February 14, 2019

Go Fish

If you want to see some pictures of me ice fishing almost a half-century ago, click here.

If you couldn't possibly care less about that, click here.

February 12, 2019

White House Visit Update: If Trump Orders Fast Food, Brock Holt Has A Request

Nik DeCosta-Klipa of the Globe has collected everything various Red Sox players have said about visiting President Donald Trump at the White House on May 9 as World Series champions.

Team President Sam Kennedy called the visit "a great opportunity for the players", but has said attendance is not mandatory. So far, nine players have indicated they will attend, and three have declined.

Manager Alex Cora is tentatively going ("Sometimes you've got to show your face"), but admitted that his decision could "change tomorrow".

Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, and Rafael Devers are not going. Betts backed out last month with the Bartlebian statement: "I decided not to." ... Bradley: "I don't get into politics." He later tweeted he "still wouldn't go if Hillary was in office". ... Devers said he "wasn't compelled to go".

Xander Bogaerts, Eduardo Rodriguez, and Eduardo Nunez are all undecided. EdRo is considering spending that off-day with his family. Rick Porcello said he would go along with whatever the team decides, but it was not clear if "the team" referred to management or his fellow players.

Chris Sale, Matt Barnes, Brock Holt, Sandy Leon, Mitch Moreland, Ryan Brasier, Heath Hembree, Blake Swihart, and Brian Johnson will attend.

Holt and Brasier are both "excited" to go. ... Hembree, who likes "everything" about Trump, said "Hell yeah". ... Holt cracked that he hopes Trump serves food from Chick-fil-A. ... Leon says going to the White House "would be an honor" since he supports Trump's position regarding his home country of Venezuela.
Re Chick-fil-A: Despite its laughable and easily-disproved claim of having "no agenda against anyone", the company has donated close to ten million dollars in the last decade to various anti-gay organizations and groups opposing same-sex marriage and LGBTQ+ policies. Holt stands a decent chance of getting his wish.

Re Venezuela: Trump's band of sociopaths are the most recent US officials working to overthrow Venezuela's elected government and install a friendly puppet. Questions: "Why Does the United States of America Want to Overthrow the Government of Venezuela?" and "Why Venezuela Reporting Is So Bad" (aka Why Does the US Media Consistently Portray Falsehoods as Facts?) ... After receiving a phone call last month from Vice President Mike Pence, Juan Guaidó (a man groomed and cultivated by the US to undermine Venezuela's socialist government) proclaimed himself president of the country. The US media played its part, parroting the proper propaganda. The Canadian government played a large part in organizing this coup against Venezuela, a country that possesses - could this be relevant? - the world's largest oil reserves.

February 6, 2019

In Camp

At 11:15 PM (ET) on October 28, Chris Sale struck out Manny Machado and we began wrapping our collective minds around the undeniably surreal concept that we have witnessed the Boston Red Sox win FOUR World Series championships in the last 15 years.


What has the probable "Team of The Decade" been up to in the last 14 weeks?

Resigned: Nathan "Iron Man" Eovaldi (4/68) and Steve "World Series MVP" Pearce (1/6.25).

Acquired: Reliever Colten Brewer from the Padres for minor league infielder Esteban Quiroz. Brewer, 26 and a right-hander, debuted last year, allowing 15 hits, seven walks, and 10 runs in 9.2 innings. Six earned runs gave him a 5.59 ERA.

Departed Free Agents: Drew Pomeranz (signed with the Giants for one year), Joe Kelly (Dodgers, three years), and Ian Kinsler (Padres, two years). Craig Kimbrel and Brandon Phillips remain unsigned.

Claimed Off Waivers: Robby Scott (Reds).

Released: William Cuevas.

Signed to a Minor League Contract with Spring Training Invitation: pitchers Carson Smith, Erasmo Ramirez, Ryan Weber, Domingo Tapia, and Zach Putnam; catcher Juan Centeno; infielder Tony Renda; and outfielders Bryce Brentz and Gorkys Hernandez.

