December 31, 2003

How The A-Rod Negotiations Ended With Red Sox Shut Out. An absolute must-read article from Gordon Edes:

"Alex Rodriguez was alone when he walked past the magnificent Christmas trees that adorned the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel and went out into the bracing chill of the Manhattan night.

"It was after 1 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16, and East 57th Street had long since emptied of the throngs of shoppers that had filled its exclusive boutiques. The bars and restaurants were quiet, too, so Rodriguez, dressed in a camel-colored overcoat, went unnoticed as he pondered the possibility that had kept much of New England in thrall for weeks: that the best young player in baseball was about to become the new shortstop of the Boston Red Sox. ... "

December 30, 2003

Memo To Tom Ridge: New Homeland Security directives will require selected international flights that cross into US airspace to carry an armed law enforcement officer aboard, if intelligence leads to a specific concern about that airplane. However, according to spokesman Dennis Murphy, "Homeland Security reviews the passenger and crew manifests of all planes bound for US airspace, generally after the plane has taken off ...". How is an armed marshall supposed to board a plane that is already in the air?
Strange But True Baseball Stories. From Jayson Stark's year-end wrap-up:

On August 21 in Milwaukee, the Phillies managed to get five straight hits without scoring a run. (They had one runner thrown out at the plate, another nailed at second trying to stretch a single and a third turn the wrong way after crossing first base and get tagged out.)

He was the Babe Ruth of the 21st Century. The sensational Brooks Kieschnick's first three homers of the year came as a pinch hitter, as a pitcher and as a DH. And in the same three-game series in Baltimore, Kieschnick served as the Brewers' DH in one game, and pitched in the other two.

After hitting no grand slams in 2,999 consecutive at-bats, Boston's Bill Mueller switch-hit grand slams from each side of the plate in back-to-back innings, July 29 in Texas.

In a June 20 game in Arizona, Reds closer Scott Williamson blew a save without a bat touching a ball -- on a walk, wild pickoff and wild pitch.

In that crazy June 27 game in which the Red Sox scored 10 runs before the Marlins recorded an out and put up 14 runs in the first inning, Damon became the first player in history to get three different kinds of hits (single, double, triple) in one inning.

In a June 11 start against the Braves, Oakland's Ted Lilly gave up five homers -- and no other hits.

Texas third baseman Hank Blalock had maybe the most bizarre game of the season May 16. He drove in six runs and struck out four times -- in the same game.

In the same Yankees-Red Sox series in July, Byung Hyun-Kim had a win, a loss, a save and a blown save.

In five straight games starting July 24, the Dodgers played games in which the final scores were 1-0, 2-1, 1-0, 1-0 and 2-0. Last team to play five games in which that few runs were scored: the 1906 Cubs.

Also: Aaron Gleeman takes a look at Ben Grieve and Tony Batista. ... A Bronx man who lived alone in a 10-by-10-foot room crammed with a decade's worth of magazines, newspapers, books, catalogs and junk mail was buried standing up when some piles collapsed on Saturday. He was rescued on Monday afternoon. His landlord: "I heard him moaning for a couple of days, but he talks to himself all the time, so I didn't pay him any mind." ... According to the New York Times, "there is no agreement among experts on the causes of the phenomenon, which dates back thousands of years." I wish an example or two had been mentioned.

December 29, 2003

Looks Like We Got Ourselves A Reader. The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs (especially if they are annotated in "suspicious ways") because the reference books could be used for terrorist planning. ... This is stupid -- will travel guides and maps be banned? -- but perhaps not as loopy as the warning in May 2002 to be on the lookout for terrorist scuba divers. ... IWI: "In 1942 a German spy was apprehended by the FBI after being landed on Long Island, New York, by a U-boat the night before. The impact of this event was felt all the way to Dublin, New Hampshire, because The Old Farmer's Almanac was found in his coat pocket. The US government speculated that the Germans were using the Almanac for weather forecasts, which meant that the book was indirectly supplying information to the enemy."

December 28, 2003

So Who's The Author? Laura Bush, on Meet the Press Sunday, admitted that a poem she had attributed to her husband back in October was, in fact, not written by him. I should have known; it sounded way too literate. Here is the deathless prose:

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Oh my lump in the bed
How I've missed you.
Roses are redder
Bluer am I
Seeing you kissed by that charming French guy.
The dogs and the cat, they missed you too
Barney's still mad you dropped him, he ate your shoe
The distance, my dear, has been such a barrier
Next time you want an adventure, just land on a carrier.

In addition to wondering who else would call Laura Bush "my lump in the bed" besides her husband, I'm curious if there is anything that these people will not lie about?
The Battle Is Only Beginning. Nick Cafardo looks at how the Red Sox and Yankees match up after their respective winter dealings. He rates Boston's staff as much better than New York's and writes "the one move that might shift the balance of power Boston's way is the signing of closer Keith Foulke." ... The Red Sox should announce tomorrow that Brian Daubach will be invited to spring training to battle for a spot as a LH bat off the bench and a spare 1B/OF. ... More on Steinbrenner fainting. ... The Genius of Earl Weaver. ... Rich Lederer on Bert Blyleven.
Box of Soap. Operation Get The F*ck Out Of Iraq Before The Election is in full swing. ... Dennis Kucinich on the Ernie Alert and news of Al-Qaeda targeting luxury cruise ships: "The government is trying to place fear everywhere. ... My whole campaign is to challenge this fear, this fear about the Patriot Act, the fear about Iraq. The fear of Iraq was not founded. They didn't attack us. They didn't have weapons of mass destruction." ... Suicides in Iraq. ... Get your story straight, fellas. ... The AP reports that meat cut from a Holstein sick with mad cow disease was sent to Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and Guam. How big was that cow, anyway?

December 27, 2003

40-Man Roster. According to
Pitchers              B/T Ht   Wt  DOB
61 Bronson Arroyo     R/R 6-5  190 02/24/77 
-- Colter Bean        R/R 6-6  255 01/16/77 
-- Jamie Brown        R/R 6-2  200 03/31/77 
-- Lenny Dinardo      L/L 6-4  195 09/19/79 
43 Alan Embree        L/L 6-2  190 01/23/70 
-- Keith Foulke       R/R 6-0  210 10/19/72 
-- Jerome Gamble      R/R 6-2  200 04/05/80 
-- Tim Hamulack       L/L 6-4  210 11/14/76 
-- Bryan Hebson       R/R 6-5  210 03/12/76 
51 Byung-Hyun Kim     R/R 5-9  180 01/19/79 
32 Derek Lowe         R/R 6-6  215 06/01/73 
-- Mark Malaska       L/L 6-3  190 01/17/78 
-- Anastacio Martinez R/R 6-2  180 11/03/78 
45 Pedro Martinez     R/R 5-11 180 10/25/71 
26 Ramiro Mendoza     R/R 6-2  195 06/15/72 
38 Curt Schilling     R/R 6-5  235 11/14/66 
-- Phil Seibel        L/L 6-1  195 01/28/79 
50 Mike Timlin        R/R 6-4  210 03/10/66 
49 Tim Wakefield      R/R 6-2  215 08/02/66 
48 Scott Williamson   R/R 6-0  185 02/17/76
Catchers              B/T Ht   Wt  DOB
-- Andy Dominique     R/R 6-0  220 10/30/75 
28 Doug Mirabelli     R/R 6-1  225 10/18/70 
33 Jason Varitek      S/R 6-2  235 04/11/72
Infielders            B/T Ht   Wt  DOB
-- Mark Bellhorn      S/R 6-1  205 08/23/74 
 5 Nomar Garciaparra  R/R 6-0  190 07/23/73 
15 Kevin Millar       R/R 6-0  210 09/24/71 
11 Bill Mueller       S/R 5-10 180 03/17/71 
34 David Ortiz        L/L 6-4  230 11/18/75 
-- Pokey Reese        R/R 5-11 190 06/10/73 
-- Kevin Youkilis     R/R 6-1  220 03/15/79
Outfielders           B/T Ht   Wt  DOB
18 Johnny Damon       L/L 6-2  190 11/05/73 
29 Gabe Kapler        R/R 6-2  210 07/31/75 
 7 Trot Nixon         L/L 6-2  210 04/11/74 
24 Manny Ramirez      R/R 6-0  215 05/30/72
There was a report at SoSH that the Sox had signed Brian Daubach to a (minor league?) deal, but I haven't seen any news report of it. ... George Steinbrenner fainted Saturday and was taken to a Sarasota hospital. Reports say he's doing fine, which is good, because I don't want anyone with any baseball savvy running that club at the moment. ... Xymphora has a good round-up of the reporting on the cancelled Air France flights. Service has resumed, but the story seems to have dropped off a cliff. There was not one word about it in today's New York Times.

