September 30, 2003

The 2003 Red Sox set a new team slugging percentage record, breaking the long-standing mark of .489 set by the 1927 Yankees. Here is a look at the stats for both clubs:
           G    AB    H      1B   2B   3B   HR    BA   OBP   SLG  LG SLG

1927 NYY 155 5347 1644 1092 291 103 158 .307 .381 .489 .390
2003 BRS 162 5769 1667 1018 371 40 238 .289 .360 .491 .420
The last column is the league slugging percentage, minus the teams in question. While Boston has a higher slugging percentage, New York's was higher than the rest of the league by .099; the Red Sox were .071 higher than the average of its peers. The Yankees slugging was 125% of the AL average, Boston was 117% higher. If my math is correct (and tell me if it isn't), the Murderers Row mark is still the best, when put into context.
Some Red Sox bloggers' predictions, including mine (ALCS Teams: Boston, Yankees, Cubs, Giants; World Series: Boston over Giants). ... Bob Hohler's 10 most memorable moments.

Joe Sheehan of BP on AL Cy Young: "The Martinez vs. Halladay debate came down to quantity innings vs. quality. I went with Martinez, but it was very close. The difference between the two is 80 innings of 5.62 ERA ball, which means that the additional innings for Halladay are just shy of replacement-level. That's not to say that they don't have value, just that the gap between he and Martinez in terms of run-prevention is pretty steep."

Update: Minnesota 3, Yankees 1 (Twins lead series 1-0).
Two must-reads. Oakland Lineup Analysis and Boston/Oakland Close Games and Bullpen Usage. ... Aren't you glad Fox is broadcasting the playoffs? "The Red Sox have undergone major surgery in the bullpen (no, we're not talking about turning off the TV) since Opening Day, when their thing was "closer by committee." Now, the names have changed and Boston has a mostly dependable group. Nothing spectacular here, just guys like Mike Timlin, Todd Sauerbeck and Scott Williamson setting it up for Byung Hyun Kim. Remember Kim from the 2000 Series, when he was pummeled by the Yankees? Let's see what happens now."

Extreme examples, perhaps, but isn't it amazing to see the difference between knowledgable people who give a damn (who encourage you to think and where you actually learning something) and the usual hacks in the mainstream media (whose stuff is, at best, worthless)?

Also: To follow the Wilson/Plame/Novak/WH story, there are few better places that Talking Points Memo. Check this out. ... And this with an update.

September 29, 2003

Tick, Tick, Tick ... Two reasons cited by Grady for choosing Wakefield over Lowe for Game 2 in Oakland: (1) Wakefield has induced 75 popups for infield outs (fair or foul) this season while Lowe has induced only 12; and (2) pitching Wakefield in Game 2 could make him available out of the bullpen in Games 4 or 5.

Jim Baker of ESPN ranks the 16 World Series possibilities in order of likelihood:

1. Yankees vs. Braves
2. Yankees vs. Giants
3. Red Sox vs. Braves
4. Red Sox vs. Giants
5. Athletics vs. Braves
6. Athletics vs. Giants
7. Yankees vs. Cubs
8. Yankees vs. Marlins
9. Red Sox vs. Cubs
10. Athletics vs. Cubs
11. Red Sox vs. Marlins
12. Athletics vs. Marlins
13. Twins vs. Braves
14. Twins vs. Giants
15. Twins vs. Cubs
16. Twins vs. Marlins

Eighteen baseball minds at ESPN offer their predictions. Of note: 17 of 18 pick Boston over Oakland; 10 say Boston will win the pennant; and four very wise men (Jayson Stark, Rob Neyer, Jim Baker and Jim Caple) tab Boston to win the World Series.

I spent almost four hours this evening trying to get ALCS tickets (2 computers and a cell phone) and came up empty-handed. And all I was looking for was one measly ticket to Game 5 on Monday, October 13. ... So if anyone out there has an extra, I'd be thrilled to be your guest. I'll buy you lots of beer and throw in an autographed copy of my book!

September 28, 2003

Is It Wednesday Yet? As I write, there are still 83 hours until Hudson's first pitch to Damon. 83 long hours. ... Jeff Suppan will be in the bullpen for the ALDS. ... Trot Nixon would like to DH Sunday; he believes he'll be ready for Game 1 Wednesday night. Nixon said: "We think it would be awesome if they all wear something red for the games. People talk about painting the town red. It would be great to see a sea of red in the stands."

Art Martone: "Score one for the stat geeks." ... McAdam notes the team's "bounce-back ability": "While the Sox suffered 15 defeats in their opponents' last at-bat, they were 13-2 in the games following those tough losses." ... Hohler on Theo ... The Cubs have 7 fewer wins than Boston. Anyone saying they celebrated too much? ... Garry Brown predicts: Red Sox in 4.

MVP? Art Davidson (Metrowest Daily News) says Ortiz deserves it; A-Rod thinks so, too. ... Larry Stone (Seattle Times) picks Posada (Nomar #2). ... Joel Sherman (New York Post) says Posada is a better candidate than Manny. No word yet on when Sherman will bring his stand-up act to a comedy club near you. ... Jack O'Connell (Hartford Courant) gives Vernon Wells the nod over Delgado. ... John Perrotto (Beaver County Times) is voting for Manny. Mark Saxon (Oakland Tribune) also has a vote and he's picking Giambi over Manny because Ramirez "simply disappears when it suits him." Giambi's selling points? #3 in OBP (.412) (Saxon "forgets" to mention Manny's #1 at .427; oops!) and "he's the only man on a playoff team in the top seven in both home runs and RBIs." Actually, Giambi is #8 in RBI. Double oops!!