Signed to a Minor League Contract: pitchers Jenrry Mejia, Brian Ellington, Adrian Hernandez, Railin Perez, and Reidis Sena; outfielder Moises Barajas; and catcher Yorberto Mejicano.

Spring Training Invitation (non-roster): pitchers Josh A. Smith and Mike Shawaryn; infielders Bobby Dalbec, Josh Ockimey, Chad De La Guerra, and C.J. Chatham; catchers Oscar Hernandez and Austin Rei; and outfielders Cole Sturgeon, Tate Matheny, and Rusney Castillo.

Added to the 40-Man Roster: pitchers Denyi Reyes, Darwinzon Hernandez, Travis Lakins, and Josh Taylor; and infielder Michael Chavis.

Outrighted to Pawtucket: pitchers Austin Maddox and Justin Haley; and infielder Tony Renda.

Wednesday, February 13: Pitchers and catchers report & workout
Monday, February 18: Full squad report & workout
Friday, February 22: First game: vs. Northeastern Huskies
Saturday, February 23: First Grapefruit League game: vs. MFY
Thursday, March 28: Opening Day at Mariners

Two days ago, Peter Abraham of the Globe reported that every member of the Red Sox's starting rotation - Chris Sale, David Price, Rick Porcello, Eovaldi, and Eduardo Rodriguez - was already in Fort Myers, more than a week before the official reporting date. After the Patriots won Sunday's Super Bowl, Sale remarked: "It's our turn now." ... (I think he means "It's our turn again"!)

The Red Sox have only one player among MLB's Top 100 Prospects: #69, Michael Chavis, third baseman. With Rafael Devers - one year younger than Chavis and clearly a better player - at third, Chavis's future is uncertain.

ESPN's Keith Law ranked Boston's farm system 24th (of 30) and Matt Collins of Over The Monster was not surprised. Law had zero Red Sox prospects in his Top 100, though pitcher Darwinzon Hernandez was on the "just missed" list. Collins notes that Law "always has very interesting lists that tend to part ways with the consensus" and he offers his thoughts on Law's 22 Red Sox prospects here.

Jackie Bradley will not be going to the White House on May 9. He is the third player to decline, joining Mookie Betts and Devers.

David Price has changed his number from 24 to 10.

February 4, 2019

Happy Truck Day!

Truck Day ... The First Sign of Spring!













Long ago, Jere posted pre-spring training newspaper clips from 1952, 1954, 1957, 1976, and 1984.


A Hike in the Ozarks, 1912:

February 1, 2019

Nick Cafardo: "I Enjoyed The Days When Umpires Actually Made Mistakes"

Nick Cafardo, Boston Globe, January 26, 2019:
All of the time-saving ideas for improving pace of play are negated by time spent on instant replay. Get rid of it. I enjoyed the days when umpires actually made mistakes, and when managers would come out of the dugout to perform a colorful and entertainin argument, as Billy Martin and Earl Weaver once did. The technological advancements have made the game more boring.
1. Cafardo, who is ensconced in one of the most prestigious baseball writing gigs in the world, admits his longing for those halcyon days when umpires made blatantly wrong calls.

2. Besides expressing his joy in watching teams lose games because of incorrect calls, Cafardo believes that umpires no longer make mistakes.

3. Cafardo does not realize that a hot-headed manager "performing" a "colorful argument" delays the game, often for a much longer period of time than a replay review.

4. While modern technological advancements have only increased and improved our knowledge of baseball and helped us appreciate and marvel at the myriad amazing things that players can do, Cafardo yells at them to get off his lawn.

(He also misspelled "entertaining" (or his editor failed to correct the mistake).)

Cafardo's moronic statement reminds me of something equally idiotic that Steve Lyons said on NESN back in May 2016. Lyons admitted that replay "really shows some of the flaws in umpiring, because they miss some calls and they have to be overturned. But ... I still think they get most of it right. And when they don't, well, sometimes you're supposed to lose."