December 26, 2003

Year in Review. Ian Browne looks at 2003. ... In an article praising the Red Sox for their winter moves, Michael Silverman of the Herald writes: "The Red Sox failed to win a World Series in 2003 because they did not have enough pitching, plain and simple." No. The Red Sox had plenty of pitching, but their manager knew next to nothing about how to use it. Boston had two almost completely different bullpens during the season and both of them were horribly mismanaged. Which Silverman himself alludes to in his very next sentence, referring to "one of the most notorious Red Sox blunders." There were several pitchers in that white-hot bullpen waiting to come in and carry the Red Sox into the World Series, and Idiot Loser Gump decided to save them for Game 8.

Before the invasion of Iraq, the US military tried to recruit from Canada's native population, citing as its justification a 1794 treaty that it said granted aboriginal Canadians dual US-Canadian citizenship. ... The P.U.-litzers: Norman Solomon announces his selections for the "foulest media performances of 2003."

December 24, 2003

The Stupidity Tax. Reading the New York papers on the now-dead Rodriguez/Ramirez swap is like falling into Bizarro World, a universe of opposites where day is night, up is down and an insane dictator without WMDs is more dangerous that one with them. Jon Heyman's column in Newsday is headlined "Boston Got Too Greedy"; Joel Sherman of the Post calls the Red Sox the "biggest losers." Objective reports agree it was Hicks who was the greedy one, trying to milk as much extra dough from the Red Sox as possible. But the Red Sox were not as desperate for this deal as Texas (they have Manny and Nomar after all), so they walked away. ... To be fair, John Harper of the Daily News had it right: "Hicks significantly reduced his demand for the second time in recent days on the money he wanted the Sox to send his way along with the Ramirez contract, but the Sox weren't budging. One person close to the situation said the Sox weren't willing to swap Ramirez straight up for Rodriguez without the $28 million-$30 million restructuring of the contract that was nixed by the players' association last week." And Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune was blunt: "In the end, the Red Sox wouldn't pay the stupidity tax. They weren't willing to bail out Rangers owner Tom Hicks, who appears to have doomed his franchise in the short term after agreeing to shell out $252 million for Alex Rodriguez."

Reports that Hicks dropped all additional money considerations were apparently inaccurate. Hicks: "I talked to John, who said that without serious concessions from the Players Association, he was not in a position to negotiate at all. It was very easy to see we were too far apart. We agreed it was too big a gulf to bridge, and we decided to call it off." ... Pokey Reese: "My goal was to one day play behind Pedro, and I got that opportunity and I couldn't turn it down. I played for the Pirates and the Reds most of my career, but when Pedro went over to Boston I'd always keep an eye on the Red Sox. I love Pedro Martinez, I love the way he goes out and takes care of business, so it was an opportunity I couldn't turn down."
Box of Soap. Get me rewrite! It turns out the account of Saddam Hussein offering to negotiate, only to be told by one GI: "Regards from President Bush" was pure fiction. Now the story is that Hussein spat at American soldiers moments after his capture and was promptly punched by one of them. ... "New intelligence information indicates that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and his top deputy personally approved the suspected terrorist attack plan that led the government to raise the nation's terror threat assessment ... US intelligence agencies had gathered detailed information about the plan, in which they said al-Qaida operatives would hijack foreign airliners and fly them into targets in the United States. In some instances, the intelligence is so detailed as to include specific flight numbers..."

At a Pentagon briefing yesterday, Donald Rumsfeld was asked about "a recently declassified memo -- 20 years ago, the use of chemical against Iranians and Kurds, it wasn't sufficient to sever ties with Iraq. And indeed the United States government was trying to improve that relationship, and you played a role in that. ... Twenty years later, the same use of those weapons in those same instances was one of the main reasons cited for going to war." ... Rumsfeld hems and haws, but what was interesting what was CNN and MSNBC both cut away from their coverage of the briefing as soon as that first question was asked. Seems like that would be an important news item, but maybe Michael Jackson sneezed or someone spied a shark off the Carolina coast. The transcript is here.

December 23, 2003

A-Rod Deal Is Stone-Diddley-Dead.

It appears that Tom Hicks's latest deadline of 5:00 pm this afternoon was for real. According to some reports, late in the day Texas offered Rodriguez for Ramirez straight-up -- contract for contract -- but Boston didn't bite. John Henry didn't want to assume A-Rod's contract any more than Hicks wanted to keep it. It seems that once the Players Association nixed any type of sizeable reduction of Rodriguez's upcoming salaries, the Red Sox were going to walk. And since the deal kept getting worse for Boston as time went on (Williamson, prospect Jon Lester and maybe Kim being added to the deal), it was good to let the clock run out. ... Peter Gammons reported that "Rodriguez appealed to Hicks to drop his demand of $13 million from the Red Sox. Rodriguez was willing to give up $27 million -- $13 million in givebacks to the Red Sox and $14 million in Massachusetts state income taxes -- to get to Boston and what's shaping up to be a winning team there." [Yeah, the Red Sox are slowly crawling towards respectability; they're almost there, maybe a few more years. ... Jesus]

Boston signed Pokey Reese for 2004 at a cool million. Theo said he was going for defensive over offense at 2B and he's being true to his word: Pokey contributes zilch with the stick. His seasonal OPS+: 50, 70, 89, 73, 62, 76, 41 (for a career mark of 70). By comparison, Todd Walker's OPS+ last year was 95. On the plus side, Reese has some speed (but a .310 career OBP), he won gold gloves in 1999 and 2000, and his Range Factors are consistently above league average. ... Speaking of Walker, he signed a 1-year deal with the Cubs.

You Can't Make This Stuff Up: "[Darryl] Strawberry, a member of the Without Walls International Church in Tampa, ministered to [Michael] Jackson during a trip to the singer's Neverland Ranch this weekend, said Randy White, the church's head pastor."

December 22, 2003

Line In The Sand. Tom Hicks has announced a new final deadline: "[General manager] John Hart has been forced to work in two directions. I've told John if we don't have a deal by [Tuesday at 5:00 pm (est)], he's to move forward with Alex as part of our team. We've got to have some finality."

National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is arguing over ground rules for her upcoming appearance before the 9/11 Commission because she does not want to testify under oath or in public. Having seen her on the Sunday morning talk shows and speaking at press conferences, I can't say that I blame her. Her ability to lie is actually worse than her boss's. Her eyes dart quickly to the sides: left, right, left; she even shakes a little bit. I've seen 5-year-olds fib more convincingly. Still, it is awfully nice of the Commission to start conducting these incredibly important sessions as its time to investigate dwindles to mere weeks. ... The Los Angeles Times reports that the Justice Department has inflated the number of terrorism-related prosecutions. For example, at least 20 men caught in a driver's license scam are included on a list of more than 280 cases that has been cited as evidence that the US is winning the war on terrorism.
Statheads in 1917. Two good articles: An excellent review of "Moneyball" and proof that sabremetrics was alive and well in 1917. Legendary baseball writer F.C. Lane loves the much-maligned base on balls: "The base on balls is indeed an outcast and a stranger in the records. The most the scorers do for the homeless wanderer is to ignore it utterly. The batter gets no credit for getting a base on balls either through his wits or through respect for his batting powers. But magnanimously, the fact that he is given a pass doesn’t react against him. He isn't fined or anything like that. His voyage to first base merely doesn't appear at all, isn't called a time at bat, plays no part whatever either for or against his batting average."

Lane quotes Hall of Famer Johnny Evers (of "Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance" fame): "I pay no attention to batting averages and no other sensible person pays much attention to them. They tell little of a player's ability. ... Some lumbering bone head who does make a specialty of hitting and nothing else may forge well across the .300 line and everybody says 'what a great batter!' ... Jimmy Sheckard didn't use to hit so very high, according to averages. But if you remember he used to get to first an awful lot of the time. ... He believed that a good share of the time he would be doing his club a better service by trying to wear down the opposing pitcher and get him in the hole all the time ... In my own case I have frequently faced the pitcher when I had no desire whatever to hit. I wanted to get a base on balls. That was what I was working for. If I didn't get it my average suffered and if I did get it my average wasn't benefited in the least. That is why I say the averages mean nothing. They don't give a player credit for playing brainy ball."