AL Batting Race
Bill Mueller  .32695

Derek Jeter .32567
Manny Ramirez .32513
From the Blue Jays PR staff on Delgado's career HRs:
#1 - April 4, 1994, a 1-HR game.
#100 - September 17, 1998, a 2-HR game;
#200 - April 20, 2001, a 3-HR game; and
#300 - September 25, 2003, a 4-HR game.

Playoff starters on 3 days rest (1998-2002):
                                     IP   H  R ER BB SO  Dec

Kevin Brown Game 3 NLDS '98 6.2 3 1 1 5 5 ND
Sterling Hitchcock Game 6 NLCS '98 5.0 2 0 0 3 8 W
Kevin Brown Game 4 WS '98 8.0 8 3 3 3 8 L
Shane Reynolds Game 4 NLDS '99 5.0 9 4 4 1 4 L
Bartolo Colon Game 4 ALDS '99 1.0 6 7 7 1 1 L
Charles Nagy Game 5 ALDS '99 3.0 6 8 7 2 2 ND
Bret Saberhagen Game 5 ALDS '99 1.0 4 5 5 1 0 ND
Al Leiter Game 6 NLCS '99 0.0 2 5 5 1 0 ND

Roger Clemens Game 4 ALDS '00 5.0 6 6 6 4 5 L
Andy Pettitte Game 5 ALDS '00 3.2 10 5 5 2 4 ND
Darryl Kile Game 4 NLCS '00 3.0 8 7 7 3 2 L

Chuck Finley Game 5 ALDS '01 4.1 4 2 2 4 7 L
Jamie Moyer Game 5 ALDS '01 6.0 3 1 1 1 6 W
Aaron Sele Game 1 ALCS '01 6.0 7 3 3 3 3 L
Freddy Garcia Game 2 ALCS '01 7.1 7 3 3 4 6 L
Greg Maddux Game 4 NLCS '01 3.0 8 6 4 0 2 L
Tom Glavine Game 5 NLCS '01 5.0 5 3 1 3 3 L
Curt Schilling Game 4 WS '01 7.0 3 1 1 1 9 ND
Curt Schilling Game 7 WS '01 7.1 6 2 2 0 9 ND

Jarrod Washburn Game 4 ALDS '02 5.0 6 2 1 1 2 W
Tim Hudson Game 4 ALDS '02 3.1 5 7 2 2 4 L
Mark Mulder Game 5 ALDS '02 7.0 9 2 2 1 9 L
Tom Glavine Game 4 NLDS '02 2.2 7 7 7 5 1 L

Totals 27 105.1 134 90 79 51 100 3 13 6.75

September 27, 2003

Dates, Times and Probables.

Oakland vs. Boston
Wednesday, October 1
Boston (Martinez 14-4) at Oakland (Hudson 16-7), 10:06 p.m. (ESPN)
Thursday, October 2
Boston (Wakefield 11-7) at Oakland (Zito 14-12), 4:06 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, October 4
Oakland (Lilly 12-9) at Boston (Lowe 17-7)
Sunday, October 5
Oakland at Boston, if necessary
Monday, October 6
Boston at Oakland, if necessary

New York vs. Minnesota
Tuesday, September 30
Minnesota (Santana 12-3) at New York (Mussina 17-8), 1:06 p.m. (ESPN)
Thursday, October 2
Minnesota (Radke 14-10) at New York (Pettitte 21-8) , 8:18 p.m. (FOX)
Saturday, October 4
New York (Clemens 17-9) at Minnesota (Lohse 14-11)
Sunday, October 5
New York at Minnesota, if necessary
Monday, October 6
Minnesota at New York, if necessary

San Francisco vs. Florida
Tuesday, September 30
Florida (Beckett 9-8) at San Francisco (Schmidt 17-5), 4:06 p.m. (ESPN)
Wednesday, October 1
Florida (Penny 14-10) at San Francisco (Ponson 3-6), 4:06 p.m. (ESPN)
Friday, October 3
San Francisco (Rueter 10-5) at Florida (Redman 14-9), 4:06 p.m. (ESPN2)
Saturday, October 4
San Francisco (J. Williams 7-4) at Florida (Willis 13-6), if necessary
Sunday, October 5
Florida at San Francisco, if necessary

Atlanta vs. Chicago
Tuesday, September 30
Chicago at Atlanta (Ortiz 21-7), 8:18 p.m. (FOX)
Wednesday, October 1
Chicago at Atlanta (Hampton 14-8), 7:06 p.m. (ESPN)
Friday, October 3
Atlanta (Maddux 15-11) at Chicago, 8:06 p.m. (ESPN)
Saturday, October 4
Atlanta at Chicago, if necessary
Sunday, October 5
Chicago at Atlanta, if necessary

Sorted by Day/Time

Tuesday, September 30
1:00 Minnesota at New York
4:00 Florida at San Francisco
8:00 Chicago at Atlanta

Wednesday, October 1
4:00 Florida at San Francisco
7:00 Chicago at Atlanta
10:00 Boston at Oakland

Thursday, October 2
4:00 Boston at Oakland
8:00 Minnesota at New York

Friday, October 3
4:00 San Francisco at Florida
8:00 Atlanta at Chicago

Saturday, October 4
New York at Minnesota
Oakland at Boston
San Francisco at Florida (if nec.)
Atlanta at Chicago (if nec.)