Cafardo's Sunday column began thusly:
A few issues to think about as we move closer to spring training:

The rift between team owners and players is growing wider by the day as big-name free agents remain unsigned in late January. Both sides are on a collision course toward a major blowup and threat to future labor peace.

Will the Players Association take major action to protest what it feels is unfair labor practices by the owners? There already are some discussions on the player side on things they could do to get the owners' attention. One suggestion was a spring training boycott.
That's it. End of discussion. Cafardo does not write another word on this subject. He casually mentions the possibility of every major league player refusing to report to spring training - which is scheduled to begin in roughly two weeks - and believes, apparently, that typing the words is enough "thinking" about that issue. (Also, a boycott of spring training will do more than get the "owners' attention".)

And since this is a Cafardo Sunday Baseball Notes Column, he must include (as mandated by law):

Complaints about "analytics":
Older players bring clubhouse chemistry. They act as leaders and de facto coaches. They bring all of the intangible things that younger players can't offer until they've gained a little wisdom and experience. They offer things that analytic models can't always calculate.

[He also says hard-working, blue-collar, family-supporting, quotes-to-Cafardo-giving scouts can't find work because teams are being run by boring nerds.]
Unquestioning huzzahs for the Yankees:
When you ask the game's general hierarchy which team has won the offseason, a common answer is the Yankees. And with good reason.
Funny and inconsistent things:
The Yankees hate finishing behind the Red Sox in the standings and getting beaten by them in the ALDS. ...

The Red Sox seem to be in no hurry to sign a reliever. [then, in the next paragraph] There are still plenty of bullpen arms left ...
A ton of questions (instead of doing the actual research, interviewing, and brain-work involved in finding possible answers, Cafardo the Baseball Insider asks the reader, as if she is writing the column with him):
Imagine if the Red Sox didn't have 35-year-old Steve Pearce. Would they have won the World Series? ...

If baseball is a $10 billion business, why are so many teams on an austerity program? ...

Do we really think [the Red Sox will] be able to re-sign all of the players whose contracts are up for renewal over the next two years? ...

Could the Phillies wind up with both Machado and Harper? Or would they hold back on signing both so they can put themselves in position to sign Mike Trout when he becomes a free agent after 2020? ...

[A]re Gio Gonzalez or Ervin Santana possibilities for [the Yankees'] fifth [starter] spot? ...

Is the reason the Indians have shopped Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer more because in his new deal Carrasco will earn $3 million if he's traded before the end of 2019, and just $1 million after it? ...

What will the Orioles do with the first pick in the June draft?
Finally, there is this:
It appears the Red Sox have one more year to go for it.
After 2019, the Red Sox will no longer be allowed to try to reach the postseason. ... Damn it!

January 26, 2019

Red Sox Postpone White House Visit Until May 9

Update: As noted in comments, Mookie Betts and Rafael Devers will not go to the White House. (Betts: "I decided not to." Devers: "I just wasn't compelled to go.")
The Red Sox have rescheduled their appearance at the White House to Thursday, May 9.

The team decided not to visit the capital during the ongoing government shutdown, opting instead for an off-day after a three-game series in Baltimore.

ESPN noted that "Red Sox president Sam Kennedy said last weekend that it would not be appropriate to celebrate while 800,000 federal employees were not getting paychecks".

I think it would be not be appropriate to celebrate . . . and be honored by people willfully committing inhumane and criminal atrocities around the globe, people gleefully working as hard as they can to ruin as many Americans' lives as possible . . . even if federal employees are getting paychecks - but maybe that's just me.

January 22, 2019

Mariano Rivera Is The First Unanimous Hall Of Fame Inductee

Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina were elected to the Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Rivera was named on all 425 submitted ballots – the first unanimous inductee in the game's history.

To argue that Fruitbat is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer is delusional – he is 5th all-time in Win Probability Added (WPA) for pitchers and has the 3rd-lowest WHIP of all-time* – but it is also beyond ludicrous that no player in the previous 74 elections since 1936 had received 100% of the votes cast. (We will now likely see more unanimous selections in the future.)

