gabe Kapler ripped a three-run triple and Ramirez added a two-run double. In the fourth, Terry Shumpert had an RBI triple, Ramirez had a run-scoring single and Millar added a two-run double.
Missed Him By That Much. "A bulletproof LandCruiser at high speed bursting out of a tribal compound in Pakistan's South Waziristan region was just the latest infuriating setback in the US's quest to bring down the top of the al-Qa'ida tree. The car, followed by two armoured vehicles and a phalanx of heavily armed militants ... is believed to have contained Ayman al-Zawahiri, right-hand man to Osama bin Laden." ... So he outraced thousands of US forces and their surveillance capability, aircraft and laser-guided missiles by just stepping on the gas? ... Is this a test to see how stupid we are, if we swallow this crap? ... Now if he was driving Pedro's Aston Martin Vanquish, maybe, but a LandCrisuer? ... I see a pattern:

* bin Laden family members and Saudi royal family members secretly flown out of the US by the Bush White House a few days after 9/11.

* The November 2001 Kunduz airlift. Al-Qaeda and Pakistani military advisers are secretly airlifted out of the country by authorization of the US military. (Go here and read all the orange text for November 2001.)

* With OBL surrounded on three sides at Tora Bora, US special forces are not given the order to capture him. They watch as two helicopters descend into his location, take passengers and fly to Pakistan. A first-hand account from a special forces member is here.

* al-Zawahiri.

Plus: "The official merchandise Web site for ... Bush's re-election campaign has sold clothing made in Burma, whose goods were banned by Bush from the US last year to punish its military dictatorship." ... Bush-Cheney clothing made by slave labor in a military dictatorship? Why, I'm shocked! Shocked, I tell you.


Not Good. Boston radio station WEEI reports that Trot Nixon has a slightly herniated disk and will miss six weeks. And Nomar Garciaparra arrived at camp this morning wearing "a removable cast on the lower part of his right leg."

And MLB is not carrying either team's radio broadcast of Pedro's start this afternoon against Pittsburgh. Boo.
"I'm trying to make this team, there's only one spot left. New manager, I've got to surprise him." Nick Cafardo and Michael Silverman both have excellent features on Manny Ramirez.

Silverman said Ramirez was "relaxed and somewhat goofy ... offering a humorous, self-deprecating look at his mindset and, especially, his quiet bat. 'I need help, man. I ain't trying to help nobody, I need help myself. ... This is the year, man." Ramirez also described how he felt when he awoke October 17: "We got so close last year, I couldn't believe it. The next day, I wake up, I think it's a dream, I couldn't believe it."

Cafardo writes: "When managers, teammates, fans, and media members say, 'It's Manny being Manny,' well, that's the point. That's what fans should want. You want Manny Ramirez blistering the baseball to all fields ... He has been especially funny in the clubhouse recently, creating a loose atmosphere for his teammates. ... The other day he was walking around in cowboy boots telling everyone how comfortable he felt in them. On Tuesday night, he was spotted getting on a bus bound for Sarasota wearing his white home pants. Clubhouse manager Joe Cochran was right behind him with the grays." Ramirez said he would likely start taking flyballs in right field next week.

Nomar Garciaparra underwent an MRI in Florida on his bruised right heel; it was negative. Terry Francona called it "precautionary." The Herald says Nomar might need to rest another week or so, which would bring him back on March 25 -- 10 days before Opening Day. ... Trot Nixon flew to Los Angeles for a second opinion on his back. Francona: "Swinging the bat [on Tuesday] didn't bother him at all, which is good. But that knot hasn't gone away." One report stated that Nixon may need anywhere from 2-4 weeks of additional rest, which means he might not return until the middle of April or the beginning of May.

"In baseball's latest public-relations battle between management and the union, two of Commissioner Bud Selig's top assistants appeared on a conference call Thursday to vent over comments from players regarding the much- maligned drug-testing policy. ... [Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations] began the conference call with a six-part rebuttal to comments made by Red Sox teammates Curt Schilling and Johnny Damon in the Hartford Courant."

Also: Byung-Hyun Kim began an upper body strengthening program. ... Tony Womack will start the season in extended spring training. ... The Red Sox claimed LHP Frank Brooks off waivers from Oakland and sent Rule 5 RHP Colter Bean back to the Yankees. ... Cesar Crespo went 2-3 and is hitting .462 (12-for-26). ... Pedro Martinez is expected to throw 60-65 pitches against the Pirates this afternoon.


Predictions, Part 3. Jack McDowell sees the Red Sox winning the AL East.

Boston Red Sox: "All of the offseason celebrations and high hopes for Red Sox fans were because of Schilling's signing. ... Anything less and this will be just another deal gone awry. ... All the pieces are in place for a dominant team. A rotation that features three No. 1s, a solid bullpen anchored by a new, proven closer (Keith Foulke) and last year's most potent offense with a few new twists. ... they were a few outs away from the pennant last year and have gotten better. Their success came without Derek Lowe having a stellar year. ... They will be tough to beat."

New York Yankees: "Kevin Brown comes back to the American League with the pressure of leading a rebuilt New York pitching staff. The A-Rod trade made a big splash, but if Brown doesn't shine, neither do the Yanks. ... The Yanks of the past decade were a tight-knit group ... This is a put-together team that has to achieve and jell in a hurry to keep pace with the Red Sox. ... A-Rod is great, but the key will be how Brown does back in the AL and how well Vazquez fits into Yankee pinstripes."

As Opening Day draws closer, if your local paper has predictions, send them in (with a link, if possible) and I'll post them here. ... And don't forget the contest.
Cleveland 10, Boston 9. Let's get these games out of the way in March.
Boston     017 000 001 -  9 13 2
Cleveland 000 201 061 - 10 12 0
David McCarty belted two home runs -- off Jason Bere in the 2nd and Cliff Bartosh in the 3rd -- but Cleveland rallied late and topped the Sox. ... Trailing 8-3, Cleveland struck for six runs in the bottom of the 8th inning. Coco Crisp's two-run double with no one out and the bases loaded cut Boston's lead to 8-7. Brandon Phillips tied the game with an RBI groundout and Crisp, after stealing third, scored the go-ahead run on Adam Piatt's twisting liner to deep right. ... The Red Sox tied the game in the ninth on Trace Coquillette's solo homer off Rafael Betancourt, but reliever Anastacio Martinez gave the lead (and the game) back in the bottom half. Victor Martinez singled and Jhonny Peralta walked. Martinez then threw Lou Merloni's sacrifice bunt into right field for an error that scored the winning run.
Just Random Notes. One of Curt Schilling's main goals this spring is relocating the fly balls he allows. "I thought we did that in a couple of situations today where we were intentionally trying to do it. ... [W]hen you're on the mound and you're getting ready to throw a pitch and you know the result before it happens, it's a pretty powerful thing, and it happens to me a lot because I've seen these guys hit off me time and time again, so I know if I make my pitch, I know the ball's going to go to this spot if it gets hit. ... Fenway is a park that allows you to make mistakes to center and right-center. As a guy who puts balls in the air, I need to make sure that's the part of the ballpark I use the most."

Schilling on Varitek: "From the preparation standpoint, I think we're birds of a feather. He's got an opinion on every hitter in different situations and so do I. I'm going to be able to tap into that extensively." ... Curt: "I feel like my command got here quicker this spring than normal." ... Varitek: "I expected to see a good fastball, a good split and a good slider. I didn't know his curveball was as good as it was and now he has a good changeup."

Nomar Garciaparra returned to the lineup and was 0-2 with a walk and a run scored. He struck out looking to end the first inning and flew out to right in the sixth. His only fielding opportunity came in the fifth and he handled it cleanly. ... As the team exercises caution with Trot Nixon, Theo Epstein is not ruling out a possible trade before the start of the season. ... Cesar Crespo boosted his average to .435 (10-23). ... Although Ramiro Mendoza had a stiff neck yesterday, he threw 25 pitches of live batting practice and may make his game debut early next week.

Alex Belth interviews Howard Bryant, baseball columnist for the Boston Herald and the author of "Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston." ... Here's a look at the possibility that vertigo may be a side effect of steroid use, with comments on the careers of Nick Esasky and golfer David Duval.


Al Qaeda Endorses Bush. "In a statement sent to the Arabic language daily al-Hayat, the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades ... said it supported President Bush in his reelection campaign ... as it was not possible to find a leader 'more foolish than you (Bush), who deals with matters by force rather than with wisdom. ... Kerry will kill our nation while it sleeps because he and the Democrats have the cunning to embellish blasphemy and present it to the Arab and Muslim nation as civilization. Because of this we desire you (Bush) to be elected.'" ... This is Reuters, not The Onion!

Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia reported himself to the Florida National Guard on Tuesday to seek conscientious objector status. He repeated his determination not to return to the Middle East. "I'm prepared to go to prison because I'll have a clear conscience. This is an oil-driven war, and I don't think any soldier signs up to fight for oil."
Red Sox 3, Cleveland 1. In a crisp 2:18.
Cleveland   001 000 000  -  1  5  0
Boston 000 101 10x - 3 6 1

Curt Schilling pitched six strong innings: 2 hits, 1 run, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts. He threw 74 pitches, including 50 strikes. Schilling's next outing will be Monday against the Dodgers. ... After Schilling allowed a solo home run to Casey Blake, Boston tied the game in the 4th when Nomar walked, went to third on Ortiz's single and scored on Millar's fly ball. In the 6th, Ortiz pounded a home run (his 5th this spring) off Giovanni Carrara. In the 7th, Kapler led off with a double, moved to third on a bunt and scored on Cesar Crespo's single. The Red Sox are now 8-5. Mike F's report.
9/11 Commission Public Hearings Next Week. Senior officials of the Bush and Clinton administrations -- CIA Director George Tenet, Secretaries of State Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright, Defense Secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and William Cohen and Clinton's National Security Adviser Samuel Berger -- will testify in public hearings next Tuesday and Wednesday before the 9/11 Commission (and likely broadcast on C-SPAN). Bush's National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice continues to refuse to testify publicly.

Powell "sought to assure Indians on Tuesday that the Bush administration would not try to halt the outsourcing of high-technology jobs to their country." ... WTF? He's reassuring India that they shouldn't worry about job loss?!?!? ... Probing US Ties to Haiti Coup; Aristide has given more details on the kidnapping. ... "NBC News has obtained, exclusively, extraordinary secret video, shot by the US government [in 2000]. It illustrates an enormous opportunity the Clinton administration had to kill or capture bin Laden." Ah, yes! It's time once again to play "Blame the Clenis"! The CIA wants to know who leaked the "highly classified" video. (Hint: Check with the Plame investigation.)

Bush: "I think it's -- if you're going to make an accusation in the course of a presidential campaign, you ought to back it up with facts." Does that clown have any self-awareness? ... Look! It's the new Bush ad.
Reds 5, Red Sox 4. Tuesday night.
Boston      000 020 200 --  4  9  0
Cincinnati 000 110 102 -- 5 9 0
Juan Castro tripled in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth off Anastacio Martinez. Reds starter Jose Acevedo allowed RBI doubles to Johnny Damon and Pokey Reese in the fifth (he also struck out the side in the 2nd). Kevin Youkilis hit a long 2-run home run off Todd Van Poppel in the eighth. ... Bronson Arroyo struck out five in three hitless innings. He walked three (the leadoff man in the 2nd and two in the 3rd) and threw 60 pitches. "[I'll] be trying to concentrate on getting in shape to handle the grind of six or seven innings. I just want to build my arm up." ... Arroyo may get the nod for the Fenway opener on April 9.