Sunday, October 5
New York at Minnesota (if nec.)
Oakland at Boston (if nec.)
Florida at San Francisco (if nec.)
Chicago at Atlanta (if nec.)

Monday, October 6
Minnesota at New York (if nec.)
Boston at Oakland (if nec.)
Pedro, Wakefield, Lowe. Those are the pitchers for the first three games of the ALDS. So far, so good. Grady has not ruled out bringing Pedro back on 3 days rest for Game 4, but I don't think we'll have a solid answer to that question until next Saturday. ... ALCS tickets will go on sale Monday at 6:00 pm. ... Suppan had a horrible outing in Tampa Bay this afternoon (4 runs in the first inning). He settled down and pitched 6 innings (8 hits, 5 runs), but that opening frame certainly hurt his slim chances of starting Game 4 (or of even making the plane to Oakland). Sauerbeck pitched a 1-2-3 inning and Jones retired 3 of his 4 batters. Boston lost 5-4.

One thing I noticed when looking at the standings is that Houston has done much worse that you would have expected considering its runs scored and runs allowed. Bill James found that RS/RA is a very good indicator of a team's W/L record. Look at the standings at the bottom of this page; most teams are within 3 games of their expected record. James's Pythagorean theorem: Runs scored [squared] / (Runs scored [squared] + runs allowed [squared]).
          W   L  GB     RS   RA  EXPTD  DIFF

Cubs 88 73 -- 716 678 85 76 +3
Astros 86 75 2 797 672 94 67 -8
From looking at those RS/RA, you would expect the Astros to have a 9-game lead over the Cubs. One reason for this could be a large number of blowouts, though those do tend to even out over 162 games. Looking at Houston's schedule, they've actually won many more blowouts than they've lost. By my count, in games decided by 8 or more runs, Houston is 12-3. I could say it's Jimy Williams's fault, because he managed in Boston before going to Houston and I know all too well his horrid lineup construction and (over)use of the bullpen (... must ... suppress ... rage ...), but it may not be that easy.

First, Jimy's Pythags in Boston were within 1 or 2 games every season. Second, it's partly due to Jimy's strategies that the Astros have scored and allowed the amount of runs they have this year, so compare that to what they should have done under Jimy is almost like comparing an object to itself. ... Regardless, I still think Jimy is a horrible manager and the difference in the little chart above remains fascinating.
Not Ready For Prime Time Players? According to Charles Steinberg, the Red Sox executive vice president for public affairs, MLB has said Game 1 might begin at 10:00 EST, not 4:00 (8:00 has also been mentioned). Why wouldn't MLB want Pedro-Hudson in prime time?

"If Pedro wants to pitch [Game 4], he will. It's as simple as that." However, Martinez has never pitched on three days rest in his six years in Boston. ... In September: 4-0, 0.82. Pedro allowed two earned runs or fewer in 19 games where he pitched 6+ innings. His road ERA was 1.57 and he lost only twice in his final 21 starts. ... Little on Pedro: "The only conversation I've had with [Martinez] is that he wants to pitch Game 1, Game 2 and Game 3 and then play the Yankees."

The Red Sox are now considering a 10-man pitching staff for the ALDS. I hope they do it. My roster:

Starters: Pedro, Lowe, Wakefield, Burkett.
Bullpen: Embree, Kim, Timlin, Williamson, Arroyo, Jones.
Lineup: Ortiz, Varitek, Millar, Walker, Nomar, Mueller, Ramirez, Damon, Kapler.
Bench: Mirabelli, Nixon, Jackson, Merloni, McCarty, Brown.

I doubt we'll be able to infer anything from his usage this weekend, but I have a sinking feeling Grady may take Sauerbeck and/or Suppan (or even Lyon) over Arroyo and/or Jones. (Taking Suppan over Jones wouldn't bother me.) ... I really hope Sauerbeck watches from home, because (a) he wouldn't be used for anything more than one or two LH batters and (b) he's been pitching like shit. The bench is nothing special, but Brown and Jackson can steal a base. Merloni will be the team's 3rd catcher. ... Also: Varitek will catch Wakefield on Sunday, but Mirabelli will be his catcher in the postseason. However, if Wakefield pitches in relief late in the series, Varitek would catch (presumably because he'd already be in the game). The "personal catcher" stuff drives me bats, but as someone pointed out, Mirabelli will likely get only 2 AB in any game, because Varitek should be ready to PH from about the 6th inning. Of course, if getting Varitek's bat up there in a crucial spot is so important, why isn't he playing the whole game? ... I hope Theo's suggestions to Grady next week are conveyed more forcefully than they seemed to be during the season (judging from Gump's actions). A five-game series is no time to wait and see if a starter can get himself out of trouble, to play someone (or not replace someone) in order to boost his confidence, or to manage with a we'll-get-'em-tomorrow mindset. ... El Guapo's Ghost put it best: "Five days until the Sox play another meaningful game. Well, I have five days to get my prescriptions filled."