But, but, but, Billy Beane is a know-nothing stat-geek and anyone who agrees with him should put down his slide rule and actually go see a game ... blah ... blah ... blah .... Clark Booth seems to be a staunch advocate of this ostrichian world-view, but my question is: Who are these relief pitchers Kevin Foulke and Manny Rivera? Yeesh.

At Democratic Underground, Old Soldier asks: "Did "Kurds Caught Saddam" Make Your Morning Paper?" So far every answer is NO: New York Times, Washington Post, Philadelphia Inquirer, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, Houston Chronicle, Newsday, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, St. Petersburg Times, Miami Herald, New Haven Register, Syracuse Post Standard, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bergen (NJ) Record, Columbus Dispatch, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, Hartford Courant and Portland (Maine) Press Herald. And nothing on Associated Press radio. ... I've really had it with the liberal media. According to Google News, most newspapers carrying it are in Australia, Asia, and the Middle East.

December 21, 2003

Tender Mercies. Doug Mirabelli agreed to a $825,000 contract for next season, with a possible additional $100,000 in performance bonuses. The Red Sox offered contracts to Trot Nixon, Byung-Hyun Kim, Scott Williamson and David Ortiz. The club reached agreements on new contracts with Gabe Kapler (1-year, $750,000), Jason Shiell and Edwin Almonte. Not offered contracts: Damian Jackson, Lou Merloni and Scott Sauerbeck.

Art Martone on The Deal. ... Things Ain't What They Used To Be, Part 78,905,862. ... Gammons checks in this afternoon (he offers a book title, but no theme songs); all mention of the Incensed A-Rod that was a big part of his story yesterday article is gone.
Look, A Shiny Orange Rock! Hmmm, stories breaking this morning that the US's role in capturing Saddam Hussein might have been exaggerated just a tad and ... presto! ... the terror level is raised to Ernie.

Terror Alert Level

Be afraid, but keep shopping (don't worry, you can get duct tape in Xmas colors). ... Howard Dean was attacked last week for saying that the capture of Saddam wouldn't make Americans any safer. So why is the terror level at Ernie? If Dean was clueless, shouldn't it be going down to Cookie Monster? I wonder how many apologies Dean will receive?
Who Caught Saddam? A British newspaper reports that Saddam Hussein was captured by US troops only after he had been taken prisoner by Kurdish forces, drugged and abandoned ready for American soldiers to recover him.

According to the Sunday Herald: "By early Sunday – way before Saddam's capture was being reported by the mainstream Western press – the Kurdish media ran the following news wire: 'Saddam Hussein, the former President of the Iraqi regime, was captured by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. A special intelligence unit led by Qusrat Rasul Ali, a high-ranking member of the PUK, found Saddam Hussein in the city of Tikrit, his birthplace. Qusrat's team was accompanied by a group of US soldiers. Further details of the capture will emerge during the day...' By the time Western press agencies were running the same story, the emphasis had changed, and the ousted Iraqi president had been 'captured in a raid by US forces backed by Kurdish fighters'."

Does it matter who captured Hussein? Well, I'm an adult and I'd rather know the truth than be fed a fictional/theatrical version. George Bush probably doesn't care, since he told ABC's Diane Sawyer last week that he saw no difference between having WMDs and wanting to have them. If this story gets some legs, maybe we'll find out what really happened.

Hey! Saddam likes hot dogs? [carson]I did not know that![/carson] ... The White House engages in a little website scrubbing, adding "its own cosmetic touch-ups to history." ... "They're just going to keep killing us until we leave." ... Fox News Changes Slogan. ... Got Democracy? Not really.

December 20, 2003

A Faint Pulse. Sunday's New York Times says the deal still has a pulse. Boras said his departure from New York should not be taken as a negative sign. Hicks is now negotiating with Henry and Werner. Jack Curry quotes an official from one of the teams: "Everybody wants it to happen. How can it not happen?" ... This is insane.
Time To Walk Away. According to a report by Peter Gammons, the Big Deal is breathing its last. "[A]ccording to sources, Rodriguez's passion for this trade has diminished, both because of his relationship with Hicks and his encounters with Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino. Rodriguez was reportedly incensed when a Lucchino statement Wednesday not only made reference to Alex and his wife -- neither of whom Lucchino has ever met -- but also tried to drive a stake between A-Rod and the union ..." A source told Gammons the deal could be salvaged if John Henry "steps forward and undoes some of [Lucchino's] damage."

At this point, that doesn't seem likely. Which is fine with me. As the deal has gotten more and more complicated, it has worked less and less to Boston's advantage. If Gammons's report is accurate (which is a big if, especially with this deal, and with Gammons in general) and not more PR posturing, then it's time for Henry and the Red Sox to walk away. ... There is no reason on Earth why Boston should dig Hicks out from under the weighty contract he signed with Rodriguez. The Red Sox have a shortstop (and a good one) for 2004. Now Theo can call that shortstop and get to work on an extension.
Red Sox Holding Firm. Gordon Edes has an excellent article in today's Globe about the status of the Rodriguez deal. As it stands now, Hicks wants Ramirez, prospect Jon Lester and $13 million in exchange for Rodriguez. Hicks and Boras have apparently worked out a restructuring of A-Rod's contract that the union would approve. But the Red Sox have told everyone involved that $13 won't do it, they need a $28 million reduction (which is not the same as deferred money) to maintain competitive flexibility. Boston argues that Hicks is saving close to $80 million by swapping Rodriguez's contract with Manny's and that should be incentive enough. ... Rodriguez is scheduled to return home to Miami tomorrow. ... Bud Collins meets with Marvin Miller. ... Gary Huckabay looks at the contractural obligations involved and Joe Sheehan explores the union's position.

I'm a one-sport guy -- baseball is a 12-month-a-year obsession -- so I just found out about Joe Horn's touchdown celebration for the Saints against the Giants last Sunday. After crossing the goal line, Horn began clawing at the bottom of the goal post, found a cell phone hidden there and began pushing buttons, pretending to have a conversation. Horn was fined $30,000. ... Now I don't know what the majority of football columnists thought of this (several fans here seemed to like it), but I started wondering what baseball scribes would say if these sorts of celebrations happened on the diamond. Can you imagine the level of indignation if Barry Bonds capped off a home run trot with a hip-swinging dance with his bat before going back to the dugout? The level of indignation would be off the charts, it would reach apocalyptic proportions.

Box of Soap: Two transcripts of 9/11 Commission Chairman Thomas Kean's CBS interview. ... Connecticut governor John Rowland (R) "has rejected calls for his resignation over corruption allegations, saying he is in direct contact with God." Oh dear. ... Buried on page A42 of the Washington Post: "Rumsfeld went to Baghdad in March 1984 with instructions to deliver a private message about weapons of mass destruction: that the United States' public criticism of Iraq for using chemical weapons [i.e., Saddam gassing his own people] would not derail Washington's attempts to forge a better relationship, according to newly declassified documents."

December 19, 2003

Honestly. I have no idea what's going on. And like Ed Cossette, I'm getting punchy and simply want something to happen. I want resolution. ... John Hart said there is a "strong likelihood" Rodriguez will remain in Texas and Lucchino called the deal "dead," adding that reports of continued negotiations "inaccurate." But both Rodriguez and Boras say a deal is possible. But Hart also said, "We still have the possibility of making a trade."

One Red Sox source said, "If the Red Sox declare the deal to be dead, Boras has a miserable client and Hicks still has multiple problems, like his finances, his manager, his shortstop, his general manager and his team. The Red Sox can still win the World Series without Rodriguez. Not Texas. We actually can afford for this deal to be sincerely dead." I agree with that source. Hohler asks: Can Nomar return? I say yes. With Manny and Nomar, Boston is a powerhouse team.

Bruce Allen on the chaos: "This is the downfall of being as open as this ownership and management group is. ... This Red Sox situation is more like someone teasing you with the promise of a reward or gift, and each day you're expecting to get it, but they don't have it with them, or they need to finish working on it first, or put you off in some other way. It would've been better had they said nothing at all, and just surprised you with it when they had it all ready for you. Of course, I realize something of this magnitude cannot be kept under wraps, totally. But I'm feeling really strung along at this point." ... Allen also mentions Schilling's call to WEEI yesterday "to lay a smackdown on Tony Massarotti and Sean McAdam, neither of whom covered themselves in glory when talking about the Internet." ... Dirt Dog (who has vowed to shut down his site if the A-Rod trade doesn't go through) has an MP3.