*: The two guys above him ended their careers in 1910 and 1917, respectively.

Some of the game's greatest players and their induction year vote totals.
Babe Ruth, 1936:          95.1% (not on 11 of 226 ballots)
Ty Cobb, 1936:            98.2% (not on  4 of 226 ballots)
Walter Johnson, 1936:     83.6% (not on 37 of 226 ballots)
Joe DiMaggio, 1955:       88.8% (not on 28 of 251 ballots; his fourth year on the ballot)
Ted Williams, 1966:       93.4% (not on 20 of 302 ballots)
Stan Musial, 1969:        93.2% (not on 23 of 340 ballots)
Willie Mays, 1979:        94.7% (not on 23 of 432 ballots)
Bob Gibson, 1981:         84.0% (not on 64 of 401 ballots)
Hank Aaron, 1982:         97.8% (not on  9 of 415 ballots)
Rickey Henderson, 2009:   94.8% (not on 28 of 539 ballots)
Greg Maddux, 2014:        97.2% (not on 16 of 571 ballots)
Pedro Martinez, 2015:     91.1% (not on 59 of 549 ballots)
Hall of Famers With 95+% Of Votes
Mariano Rivera, 2019:     100.0%
Ken Griffey Jr., 2016:     99.3%
Tom Seaver, 1992:          98.8%
Nolan Ryan, 1999:          98.8%
Cal Ripken Jr., 2007:      98.5%
Ty Cobb, 1936:             98.2%
George Brett, 1999:        98.2%
Hank Aaron, 1982:          97.8%
Tony Gwynn, 2007:          97.6%
Randy Johnson, 2015:       97.3%
Greg Maddux, 2014:         97.2%
Chipper Jones, 2018:       97.2%
Mike Schmidt, 1995:        96.5%
Johnny Bench, 1989:        96.4%
Steve Carlton, 1994:       95.8%
Babe Ruth, 1936:           95.1%
Honus Wagner, 1936:        95.1%

Silver Lining: The first unanimous Hall of Fame selection will not be Derek Jeter.

January 18, 2019

Alex Cora: "If You Guys Thought Last Year Was Special, Wait Till This Year"

Alex Cora, after accepting the Manager of the Year award from the Boston chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America last night:
If you guys thought last year was special, wait till this year.
As Alex Speier of the Globe writes:
And with that, the ballroom at the InterContinental Hotel erupted. ... Cora waved off the notion of complacency or satisfaction for a team that soon will be confronted by a million questions about World Series hangovers and motivations. ...

[Cora] will not be wedded to what worked so well in 2018 if he believes there is a way of improving on it in 2019.

On Thursday night, Cora outlined the ways that he believed the Red Sox were capable of being better: Full seasons from Nathan Eovaldi, Steve Pearce, and Ryan Brasier. The "eye-opening" performance of Jackie Bradley Jr. during the second half of last year sustained over the entirety of a season. Continued progress from Rafael Devers, Benintendi, even Xander Bogaerts. ...

By the winter meetings in December, he had charted the rotation through the entire first half. Cora is not merely inching forward from 2018; he's sprinting into what lies ahead.
Cora also said he is reconsidering his decision to visit the White House next month. "Right now I can say yes. It might change tomorrow. ... You read what's going on back home. It's not easy."

Last week, the Washington Post reported that the Trump regime has attempted to block disaster-recovery funds for Puerto Rico - and discussed diverting that federal money to fund the proposed wall* along the Mexican border.

* Note: It turns out that the entire idea of a border wall was a joke/gimmick cooked up by two political advisers looking for a way to get Trump to talk about immigration. Trump got cheers, so he kept mentioning it - not realizing it was only "a mnemonic device of sorts".

January 15, 2019

Will Red Sox Eat Cold "Hamberders" At White House On February 15?

The Red Sox - winners of the 2018 World Series - will visit the White House on Friday, February 15.