Kevin Millar on "too much celebrating": "What I want to know is who wrote the script? Who wrote the script for celebrations? What is it? Clinch wild card, no beers? Clinch Division Series, 4 to 9 beers? Clinch LCS, 6 to 9 beers? Win World Series? No limit? I never had more fun in my life, running down Yawkey Way in my spikes with Derek and Todd and heading into that tavern with a couple of thousand people behind us chanting, 'Bring On Oakland!' We were there 10 minutes. I wish we could have stayed four hours. And we might have, if we didn't have a bus and a plane to catch." ... One person said Millar jumped behind the bar and started handing out bottles of beer, stopping to shake a few up and spray them at patrons.

Ben Jacobs reads my mind: "If you're pissed off that the Red Sox and their fans were celebrating so much, that says more about you and your inability to enjoy the steps along the way than it does about the celebrators. I went through more highs and lows this year than I can even remember, but I never lost faith in the Red Sox. I never thought that they wouldn't reach October. And once my faith, and the faith of all Red Sox fans, was finally rewarded, you're telling me that these highly charismatic Red Sox aren't allowed to revel in our love for them and thank us for being there all year? Gimme a break."

BlogWatch: Paul reminds us how great Pedro, Manny and Nomar have been this season ... Red Sox Rag suggests leaving Burkett off the ALDS roster.

Update: The Cubs have clinched the NL Central by sweeping Pittsburgh 4-2 and 7-2, while Milwaukee beat Houston 5-2.
Baseball-Free Edition. US troops given two weeks leave from Iraq are being flown no further than Baltimore. For the many men and women who do not live near Baltimore, they are forced to find their way home at their own expense. ... Meanwhile, it's "Crony-Palooza!" which would be front page news in a democracy. ... The Post-Modern White House ... Headline of the Day: "North Korea Calls Rumsfeld Illiterate Psychopath."

This could be huge. "The CIA has asked the Justice Department to investigate allegations that the White House broke federal laws by revealing the identity of one of its undercover employees in retaliation against the woman's husband [Joseph Wilson], a former ambassador who publicly criticized President Bush's since-discredited claim that Iraq had sought weapons-grade uranium from Africa. ... Revealing the identities of covert officials is a violation of two laws, the National Agents' Identity Act and the Unauthorized Release of Classified Information Act."

Here's an earlier report, which includes Wilson's comment: "It's of keen interest to me to see whether or not we can get Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House in handcuffs. And trust me, when I use that name, I measure my words."

September 26, 2003

Three-Man Rotations? Oakland is planning on using a 3-man pitching rotation in the ALDS. And according to one report, Boston is considering it too. [Discussion of both A's and Sox plans.]

Under this scenario, Boston's starters would be: Pedro, Lowe, Wakefield, Pedro and Lowe. While this is only in the possibility stage (which doesn't bother me), if it actually happens, I'll be angry. First, working Pedro that hard in the first round doesn't give him any additional starts (as it could in the ALCS or World Series). Second, this rotation gives Lowe two starts in Oakland and for whatever reason, his road stats have been horrible this season (Road: 6-5, 6.01; Home: 11-2, 3.21). Having Wakefield (a fly ball pitcher) pitch Game 2 in the Oakland Coliseum, a pitcher's park with a lot of foul territory (and having Lowe at Fenway), makes sense to me. But it's doubtful whether Theo and Grady would give Wakefield two starts in the series. At this early point, I'd go Pedro, Wakefield, Lowe, Burkett, Pedro.

The only upside to using a 3-man rotation is giving Lowe a second start (on short rest) rather than having a rested Burkett or Suppan start Game 4. I don't think the risk is worth it. But I suppose the situation hinges on who leads the series when Game 4 comes around. If Boston leads 2-1, Burkett/Suppan should start, no question. If Boston's down 2-1, Grady will probably have Pedro on the hill for that do-or-die game. So would Grady be tempted to pull Pedro semi-early from Game 1 in case he needs him to start Game 4? This is probably too much thinking at this point.

Pedro opposes Tim Hudson in Game 1; Hudson beat Boston and Pedro on August 11, throwing 93 pitches in a complete game 2-hitter. Oakland's Game 2 and 3 starters are probably Barry Zito and Ted Lilly. Both of those pitchers are lefties, and since Mirabelli will likely be Wakefield's personal catcher (boo!), it doesn't make any difference which game Wakefield starts if Grady wants Doug to face a lefty.

Trot Nixon fears his season might be over. ... Ray Rotto: The Oakland/Boston series "will hinge on how well the A's do when the Red Sox bat, because the best pitchers and the best hitters make the best show. It's science." ... ESPN's Rick Sutcliffe says this is Boston's year: "The New York Yankees still have to be seen as the favorite in the American League, but the talent gap between the Yankees and the other playoff teams has closed significantly. ... I believe this is the year the Red Sox will overtake the Yankees ... The Red Sox have the best lineup in baseball as well as starting pitchers who can strike guys out. ... The bullpen is one of the few question marks for Boston, but because of the potent offense the Sox might be able to avoid save situations in the playoffs." ... Todd Walker didn't make any friends at Elephants From Oakland.

In Tampa Bay, Boston cruised to a 7-2 win Friday night. ... The only race left is in the NL Central. The Cubs were rained out today and will play a doubleheader at Wrigley on Saturday against Pittsburgh. Houston trails Milwaukee 10-5 in the 6th inning and if they lose will be ½-game behind the Cubs. [Update: The Astros did lose, 12-5.]