Trot Nixon took BP yesterday, but he may not be ready for the start of the season. So Terry Francona -- "just out of common sense" -- has spoken to Manny Ramirez about playing in his old position. Kevin Millar would then play left field. ... Ramirez has acquired the rights to www.mannyramirez.com and his sister has begun developing the site.

It looks as if all the media hooey about the Red Sox not accepting Terry Francona was bunk. Brian Daubach: "He seems to keep everyone feeling like they're a part of it. For a Red Sox camp, it's real laid-back. ...[I]t's been all about the game, which isn't always the case here." ... Millar: "He's been amazing so far. ... He's got an open-door policy. ... The big thing is you can talk to him. You can ask questions and he'll get your input into what you're thinking."

Tim Wakefield, Alan Embree and Keith Foulke pitched in a simulated game. ... Francona is leaning toward starting the season with 11 pitchers instead of 12. ... Johnny Damon spoke to Tito's Predecessor recently about reports in which Damon said he was benched last year for partying too much. "[TP] saw me with a friend of mine that looks a little shady. I hang out with rock stars, movie directors. Of course they look a little shady. ... But there wasn't a day last year where I had to be carried home." Uh, thanks, Johnny.

Bill James: "All of my work is entirely driven by questions. The statistics are simply a pathway between the question and the answer. ... When you first discover something like this (that lefty pitchers are harder to steal on than righties) and you print it, you first think, or at least I did, that the whole world is going to be aware of this now and that people will stop saying that left-handed pitchers are easier to run on than right-handers. You quickly discover that nobody is paying that much attention, and that you can demonstrate that proposition A is clearly false and people will continue to assert proposition A for the next 100 years anyway. ...

"Working with the Red Sox gives me a new perspective on every problem. It's more like trying to figure out if the things I thought from the outside really work from the inside. ... There's a universe of unknowns and a little cigar box of information. We're so far away from reaching the end of the task that it's laughable. We don't know anything, really." ... MLB: "Is the truth really in the numbers?"

Curt Schilling cited a lack of trust between the union and management regarding steroid testing. "[Y]ou find an independent third party that will handle drug testing free of ownership input and I'd bet you 99.9 percent of the players in baseball would say please do it." Damon: "I actually believe the owners want [steroids] in the game. What boosted attendance in baseball more than home runs, guys taking steroids and hitting home runs? That boosted attendance. It boosted salaries. It boosted money for owners."

Marvin Miller is calling "for a federal probe into the leak that led a newspaper to report sluggers Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and Gary Sheffield received steroids. from a nutritional supplement lab in California." Miller: "[I]t's upsetting that the media finds no room to criticize the violation by the [Department of Justice]. ... This might not be as serious as leaking the name of an undercover CIA officer, but this falls into the same category. ... Newspapers think that if you're called to give testimony before a grand jury you're guilty of something. ... The media is beginning to act like the ayatollahs in Iran, thinking they're the guardian of civic behavior."


Pedro, Sox Talk Deal. Michael Silverman reports: "Talks between Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox about a contract extension are expected to continue this week, although an initial offer has yet to be made by the team ... Talks with Martinez remain in the preliminary stages, after the sides met once early last week. The Sox ace is seeking a deal before the end of spring training, after which he has vowed to enter the free-agent market while not ruling out the possibility of re-signing with the ballclub."

Karim "Uromysitisis" Garcia shot back at Pedro Martinez. Daily News: "I really don't care what he says. Whatever floats his boat, that's not my business. Give it a rest. We're in a new year. They lost. So what? Move on. Unfortunately, when they lost against the Yankees, it's probably a little harder for them to swallow it." ... Post: "He's already thinking about me, and I'm not playing in the American League anymore." Asked if he had lost respect for Martinez: "Who said I had respect for Pedro to begin with?" ... Newsday: "I'm not going to get into a war of words with Pedro. If he wants to bury himself, that's fine. I faced him in Game 7. He pitched his game, I played mine and that was it. I moved on."
"'Can you start the 8th?' I said, 'Okay. Just have the guys ready in case I stumble a little bit.' I was over my pitch limit already. ... Then all of a sudden, everybody kept coming up and it's up to me." Transcript of Pedro Martinez's ESPN Sunday Conversation with Peter Gammons:

Pedro: I'm very happy to see A-Rod on that team, not because he's A-Rod, but because he has a chance to win. And every athlete looks out for the other and we all want to win.

Gammons: Is it a help to you to have a guy like Schilling come in and at least - does that take some pressure off you?

Pedro: Yes, it does. Schilling gives me another sense of security, to actually say, "Hey, if I don't win today, we have the same chance tomorrow -- and the same chance tomorrow, and the same chance tomorrow," because right now, at this point, I feel like Wakefield is equally as effective as I might be; D-Lowe, you can never underestimate him; Schilling, you're talking about another Pedro Martinez; and my presense there will actually just give us all the security we need.

Gammons: Did you think you got treated unfairly in that Game 3 last, in the Yankees series?

Pedro: Very unfair. Very unfair. And I'm not expecting anybody to treat me like a lady or whatever. But I was having a bad day. I was struggling -- that wasn't a good time for me to do anything bad at that point. ... Karim Garcia. Who's Karim Garcia? I have no respect for that guy. I don't have anything to prove to that guy. He needs to be forcing himself to come up to where I am -- to my level. When you talk about Jeter, Bernie Williams, Paul O'Neill, guys like that that you really tip your hat, that you can understand, but guys like Karim Garcia -- What? So what? Who are you? Who are you Karim Garcia to try to test Pedro Martinez, a proven player for 10 years? That's what I don't understand. Why would I hit Karim Garcia?

And then Zimmer went out of his way to try to get to me. I'm coming out, I'm the last guy coming out, Zimmer steps way out of line, to try to skip everybody, to do I don't know what -- what would happen if Zimmer comes up to me, I'm on the edge of the dugout and he pushes me back and I break my neck? What will happen? I tried to hold him, I tried to protect him, because I understood. I was fully aware that it was Zimmer. I did not mean to hurt him. The man tried to punch me. So I stepped aside, did not throw a punch whatsoever. I let him go. He was falling, he was pulling my arm and thinking to pull me with him. So I let go. By no means do I want to hurt a guy that's my daddy's age.

Gammons: When you came off the mound at the end of the 7th inning, did you think that you were out of the game?

Pedro: I was actually told I wasn't going to go back out. Um --

Gammons: Who told you?

Pedro: Uh, actually Chris Correnti -- my therapist. He said "You're done." And so did Wallace -- Dave Wallace, he said "Well, I think you are done." So -- I wasn't really convinced that I was done, because the guys were warming up. Grady came up and said, "Can you start the 8th?" I said, "Okay. Just have the guys ready in case I stumble a little bit." I was over my pitch limit already. They had told me how many pitches, pretty much, I was going to throw in case I have to go to the World Series. And then all of a sudden, I got in trouble. And when Grady came out, the simple question was whether I could pitch to Matsui or not. And I said Yes. Of course I can pitch to one more, why not? Then all of a sudden, everybody kept coming up and it's up to me. Grady felt like that, I felt like I could get everybody out -- still. But it didn't work. It just didn't work.

According to another clip/transcript, this was what Pedro said after that last quote ended: "They just got to me and that's, that's it. I'm proud of it. I mean, I'm not gonna say I'm sorry because I lost the game or I lost the lead. I did whatever possible to win. I lost the lead, yes I did, I did not lose the game - it's okay, but we lost it - it's the same."

Tito's Predecessor to GQ: "Time after time after time this year, when this kid [Pedro] got into a jam in an inning where it's getting close to the end of his outing, he's the one we left in there to get out of the jam that inning. Then we'd take him out of the game. We'd done it through the year, over and over and over." ... Yeah, except the jam Pedro got himself out of, when getting close to the end of his outing, was in the 7th inning! Sh*thead.

Over at Royal Rooters, "Brooklyn Sox Fan" wrote: "People in New England will be sitting around a table 25 years from now and somebody will ask, 'Why did that idiot leave him in?' and everybody will understand exactly what that person is talking about."
More Fakery. "TV news reports in America that showed President George Bush getting a standing ovation from potential voters have been exposed as fake ... The US government admitted it paid actors to pose as journalists in video news releases sent to TV stations intending to convey support for new laws about health benefits. Investigators are examining the film segments ... to see if they could be construed as propaganda." (More here and here)

George W. Bush, January 23, 2002: "I have no ambition whatsoever to use [national security] as a political issue." ... March 2004: "Administration sources tell TIME that employees at the Department of Homeland Security have been asked to keep their eyes open for opportunities to pose the President in settings that might highlight the Administration's efforts to make the nation safer. The goal, they are being told, is to provide Bush with one homeland-security photo-op a month."

The Iraq on the Record Report is "a comprehensive examination of the statements made by the five Administration officials most responsible for providing public information and shaping public opinion on Iraq (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice). ... This database identifies 237 specific misleading statements about the threat posed by Iraq made by these five officials in 125 public appearances in the time leading up to and after the commencement of hostilities in Iraq."

"Two US Army medics in Iraq have applied for conscientious objector status and want to be honorably discharged from the military because the idea of killing is "revolting" to them ... News of the two soldiers' requests follow another application for conscientious objector status by Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia of Miami Beach, Fla. He surrendered Monday at an air force base in Massachusetts five months after failing to return to duty while on home leave after serving in Iraq." ... Another report says 600 soldiers have avoided service in Iraq.
He Won't Shut Up. Tito's Predecessor gave an interview to GQ. One quote: "I had players come and tell me that when they're on the field they're thinking about those ghosts. They think about Bill Buckner -- and not wanting to be a Bill Buckner. And if I got a couple of players come tell me that face-to-face, then I know in my heart I got twenty thinking that. It's just a couple of them got the balls enough to say it out loud."

As Dirt Dog says: "We want names Ghost-man. Give us the names of these Curse mongers."

TP also said: "I think there is going to be an NFL-type game plan for each and every game the Red Sox play from here on out. I think they're going to have the manager manage on a nightly basis to execute the game plan." ... Wait, you mean Francona's gonna "manage on a nightly basis to execute the game plan"? Every freaking night, for every single game? What is he, nuts?

I'm working on transcribing Pedro's ESPN Sunday conversation interview, so I'll have that (probably) this evening.


The Right Arm Of God. Is it back? Everyone reports that despite the somewhat ugly stat line -- 2 IP, 3 BB, 54 pitches -- Pedro Martinez said he felt great, perfect, strong, ready to go, etc. There is some skepticism and some fan discussion about Pedro's velocity and radar guns here.) Some quotes from the man:

redsox.com: "I felt today by the pop I had on the fastball, it's like something is different. There's some extra strength on my arm. It's only my second outing in Spring Training. I felt like I could throw 98 mph today. It's just perfect, the way it's going right now is perfect. ... Everything was fine except the fastball kept rising. I felt so strong I felt like it was really light by the time I delivered the ball, like, zoom. I don't have anything wrong."

Projo: "I'm real happy with myself. I just need to make some adjustments. Physically, I'm ready to go (start the season) today. I rested a little longer (in the off-season), and that's something I didn't do in the last few years."