The one sure thing about this visit is that Mookie Betts, David Price, Alex Cora, and everyone else associated with the Red Sox (including those from various "shithole" countries) will be shunted to the side as mere bit players to the event's Most Indispensible Person: Donald Trump. His pathological need to be the center of attention means that every event he attends must be all about him.

As I noted last month, I am absolutely against this bizarre practice of having the conquering heroes brought before the king and feted at the castle. I do hope, however, that the Red Sox are provided with a lunch a few steps above what the Clemson Tigers - national college football champs - were forced to choke down on Tuesday.

As Rachel Leah of Salon reports:
Boxes of McDonald's Big Macs and Filet-O-Fish, along with burgers from Wendy's and Burger King, stacked on silver trays, alongside fast food salads and a bounty of McNuggets. Fries and Domino's pizzas provided variety. Handfuls of sauce tubs piled inside grand gravy boats; the room's dim lighting aided by candlelight from gold candelabras. ... Trump, in his uniform of an ill-fitting coat ... grinned at the fast food feast before him as he told reporters that it was a spread of "great American food." ...

Adam Serwer from the Atlantic tweeted, "there’s a certain cleverness to the fast food ... at the White House as a metaphor for Trump presidency as false advertising and underwhelming results."

Championship athletes are usually served a meal from the White House kitchen, but due to the government shutdown, Trump decided to go in a different direction. ...

"If it's American, I like it. It's all American stuff," Trump told reporters, as if the fast food needed clarification on its origins. "300 hamburgers, many, many french fries — all of our favorite foods." [In a tweet early the next morning, Trump would lie and claim there were 1,000 burgers.]

"I thought this was a joke," one athlete can be heard saying in a video from the dinner. ...

To be clear, there is nothing inherently wrong with fast food, but anyone who indulges knows there is a hierarchy, and McDonald's sits squarely at the bottom. ... [L]eave it to Trump to have even abysmal taste in fast food. ...

[T]he president boasted of the value meal dinner as a success on Twitter, inflating the amount of food and even initially misspelling hamburgers as "hamberders." He also repeatedly emphasized that he paid for the meal, out of his own self-professed billion-dollar pocket. ...

Trump's banquet serving his own drive-thru favorites only further proved his unmatched ability to center himself regardless of the occasion.

Helen Rosner, The New Yorker:
[S]erving a meal of fast food at a fancy gathering is not inherently a bad idea. ... No less glittery an event than the Vanity Fair Oscar party has served In-N-Out burgers to its throngs of the gorgeous and powerful. ... [But] if you hire In-N-Out and Shake Shack to do the catering at your event, they show up in person and sling their burgers fresh.

Trump's bulk order, on the other hand, was a dinner fighting against the odds. One imagines those poor sandwiches steaming limply inside their cardboard boxes on the drive to the White House, and during the fuss over arranging them on their silver platters ... and properly lighting the gilded candelabra. Then came the photo shoot: Trump, centered beneath a portrait of Abraham Lincoln, flinging his arms out behind this table of quick-serve abundance, in a gesture that's equal parts ownership and invitation. There is a particular awfulness to McDonald's or Burger King once it's gone cold. By the time America's greatest collegiate football players arrived ... to pick up porcelain plates and work their way through this cardboard buffet, the French fries would have grown cold and mealy, the burger buns soggy, the precise half slice of American cheese on each Filet-o-Fish sandwich hardened to a tough, flavorless rectangle of yellow.

Trump, in typical form, spun Monday's catering as ultimately the fault of his political opponents ... Trump, a purported billionaire, made a big deal out of the fact that he paid for the fast food out of his own pocket. ... "We went out and we ordered American fast food, paid for by me," Trump boasted to the reporters gathered before the fast-food spread, grinning his fast-food grin ... "Lots of hamburgers, lots of pizza. Three hundred hamburgers. Many, many French fries."
Before the event, Trump told reporters that the meal was for "very large people that like eating."

January 5, 2019

Happy New Year

A belated Happy New Year for 2019!