RIP George Plimpton.
Lovers, Fuggers, and Thieves. All of the Red Sox coverage on the web is worth reading, but this article by Gordon Edes has a lot of gems:

Todd Jones, champagne bottle in hand, walked across the outfield grass to the Sox bullpen and sprayed the fans. "I told 'em we were sorry. But how could I not go out there and thank them? They were with us all year. There were times they could have shot us and they didn't."

Shortly after 11:30 p.m., Kevin Millar, Todd Walker, Derek Lowe, Lou Merloni, and Gabe Kapler, their newly minted wild-card T-shirts worn over their street clothes, sprinted down Yawkey Way to the Baseball Tavern at the corner of Boylston Street. Accompanied by several bodyguards, they burst into the bar, high-fiving and embracing delighted patrons, then were gone as quickly as they came.

Manny Ramirez: "This is unbelievable. This is great. I've been in the World Series with Cleveland two times. Now we're going to win it." ...

Of course, there had to be a couple of turds in the punchbowl. According to Bruce Allen, Gerry Callahan bitched on WEEI that "the Sox celebration went too far last night. His observation from watching it all was that the Sox feel that they've accomplished their goal for the season, and should've been a bit more subdued and focused on what is ahead." And Dirt Dog singles out Manny and tells him to "sober up" and stop acting like he won the World Series.

Jesus Fugging Christ. I must have missed it -- what exactly is the mandated celebration time for making the playoffs? Did the 34,000 fans cheering insanely also need to "sober up" and face reality? Did the Red Sox really need to hunker down with thick scouting reports of the Athletics last night? ... You see examples of this all the time in the Boston media, and it is still hard to fathom. No matter how good the feeling, at least one or two idiots will feel it's their job to piss all over the picnic.

Also, I see that none of the light-skinned players needed reminding they had merely qualified for the playoffs. Nomar throwing caps and shirts into the crowd, Wakefield spraying the fans with champagne, Nixon bashing cans of beer against his head -- all proper Dirt Dog-approved wild-card-winning behavior. But that Manny, he was too happy. ... And if he had been subdued? Well, that just would have been iron-clad proof that he hates Boston and all its fans and wishes he could tear up his mega-bucks contract and go far away. ...

With apologies to Peter Gammons, this is a special Red Sox team, and the extended celebration with the fans showed that. They have driven me nuts at times this summer, but when they're rolling, there is an air of invincibility that I cannot recall seeing (and having as a fan) in a Boston team before. And while I believe that winning breeds chemistry and not the other way around, from all accounts, this team enjoys each other's company and loves playing together. Which cannot be a bad thing. In a short series, maybe that cohesion will make a difference. ... And now the Devil Rays series feels like three exhibition games. And I suppose they are. Get Pedro and various relievers a little work, give the regulars a rest, and prepare for Oakland on Wednesday.

There is a lotta blog love:

PSF: "Regarding overcelebration, which some have brought up here and in other places, it is my opinion that the celebration last night was more for the fans than for the players. To me, it seemed to be their way of saying 'Thanks'..." PSF quotes Wakefield: "This is the absolute best crowd. I've never heard them so loud as in this game, even when the Yankees were in town. I came in here, took a champagne shower, went back out twice and they're still out there."

Paul Testa: "This has truly been a memorable season; one in which I was so emotionally involved because, for the first time in my life, a Boston Red Sox team seemed to be as excited about playing as I was about watching. ... Have you ever seen a happier Red Sox team? Whatever happens over the next month, this has been the best Red Sox team I have watched in my lifetime."

House That Dewey Built: "Last night was intense. ... we stood up in the SRO section behind the Red Sox on deck circle. ... Jocelyne, my girlfriend, heard someone from the street yell, "Let's go Sox!" Thinking it was just some fan, she looked down. And saw Boston starter Derek Lowe. It was cool, there was Derek Lowe standing 3 stories below us in the player's parking lot, on a cell phone, wearing the red undershirt and two bags of ice on ... When Mendoza threw a curve that was called strike three on Brian Roberts ... I've never been happier surrounded by 34,000 people I don't know."

The Sheriff runs down some highlights: "Kevin Millar singing--live--Born in the USA and then shouting, "time to cowboy up!" ... Manny spraying the locker room media with a garden hose."

Gregg Rosenthal: "The NESN post-game show was the best TV since the Soprano’s episode where Ralphie got killed." He also notes Jane Leavy's biography of Sandy Koufax and notes it is also "a nice look at the misconceptions surrounding those like Koufax [he specifically mentions Pedro] who don't embrace the fame that comes with success."

Rob at Misery Loves Company: "[I]f this is what the Wild Card celebration looks like, there aren't enough law enforcement officials in Greater Boston to police the Hub when the Sox win the World Series."

September 25, 2003

Yes! We're in!

Todd Walker: "We're gonna roll into Oakland, whip some ass, and go from there."
We're Gonna Party Like It's 1999. Tonight's wc-clinching lineup:

Damon CF
Mueller 3B
Nomar SS
Ramirez LF
Ortiz DH
Millar 1B
Varitek C
Kapler RF
Jackson 2B
Lowe P

Jayson Stark says Shannon Stewart, Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez are stronger MVP candidates than Alex Rodriguez, though Stark admits A-Rod "may be the most talented player ... may have the prettiest overall numbers ... may look like a fabulous MVP candidate if you crunch those trendy OPS and Runs Above Replacement Value analyses." Yeah, once you push aside what Rodriguez actually does on the field, well, he's not that good, is he? Stark is usually smarter than this. ... Travis Nelson taps Halladay as the AL Cy Young winner. ... Does Atlanta have a stronger lineup than Boston? Tom Tippett investigates. ... Stats!