Herald: "I guess all of the work from the previous three or four years is finally paying off. My body feels light, I can run for an hour, I can do everything I need to do and I'm still flexible and I'm throwing the ball great."

Herald (pay column): "I threw more fastballs than anything else. ... That's what I wanted to see, the way my body reacted. I felt like I wanted to continue to pitch. No soreness. Nothing. ... It's been a while (since I've felt this good). Probably '97 when I felt this strong and it was this easy to do things." [Martinez was supposed to throw only 45 pitches and wanted to pitch the third, but Dave Wallace said he'd seen enough.]

Jason Varitek: "He's got a glow about him. He’s got a hop in his step." Also: "[I]t wasn't like he was all over the place. He was off by a matter of smidgens."

Jeff Horrigan had the most actual play-by-play: Brian Roberts led off by flying out on Martinez's 8th pitch. Larry Bigbie smacked a single to right field, but was doubled up by Kevin Millar on Miguel Tejada's fly ball to the track. Rafael Palmeiro began the second inning with a hit to right field. Javy Lopez struck out looking, but Pedro then walked three of the next four batters on full counts (David Segui, Mark McLemore, Tim Raines Jr.) to force in a run. He ended his day by getting Roberts to fly out.

Pedro was downright gabby with the press. He spoke about David Ortiz, who homered in his 3rd consecutive game: "David, not being known as well as he is now I think gave him a lot of advantage. This year I'm pretty sure the league is going to be a little bit more careful about how they do things." And: "As far as I saw from the first year, there's no doubt in my mind he can do more. He didn't play for the first month and a half or so. He still put up those numbers, MVP numbers." Ortiz hit 31 HR and drove in 101 runs in only 448 AB.

Nixon and Nomar are both healing. ... Francona: "The one thing I don't want to do is give [Nomar] three days off and then have him come back if he's really, really not ready to go. If we don't play him Tuesday night and the Reds beat us, we're going to live." ... Tony Womack will likely begin the season on the 15-day disabled list. ... Derek Lowe leads the Grapefruit League with a 1.00 ERA (9 innings, 0 walks, 5 K). ... Damon reached base in all four plate appearances (HR, 1B, 2BB) to boost his OBP to .474.

Nice Yankees Headlines: Lieber in pain, Yanks in panic ... Already, They're Feeling The Strain

Check out The Hardball Times. Alex Belth, Joe Dimino, Robert Dudek, Aaron Gleeman, Ben Jacobs and Larry Mahnken are a few of the writers; Jacobs (Red Sox) and Mahnken (Yankees) will be writing "Rivals In Exile."


Red Sox Win Opening Night Preview. The Hub Hose are now 7-4.
Baltimore  010 010 000 - 2  8  0
Boston 002 300 00x - 5 9 0
Pedro Marinez and Sidney Ponson will face each other on April 4 at Camden Yards. Today, neither pitcher was sharp. Martinez threw 13 pitches in the first inning, but labored through 41 in the second. He walked three in the frame, including Tim Raines Jr. with the bases loaded. ... Johnny Damon and David Ortiz hit solo homers off Ponson in the 3rd. Boston added three runs in the 4th on RBI singles from Cesar Crespo and Gabe Kapler and a sac fly from Pokey Reese. Mike Timlin pitched two scoreless innings and Tim Hamulack earned his first save.
Around The World. Colin Powell is concerned with a lack of openness in Russia's presidential election and "a level of authoritarianism creeping back" into Russian society. (Hey Colin, about that beam in your eye ...) Powell also warned Iran that the US won't "sit by idly" while Tehran pursues building nuclear weapons. ... The Army is spread so thin that many soldiers who have returned from Iraq will be sent back and monthly bonuses are being offered to soldiers in South Korea for extending their tours of duty.

The US is allegedly secretly funding opponents of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela; Xymphora on a second coup attempt. ... A US-registered cargo plane loaded with 64 "mercernaries" and various military equipment was impounded March 7 at Zimbabwe's Harare International Airport "after its owners had made a false declaration of its cargo and crew." (here and here)

Barbara Bush worries her son might suffer a crushing defeat like the one her husband experienced in 1992. The poor dear. ... About a year ago, she told ABC: "Why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's gonna happen? It's not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
Schilling Is Curt With Minor Leaguers. The new ace pitched four scoreless innings in a simulated game against a bunch of Sox minor leaguers: Chris Durbin, Brandon Moss, David Murphy, Hanley Ramirez, Chad Spann, Dustin Brown, Jeremy West, James Buckley, Patrick Boran and Kenton Myers. Schilling threw 62 pitches, allowing one hit (a single by West), and two walks; he struck out five. ... Gabe Kapler played third base during the outing. ... Mike F was there with his camera.

For the 4th consecutive year, Schilling will not pitch against teams in his division in spring training. "I feel like with the video preparation that I do, I have a huge advantage over hitters that haven't seen me." ... He's also experimenting with a changeup after getting some tips from Pedro.

Johnny Pesky: "There's not a tougher place for a third base coach than Fenway Park. ... Wendell [Kim] ... thought everybody could run like Seabiscuit. And Rene Lachemann was a guy who had great baseball instincts, but he was awful." Dale Sveum takes over this year. ... Last year, Derek Lowe says he didn't throw as well as he's throwing now until June. I like this news a lot. ... Bob Hohler looks at the Blue Jays. ... Baseball has always been dying.

With a headline like this -- "Will BoSox blow it? Always do" -- you know just what you're gettin'. Dave Perkins writes that the Red Sox are loaded this year, so "it's difficult to imagine which portion of the club will go kablooey and leave the customers in tears," but "something always does." ... There aren't many moldier storylines than this, although "baseball is dying" is certainly one of them (though to be honest, a lot of his piece deals with the '04 improvements). Maybe Perkins is angling for a writing gig in Boston?

Either way, he ought to can the kablooey talk, because he writes for a paper in a town whose 1987 team led the Tigers in the AL East by 3½ games with 7 to play. Toronto lost all 7 games, including the last 3 to Detroit and finished 2 games out of first. Known then as the "Blow Jays," that collapse came only two years after losing the ALCS to the Royals after being up 3 games to 1.

Dave Perkins -- you are on The List.


Saturday Afternoon. Lowe Goes 5, Daubach Slams Home 4.
Boston   400 100 020 - 7  8  0
Toronto 000 100 000 - 1 8 0
The Red Sox hit four home runs, including Brian Daubach's first-inning grand slam. Three solo shots -- David McCarty in the 4th and Andy Dominique and Terry Shumpert in the 8th -- capped the scoring. Derek Lowe (in his 3rd start of the spring) worked five innings, allowing five hits and one run.

An MRI revealed inflammation in a muscle in Byung-Hyun Kim's right shoulder. He will rest for the next week before being reevaluated. While it's possibile that Kim could miss the start of the season, Terry Francona said the team had "about six different plans to cover everything." Bronson Arroyo will take over the #5 spot in the rotation.

Keith Foulke threw a perfect inning of relief yesterday: 12 pitches, 9 strikes. Varitek and Francona were quite happy, although Foulke (a bit of a perfectionist, apparently) said he felt "a little sloppy." Foulke also commented on his lack of emotion on the field: "Most [closers] like to be fired up, juiced up. I have to be calm. That's the way I play. You won't get a lot of fist pumps out of me."

Trot Nixon is feeling much better; he began aerobic activity yesterday. Nomar Garciaparra, still hampered by a bruised right heel, will not play at all this weekend, but will take BP and infield practice. ... Pedro Martinez told John Tomase that he finds his first name boring. "My brother always called me Enyo. I've never really liked Pedro. I like my middle name much better. I'd like to be Jaime."
The bin Laden Secret Air Lift. "Immediately after 9/11, dozens of Saudi royals and members of the bin Laden family fled the US in a secret airlift authorized by the Bush White House. One passenger was an alleged al-Qaida go-between, who may have known about the terror attacks in advance." An excerpt from "House of Bush, House of Saud" by Craig Unger, which will be published March 16. (Search for September 13-19, 2001 here for some background; a second excerpt; more this week; also.)

John Kerry has challenged George W. Bush to a series of monthly debates. I can't imagine Bush agreeing to this -- even though last month he said: "There is going to be ample time for the American people to assess whether or not I made good calls, whether or not I used good judgment ... and I look forward to that debate" -- but he runs a real risk if he does not accept.

On March 17, 2003, Bush addressed the women of Iraq: "We will deliver the food and medicine you need. We will tear down the apparatus of terror and we will help you to build a new Iraq that is prosperous and free." One year later, Yifat Susskind of MADRE examines how Iraqi women and families are faring under US occupation.

George Bush "marked International Women's Week by paying tribute to women reformers -- but one of those he cited is really a man." Referring to Fathi Jahmi in a speech on Friday, Bush said: "She's a local government official who was imprisoned in 2002 for advocating free speech and democracy." ... By the way, April 1 is National "I'm Embarrassed by My President" Day.

This is interesting: "Over the past few days ... there have been reports that US forces have unloaded a large cargo of parts for constructing long-range missiles and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the southern ports of Iraq. A reliable source from the Iraqi Governing Council [said] US forces, with the help of British forces stationed in southern Iraq, had made extensive efforts to conceal their actions."

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has kept a piece of Flight 77 on his desk "to remember the terrorist attacks." Sally Regenhard, whose son died in the towers, says the souvenir-taking by officials (and it appears to be widespread) was part of a larger failure to preserve evidence. Most of the WTC steel (I recall reading 80%, but don't have a link) was immediately sold and shipped to China, thus making any investigation into exactly how the two towers collapsed impossible. However, enough steel was saved so that a Georgia company could make commemorative medallions for $30 apiece.


Red Sox 5, Dodgers 1. Box.
Los Angeles  000  010  000 - 1  8  1
Boston 202 000 10x - 5 6 0
Tim Wakefield threw 3 innings, allowing 2 hits and 2 walks, but no runs. Keith Foulke, making his spring debut, threw a perfect 4th. Boston battered starter Hideo Nomo for 3 hits, 4 walks and 4 runs. ... Five innings of play-by-play thanks to pedro1918:

Dodgers 1st: Ruan out. Izturis singled. Beltre out. Green out.
Red Sox 1st: Damon 6-3. Mueller K. Ramirez doubled off LF wall. Ortiz homered down RF line. Bellhorn F9.

Dodgers 2nd: Encarnacion walked. Ventura F5. Knuckleball got away, but Encarnacion caught advancing. Ross walked. Trammell F5.
Red Sox 2nd: Kapler walked, was caught stealing. Varitek F9. Womack lined out.

Dodgers 3rd: Hernandez P4. Bruhan 6-3. Izturis singled to shortstop, stole 2nd. Beltre F8.
Red Sox 3rd: Crespo walked. Damon singled, Crespo to 2nd. Mueller F9, Crespo to 3rd. Ramirez walked, bases loaded. Ortiz forced Ramirez at 2nd, Ortiz to 2nd on Nomo's error, Damon and Crespo scored. Bellhorn walked. Kapler FC.

Dodgers 4th: Foulke pitching. Green 4-3. Encarnacion F8. Ventura 4-3.
Red Sox 4th: Dreifort pitching. Varitek K. Womack 4-3. Crespo singled. Damon FC.