Also: The Red Sox have until midnight tomorrow to tender 2004 contracts to eight arbitration-eligible players: Merloni, Jackson, Mirabelli, Nixon, Kapler, Kim, Sauerbeck and Williamson. ... Pokey Reese? ... Yankee blogger Larry Mahnken: "Last season was a great pennant race, and an even greater ALCS. The Red Sox scared the hell out of me, and they're probably going to do it again. This probably isn't the best Yankees team that I've seen in my lifetime, but I don't think I've ever looked forward to a season more. It's gonna be great." ... New York Post: "You can practically taste the panic inside George Steinbrenner's office. ... 'If I worked in that office,' one major league executive said yesterday, 'I would call in sick the rest of the year.'" ... The Game Ain't What It Used to be, Part 145,903 ... Hey you kids, get off my lawn! Lawn!

December 18, 2003

No Rodriguez Deal. Update from Gammons: The deal is dead ... for now.
5:00 p.m. According to Peter Gammons, Hicks has dropped his demand for $5 million for 5 years to $5 million for 3 years. And the union says Rodriguez can rework his contract and lose $13-15 million. ... This sounds positive and it's good to see flexibility from the union, which surely does not want to be seen as the only entity not wanting this deal to go through. If Texas will accept $15 and Boston can get Alex to give back $15, what's the problem? ... I will say that I'm not very sold on the deal as currently rumored: Alex for Manny, a prospect and $, then Ordonez for Nomar, Williamson and a minor leaguer or $. That seems like too much to pay for Ordonez and the Texas deal should stay at Manny and cash. ... But the discussions can't go on much longer, since many teams are impacted: Boston, Texas, Chicago, maybe Los Angeles and Anaheim (though Gammons said the Dodgers are moving on), and any teams in dicussions with those clubs.

Update on 9/11 item below: Kean will be the sole guest on Nightline (11 pm est) and Kristen Breitweiser will be on Hardball (7pm).
The Deadline Looms. Alex Rodriguez: "In the spirit of cooperation, I advised the Red Sox I am willing to restructure my contract, but only within the guidelines prescribed by union officials. I recognize the principle involved, and fully support the need to protect the interests of my fellow players. If my transfer to the Red Sox is to occur, it must be done with consideration of the interests of all major league players, not just one. Any statements by club officials suggesting my position is different than stated is inaccurate and unfortunate." ... Magglio Ordonez and his A-Rod connection. ... Aaron Gleeman examines which duo is more productive: Manny/Nomar or ARod/Ordonez? ... Paul Finkelman, the Chapman Distinguished Professor of Law at University of Tulsa College of Law: "What we have here is the most odd thing of all. The whole origin of the union comes from a player's desire to play in the city where he wants to play as long as a team in that city wants him to play there. Now the union is coming along and saying [Rodriguez] is not getting enough to play where he wants to play. That seems to me to be outrageous on the part of the union."

9/11 Independent Commission Chairman Thomas Kean said yesterday that the terrorist attacks could have and should have been prevented. Kean: "This is a very, very important part of history and we've got to tell it right. As you read the report [due in May], you're going to have a pretty clear idea what wasn't done and what should have been done. This was not something that had to happen." ... Kristen Breitweiser: "How is it possible we have a national security advisor coming out and saying we had no idea they could use planes as weapons when we had FBI records from 1991 stating that this is a possibility? ... If you were to tell me that two years after the murder of my husband that we wouldn't have one question answered, I wouldn't believe it." ... CBS, which broke the story last evening, closed its online coverage with this intriguing sentence: "Kean promises major revelations in public testimony beginning next month from top officials in the FBI, CIA, Defense Department, National Security Agency and, maybe, President Bush and former President Clinton." ... Also: Kean: "I don't expect to have any new friends after this is done. And after this, some old friends may not be friendly any more." ... Commission spokesman Alvin Felzenberg: "We are going to have some disturbing conclusions." ... Coverage in Fox and the New York Post also.

December 17, 2003

Is Today The Day? It sounds like it could be. I can't think of too many days in Red Sox history that would be more historic than this if the full deal goes down (although there might be one in a little over 10 months). ... Magglio Ordonez's name has surfaced in a Nomar deal as the possible left field replacement for Ramirez (or not, or maybe Chicago would flip Nomar to LA). ... Dirt Dog, in addition to having an exclusive photo of Saddam as he was pulled from his hiding spot, has posted a partial transcript of the Kevin Millar Sportscenter interview from last night. ... This is insane. Thank goodness I'm out of the house today, because all I'd do is hit refresh on SoSH's threads and ESPN.

December 16, 2003

One Week To Go. Tom Hicks and John Henry have set a one-week timetable to negotiate the Rodriguez/Ramirez trade. ... ESPNNews radio reports that Henry, Theo Epstein and Rodriguez met with union officials today, and if the Union okays the restructuring of A-Rod's contract, it's a done deal. ... Kevin Millar was interviewed by Dan Patrick on the 6pm Sportscenter tonight. Several posters at SoSH report this exchange:

1st Q: Who would you rather have on this team -- Manny and Nomar or A-Rod?
Millar: A-Rod.
Last Q: Who's throwing the ball to you from SS next year for the Red Sox?
Millar: A-Rod.

Millar also added that the Dodgers should be excited to get Nomar's bat in their lineup. ... Wow! If the reports over the past 24 hours are correct -- that the deal is complete except for the hammering out formalities like Rodriguez's contract restructuring -- Millar's comments, while surprising in their timing, make sense. Millar said he had spoken with Todd Walker, who apparently will sign with the Rangers once the A-Rod trade is announced (I guess that's how Millar got the inside poop). I'm assuming that the Nomar trade will be announced at the same time -- and so that needs to be ironed out as well.
A-Rod/Manny Talks Resume. Sayeth the Globe: "The smoke and mirrors have been cleared away. The scenario Red Sox owner John W. Henry has been working on for weeks, one in which the Sox would trade outfielder Manny Ramirez for shortstop Alex Rodriguez, then turn around and trade shortstop Nomar Garciaparra to another club, is on the verge of being realized. Perhaps by the end of the week, no later than Christmas, according to multiple industry sources with direct knowledge of the negotiations. ... There is no more talk of Garciaparra possibly signing a contract extension with the Red Sox. Garciaparra's agent, Arn Tellem, flew back to California yesterday after meeting with the Red Sox convinced that the Sox had chosen to consummate a deal for A-Rod instead. ..."

Tony Massarotti: "It is going to happen, of course. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even next week. But now as much as ever, there is reason to believe that Alex Rodriguez eventually will end up as a member of the Red Sox. At this stage, it is virtually impossible to believe anything else." ... The Newark Star-Ledger agrees. ... However Mazz's Herald-mate Jeff Horrigan does not. ... Jayson Stark examines the deal in depth. ... Hicks: "We're at a sensitive point. We'll know in the next few days how this is going to come out."

Gordon Edes ponders LF replacements; in-depth discussion here. ... Mark Bellhorn at 2B? ... Red Sox/Yankees: The gloves are off. ... John Sterling, card-carrying member of Al-Yankzeera.

Three quotes: Curt Schilling was at Fenway Park Saturday: "There are nights in the stadium where you feel a buzz of excitement. Here the buzz is in the street. It's freaking December. The Patriots are having a great season and they're talking about the Red Sox. That leads to excitement and nervousness. ... This is the most nervous I've ever been because of the expectations. Fear of failure is a tremendous thing for me. It motivates me and drives me. But that's what makes it exciting." ... Terry Francona: "In Philadelphia, I might get the occasional insult. These people just live and die for the Red Sox. I was told that my life as I know it had changed. And I think they were right." ... Red Sox owner John Henry posted in SoSH's epic "Manny-ARod rumor thread" at 4:26 am (was he up late or early?): "Come on now. Don't start to waver on us. It's the holidays. Be of good cheer! It's going to be just a great, exciting season. Hang in there."