Wesley Clark was told in November 2001 that the Bush administration's plan for invading Iraq had been part of a broader five-year military campaign in seven countries [Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan]. ... A Baghdad blog well worth many hours of your time: Riverbend. Also good, though sporadic: Dear Raed. ... The US government has asked a judge to dismiss all charges against terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui, hoping that would hasten an appeal challenging Moussaoui's right to question three captives who he says could testify he was not a conspirator in the 9/11 attacks. Not that a dismissal would free Moussaoui. If all else fails, the US would simply move him to a military court where the idea of due process is a little more (ahem) flexible. ... And can things get any more transparent?
A Mere Bump in the Road. It's funny how trailing 7-0 before your team comes to bat can be brushed aside when your magic number for a playoff spot is 1. Bad news from the 7-3 loss: Burkett suffered the worst start of his career. Good news: Ortiz took a little BP before the Oakland series and Bronson Arroyo threw 4 perfect innings of relief (actually the bullpen threw 8.2 scoreless innings). ... Earlier yesterday, John Lackey shutout Seattle 4-0. The Mariners are off today. Lowe/Daal at 7:05 pm.

Boston broke the record for total bases in a season with 2,750 (2001 Rockies, 2,748). ... Johnny Damon became only the 3rd Sock with 30+ steals in consecutive seasons (joining deadballers Tris Speaker and Harry Hooper). ... Mike Hargrove and Jim Palmer discuss the Boston/Oakland series. Oakland really wants to play Boston. Hatteberg on New England: "The expectations there are just stretched to all bounds of the universe and beyond." ... Scott Williamson believes he saw a ghost in the Renaissance Vinoy Resort in St. Petersburg back in June.

BlogWatch: Dirt Dog reports that Lucchino says Wakefield will start Game 2, presumably to have Lowe pitch at home (his road splits are the pits). ... Dewey's House looks at the AL Cy Young contenders. ... The 2003 Aaron Awards (Aaron Gleeman, that is). ... Howard Dean pledges allegiance to RSN, calling John Kerry's accusation of him as a Yankees fan the "biggest insult" hurled at him so far. Indeed.

One of the best stories I've read this year: Dan Le Batard talks to Barry Bonds. ''Losing dad was the worst thing in the world. I haven't slept in a month. My mind is always racing. I can't concentrate. What's been happening in baseball the last month? I have no idea. I'm just taking care of Mom, doing all the things my dad said he wanted done at the end. I'm drained. I'm constantly thinking, thinking. It's just too overwhelming. I'm devastated. I spend all my time just trying not to have a nervous breakdown.''

Off the Diamond: "Has an American president ever delivered such a bafflingly impertinent speech before the General Assembly as the one George W. Bush gave...?" ... An Annotated Refutation of that UN Address ... "George Bush told lies and they died." ... Excellent commentary on the Hutton Inquiry and the bogus 45-minute WMD claim. ... Fascinating and disturbing. ... Sgt. Leanne Duffy writes to the Madison Capital Times.

A letter from George W. Bush to Congress, dated March 18, 2003: "Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that: ... (2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001." And now he claims he never said Iraq and 9/11 were related? Talk about "revisionist historians."

September 24, 2003

How The West Was Won and Where It Got Us. All three AL divisions clinched last night. Seattle lost 2-1 to the Angels in 11 innings, so the wild card is all but set in stone as well. Boston's magic number = 2. Seattle plays Anaheim this afternoon. When Boston begins tonight at 7pm (Burkett/Hentgen), they should know if they can clinch or not.

Back on August 5, Bill Mueller and his .330 batting average was moved up to #2 in the lineup and Todd Walker dropped to #8. That wise move lasted for only two weeks, however. I've never understood why Grady wanted (for months) the 2 worst OBP guys (Damon and Walker) at the top of the order. And now Walker's hitting third? Do we need any more proof that Grady is a moron? ... Well. ... After his improbable two-strike, two-out, bottom of the ninth 3-run homer -- which Walker called "probably by far the biggest thrill of my life at this point" -- my bitching about where Walker's hitting is over. ... Little says he made the move because he likes going L-R-L-R, but Mueller is a switch-hitter, so it would have worked with him too. (Not a complaint, just an observation.) Oh, Grady also called last night's win the biggest game of year.

Walker's post-game comments to NESN's Tom Caron were hooked up to the Fenway Park PA and I swear he choked up when he said to the roaring crowd, "We're going to go into the playoffs and win this thing." ... Cowboy Up: It's everywhere. ... Scott Williamson's mind has been far away from the diamond, but it appears that both his wife and son have improved. Also, an MRI on his shoulder was negative. ... Yankees traveling secretary David Szen was arrested last night at US Cellular Field and charged with misdemeanor battery. ... In Grady's corner: Garry Brown and Jackie MacMullan are pro-contract expension. ... Sean McAdam looks at the possible playoff roster, which will likely have 11 pitchers.