Dodgers 5th: Embree pitching, Mirabelli catching. Ross F9. Trammell L7. Hernandez singled off Embree's glove. Ruan singled, Hernandez to 2nd. Izturis singled, Hernandez scored, Ruhan to 3rd. Beltre F8.
Red Sox 5th: Shuey pitching. Shumpert P6. Ramirez 6-3. Ortiz K.
PECOTA Projections. Rob Neyer posts the 2003 OPSs and BP's PECOTA 2004 projections for Boston's eight returning regulars:
             2003  2004   Diff
Millar 820 849 + 29
Damon 750 772 + 22
Garciaparra 870 865 - 5
Ramirez 1014 992 - 22
Varitek 863 799 - 64
Ortiz 961 894 - 67
Nixon 975 883 - 92
Mueller 938 775 -163
PECOTA expects only Millar and Damon to improve and forsees a big decline for Mueller and Nixon. Theo Epstein told BP last month that Millar was the only one of the eight who would likely improve: "[W]e are, in our internal planning, not expecting to score quite as many runs as we did last year. ... But we're OK with that, because we're going to score a number of runs we're comfortable with and we're going to allow a lot fewer runs." Neyer believes the Red Sox will score fewer runs than the Yankees: "The evidence at hand can point to no other conclusion." ... Let's look at the Yankees numbers for comparision:
           2003  2004   Diff
Williams 778 814 + 36
Giambi 939 971 + 32
Rodriguez 995 1021 + 26
Matsui 788 811 + 23
Jeter 844 797 - 47
Lofton 801 746 - 55
Posada 922 828 - 94
Sheffield 1023 902 -121
Boston is scaling back David McCarty's pitching experiment, in case Trot Nixon doesn't recover from his back injury in time for Opening Day. Nixon remains about four days away from resuming workouts. ... Bill Mueller was not available to play because of a stiff back. ... Ellis Burks hasn't seen any action in the outfield and Francona said he won't any time soon. ... Curt Schilling, Pedro Martinez and Scott Williamson all sing Jason Varitek's praises.

Before yesterday's game against the Orioles, Boston had the AL's lowest batting average (.228) and OBP (.294) through their first seven exhibition games. Here are the team's spring stats: batting and pitching. ... Nomar on whether the team has offered him or his agent a contract: "If they have (made an offer), I haven't seen it. There's nothing going on. ... it was just more dialogue."

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli was the Yankees first base coach last year. When asked about Tito's Predecessor, he said, "What [he] did, he did with conviction and you've got to respect that as a manager and a baseball person." ... So, no matter how bone-headed, misguided and contrary to all common f*cking sense the manager's decision is, as long as he does it with conviction, he deserves my respect? Not from where I'm sitting. That seems as wrong as praising someone because he "stands up for what he believes in" -- what if he believes in slavery or torturing kittens or that Jeter has good range? When wrong is wrong, the justification doesn't matter.


Wrong 'Em Arroyo. Baltimore Bops Brandon. Box.
Baltimore  402 010 201 - 10  14  1
Boston 000 200 015 - 8 10 0
In 2+ innings, Brandon Arroyo was smacked around by the Orioles, allowing 6 runs and 7 hits. Miguel Tejada had two hits and 3 RBI before leaving with a minor muscle strain in his lower right leg in the bottom of the fourth. Tejada, Jay Gibbons and BJ Surhoff each hit two-run homers and Javy Lopez went 3-3 with two doubles. Baltimore starter Rodrigo Lopez tossed three perfect innings with three strikeouts. ... The Red Sox closed the gap with five runs in the ninth, thanks to Andy Dominique's three-run double and RBI doubles by Kelly Shoppach and Jeremy Owens. Tim Hamulack threw 2 scoreless innings in relief of Arroyo.

Boston made its first cuts, sending infielder Jesus Medrano, catcher Jeff Bailey, and pitchers Ed Yarnall and Paul Rigdon to minor league camp. Pitcher Bryan Hebson was optioned to Pawtucket.
In Da Club. Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, wrote an article recently (Sports Illustrated, March 1, 2004) in which he responded to many of his critics. He began by talking about The Club. "The Club includes not only the people in the front office who operate the team but also ... many of the writers and broadcasters who follow the game and purport to explain it. The Club is exclusive, but the criteria for admission and retention are nebulous. There are many ways to embarrass the Club, but being bad at your job is not one of them. The greatest offense a Club member can commit is not ineptitude but disloyalty. ... There are no real standards, because no one wants to put too fine a point on the question: What qualifies these people for these jobs? Taking into account any quality other than Clubability would make everyone's membership a little less secure."

I thought of Lewis's comments while reading this article on Dusty Baker. Dusty is clearly a member of The Club. "I think walks are overrated unless you can run. If you get a walk and put the pitcher in a stretch, that helps. But the guy who walks and can't run, most of the time they're clogging up the bases for somebody who can run. ... Who's been the champions the last seven, eight years? Have you ever heard the Yankees talk about on-base percentage and walks? [Uh, yeah Dusty, all the freakin' time.] Walks help. But you ain't going to walk across the plate. You're going to hit across the plate. That's the school I come from. It's called hitting, and it ain't called walking. Do you ever see the top 10 walking? You see top 10 batting average. A lot of those top 10 do walk. But the name of the game is to hit." ... In the words of one Baseball Primer poster: "If someone can't learn the value of plate discipline from managing Bonds, there is no hope."

Last year's Red Sox manager (hereinafter referred to as "Tito's Predecessor") believed Johnny Damon was hitting the sauce too much last year and that's why the Unfrozen Caveman started only 141 games. Damon, who apparently likes his liquids, was surprised by the accusation. "I found out from him that he thought I might have been partying too much. I might have been out (at night), but I was eating food, hanging out with my girlfriend, hanging out with my teammates. ... There was never one time last year that I was incapacitated where I was so dang drunk that I didn't know what was going on. I'm smarter than that."

SoSH poster gutzalpus2: "Damon was interviewed on 99.7 (the score) this morning. ... He said that one of the games he was benched for was when the team went to Anaheim -- he went to Vegas on his off day and was benched the next day when Grady found out about this. He also said that a couple of times Grady gave him the day off when other teammates went to Grady asking him to give Damon the day off because he was 'hurting'. Not sure if that meant 'hurting' as in hung over from partying or just from being worn down from playing a 162 game season -- he didn't elaborate on that."

Damon says he'll be a little more aggressive at the plate this season. "The last couple of years, I put myself in a bind as far as my average and OPS because I'd go up there and take (pitches), trying to wear the pitchers out. When the bat's struggling, that's the time I need to take a few more pitches and try to beat them by walking. But when the bat's going good, I need to swing it and make things happen." ... To which Terry Francona said: "I want him to get on base. I don't care if he walks, hits, or bunts." ... Damon's OBP last year was only .345, which tied him with Nomar Garciaparra for 2nd worst in the starting lineup. The lowest OBP belonged to Todd Walker (.333). Imagine how deadly the Red Sox offense would have been if Tito's Predecessor hadn't batted the 3 worst OBPs at the top of the order; Manny would have picked up a few more RBI too.

Sean McAdam writes that the Red Sox have made their third contract-extension offer in the last 12 months to Nomar: four years with an average annual value of $13-14, and a possible fifth option year. While not as lucrative as the team's deal last spring, it is better than what they offered after the end of last season. The offer was not accepted. ... Ramiro Mendoza threw off a mound for the first time in nearly a month yesterday. ... Trouble Already? Gary Sheffield says he is "pissed off" at Brian Cashman.

Sandy Koufax, an old friend of Dave Wallace, was in the Red Sox camp this week. ... A poster named "FourZeroSix" at wickedeastcoastforums compares Koukax and Pedro Martinez. Koufax was a great pitcher, although he also had an advantage of working in an extreme pitcher's park in a low-scoring era. When you look at career ERA, league ERA, ERA+, WHIP, K/BB ... it ain't even close.
        ERA+     Year
Pedro 285 2000 (1.74 ERA/AL ERA 4.97)
Pedro 245 1999 (2.07 ERA/AL ERA 5.07)
Pedro 221 1997
Pedro 212 2003
Pedro 196 2002
Koufax 190 1966
Pedro 189 2001
Koufax 187 1964
Koufax 161 1963
Pedro 160 1998
Koufax 160 1965
If you include only those seasons in which the pitcher's mound was 60-6 from the plate, Pedro has the #1, #8, #15, #25 and #40 all-time ERA+ seasons. Koufax's best ranks #56 all-time. ... And just because I was curious, here are three seasons:
              ERA   Lg ERA  ERA+
2000 Pedro 1.74 4.97 285
1966 Koufax 1.73 3.28 190
1968 Gibson 1.12 2.90 258
If I Could Just Touch The Hem Of His Garment. George W. Bush will be in New York's Nassau County this afternoon for a fund-raiser in Eisenhower Park. He'll also meet some families of 9/11 victims on the future site of a memorial to the victims. The top order to park employees from the White House and the Secret Service? "The president's feet are not to touch the dirt." ... From the new Iraqi Constitution: Article 14 begins: "The individual has the right to security, education, health care, and social security. ..." That sounds pretty good. Why can't we get constitutions like that?


The Cold, Marble Permanence Of Black Ink On White Pages. "There are many people who say that the era of print encyclopedias has passed. Let us hope that Lucifer is saving these people a nice warm spot. I want a bumper sticker: You can have my Baseball Encyclopedia when you tear it from my cold, dead hands." So sayeth Bill James about this essential tome's just-published 2004 edition. Edited by Pete Palmer and Gary Gillette, you get 1,712 wonderful pages for a mere $25. I got mine (and Baseball Prospectus 2004) today. Woo-hoo!

Here's a short interview with James. Jayson Stark on David McCarty, who is getting a barrel of ink for someone unlikely to make the big club. Still, it is a pretty cool story.
23 Questions. The 9/11 Family Steering Committee for an Independent Commission has prepared twenty-three questions it hopes the 9/11 Commission will ask George W. Bush. Commission member Jamie Gorelick called the list "a road map" for the government's investigation. Let's hope the Commission takes the trip. Here are four of the questions:

5. US Navy Captain Deborah Loewer, the Director of the White House Situation Room, informed you of the first airliner hitting Tower One of the World Trade Center before you entered the Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. Please explain the reason why you decided to continue with the scheduled classroom visit, fifteen minutes after learning the first hijacked airliner had hit the World Trade Center.

7. What plan of action caused you to remain seated after Andrew Card informed you that a second airliner had hit the second tower of the World Trade Center and America was clearly under attack? Approximately how long did you remain in the classroom after Card's message?

12. What defensive measures did you take in response to pre-9/11 warnings from eleven nations about a terrorist attack, many of which cited an attack in the continental United States? Did you prepare any directives in response to these actions? If so, with what results?

19. Who approved the flight of the bin Laden family out of the United States when all commercial flights were grounded, when there was time for only minimal questioning by the FBI, and especially, when two of those same individuals had links to WAMY, a charity suspected of funding terrorism? Why were bin Laden family members granted that special privilege, a privilege not available to American families whose loved ones were killed on 9/11?