December 14, 2003

An "Enchanting Day". That's how George Bush described today, as the US announced the capture of Saddam Hussein. ... However, finding the ex-Iraqi leader does not equal success in Iraq. It does not make the US invasion lawful under international law and it will not stop the attacks on the occupying army. The Scotsman reports an average of 130 attacks a day on coalition forces and fellow Red Sox fan William Rivers Pitt believes the carnage is only beginning. Hussein's capture won't justify the US's immoral policy of "pre-emptive" war and it won't make those mythical WMDs magically appear. And most of all, it won't stop the PNAC Gang (the ones who said they needed a "new Pearl Harbor" to implement their dreams of empire) from pillaging Iraq's resources for itself and sticking several generations of US taxpayers with the bill.

What happens next will be the true test. Will the US immediately stop its attacks (since its most recent justification for invading has been fulfilled) or will it continue to be an occupying force for the foreseeable future? Don't wait for the media to explore these issues. Despite broadcasting 24 hours a day, they never seem to find the time. Observed on one political board: "Honest to God if you told the average ignoramus out there that it's an old Iraqi tradition to live in towns surrounded by barbed wire, they'd believe it." ... American Dead: 456; total wounded nearly 10,000. Not very enchanting.

The post-9/11 terrorism dragnet has ensnared 6,400 suspects nationwide, but only 23 cases have led to prison sentences of five years or more -- about the same number as in the two years before the attacks. ... Convictions in the US's first major post-9/11 prosecution are in jeopardy because the Justice Dept. admitted it withheld evidence from the defense. ... Then and Now. ... On December 20, 1983 -- almost exactly 20 years ago -- Donald Rumsfeld, special envoy of President Reagan, met with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad. Hey, now these two criminals can get together and rehash old times. Happy Anniversary!

December 13, 2003

Keith Choses Boston ... Foulkin' A! What Theo wants, Theo gets. Keith Foulke will wear red socks in the 2004 Boston bullpen after agreeing to a 3-year, $21 million deal this afternoon. ... Pedro Martinez held a long interview with Michael Silverman of the Herald. The Q&A is fantastic. Some snips about dealing with the media:

Q. You don't seem to like Yankees writers too much.

A. Boston writers are tougher. Boston writers are a lot rougher than New York writers. At least New York writers write in favor of their team all of time, not against them.

Q. So what happened this year - you didn't talk to us for most of the year?

A. Why? Because you guys misused my quotes. When all of you know I've been honest and always explain everything I spoke about in the proper way. (Some of you) somehow manage to write the things the way we meant them but evil people, evil writers - they have to be evil to try to misuse a person that's never done any harm to anybody, to try to make him look like an (expletive) in front of so many good fans, someone that has earned his respect by doing his job, by being so cooperative with all of you, being misused like I was. It made no sense for me to keep talking when I did the best I could. ...

Q. What needs to happen with the media to get you talking again?

A. Just be professional. I don't need to know how you do your job, I'm not going to tell you how to do your job. What you have to do is write exactly what I'm saying. ...

The Alex/Manny talks are being put on the shelf for a few days while the Red Sox resume extension discussions with Nomar. ... Steve Buckley in the Herald: "The balance of power in the American League East hasn't merely shifted, but shuddered with the force of a rock slide. ... Right now, as these words are being written, the Red Sox are the overwhelming favorites to capture the American League East in 2004." ... Jeff Nelson and Paul Williams both testified about their roles in the ALCS bullpen fracas -- and (surprise!) their stories don't match.

Jack Curry has a hilarious look at the "increasingly obsessive" George Steinbrenner: "... a Yankees official had told him that Steinbrenner had sometimes acted so single-handedly and haphazardly that, if he did listen to someone about pursuing a player, it was just as likely to be an accountant as a scout." ... Are the Yanks going downhill? ... Word is Fat Billy from Ohio is thinking about joining workout partner Andy Pettitte in Houston. Since F.B. has never uttered a promise he couldn't go back on later, I'm not surprised. What's funny is that Billy is concerned that if he plays ball in 2004, the Yankees will ask him to return the SUV he received as a retirement gift.

Finally, Dan Shaughnessy ends his column today with this sentence: "This could still be the most important Red Sox offseason since 1919-20, when the best player in the game was traded away from the Red Sox." ... Memo to CHB: When one party trades a sack of money for an item, that is not called a trade, it is called a sale. I don't say I traded for a jacket at the store, I say I bought a jacket. The store sold it to me. Babe Ruth was sold! It was a cash transaction! It seems like half the media and fans make this mistake about the most famous transaction in baseball history, which is bizarre enough, but you'd like to think that the guy who pimps the Curse at every turn would actually know how the deal happened!! ... If he was traded, who did Boston get? Which players? None, that's right. Because it was a SALE! ... David Heuschkel of the Hartford Courant gets it right: "As baseball's winter meetings begin today in New Orleans, the Red Sox are in position to make their biggest deal since the sale of Babe Ruth in 1919."

December 12, 2003

December 12, 2000. Three years ago today, the Supreme Court (in the words of Atrios) "took a dump on democracy". That's probably as polite as I could put it. In a 5-4 vote, the Court decided to cut short the counting of votes in the 2000 presidential election. December 12, 2000 was one of the darkest days in this nation's history, truly a day of infamy.

"Scalia's principal justification for issuing a stay on the Florida recount resumption, permitted by the Florida Supreme Court, was that the recount would 'threaten irreparable harm to petitioner (Bush) ... by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election.' Scalia assumes here that Bush has won, but it is also clear that he feared that if the recount continued, the election could go to Gore. Taking issue with this hollow opinion, judicial conservative Terrance Sandlow stated, 'The balance of harms so unmistakably were on the side of Gore," and further, the stay was "an unmistakable partisan decision without any foundation in law.' The reaction of most jurists to the hijacking of the Fourteenth Amendment can be encapsulated in the words of Yale law professor Akhil Reed Amar, who has said that the court 'failed to cite a single case that, on its facts, comes close to supporting its analysis and result.'"

Not only that, but the majority justices expressly made the point that its ruling applied to these circumstances only, and could not be used as a precedent in any future case. ... Stevens: "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the nation's confidence in [this Court] as the impartial guardian of the rule of law."

And what should be the #1 issue in the 2004 campaign (or maybe #1A after stopping the US's illegal war(s)) is the lack of any verifiable paper trails from electronic voting machines. Either party -- Democrats and Republicans -- could hijack an election, so this should be an issue of extreme importance to every single voter. Yet the media doesn't seem to think it's all that important.

December 11, 2003

Let's Review.

Pettitte took $7.5 million less to sign with the Astros. ... SoSH posters listening to (and cackling over) New York talk radio are saying there are reports that early in the process, the Yankees offered Pettitte a 1-year deal. That must have gone over real well. ... Hey Yankees:
The 2004 Bill James Handbook. Richard Lederer and Aaron Gleeman love it (scroll down to Dec. 8 for Aaron's take). I must pick this up very soon. ... Lederer points out some great Pedro stats: Martinez gave up 10 earned runs in one outing last season and only 36 in his other 28 starts. Excluding that one bad performance, Pedro's ERA for the year was a microscopic 1.78. Pedro's Component ERAs (a statistic that estimates what a pitcher's ERA should have been based on his pitching performance) have been equal to or even lower than his actual ERA every year from 1994. Pedro has had five years with ERCs under 2.00 with a career average of 2.27. He is also number one among all active pitchers in career ERA (2.58), W-L % (.712), OBA (.206), OBP (.268), SLG (.315), OPS (.583), BR/9 (9.55), H/9 (6.72), and K/BB (4.38). In 2003, Martinez was #1 in opponents' OPS (.586), nearly turning all batters into the status of Ramon Santiago (.576), the least productive offensive player in the AL. ... Yet, some writers have to take potshots at him in everything they write [cough]CHB[/cough]. And then those writers act surprised when the player doesn't want to speak to them.

Martinez must respect Michael Silverman of the Herald because he spoke at length with him yesterday. ... David Ortiz says that Manny Ramirez recently told him, "I feel like I have nine toes in Texas and one in Boston." ... Texas Rangers owner Tom Hicks is expected to talk with John Henry in the next couple of days. Baseball's annual winter meetings start tomorrow in New Orleans. ... Andy Pettitte joins Jimy Williams in Houston and the Yankees are attempting to trade Jeff Weaver to the Dodgers for Kevin Brown. Is LA that stupid?