Jon Heyman of Newsday believes Posada is an MVP candidate. Heyman calls Posada "the most deserving of all candidates ... has statistics to match almost anyone on a playoff team ... My guess? He finishes no better than eighth ... My guess is the winner is Manny Ramirez, who is slightly superior statistically to other candidates on postseason qualifiers..." Posada has "statistics to match almost anyone"? Ramirez is only "slightly superior"? Nonsense.
        AVG         OBP        SLG         HR   RBI

Jorge: .278 (40th) .405 (5th) .512 (20th) 29 98
Manny: .325 ( 1st) .428 (1st) .587 (2nd) 36 102
Manny's OPS of 1.015 leads the American League (5th in MLB); Posada is 10th (.919) in the AL, 23rd in baseball. Very good, but nowhere near MVP consideration. Damn, nearly half of the Red Sox lineup has a higher OPS than Posada (Ramirez, Nixon, Ortiz, Mueller).

New York's ALDS Game 1 starter Mike Mussina was pulled after allowing 8 runs in the 6th inning to Chicago this afternoon: Lee singled. Thomas doubled. Ordonez singled. Everett doubled. Daubach struck out. Valentin homered. Crede doubled. Olivo singled. Harris singled. Harris stole second. Lee doubled. ... Mussina's next start will be Tuesday night against Minnesota.

September 23, 2003

Believe! There are few things better than sipping a cold beer at Fenway Park on a cool September night and watching Manny (and Ortiz and Nixon) crank home runs, as I did Monday night. Unless it's sitting at home on Tuesday night, staring slack-jawed at NESN and laughing as Todd Walker goes deep to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th and David Ortiz pops one into the monster seats in the 10th to win one of the best games of the year! Ortiz's reaction when he hit the ball was priceless; I think he knew the ball was gone before he swung. And the hug-a-thon at the plate was beautiful. A HUGE 6-5 victory. ... And kudos to Dirt Dog for posting both the glorious headlines and the ones he had ready for the (what I believed was the inevitable) 5-2 loss. ... Sweet dreams -- more in the morning.

September 21, 2003

Pedro es el Rey. 7 innings, 4 hits, 0 runs, 2 walks, 11 strikeouts. Boston 2, Cleveland 0. Martinez is now 14-4, 2.25 and (IP be damned) has to be considered for the Cy Young Award. Martinez topped 200 strikeouts for the 7th time (he leads the AL with 204). He's also 10-1 with a 1.66 ERA in 14 career starts against Cleveland. ... Sunday was his 93rd career game with 10+ strikeouts and 66th for Boston, two shy of the club record, held by the man who thinks Toronto is near Texas.

1st: K, K, 2B, 9
2nd: K, 9, 1B, K
3rd: L6, 8, K
4th: 6-3, K, K
5th: 3U, 4-3, 1B, K
6th: K, 8, 3U
7th: K, BB, 1B, 8, BB, K

It sounded (listening to the radio) like Pedro threw his hardest in the 7th. Facing Santos with the bases loaded, he threw ball one low and ball two inside. A 93-mph fastball was called strike one. Santos fouled off a pitch in on his hands, and then whiffed on another fastball, Pedro's 115th pitch of the afternoon, clocked at 95! ... Timlin pitched the 8th and Kim got the 9th. It was good to see Grady bring Kim back and very good to hear Kim quickly dispatch three LH hitters. Broussard struck out looking (all 5 pitches were low and on the outside edge); Magruder popped to short on 1-2; and Hafner flied out to deep center on his first pitch to end it.

Elsewhere: Greg Maddux became the first pitcher to record at least 15 wins over 16 consecutive seasons (Cy Young did it for 15 seasons); and Oakland routed Seattle 12-0. Wild card lead back to 2½ games.

The Red Sox head home for four games against Baltimore and three against Tampa Bay to close out the regular season. ... Monday: I'll be speaking and signing copies of my book on the 1918 Red Sox at the Barnes & Noble near Fenway Park (660 Beacon Street), tomorrow evening at 5:30 pm. If anyone reading this is in Boston, why not stop by. After that, I'll head over to Fenway and watch Suppan/Jason Johnson.

Update: Providence Journal sports editor Art Martone reports: "It looks like the Sox will open Wednesday [October 1], not Tuesday. That means they'll play Wednesday and Thursday in Oakland (or Seattle), be off Friday, then play Saturday and Sunday in Boston."
The Hot Hand. Saturday night's 13-4 implosion in Cleveland was horrible anyway you look at it. Boston's wild card lead dropped to 1½ games and Grady Little proved for the umpteenth time that he couldn't manage a lemonade stand, let alone the Red Sox. Little promised he was going with the "hot hand": "We don't have time in these games or in certain situations to wait too long on a pitcher that's on the mound to get it back together, to get it back in a good groove. ... [W]e will go with the hot hand." Okay, so why did Grady rely on the "cold hand" last night?

Derek Lowe pitched 6 masterful innings (14 ground ball outs, only 60 pitches) and took the mound in the 7th with a 4-1 lead. He threw 118 pitches last time out, so even with the low pitch count, it was time to get the bullpen warm.