Also worth reading: The New Pentagon Papers: A high-ranking military officer reveals how Defense Department extremists suppressed information and twisted the truth to drive the country to war. By Karen Kwiatkowski
Red Sox 4, Cardinals 3. This afternoon. Box:
Red Sox    200  011  000 -  4  9  1
Cardinals 200 000 100 - 3 5 3
The Red Sox struck first on David Ortiz's two-run, first-inning homer off Matt Morris. The Cardinals quickly got the runs back on Albert Pujols's sacrifice fly and Scott Rolen's RBI single. Byung-Hyun Kim yielded those runs and three hits in 2.1 innings and was pulled after reaching his 45-pitch limit. Boston went ahead 3-2 in the fifth when Johnny Damon scored on Brian Daubach's double. In the 6th, Doug Mirabelli scored from first when Ray Lankford couldn't handle Terry Shumpert's fly to deep left field. The Cardinals closed the gap in the seventh when Kerry Robinson singled home Kevin Witt. Jason Shiell picked up the win and Anastacio Martinez got the save.

Before I forget: Oakland beat Anaheim last Saturday 26-3. I like 20+ run games.

Following up on Pedro's comment that an average pitcher should need only 110-115 pitches to throw a complete game, I looked at his CG for the past 3 seasons.
5/24/01 @NYY 8 6 2 2 3 12 120 Yankees 2-1
6/14/02 @Atl 8 8 2 2 1 5 110 Atlanta 2-1
8/16/02 @Min 8 8 5 3 1 10 108 Twins 5-0
5/ 3/03 vMin 9 5 1 1 0 12 107 Red Sox 9-1
8/ 6/03 vAna 9 10 2 1 1 11 128 Red Sox 4-2
9/16/03 vTB 9 6 2 2 1 6 122 Red Sox 3-2
I suppose this really doesn't show much of anything, since Pedro threw 110+ pitches many times since 2001 and did not go the distance. But he did have low pitch counts in 3 of the 6 games listed. ... I'm not 100% sure the first game listed was a CG (however, Pedro threw only 1 in 2001 and after looking at his log, this is the most likely outing). On 8/6/03, he allowed one of the two runs in the 9th inning. In the 9/16/03 game, he led 1-0 after 7 innings, but allowed the tying run in the 8th. Boston went ahead 3-1 in the bottom half, then Pedro allowed another run in the top of the 9th, but held on for the victory. He was probably pretty gassed to be scored on like that by the Devil Rays. ... If he is kept on a strict limit this season -- and with the current Sox pen, there is no reason why not -- he'll throw one complete game, two at the most.
Scary Good. Pedro Martinez was happy with his outing last night. "Right now just the fact that I feel fine, feel healthy, feel strong, that's good enough." Curt Schilling felt strong and sharp -- "scary good" even: "I don't remember a Spring Training game where I felt as good warming up as I did tonight. I did some things where it was more in-season-like ... the pattern, the pitch selection, the way all four pitches were working." And Schilling loves working with Jason Varitek: "A couple of things tonight bode well for the season, and that's one of them. I have a guy who is in command back there, in total control. I haven't had that the last five, seven years. A catcher back there who is into it as much as I am ... that's someone I always wanted, and now I have him."

The idea of slotting Tim Wakefield between Martinez and Schilling appeals to everyone. Pedro likes it: "Wakefield has had very good success pitching after me. Any time hitters see him after a hard-thrower, they have a big adjustment to make." Schilling likes it: "[W]hatever they think is best for us, I'm all for it. Following [Wakefield] probably wouldn't be a bad thing. ... I'm absolutely fine with it." And Francona likes it: "If everything works out OK, yeah, that's what we're looking at. It would be beneficial to all three. It'll help our staff just be more effective. I just think it makes the most sense. How we're going to do it is still up in the air. But we want to get there, at some point."

Pitching coach Dave Wallace has had several conversations with Martinez about pitch counts. Pedro: "I should pitch a complete game with 110 pitches, 115 pitches. There's no need to go any further than that. That's what the average starting pitcher should finish a game with. If anybody asks for more, damn! C'mon now, we're only human. ... 120, 130, you're looking for surgery at the end of the year." Some people may not like the Red Sox announcing this kind of stuff, but everyone must know by now Pedro is on a strict count, especially after last fall. And frankly, with the bullpen as currently staffed, none of the starters should have to go over 110 very often.

Yeah, This Again. Gordon Edes spoke with Jerry Narron (last year's bench coach). While Narron admitted he didn't know what was said among Little, Wallace and Martinez after the end of the 7th inning in Game 7, he had these comments: "But when Bernie [Williams] got a hit [in the eighth], Grady said to me, 'I know Petey is going to close the inning out.' And after he went out there and asked Petey how he was, he came back and said, 'He's going to get 'em out.' If he goes out there and Petey says, 'I'm OK' and he gets beat, then what would the reaction have been? ... Grady was prepared. He knew the numbers. He didn't always follow the numbers, but Grady was as prepared as any manager in baseball." ... Yes, I know I come back to this game with the fascination of picking at a scab. But I read Narron's defense of Gump as more of an indictment. Narron says that even before Gump went to the mound, he had planned to allow Pedro to finish the inning, because he knew in his gut Martinez would "get 'em out." And prepared? Please. The Grinning Jackass didn't hold a meeting with the hitters before the ALDS. All the scouting reports and files on the A's were left to gather dust on a shelf someplace.

Edes reports that the Sox have made offers to Martinez, Garciaparra and Varitek, with Nomar's believed to be 3 years plus an option. ... Trot Nixon received an epidural injection to relieve the pain in his left side and said it seemed to subside. ... Pokey Reese missed the Reds game with a bruised jaw: "I was stretching a little too close to (David) McCarty and McCarty's fist caught me right in the jaw. I couldn't even eat afterwards." X-rays were negative. ... Byung-Hyun Kim will start this afternoon against St. Louis; David Ortiz and Johnny Damon will be the only regulars making the trip. ... Francona plans to play Kapler at third base sometime this spring. ... Keith Foulke, who is experimenting with a split-fingered fastball, is scheduled to pitch Friday against the Dodgers.


Reds 3, Red Sox 2. Tuesday night.
Cincinnati  100 010 010 - 3  6  0
Boston 100 001 000 - 2 3 0
Pedro said he was pleased with his performance and Schilling sounded strong (3.2 IP, 5 K, 47 pitches), but Williamson had a tough 8th inning -- 2 consecutive full counts (one walk) followed by a bloop double down the left field line that scored the Reds' 3rd run. The Red Sox had only four baserunners all night: Kapler's double in the 1st, Ramirez's walk in the 1st, Burks's double in the 4th, and Kapler's home run in the 6th. Adam Hyzdu made three nifty catches in right field. ... That's about it.
Pedro's First Outing. In Fort Myers this evening:

Cincinnati 1st:

D'Angelo Jimenez:
outside high fastball
high 3-0
down middle fastball 3-1
up and in -- walk (all fastballs)

Barry Larkin:
fastball called strike
low outside cutter 1-1
foul to right side (runner going) 1-2
foul down right field line
6-3 (runner going, runner to 2nd)

Ken Griffey:
inside & high 1-0
foul off left side 1-1
ripped right field corner, double, run scored, poor relay home by shumpert

Adam Kearns:
fastball up and away 1-0
called strike 1-1
high fastball swing/miss 1-2
outside 2-2
over outside corner called K

Sean Casey:
called strike 0-1
high fly out to deep center, edge of track

Cincinnati 2nd inning:

Jason LaRue:
high 1-0
fouled right side 1-1
inside and high 2-1
swing, foul to screen 2-2
fastball high 3-2
fly out to shallow cf

Adam Dunn:
outside 1-0
slow breaking ball, called strike 1-1
changeup, low and away 2-1
high fly out to shallowish cf

Brandon Larson:
called strike 0-1
fouled to screen 1-1
fastball high 2-1
called strike three

14 pitches -- 34 total (2 innings, 1 hit, 1 run, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts).
Both teams scored in the first inning. After two innings, 1-1.
Is Schilling Baseball's Best #3 Starter? Tim Wakefield says he has been "unofficially told" that he will be slotted between Pedro Martinez and Curt Schilling in the rotation, possibly as early as mid-April. Wakefield says the move "would be the best contrast for the team." Theo Epstein agrees -- "[I]f you can break up back-to-back (similar) looks, you do." -- but it's far from official. Epstein also says the Red Sox actually have 4-5 different styles, which is true. Derek Lowe and Byung-Hyun Kim offer much different looks and pitches than the other three. ... Just another reason why talk of who is a #2 or a #5 pitcher is silly.

Martinez makes his spring debut at 7:05 against the Reds and will likely pitch two innings. "I'm ready to go. I just want to be like I am right now -- healthy. I feel good." Schilling will relieve Martinez -- sorry Cincinnati! ... Since this blog grew out of my old Pedro45 website, I'm planning on posting Martinez's pitch-by-pitch, at the very least; we'll see what WEEI (via MLB's website) gives me.

Sean McAdam reports that agents representing Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek, Lowe and Martinez have visited City of Palms Park in the last few days, talking contracts with Red Sox management. ... Trot Nixon received a steroid injection in his spine to treat a mild strain in his lower back caused by a bulging disk. ...Two articles on Tony Womack ... Bob Hohler chats with the Greek God of Walks (also). ... And even his wife calls him Papa Jack.


Split-Squad Sweep. Monday's games.
Twins     102  100  000  - 4  8  1
Red Sox 001 100 07x - 9 10 1
The Twins scored an unearned run in the first on Justin Morneau's RBI single. They made it 3-0 on a two-run homer by Jose Offerman in the third (Offerman also doubled in the first). Terry Shumpert, whose error at shortstop contributed to Minnesota's first run, doubled in the first and homered in the third. The Twins made it 4-1 in the fourth on a triple by BJ Garbe and a run-scoring groundout by Cristian Guzman. Johnny Damon doubled in a run in the fourth. In the Boston 8th: Sean McGowan singled, Tony Womack walked, both advanced on a wild pitch, Michael Hernandez 5-3 (run scored), Kevin Youkilis walked, Carlos Febles walked (run scored), and Jeremy Owens, Hanley Ramirez and Matt Murton all hit run-scoring singles. The Twins had five hits in the first four innings but only three in the last five. Box.
Red Sox   000  032  000  - 5  7  0
Phillies 000 000 003 - 3 6 1
Collected from dnramo's postings here:
Red Sox 1st: Reese 6-3. Mueller 4-3. Daubach K.
Phillies 1st: Byrd K. Rollins 1-3. Michaels K.
Red Sox 2nd: Millar K. Bellhorn walked. Kapler K. Dominique 4-3.
Phillies 2nd: Burrell K. Polanco 1-3. Wooten 5-3.
Red Sox 3rd: Hyzdu fouled out. Durbin K. Reese singled (bunt). Mueller walked. Reese to 3rd on errant pickoff. Daubach 3U.
Phillies 3rd. Timlin pitching. Bell doubled to left. Hinch K. Glanville P6. Byrd 6-3.
Red Sox 4th: Millar F7. Bellhorn walked. Kapler 6-4-3 DP.
Phillies 4th: Jamie Brown pitching. Rollins bunts out 3U. Michaels 6-3. Burrell HBP. Polanco F7.
Red Sox 5th: Dominique singled to right. Hyzdu walked. Curry K. Reese FC 6-4. Mueller singled to left, Dominique scored. Daubach doubled, Mueller and Reese scored. Brown K.
Phillies 5th: Wooten F8. Bell F9. Hinch P4.
Red Sox 6th: Bellhorn walked. Kapler P3. Dominique F9. Bellhorn SB. Hyzdu singled to left, Bellhorn scored. Curry doubled, Hyzdu scored. Crespo 4-3.
Phillies 6th: McCarty pitching. Perez F9. Byrd F8. Rollins singled (bunt). Michaels doubled to left, Rollins to 3rd. Burrell flied out to left-center.
Red Sox 7th: Schrager singled to left. Daubach K. McCarty 3-4 FC. Medrano P5.
Phillies 9th: Scored 3 runs off Nick Bierbrodt. Charlie Zink got the save. Box.