December 10, 2003

Henry Fires Back. John Henry ripped into Nomar's agent Arn Tellem, calling his recent comments "the height of hypocrisy." We now know that when the Red Sox offered Garciaparra a 4-year, $60 million deal in spring training, Garciaparra asked for $68 million. After the season, having reassessed the market, Boston offered 4 years at $48 million. Henry said Tellem "has given us every clear indication that there's no common ground." Gordon Edes says Henry's comments suggest it's "inevitable that Garciaparra is out and A-Rod is in as the Red Sox shortstop, probably in a matter of days." ... Howard Bryant of the Herald reveals that in spring training, Henry and Garciaparra spoke about Nomar's various grievances, but Henry was "dismayed by the inflexible tenor of the conversation; the issues were intractable, if not impossible to repair. Garciaparra hated the lack of space in the Sox clubhouse. He was frustrated with the lack of privacy in the city, and he couldn't deal with an unreasonable media. He even disliked the fact that the weather was different from what he grew up with. Henry came away with the belief that he simply could not reach Garciaparra ..."

Meanwhile, the Orioles are also curious about Nomar. ... Keith Foulke is close to a contract decision. ... Is Schilling's contract completely legal? ... Pedro talks to Michael Silverman. ... Andy Pettitte is close to an agreement with the Astros, Sheffield's asking for more loot and George is looking at Kenny Lofton in what Joel Sherman calls a "Bad Apple Binge."

Mission Accomplished, Part 58: "As the guerrilla war against Iraqi insurgents intensifies, American soldiers have begun wrapping entire villages in barbed wire." ... The Pentagon says 1/3 of Iraq's new army (trained by the US) have quit. ... Iraq's Health Ministry has ordered that civilians killed during the war not be counted. ... And The New Yorker reports that the US has authorized a major escalation of special forces in Iraq, to "neutralize" Baathist insurgents. "This is basically an assassination program," said a former senior US intelligence official. "It is bonkers, insane."

December 9, 2003

What Do I Want? I've resisted writing about the Nomar/Manny/ARod rumors so far because I can't figure out how I truly feel. It's probably way too early in the process to sort it all out. There are at least three sides to my thinking and I'll put them in these catagories: (1) 13-year-old fan, (2) 40-year-old fan, and (3) someone who wants to see a World Championship before he dies.

Fan #1 is emotionally connected to various players as only a young fan can be and while he acknowledges that ARod is a better player than Nomar, he would hate to see the Red Sox win a championship with Nomar wearing another team's uniform. That just seems wrong. Manny is an insanely good hitter and this fan has been pinching himself ever since the Red Sox signed him. (When his skills decline, he'll be overpaid, but the young fan couldn't care less about payroll.) This fan loved the rollercoaster ride of 2003 and believes that with a new manager, Curt Schilling, Manny and Nomar, the Red Sox will be really tough to beat.

Fan #3 wants the Red Sox to put the best damn team on the field regardless of cost, even if that means flipping 70% of the roster every winter. The main thing is he wants to celebrate a Red Sox World Series title and he wants it soon. He figures he'll get used to whatever players suit up as the year progresses and by September/October, he'll love them all like longtime friends. Can Boston get ARod and keep all Nomar and Manny? If not, he'd gladly switch ARod for Nomar and trusts the front office to do what is best re: Manny and his $.

Fan #2 is a mix of both of these guys -- and I guess that's where I am, flip-flopping back and forth. I like Nomar, but his first-pitch hacking drives me nuts and I get very excited thinking of Rodriguez in Fenway. I want Manny in left field, batting 3rd or 4th, for the next few years but I realize Theo and the Trio could likely spend his salary more wisely and cover more of the team's needs (and in several years, Manny'll really be untradeable, so maybe now's the time if they want to do it at all). The team has a spending limit (although I do not know what that is, despite press reports) and I want them to get the most baseball talent for that money. ... I'm conflicted and so I'm simply waiting and watching. When the moves get made (or not) and the 2004 roster becomes clearer, then I'll have a better handle on how I feel.

Arn Tellem, Nomar's agent: "After all Nomar has done from the first day he stepped on the field for the Red Sox, to wake up on his honeymoon to read the paper and to see that John Henry is in direct talks with A-Rod is a total and complete slap in the face ..." (lots more quotes) ... Nomar called Boston's WEEI: I never said publicly that I wanted to leave Boston. My actions have been to go on the field and give my all every day. ... They never asked me if I wanted to leave. I never said I wanted to leave. They might be judging basically on my expression. I will tell people this. I admit I don't make their life [in the media] easy, but I respect every single one of them. ... It's the only uniform I've known since I became a professional baseball player and the only one I want to know."

Alex Rodriguez says there is no meeting with John Henry this week. ... Rangers owner Tom Hicks: "I think both teams are kind of sitting back and doing other things. As I said all along, I don't think anything is going to happen. I think Alex will be our shortstop. Will there be further discussions? Yeah, probably. But nothing is imminent." Whatever happens, the Rangers want it settled by December 16. ... The San Francisco Chronicle says Keith Foulke is weighing 2 offers: Oakland's 4-year/$20-24 million versus Boston's 3-year/4th-year option/$26 million. ... The Red Sox claimed left-handed relief pitcher Mark Malaska (25 yo, 2-1, 2.81 ERA in 22 games last season, .232 OBA) on waivers yesterday from the Devil Rays.

Box of Soap. White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card dismissed as "a moot point" any lingering question about whether Bush relied on faulty intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq. Well, it doesn't appear to be moot to the Iraqi Resistance, or to the families of the 441+ Americans dead (so far) who have died for a lie. ... US Lt. Colonel Nathan Sassaman, whose battalion controls Abu Hishma in Iraq: "With a heavy dose of fear and violence, and a lot of money for projects, I think we can convince these people that we are here to help them." ... Florida continues to have voting problems.

What, Me Govern? Mad magazine's G.I. Joke.

December 7, 2003

A-Rod/Manny. John W. Henry will meet with Alex Rodriguez and Scott Boras this week. Henry and Rodriguez met last Friday. One source said they spoke for as long as six hours, but Rangers owner Tom Hicks (who recently met with Sox president Larry Lucchino) described the session as "more of a get-acquainted meeting." ... Tony Massarotti says that if Nomar is traded, it's all Manny's fault. "What if Garciaparra genuinely wants to remain in Boston? What if a new contract is doable, but the Red Sox decide to trade Garciaparra strictly because it is their only chance to dump Manny? ... The answer is that Manny Ramirez would be responsible for the departure of Nomar Garciaparra." Oh, and Manny is also to blame for this weekend's snowstorm and for the fact that you ran out of toilet paper. Manny = Evil.

Wallowing. Surfing threads at SoSH, I noticed there were some recent posts to the ALCS Game 7 thread, so I took a look.

Holmes Smarter Brother, 11/6/03 3:05 am: "Honest to god, how @#%$ hard is it? You starter starts getting shelled, you replace him. It's easier than replacing the toilet paper."

Jack Brohammer Experience, 11/12/03 1:12 am: "So I walk into this deli today wearing my Sox cap. Its a beautiful day in Northern California with sunny blue skies and the air temp a relatively balmy 70 degrees. ... I was reflective but in a very good mood. But then suddenly, the guy behind the counter, staring at my Sox cap, asks me "So, do you think he should've taken Pedro out?" Needless to say, I gave him a long-winded answer that virtually assured that he will never ask that sort of question again. And my thoughts again turned back to the fact that Grady couldn't prepare toast without burning it."

Scott Cooper, 11/16/03 11:03 pm: "How long must I continue to think about this game....It seems so frickin simple. Pedro was done, and the pen has been getting it done the entire postseason....It was a no brainer..."

No Guru No Method, 11/20/03 5:21 pm: "Nope it still hurts. Going back to bed for another month."

EricM80, 11/22/03 1:54 am: "This game still cuts like a bad breakup. It hits me at various moments throughout the day. I can be taking a shower, eating dinner, or just out for a drive and think to myself, "Why the hell did Grady leave Pedro in?" It makes no sense to me. Crazy."

Jneen, 11/26/03 9:33 am: "I finally got up enough courage to visit this thread for the very first time today. Know what? I didn't cry. This is a big step. Things feel good right now."

Holmes Smarter Brother, 11/27/03 12:14 am: "I really, really can't stand Gump. We had them beat. We had them beat. All we had to do was go to a bullpen that had allowed one run in their last twenty seven innings."