That's A Shame: "Gary Sheffield could miss up to three months with a thumb injury, as the Yankees outfielder is headed to New York to meet with a hand specialist on Tuesday."
I Don't Break For Yankee Fans. Bronson Arroyo threw only 26 pitches in his three innings and allowed only two balls out of the infield. Here's his pitch-by-pitch (b: ball; c: called strike; s: swinging strike; f: foul):

1st Inning: Lofton (cbbf) P4. Jeter (cf) L6. Rodriguez 6-3.
2nd Inning: Sierra (c) 3U. Posada (ccb) K. Lee (b) 8 (lcf pop).
3rd Inning: Clark (bfbf) P6. Cairo (s) single to left. Vento (b) 5-4-3 DP.

When Alex Rodriguez batted in the top of the first, the boos rained down. "This is as intense a spring training game I've ever played in." ... My title today comes from a spectator's t-shirt. ... The intensity spread beyond the field and the stands. There were reports of a fight between two women, a Red Sox fan and a Yankees fan that brought the attention of the Fort Myers police. And in the parking lot, Rick Cerrone of the Yankees claimed that he was pushed by Dave McHugh, a retired postal worker from Maine working as security. Cerrone bellowed: "Do you want to work tomorrow? ... Don't you know who I am? I'm the public relations director of the American League champion New York Yankees and you are a typical Boston Red Sox employee."

The headline read: "Playful Ramirez Banters With Reporters" and it was true (for one day, at least). Manny spoke to reporters for awhile and then dragged out Kevin Millar who agreed to "translate" for Manny. ... Millar also shouted a question across the room to Curt Schilling. "Why did you throw at Millar's head the other day! That was a horseshit pitch." Schilling yelled back: "It was right where it needed to be because it was by your ass. Your ass, your head, the same thing." ... Schilling on Ramirez: "Manny is everything you guys [the press] said he wasn't. He's going to work his ass off, hit more than. 300 with 40 homers and 145 runs batted in and somebody's still going to bitch about him doing something stupid."

Also: Michael Jordan's manager in AA Birmingham in 1994? Terry Francona. ... David Ortiz, 3B? ... John Henry Williams, 35, the only son of Ted Williams, died of acute myelogenous leukemia Saturday night. ... A Bit of New York Fishwrap: Just Wait for the Pennant Race ... Let the Jeering Begin ... Welcome to the Rivalry A-Rod ... Even in Florida, Boston Can't Find Sunny Side ... Sox Always Come Back for More ... March Turns Into October.


Yankees 11, Red Sox 7. Box.
Yankees  000  604  100 - 11 13  1
Red Sox 310 011 001 - 7 13 0

On Sunday, mime was not money as Jason Shiell and Ed Yarnall went through the motions, allowing 10 runs to the Yankees. The most important news of the day, however, was that #6 starter Bronson Arroyo threw 3 shutout innings, allowing only a single to Miguel Cairo in the third.

As they did last season, the Red Sox ignored Jose Contreras's splitter, which falls consistently out of the strike zone. Once ahead in the count, they feasted on the fast ball. Boston scored 3 in the first on Bill Mueller's single and Kevin Millar's double. In the second, Pokey Reese hit a bomb! I wonder if Brian Cashman threw any furniture.

New York tagged Shiell for six runs in the fourth: Kenny Lofton doubled, Jeter homered, Travis Lee added an RBI single and Clark ripped a three-run homer to right. The Yankees' 4-spot in the 6th featured Clark's second home run of the game. "The Thermos" went 3-4, homering from both sides of the plate. Alex Rodriguez had an infield single. The two teams meet again on Wednesday, March 24.

Fat Billy allowed 2 runs and 5 hits in his first outing. He threw 39 pitches (including a wild pitch) and left after two innings, trailing 2-1.
Are We Sure That Isn't Timothy Bottoms In Those Ads? George Bush's new campaign commercials feature actors dressed up as firefighters in a fake fire station. Other scenes were culled from "stock footage" of real life. ... Fake election results; fake Crawford "ranch"; fake attempt to git bin Laden; fake "Made in America" stickers on boxes that actually said "Made in China"; fake WMD; fake mobile bio-weapon labs; fake Niger yellowcake; fake fighter pilot; fake turkey; fake promise to release National Guard file (of fake TANG service); fake democracy in Iraq; and now fake firefighters. Appropriate for a man who once said: "I'm basically a media creation. I've never done anything."

Newsweek also reports: "White House officials have privately signaled to the [9/11] commission that Bush will not rigidly stick to the one-hour time limit. When time is up, Bush won't walk out if there are still more questions, an aide said." ... He won't run out of the room after 60 minutes like a schoolkid being saved by the bell? Words fail me.
Dreaming Of The Big Biscuit. It is on in Fort Myers this afternoon, man (sentence structure necessary to include all links). ... "We gotta win (today)," Mariano Rivera said, jokingly. Bronson Arroyo starts for the Red Sox. Manny Ramirez, Nomar Garciaparra, Jason Varitek and Bill Mueller will be in the lineup. ... Jeff Horrigan of the Herald notes that four tickets for today's exhibition were being auctioned on eBay for a starting bid of $1,000.

Byung-Hyun Kim's arm feels better than it did last season, but his back has been bothering him since the start of spring training. "After I hurt my ankle last year [while with Arizona], I forced myself to throw with more upper body than before. I just changed my mechanics and put more pressure on my back. ... I'm sure it had a little affect on me in the first inning [he walked his first batter on 4 pitches], but I'm not too concerned." He retired the next six hitters, throwing 23 pitches. He is scheduled to pitch again on Wednesday against St. Louis.

Art Martone: Offensive drop-off shouldn't scare Sox. ... David Heuschkel on Tim Wakefield. ... Sean McAdam on Mueller, Kevin Millar and David Ortiz.
Oh That Liberal New York Times. Three headlines (thanks to TPM):

Washington Times: "Job Slump Puts Bush in Bad Light"
Fox News: "Jobs Report Doesn't Do Bush Any Favors"
New York Times: "Job Data Provides Ammunition for Two Sides in Presidential Race"

128,000 new jobs were expected in February, but there were only 21,000 -- and all of them were government positions. Manufacturing firms lost 3,000 jobs and the only reason the unemployment rate held steady at 5.6% was because nearly 400,000 people stopped looking for work and thus were not counted in the stats.

Here is a lengthy CBC series about Abdurahman Khadr, a Canadian man who says his family has connections to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. Khadr was released from Guantanamo last October and says he is prepared to tell his story -- including working for the CIA as an informant -- for the first time.

Bush: "How this administration handled that day as well as the war on terror is worthy of discussion. First of all, I will continue to speak about the effects of 9/11 on our country and my presidency. How this administration handled that day, as well as the war on terror, is worthy of discussion. And I look forward to discussing that with the American people." ... Sounds like he actually wants to testify publically under oath to the 9/11 Commission. Good for him. He should also encourage every member of his administration to do the same and to release every document requested by the Commission.


Twins 6, Red Sox 2. Boo!
Boston     010 100 000 -- 2  4  1
Minnesota 000 015 00x -- 6 6 0
Box score: David Ortiz hit a first-pitch home run to right in the second off Brad Radke. After poking a fourth-inning double, Ortiz scored Boston's second run on Gabe Kapler's single. Ortiz (2-3) and Kapler (2-2) had all of Boston's hits. ... Byung-Hyun Kim pitched two no-hit innings with a walk and a strikeout. ... Minnesota's big inning was highlighted by two-run doubles by both Matthew LeCroy and Michael Restovich off loser Colton Bean (.2 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 5 R). Johnny Damon played his first game of the spring and went 0-3.
Driving The View. In his three innings, Curt Schilling threw mainly fastballs (36 pitches, 28 strikes) and worked both sides of the plate. He wants to throw 40-45 pitches in his next appearance on Tuesday against the Reds. He said he was nervous beforehand: "I'm either in neutral or I'm in full throttle. I don't have a second gear."

Trot Nixon will be sidelined for another week after being diagnosed with a slight disc protrusion in his lower back. ... Keith Foulke threw batting practice and could make his game debut by the middle of next week. ... Steven Krasner has a feature on catcher Kelly Shoppach, rated by Baseball America as Bosaton's #2 prospect.

Red Sox/Twins at 1:00 pm. Johnny Damon will make his spring debut; Byung Hyun Kim gets the start. ... Tim Wakefield will return on two days rest to join Derek Lowe in facing the Twins in a split-squad game Monday. Phil Seibel will start the other game against the Phillies; Dave McCarty is expected to pitch another inning.
Ain't That A Pisser! Mets outfielders Karim Garcia and Shane Spencer allegedly were involved in a drunken altercation Thursday night that began when Garcia was caught urinating in a parking lot." Two teenagers described a drunken Garcia "stumbling" out of Duffy's, a sports bar adjacent to Big Apple Pizza, and then urinating directly in front of the pizzeria. It gets better.

Jacklamabe65 has posted "Tony Conigliaro Forty Years Later: A Remembrance" at Sons of Sam Horn. ... Chris Kahrl doesn't like OPS. ... BDD: "WEEI-Yi-Yi! (The SoSHit Hits the Fans Again as Radio and Newspaper Guys Attempt to Figure Out the Internet)" ... With a headline like this -- "Senior citizens brawl after salad bar dispute" -- how can you not click? (Thanks to Top of the 9th)

Finally: You think Jimmy Breslin is pissed off? How's this for a first sentence? "In his first campaign commercial, George Bush reached down and molested the dead." Damn.
Red Sox 7, Northeastern 0. Last night:
Northeastern    000 000 0 - 0  3  1
Boston Red Sox 200 050 x - 7 5 1
mlb.com: Curt Schilling threw three shutout innings, striking out three and scattering three hits in a 38-pitch performance. David McCarty pitched a scoreless ninth inning; six of his seven pitches were strikes. The Red Sox took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on RBI singles by Mark Bellhorn and Jason Varitek. In the bottom of the fifth, Kevin Millar's RBI double made it 3-0 and Cesar Crespo belted a grand slam over the fence in left-center.


Red Sox 9, Boston College 3. This afternoon:
Boston College  200 001 0 - 3  8 0  
Boston Red Sox 200 025 x - 9 12 0
Ian Browne: "Backed by a home run and three RBIs by Andy Dominique, the Red Sox cruised to a 9-3 victory in a seven-inning exhibition against Boston College in the home opener at City of Palms Park. Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield took the start for the Sox, pitching one inning and giving up four runs and two hits [he must mean 4 hits and 2 runs] while striking out two. BC took an early 2-0 lead, getting RBI singles from Drew Locke and Ryan Leahy. But the Sox stormed right back in the bottom of the first, as Tony Womack and Pokey Reese pulled off a double steal, setting up David Ortiz for a two-run single. Left-hander Phil Seibel picked up the win for the Sox, pitching two shutout innings."
9/11 Trials And Bush's Ads. Mounir el-Motassadeq, the only person successfully prosecuted for involvement in the 9/11 attacks, will receive a retrial because "crucial evidence [was] withheld by the German and American authorities." The US's unexplained refusal to allow testimony by Ramzi bin al-Shibh has also led to the collapse of a similar case against Abdelghani Mzoudi and it threatens to derail the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui. Nevertheless, a Justice Department spokesman says the US is cooperating "to the fullest extent possible."

There is plenty of coverage today of the Bush administration's campaign ads. Not all of the 9/11 family members are against the ads. Deena Burnett, whose husband Thomas was killed on Flight 93: "I'm glad to see they're being used. I think it serves as a great reminder of those that died." Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was the pilot of the plane that hit the Pentagon: "These images honor those whose lives were lost." ... Using the images, which include a flag-draped body of a firefighter being carried from the rubble, might not be such a controversial issue if Bush actually supported a full investigation into the attacks -- and if he wasn't also preventing flag-draped coffins from Iraq from being shown to the American people. It is his behavior since that morning that gives the commercials the stink of hypocrisy.

WaPo: "The Bush administration's prewar assertion that Saddam Hussein had a fleet of mobile labs that could produce bioweapons rested largely on information from an Iraqi defector working with another government who was never interviewed by US intelligence officers ..." Xymphora on Aristide and Haiti.
A Nice Beginning. Two stories: Derek Lowe's strong outing and the lineup flip-flop -- finally! -- of Nomar Garciaparra and Manny Ramirez.

Lowe threw two perfect innings, retiring six batters (5 groundouts and a K) on only 17 pitches. I counted 18 pitches; however, I suffered through the Twins announcers [Dan Gladden and some nasally guy who sounded drunk], who were both somnambulant and moronic, so I probably got it wrong. ... Lowe kept the ball down and was not hit hard by anyone. Lowe: "I threw everything. Fifty percent sinkers and 50 percent breaking balls. I mixed in some changeups. That is how I need to pitch in spring training."

Terry Francona's first lineup featured Ramirez hitting 3rd and Garciaparra in the cleanup spot. "I think it will give us our best production. ... It'll be pretty consistent. If these guys hit like they're supposed to, I think we'll score more runs the way we have them there. The more Manny hits with men on base, the better off we'll be. ... We're not trying to reinvent the game. It just made sense to me." ... Francona expects his top five hitters will be: Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Ramirez, Garciaparra and David Ortiz.
                  AVG   OBP
Garciaparra #3: .321 .365
Ramirez #4: .325 .426
Ramirez #3:      .350  .429 
Garciaparra #4: .360 .416
Minnesota took a 2-0 lead in the 3rd last night when Jason Shiell walked Joe Mauer and surrendered doubles to Christian Guzman and Luis Rivas. Boston tied the game in the 5th. Pokey Reese opened with a 1st-pitch single to center off Joe Nathan. With one out, Kevin Youkilis beat out a hit to third and Brian Daubach doubled Reese home; Youkilis scored on Cesar Crespo's sac fly. Minnesota's Gabby Torres hit a solo home run in the 7th off Colter Bean, but the Red Sox sent 8 men to the plate in the 8th and regained the lead. Crespo singled, Andy Dominique walked, David McCarty flew to left, Michel Hernandez grounded into a fielder's choice, Adam Hyzdu reached on an error (Crespo scored), Jesus Medrano walked, and Jeremy Owens singled (Hernandez scored). Dominique's home run in the 9th capped the scoring. [Box score]

For the starters, Bill Mueller lined out to deep right center in the first (Torii Hunter made a great back-to-the-infield catch); Manny Ramirez walked and grounded to first; Garciaparra struck out and grounded to third, swinging at 6 of the 7 pitches he saw (he let the very first one go by); David Ortiz doubled in the 4th.

Pedro Martinez threw his first batting practice session Thursday. He faced Ellis Burks, Johnny Damon, Tony Womack, Doug Mirabelli, Terry Shumpert and Mark Bellhorn. Martinez threw 27 pitches, including some changeups and breaking balls. Francona: "He was free and easy. The ball came out of his hand good, and he threw some changeups and spun some breaking balls. He was fine. He was probably better than fine." Martinez will likely pitch 2 innings next Tuesday, with Curt Schilling throwing three in relief.

BlogWatch: Ed Cossette: "It's just a meaningless Spring Training game; still, you've got to like the way things are starting." ... The Big K wrote a running account of last night's game. ... "Firebrand of the AL" has moved; today's entry: Baseball and the Juice, Part One. ... Jon Weisman of Dodger Thoughts has an excellent series on steroids: First Post, Day 2 and Day 3.

From January 2003: Pumped-Up Hysteria by Dayn Perry: "A more objective survey of steroids' role in sports shows that their health risks, while real, have been grossly exaggerated; that the political response to steroids has been driven more by a moral panic over drug use than by the actual effects of the chemicals; and that the worst problems associated with steroids result from their black-market status rather than their inherent qualities. As for baseball's competitive integrity, steroids pose no greater threat than did other historically contingent 'enhancements,' ranging from batting helmets to the color line. It is possible, in fact, that many players who use steroids are not noticeably improving their performance as a result." [Discuss]

Today's Games: Tim Wakefield and Mike Timlin will pitch this afternoon against Boston College. Tonight, Curt Schilling will start against Northeastern. Both games will be 7 innings. David McCarty will pitch an inning tonight, his first mound action in a real game since high school. ... Johnny Damon will play his first game on Saturday, but be held out of Sunday's match against the Yankees.


Red Sox 5, Twins 3. Thursday night recap.
Boston:     000 020 021 - 5  9  0
Minnesota: 002 000 100 - 3 8 2
TSN/STATS Projections. SoSHer poster CSteinhardt lists TSN/Stats's 2004 Scouting Notebook projections for the Red Sox pitching staff:
           GM    W  L   ERA   IP  BB   K    BR/9
Pedro 29 19 3 1.98 193 48 220 8.5
Schilling 31 19 6 2.81 221 39 267 9.3
Lowe 33 16 9 3.63 209 74 117 11.7
Wakefield 38 14 7 3.49 189 66 157 10.9 (27 starts)
Kim 29 13 5 3.13 144 45 125 10.5 (26 starts)
Foulke 70 4 2 2.36 84 19 73 8.9
Timlin 72 7 3 2.97 88 11 56 8.7
Williamson 65 6 2 3.14 66 35 76 11.7
Mendoza 45 4 3 4.08 75 17 48 11.9 (3 starts)
Embree 66 5 3 3.79 57 18 62 11.5
He adds: "[A]cross the board their projections look for the most part reasonable, but then when I look specifically at Boston pitching, either they're overly optimistic or we're going to have one hell of a pitching staff. 81-30 from the starters ... [R]emember that these predictions are made in isolation and kinda ignore roles. They also have a projection for Burkett and Suppan, for example, both listed as Boston (as are Foulke, Schilling)."

This projection seems highly unlikely, but I'm posting it for -- as they say in the fortune-telling commercials -- for entertainment purposes only. Adding the bullpen numbers to the starters, TSN sees Boston with a 107-43 record -- with 12 games up in the air. Could the Red Sox win 110+ games? If everything broke right for them all summer long, I guess so. ... For now, I'll be happy with 100 wins, knowing that New York's staff will need some lucky breaks of its own to hang in there for the East title.

I've got 2 Sam Adams in my fridge. MLB Radio has the game. SoSH has the game thread (Royal Rooters should have one too). The Yankees lost this afternoon, 5-1. ... Play Ball!
Red Sox/Twins at 7:05 tonight. Derek Lowe faces Kyle Lohse. ... Johnny Damon (sore right elbow) and Trot Nixon (bruised buttocks) will not be in the lineup for Boston's first three games. ... Minnesota will have 57 players in uniform. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire joked: "I hope Boston decides they want to fight us. Fifty-seven vs. 20. I know for a fact we'll win that one."
Roster Spots. Barring injury, there are really only two spots open on the Red Sox 25-man roster: a lefty reliever and a bench spot. Steven Krasner of the Providence Journal lays out these 23 guys:

5 Starters: Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Derek Lowe, Tim Wakefield, Byung-Hyun Kim.
5 Relievers: Bronson Arroyo, Mike Timlin, Alan Embree, Scott Williamson, Keith Foulke.
9 Starters: Jason Varitek, Kevin Millar, Pokey Reese, Nomar Garciaparra, Bill Mueller, Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, Trot Nixon, David Ortiz.
4 Bench: Doug Mirabelli, Gabe Kapler, Ellis Burks, Mark Bellhorn.

Bob Hohler of the Globe hints that a 5th bench spot is Brian Daubach's to lose. I would assume that health and spring performance will be the determining factors. It seems way too early to guess who will make the cut (and why), so as the exhibition games go on, I'll re-examine the possibilities.

Pedro Martinez will pitch on March 9 against Cincinnati. Curt Schilling will also pitch in the game, though it hasn't been determined who will start. ... Theo Epstein said the Red Sox has no interest in Orlando Hernandez. ... Bronson Arroyo, who looked sharp throwing batting practice, will face Jose Contreras on Sunday. Alex Rodriguez may not play in the game. ... The Red Sox named one of their spring training fields in honor of Johnny Pesky. ... Schilling says he was not "throwing at" Millar (scroll down).
Bush Exploits 9/11 While Blocking Investigation; German 9/11 Conviction Overturned. . Dan Froomkin lists many news links regarding Bush's use of 9/11 imagery in his campaign ads (which you can see here). Some of the family members are -- quite rightly -- pissed. ... Bush has done everything possible to prevent any investigation into what happened that day, yet he's eager to appropriate the tragedy for his own political use.

If Bush is so proud of his leadership that day -- though since he's admitted that he flew half way across the country in the opposite direction because he was trying to "get out of harm's way," he really shouldn't be -- he ought to leap at the opportunity to share with the 9/11 Commission on live TV, so all Americans can hear, exactly what he did that day. ... Instead, the White House continues to operate on the maxim voiced by an unnamed GOP staffer in Newsweek on October 11, 2002 regarding the investigation: "There's just this general philosophical orientation that the less the world knows, the better."

A scathing statement from Harold Schaitberger, the General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, AFL-CIO (IAFF), on Bush's ads. ... "Germany's highest court today overturned the verdict against the only person convicted of involvement in the Sept. 11 terror attacks ... because the evidence was not enough to convict him. Prosecutors attributed the acquittal to the Bush administration's reluctance to make captured terrorists available for testimony and to allow prosecutors to make use of intelligence information on the terrorist network."


Bloggers. A look at part of the baseball blog world. ... I installed a counter on this site on February 9; since then, Joy of Sox has had 6,680 visitors. Largest one-day total: 437, March 1. Readers have come from the US, Canada, Venezuela, Ireland, Japan, UK, Finland, Spain, Republic of Korea, Italy, Costa Rica, Mexico, Germany, Hungary.

Rany Jazayerli of Baseball Prospectus -- in "A Brief History of Pitcher Usage" -- asks: "[H]ow do you get the most value out of a pitcher without 1) diminishing his effectiveness and/or 2) getting him hurt? More than a century later, baseball has only begun to answer that question." Then he explains: "How We Measure Pitcher Usage."