LawTown Fool, 12/2/03 4:45 pm: "Today I was poking around some of the threads that were posted just prior to Game 7. I came across this -- it was from a column in the NY Post:
One thing is already certain about the baseball game that the Red Sox and the Yankees will play tonight at Yankee Stadium: You will remember it for the rest of your life. You will tell and re-tell stories about where you were, who you were with, what you said, how you felt, and you will do this a thousand times before you die.
You just don't know the details yet.

Jesus Chirst, but this guy was right on the money. I think I've already told stories about where I was, who I was with, how I felt, etc., one thousand times. Also, twice over the weekend I saw highlights of the Boone home run (they were showing them, for some strange reason, with the story regarding the Schilling trade). The bastards nearly caught me with my guard down. But in both instances I was able to grab the remote quick enough and change the channel before I saw Boone make contact. I still have not see that fucking ball land. And I never will. That is my pledge."

December 6, 2003

Snow and Rumors Swirling. The makeup of the 2004 Red Sox could change dramatically by Sunday night. Or not. ... Dirt Dog says there is a deal in place to send Nomar to the Dodgers for pitcher Odalis Perez; another source says the Sox would then use Perez in another deal. ... John Henry met with Alex Rodriguez Friday night after receiving permission from the Rangers and Selig's office. Sean McAdam adds that Rodriguez might be willing to renegotiate the final three years of his contract with the help of an existing escape clause. ... The Sox could also ink a deal with Keith Foulke very soon. ... And the Minneapolis Star-Tribune says Eddie Guardado is considering offers from five teams: Boston, Oakland, Seattle, the Cubs and the Twins.

John Tomase has a long feature on Terry Francona. In his initial interview, Francona sat in front of a television and managed a simulated game created by Epstein and his advisers. Not only did Francona "tell them what he wanted to do with the situation in front of him, he mentioned relievers he had warming up in the bullpen for matchups that were three or four moves away." Me likey.

Scott Boras: "Now we're at a place where clubs are getting $20-22 million in revenue sharing, teams like Milwaukee, Tampa Bay and Kansas City. Plus getting $17 million [per team] from the TV packages. These clubs are making close to $40 million off those two elements alone, yet not even projecting payrolls that exceed that. Milwaukee is projecting a $30 million payroll, same thing in Tampa. There's not even an attempt at parity." ... Derek Zumsteg on Rule 5 Shenanigans. ... BP on the Vazquez/Johnson+2 trade.

For a cold winter's day, here is the 2004 Red Sox spring training schedule:
March  4: Minnesota @ Ft. Myers, 7:05 p.m. 
March  5: Boston College, 1:05 p.m. 
          Northeastern, 7:05 p.m. 
March  6: Minnesota @ Ft. Myers, 1:05 p.m. 
March  7: New York Yankees, 1:05 p.m. 
March  8: Minnesota (ss), 1:05 p.m. 
          Philadelphia (ss) @ Clearwater, 1:05 p.m. 
March  9: Cincinnati, 7:05 p.m. 
March 10: St. Louis @ Jupiter 1:05 p.m. 
March 11: Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. 
March 12: Los Angeles, 1:05 p.m. 
March 13: Toronto @ Dunedin, 1:05 PM 
March 14: Florida, 1:05 p.m. 
March 15: Cleveland @ Winter Haven, 1:05 p.m. 
March 16: Cincinnati @ Sarasota, 7:05 p.m. 
March 17: Cleveland, 1:05 p.m. 
March 18: Off Day 
March 19: Pittsburgh, 1:05 PM 
March 20: Toronto, 1:05 p.m. 
March 21: Baltimore @ Ft. Lauderdale 1:05 p.m. 
March 22: Los Angeles @ Vero Beach 1:05 p.m. 
March 23: Tampa Bay, 1:05 p.m. 
March 24: New York Yankees @ Tampa 7:15 p.m. 
March 25: Minnesota, 1:05 p.m. 
March 26: Pittsburgh @ Bradenton 1:05 p.m. 
March 27: Philadelphia, 1:05 p.m. 
March 28: Florida @ Jupiter, 1:05 p.m. 
March 29: Baltimore, 1:05 p.m. 
March 30: Tampa Bay @ St. Petersburg, 7:05 p.m. 
March 31: Pittsburgh, 1:05 p.m. 
April  1: Minnesota @ Ft. Myers, 1:05 p.m. 
April  2: Atlanta @ Turner Field, 7:15 p.m. 
April  3: Atlanta @ Turner Field, 1:15 p.m. 
[Home games in Ft. Myers]
Headline: "US commander gives new toll for Samarra clashes, admits no bodies taken away." One of the soldiers who took part in the attack says: "Most of the casualties were civilians, not insurgents or criminals." ... For months, the parents of tens of thousands of troops have had to buy jackets with bullet-stopping ceramic inserts and mail them to their children in Iraq because they have only Vietnam-era flak jackets. The US Army is now promising to rush new body armor to Iraq by the end of this month. ... Arizona restaurateur Mike Lopercio is in Iraq and is "stunned [by] the differences between the Iraq seen on the television news and the Iraq he sees by walking the streets. 'The town is barricaded up, tanks rolling down the street. Visually, it's arresting. It's shocking.'" ... James Baker, whose law firm is representing the Saudi government in the $1 trillion lawsuit filed by the families of 9/11 victims, is back in the news.

December 5, 2003

The Championship Of Each Other. Bill Simmons knocks one way out of the park. It's all snip-worthy:

"A curious sense of hope emerged from the abyss: It's a good team; we have the right people in charge ... s**t, we can TAKE these guys. I can't remember another winter like it: Depression and optimism battling for the upper hand. Even as certain media nitwits eagerly rehashed Grady's Boner -- unable and unwilling to write about anything else, feeling vindicated by this latest setback, their status as the collective Scrooge of baseball safe again -- the organization and its fans were moving forward. Say what you want, we never stop believing that this is The Year. Better yet, the owners and front office feel the same way."


"Let the record show that Grady was a nice enough guy ... he just happened to be playing checkers when everyone else was playing chess."


"At his absolute apex, [Nomar] strode to the plate, did his "Rain Man" routine with his gloves, swung at the first pitch -- whether it was at his head, his feet, rolling to the plate, or whatever -- and belted the living hell out of it. He sprayed line drives like a machine gun. It was almost freakish. And then he broke his wrist ... and three years have passed ... Barring a dramatic turn, Nomar seems destined to follow Jim Rice's lead, another physical marvel who peaked early in his career, then became a solid All-Star -- but not a superstar, and certainly not your ideal choice when you needed a hit -- for the remainder of his career."

When Bill Simmons is on, it's like he's reading (and transcribing) the collective mind of Red Sox Nation.
Texas Ready To Swap A-Rod For Manny? It's the trade rumor that will not die. The Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers are willing to send Alex Rodriguez to Boston in exchange for Manny Ramirez if the Red Sox assume all of A-Rod's contract and pay "a significant portion" of Manny's. The Rangers would expect Boston to pay at least $5 million of Ramirez's contract, meaning they'd be paying between $25-30 million for A-Rod each of the next five years. Boston is highly unlikely to do that -- the club favors a straight 1-for-1 swap. A Red Sox official said the matter would probably be settled at the winter meetings in New Orleans, which begin late next week. ... The Fort Worth Star-Telegram adds that the deal may hinge on whether the Red Sox can trade Nomar Garciaparra, a deal the paper says the team is "actively pursuing." In addition, because Ramirez would be traded in the middle of a multi-year contract, he could demand a trade after one year, and if that was not done, choose to become a free agent. Would Texas trade Rodriguez and then let Manny get away too? That would certainly free up a ton of money for them. It's questionable whether Ramirez would test the free agency market again, though.

Randy Galloway: "On occasion, Manny makes headlines by doing something stupid, like drinking with friends for several hours in the hotel bar when he's supposed to be too ill to play." Is sports the only part of the newspaper in which it is okay to blatantly disregard know facts and write bold-faced lies? If Writer X were to state as truth that during his last State of the Union address George W. Bush showed up drunk and told his Democratic critics to "F Themselves!" (something that was easily proven false) would that be allowed to run unquestioned in the paper? I doubt it. You could ask Galloway yourself if you like.