AP: "A woman charged with causing a fatal car crash in 1999 says that she couldn't have been behind the wheel because she was performing a sex act on the driver at the time." ... Mailbag: Sarah from RallyCuff tells me the Bill Lee quote is from his Little Red (Sox) Book. ... And El Guapo's Ghost liked the idea of a Red Sox Real World (last paragraph) featuring Pedro, Manny and Dan Shaughnessy: "The producers could have Manny's buddy, Carl Everett, come over and play cards ... Things would certainly heat up after that evening." ... And, while the deadline is about a month away, don't forget to enter the Red Sox Wins contest.
A Glimmer Of A Spine? The 9/11 Commission is refusing to accept the White House's conditions for any interviews with George Bush and Dick Cheney and is renewing its request that Condoleezza Rice testify in public. ... The New York Times article also includes this sentence: "Commission officials said that if the White House continued to insist on limitations on the interviews with Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, there might be little that the panel could do to force the issue and that the commission might have to accept the White House's terms."

Arghhhhhhhhhh! Does this Commission have any power whatsoever? Several weeks ago, Bush told Tim Russert flat-out, "I don't testify" -- but the issue is simple: are elected officials accountable to the people or are they above the law? There is no middle ground. ... And how many dozens of stories of stonewalling, obstruction and evasiveness will be reported before people seriously start questioning whether this administration has something to hide?
Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with ties to al-Qaida, is now blamed for more than 700 terrorist killings in Iraq. ... NBC reports that "long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger." Military officials believe the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

Many people who opposed the invasion said it would distract from the fight against actual threats of terror -- and here is direct and specific proof. What's doubly damning about this story is Zarqawi was apparently in Kirma, a part of northern Iraq outside Saddam's control; indeed, it was part of the "No-Fly Zone." If known al Qaeda terrorists were operating in a region constantly patrolled by the US, why wouldn't the US have them "on the run" and "smoke them out"?

Also: David Kay, the man who led the CIA's effort to find WMDs in Iraq, has urged the Bush administration to "come clean" and admit to the American people it was wrong about the existence of the weapons.

The death of heterosexuality, or why gay sex is like pure heroin. As Atrios writes: "I couldn't have said it better if I were trying to write an over-the-top parody of these people."
Now Pitching For the Red Sox. Tomorrow afternoon's Grapefruit League opener against the Twins will feature: Derek Lowe, Jason Shiell, Jamie Brown, Tim Hamulack, Anastacio Martinez and Reynaldo Garcia. ... Mike F's March 2 report.

Will the Red Sox carry 11 or 12 pitchers once the season begins? Terry Francona says "an 11-man staff is more workable," but the decision is weeks away. ... After Pedro Martinez's bullpen session, some spectators asked him to sign autographs -- for their children. "They used the kids to bait me," Pedro said. "So I fooled them." He took more than a dozen kids past the security ropes to a practice field, where he sat and chatted with them and gave them autographs. ... Francona said Martinez would likely make the trip to Jupiter on March 10 to face the Cardinals. In years past, however, Pedro has avoided long bus trips and the ride to Jupiter is three hours. Martinez may pitch March 11 against Baltimore or March 12 against the Dodgers, both of which are in Fort Myers.

Knuckleballer Charlie Zink's parents were wardens at California's Folsom State Prison. "They would show me everything that happened in prison. They would bring home pictures of Charles Manson and all those famous guys. And they would take me inside the prison once in a while to show me what it was like, kind of a 'scared straight' type of thing." ... The Globe reports that Curt Schilling buzzed Kevin Millar with his first batting practice pitch after Cabin Mirror* razzed Schilling about a home run he hit in April 2002. It came as a surprise to Jason Varitek: "My heart dropped. It scared the crap out me." There is no mention of this in the other papers or in MLB's story (which all include various quotes from the BP session). [* - Last spring, when the Red Sox were trying to buy out Millar's contract with Japan's Chunichi Dragons, a SoSH poster ran an article through Babelfish and Millar's name was translated as "Cabin Mirror"; and thus was a nickname born.]

Steroids: The San Francisco Chronicle reports that Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi, Gary Sheffield, Marvin Benard, Benito Santiago and Randy Velarde received steroids from the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO) through Greg Anderson, Bonds's personal weight trainer and longtime friend. The paper noted that the information it received "did not explicitly state that the athletes had used the drugs they were said to have obtained." ... Curt Schilling said Tuesday that some of his former teammates used steroids and Johnny Damon said he's played with steroid users, including a close friend. [Also here, here and here.)

Fox will broadcast the first game of the season between the Red Sox and Yankees on April 16. The Friday night game will be pushed back to 8:05 pm. ... From yesterday's New York Times: How Mike Cameron tracks fly balls. ... The back end of the Yankees rotation -- Jose Contreras and Jon Lieber -- are hurting already. Contreras's stiff lower back and Lieber's sore groin have caused them to missing throwing sessions.


We're Not Allowed To Lose. Curt Schilling: "[I]t's the first time I've been in a win-or-else situation. We're not allowed to lose. ... I know as soon as I don't do as well as they expect they're going to be all over me. But that's all right, too. It's different here. It truly is." ... Paul Hagen, the author of the article, also comments on Schilling's replica 1919 Red Sox jersey: "It had Ruth's No. 3 on the back and, yes, [Schilling] said he did the research and determined that Babe's last year with Boston was the first year the team featured numbers." ... Whatever research he did was wrong (see 3rd paragraph).

Mike F's March 1 Spring Training report. ... Florida Times Union: "Best Team In Baseball -- On Paper" ... The Globe on Mark Bellhorn. ... In camp: Johnny Damon won't take BP until Tuesday or Wednesday because of a minor problem with his non-throwing (right) elbow. ... Keith Foulke threw on the side while other pitchers threw batting practice. ... Ramiro Mendoza played catch from 75 feet. ... Manny Ramirez took extra fielding for the fourth time in five days. ... Byung Hyun Kim proceeded cautiously in the rundown drills as he coped with a stiff back. ... Scott Williamson began to let loose in his fourth bullpen session.


Remembering A 28-Year-Old Brawl. Bill Lee, quoted at RallyCuff: "Every time I look at a Yankees hat I see a swastika tilted just a little off kilter." I don't know where this quote came from, though it does sound a lot like Lee. He once referred to Billy Martin and the Yankees as "that neo-Nazi and his Brownshirts." That comment might have come after a brawl at Yankee Stadium on May 20, 1976 when Lou Pinella tried to score on a sacrifice fly to Dwight Evans in right field. Pinella came in hard (he was tagged out) and he and Carlton Fisk rolled over and quickly began punching each other. Sports Illustrated had a picture the following week that showed Rick Burleson kind of hanging onto the side of the pile sideways. Lee was injured in the brawl after being sucker-punched by Graig Nettles. I think Yaz hit a home run or two in that game... I'm writing all this from memory.

Okay, I checked Retrosheet -- here is the box score and the play-by-play of the bottom of the 6th: "Munson grounded out (Lee to Yastrzemski); Chambliss lined to Doyle; Piniella singled to Rice; Nettles singled to Evans [Piniella to second]; Velez singled to Evans [Piniella out at home (Evans to Fisk), Nettles to second]; Bench clearing brawl, Lee and Nettles ejected; Lee injured shoulder; 0 R, 3 H, 0 E, 2 LOB. Red Sox 0, Yankees 1."

One mistake: the play began with a single and not a sac fly. Boston roared back (thanks to -- yes -- two Yastrzemski home runs and won the game 8-2. I notice that Thurman Munson ended the game playing right field.

Bronx Banter has a second Yankees Roundtable Discussion: Parts 1 and 2. This time the participants are: Allen Barra (Slate, Wall St. Journal), Jack Curry (New York Times), Steven Goldman (YES Network, Baseball Prospectus), Jay Jaffe (The Futility Infielder), Bruce Markusen (Baseball Historian), Rob Neyer (ESPN) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated). ... The possibility of a Boston/New York brawl this summer is one of the topics. ... This is a fantastic idea (the roundtable, I mean). I'd like to try something like this next spring.

From Peter Gammons's latest column: "Last year, the Red Sox players shaved their heads. This year they're talking about adopting the Damon look. If they do, instead of the House of David, they'll be the House of Damon." Ed Cossette of Bambino's Curse says he'd "love to see the whole team go with that look for the season. It'd be nutty. Then again, some of the players do have the male pattern baldness thing setting it, so not everyone would look as prophetic as Damon." True. They would have to beware of Mullet Syndrome. ... Speaking of the House of David, check out these three websites.

Well, Damon's not quite there yet. Maybe the team can plan for 2005.
The Plan For Pedro. El Rey on Sunday's 49-pitch session: "I was actually shocked, especially throwing curveballs for strikes and not even make an effort to do it. I just hope tomorrow I'm not too sore." ... Trainer Chris Correnti: "It was unbelievable -- I don't know how he does it ... he threw a game-ready curveball. Last year, I thought he came in good, but this year he's better than ever. Have you felt his shoulder, his arm? He's stronger than he's ever been in his life. He's never been this strong before."

Martinez said he's back up to 193 pounds and feels comfortable. "Last year after the first half I knew I was in command of my physical shape. The way I finished the season told me I was all healed and ready to go." ... Dave Wallace: "To have only been playing catch all winter and then get on the mound and have that much control of his body and delivery, that's certainly a good sign of things to come." ... Martinez will have another side session, then two batting-practice sessions before his first start, perhaps on March 10 against St. Louis. ... P.S. In his 6 years with Boston, Pedro is 101-28 with a 2.26 ERA.

Tim Wakefield toyed with Gabe Kapler and Bill Mueller during batting practice, and Byung-Hyun Kim also had an impressive outing. ... ... Boston seems intent on giving Ramiro Mendoza another shot -- he had a light throwing session yesterday -- but he may start the season on the DL.

A David Ortiz BP bomb broke the left taillight of a dark green Oldsmobile Intrigue parked about 100 feet beyond the right-field fence. "I still don't know why they're still parking back there." The Herald reports the ball shattered the right taillight of Peter Chase's (media relations) car. ... Kevin Millar's second-half slump was due in part to his attempt to pull everything. "I don't like hearing I had a career year. A few numbers were up, but my average was down, my doubles were down, my strikeouts were up."

David Heuschkel talks to Scott Williamson. Theo: "October was a big step for him. He showed everyone that he's the guy you want on the mound in pressure situations against good teams. ... It might not always be the ninth inning. He's a weapon for us." ... Swilly: "I can always handle pressure. ... That whole [ALCS], I don't think you can go through anything more stressful than that series. In Yankee Stadium I retired all six guys I faced. And it wasn't like I was pitching against the slugs. I pitched to their big dogs." He's right, for the most part:

Game 1: 9th inning, Sox up 5-2: Giambi K, Williams 3U, Posada K.
Game 4: 9th inning, Sox up 3-1: Johnson K, Sierra HR, Dellucci K, Soriano K.
Game 6: 9th inning, Sox up 9-6: Giambi K, Williams P8, Posada 8.
Too bad Gump was saving him for Game 8.

LA Times: "A Touch of Evil Isn't So Bad." ... Joel Sherman, New York Post: "Yanks Need Javier To Keep Pace With Pedro."

When he was trying to make it in the big leagues, Dave Wallace sometimes slept on the floor of Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter Frank Dolson. Gordon Edes asks: "Can you imagine any Red Sox player today grabbing some rug space at Shaughnessy's?" ... MTV's next Real World -- Pedro, Manny, Nomar and Varitek sharing a Fort Myers apartment with the CHB. Now that would be Must See TV!