From Lee Sinins's "Around The Majors": According to the LA Times, "despite getting Vazquez and pursuing Pettitte, the Yankees are determined to bring Brown to the Bronx because of their payroll battle with the Red Sox. ... According to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the A's, Mariners, Red Sox and Cubs have made offers to free agent P Eddie Guardado and his agent expects a decision by the end of the weekend. ... According to the Seattle Times, the Mariners have made a 3 year, $24-25 million offer to free agent SS Miguel Tejada. ... Cardinals CF Jim Edmonds had shoulder surgery and the team expects him to ready for spring training. ... According to the Seattle Post Intelligencer, the Mariners have made a 1 year, $4 million offer to free agent CF Mike Cameron. ... According to, the Angels are aggressively pursuing free agent P Bartolo Colon. ... [subscribe]

Fat Billy from Ohio: "Andy would be part of a strong rotation here [Houston]. He wouldn't have to go it alone like I did for all those years before I got to New York. It could be a good situation. ... Andy's earned the right to be paid like a Schilling or a Martinez." Putting aside the shot the TCM takes at his Boston and Toronto teammates, let's look at ERA+ (the ratio of the league's ERA (adjusted to the pitcher's ballpark) to that of the pitcher). >100 is above average and <100 is below average. (I did not include years in which only a few innings were pitched.)
        AP    CS    PM 
1990         149 
1991          92 
1992         149 
1993         100   151 
1994          96   123 
1995   110   121   120 
1996   131   138   120 
1997   154   143   221 
1998   105   134   160 
1999    95   130   245 
2000   116   124   285 
2001   112   154   189 
2002   134   136   196 
2003   109   159   212 
Car.   117   129   174
Pettitte pitched better than both Schilling and Pedro exactly 0 times. In 7 of the last 9 years (and the last 6), Pettitte finished behind both hurlers. In fact, he has had the best ERA+ on the Yankees exactly once (1996). Pettitte is nowhere near the pitcher Schilling or Martinez has been (to be honest, the gap between Schilling and Martinez is pretty large too). Clemens's judgment here is about as accurate as his sense of geography.

Five days ago, NPR's Diane Rehm asked Howard Dean: "Why do you think he [Bush] is suppressing that [Sept. 11] report?" Dean replied: "I don't know. There are many theories about it. The most interesting theory that I've heard so far -- which is nothing more than a theory, it can't be proved -- is that he was warned ahead of time by the Saudis. Now who knows what the real situation is?" ... Today, columnist Charles Krauthammer writes that Dean is suffering a "plague" known as "Bush Derangement Syndrome" and adds "When Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) first broached this idea before the 2002 primary election, it was considered so nutty it helped make her former representative McKinney." ... First, McKinney was careful at the time to say that she had no evidence of foreknowledge. And note that Dean merely calls it a "theory" which "can't be proved." Putting aside the veracity of the claim, who would deny that the Bush Administration being warned of 9/11 ahead of time is not one of the "more interesting" theories floating around? ... Of course, the Bush Administration has admitted it WAS warned one month before 9/11 that Osama bin Laden was planning to hijack commercial airliners for attacks inside the US. Indeed, it was only a few weeks after McKinney was ripped for her statements that the New York Post front page blared: "Bush Knew". The Daily News, another conservative Gotham tabloid, shouted: "Bush Had Osama Hijack Warning." ... The Bush Administration could put all these theories to rest once and for all by complying fully with the 9/11 Commission and releasing all it knew about the terrorists, any possible warnings and the attacks themselves, but to date it has instead done everything in its power to avoid any investigation.

December 4, 2003

Talking Trash in December. Gary Sheffield opens his yap: "We're not going to lose, you can be assured of that. George didn't even bring up the Red Sox during our talks. I don't think they're even a concern to him. He just kept talking about how bad he wants to win more World Series championships. The Red Sox can say what they want, but look at us. Who's going to beat us? Nobody. ..." Damn, why can't it be spring training now! ... Excellent column at Slate: C_Schilling1966 Has Entered the Room.

Update to Air Force One story: A White House news conference today changed the story yet again!! Now the other plane that spied AF1 is being identified as a "non-UK operator." Scott McClellan says more than he realizes (or intends): "[W]hat we always try to do for you all in the press corps is to provide you a little color of important events, because we believe that's helpful to you for your stories..." As George Costanza once said: "It's not a lie if you believe it." ... I made a joke about Halliburton making the faux turkey for the faux president, but according to the New York Post, it's true.
Tito On The Hot Seat? ... Not Quite Yet. Terry Francona is the new manager of the Red Sox. From the little bits of info in the papers, I liked Joe Maddon more than Francona (and wish Larry Dierker had been called). However, Theo's track record to date earns him a HUGE benefit of the doubt from me on this move. I will have an open mind. ... DLew On Roids gives three suggestions: "Keep the team loose like it was last year. Don't bat the leading hitter in the AL 8th. Yank your starter when he's out of gas. You do these three things and I'll see you at the big party in Kenmore Square next October." Amen. ... Dirt Dog says Sauerbeck is headed to the Cubs.

The AL East War continues as the Yankees have traded Nick Johnson, Juan Rivera and Randy Choate to Montreal for RHP Javier Vazquez. Vazquez, 27, had a tidy 3.24 ERA last year, while averaging 110 pitches per start; opponents hit .229/.276/.380 against him. I'm not too broken up over this move right now, since it still leaves Jeff Weaver and Jon Lieber in the New York rotation. I'm thrilled the Yankees no longer have Johnson, a good fielding first baseman who, if he stays healthy, will soon be one of the best hitters in baseball (.422 OBP last year). Of course, to pick up anyone decent in a trade, the Yankees had to deal one of their good young players, because their farm system is bone dry; losing Johnson can be tied to the debacle of trading Claussen for Boone last summer. Giambi will likely play 1B most of the year and an infield of Boone-Jeter-Soriano-Giambi is well below average defensively. Good thing for Vazquez, he has become more of a flyball pitcher in the last two seasons. ... New York has also signed relievers Paul Quantrill and Tom Gordon and is close to inking Gary Sheffield.
Chickenhawk Serves Fake Turkey to Sitting Ducks. The turkey platter Bush hoisted in Baghdad was fake. The Washington Post (buried on page A33): "The bird is so perfect it looks as if it came from a food magazine ... [but] administration officials said Wednesday that Bush picked up a decoration, not a serving plate. ... Officials said they did not know the turkey would be there or that Bush would pick it up. A contractor [Does Halliburton make plastic turkeys too?] had roasted and primped the turkey to adorn the buffet line ... White House officials ... maintain that these events are designed to accurately dramatize [Bush's] policies and to convey qualities about him that are real. 'This was effective, because it captured something about the president that people know is true, that he really cares about the soldiers and gets emotional when he sees them,' Mary Matalin, a former administration official, said about the trip to Baghdad. 'You have to figure out how to capture the Bush we know, even if it doesn't come through in a speech situation or a press conference. He regularly rejects anything that is not him.'"

This is both hilarious and sad. Why does the White House reguarly have to go out of its way to dramatize qualities about Bush that they claim are real? Since he's supposedly a down-home good ol' boy, why don't they simply tell him to act naturally? Meanwhile, Bush uses US troops (the ones he hasn't sent to their deaths, that is) as props for his play-acting and dress-up games.

The White House has also changed its story about the British Airways pilot that saw Air Force One during the secret flight to Baghdad. Today's version is that the BA pilot radioed London and reported the apparent sighting and the tower radioed back phony flight-plan information that had been filed to protect AF1's identity. (If that's true, then how did AF1 know of a conversation it wasn't involved in?) But British Airways isn't buying this tall tale either. Josh Marshall writes: "Can't we just cut to the chase and agree that it was on board the plane, as it streaked through the darkness over the misty depths of the Atlantic, that Bartlett decided that it would be a cool story to have appear in Woodward's next book?"

US forces insist they killed 54 Iraqi attackers in Samarra on Sunday, but evidence is slim and skeptism reigns. A hospital reported only eight dead, including a child and at least one elderly Iranian woman. "The US military acknowledged that the death toll was estimated ... and no bodies had been collected." ... US forces are accused of conducting "a savage massacre." ... Bush has a brand new theory about why there aren't any WMDs in Iraq. His administration eliminated them.

"In an abrupt reversal, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York City announced on Wednesday that he had agreed to release records of emergency 911 calls and other materials sought by the federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks." The White House is now the only entity refusing to work fully with the Commission. ... Ellen Mariani, wife of Louis Neil Mariani, who died on board UA 175, has filed an Amended Complaint under the RICO Act against Bush and his cabinet members.