Broussard led off with a fly ball to center. It was Lowe's longest at-bat of the game (7 pitches) and his first fly ball out. Lowe had now thrown a first-ball strike to 21 of his 24 batters, but he threw a ball to Bard, then surrendered a 438-foot home run. 4-2 Boston. Peralta hit a first-pitch single and Santos followed with a 1-0 single. Jackson muffed Crisp's double play grounder (again, on an 1-0 count) and couldn't get anybody out. Bases loaded. Considering how Lowe has reacted to bad events all season, the smart thing would have been to get him out (maybe even before Crisp). But no one was ready. Did Grady simply assume Lowe would be lights out for the next three innings?

Lowe got Blake to swing and miss, but then threw a wild pitch. Boston 4-3. On the 9th pitch, Blake doubled in two runs. Cleveland 5-4. How can Grady and Dave Wallace sit there and allow this to drag on in an important game? There are 8 pitchers in the pen and Grady has never shown any aversion to warming up guys and not using them, so why not now?

So Grady finally pulled Lowe -- several batters too late, as usual. Who came in? Who's the "hot hand" with the game on the line? Scott Sauerbeck. The worst pitcher in the pen. What is Grady's fascination with this guy? Since he arrived in Boston, he has done nothing but stink up the joint. He ought to be "Acevadoed," but instead, he's Gump's go-to guy. What is the rationale? Does Grady think that Sauerbeck has been so bad for so long he has to turn it around sometime and maybe this is the game? Is Grady's wife's madien name Sauerbeck?

Anyway, Sauerbeck got Gerut on a fly ball. Two outs. Perfect. Pull him and bring in a right-hander? No. Sauerbeck walked Escobar intentionally, then followed with an unintentional walk, reloading the bases. On his next pitch, he hit Broussard, forcing in a run. And he remained on the mound. He gave up a single to Bard, which scored two more runs. The inning ended when Broussard was caught in a rundown.

Grady told Gordon Edes he left Sauerbeck in because "Bard is better against righties than lefties." A quick look at his splits shows Gump is 100% wrong:
        AVG   OBP   SLG

v LHP .278 .301 .392
v RHP .216 .272 .338
I'm speechless. Edes made no mention of these splits.

Sauerbeck: "It's a ton of things. ... Part of it is physical, part of it is mental. ... When I'm out there, mechanically I feel awful." He has allowed more walks and hits (15 each) than innings pitched (13) and has a 7.24 ERA. And Grady still sounded like he'll use him again soon: "It's disappointing but hopefully he'll turn it around and hopefully he'll turn it around quickly. It's a good time for him to get hot.'' ... Gump had another slow hook with Williamson in the 8th [Out, double, wild pitch, walk, double, K, single, wild pitch, walk], but he likely had conceded the game at that point. ... After the game, Grady was still advocating the "hot hand" philosophy: "We're looking for outs. From here on, we're going to go with the people we feel like we can get the outs with."

Elsewhere: Garry Brown says Gump deserves a contract extension and quotes Millar: "Grady Little is the best manager for Boston. I'd say give him a 4-5 year deal. He's level-headed, and he handles a job that is tougher than anybody knows. This team is under constant criticism, but he keeps us going, and he stands with us. I'd rate him as one of the greatest managers in baseball." ... To quote Woody Allen in "Manhattan": "I have to go now, because I'm due back on planet Earth. "

As I was cursing Grady, my partner (and Yankee fan) Laura wanted to know why I wasn't blaming the players for their poor performances. "Why is it all Grady's fault? Everything can't be the manager's fault."

Yes, I said, the players do deserve blame when they can't do their jobs, but Grady mismanages this team on a near-daily basis, refusing to put the team in the best position to win. Why does he keep bringing the pen's worst pitcher into crucial spots? Why is he batting Walker 3rd and Merloni 2nd? Why rely on a second baseman with no range when a groundball pitcher is on the mound? Grady's job is to know what each player can and cannot do and use them accordingly. Grady does the opposite."

"So why does he do that?"

"I don't know. No one asks him. It never comes up, blown game after blown game, dumb move after dumb move. No one ever asks him to explain himself, just like they never did with Jimy. I can just about guarantee you there will no comment tomorrow about how wrong it was to use Sauerbeck. It'll be 'Sauerbeck couldn't get the job done, poor Grady's stuck with shitty pitchers' with no thought to whether he should have been in the game in the first place." (Sure enough, no one questioned Grady on using Sauerbeck.)

Finally, some SoSH thoughts, to which I can add nothing other than "Amen": "Grady Little is a complete and unredeemable shithead. ... Don't tell me that Scott Williamson doesn't know his manager's a fucking idiot. Don't tell me that Scott Sauerbeck wasn't out there wondering why the fuck he wasn't getting the hook. Just one more log on the conflagration fueled by Grady bungles." ... "blame the players if you want to, but it is the manager's decision to pull a pitcher who has lost his shit, and that same manager's decision to bring in a reliever who has demonstrated he can hold a lead." ... "I will go to bed tonight dreaming of Grady being torn to pieces by industrial machinery."

Pedro will attempt to save Gump's bacon by throwing a 50-pitch complete game shutout at 1:05 pm.

September 20, 2003

Saturday's Lineup. Holy Shit! Grady has truly lost his mind.

Jackson 2b
Merloni 3b
Garciaparra ss
Ramirez lf
Ortiz dh
Millar 1b
Nixon rf
Varitek c
Kapler cf

Somewhere, Mr. Weebles is laughing. ... Seattle beat Oakland this afternoon 9-3.
Thinking about Kim. After reading this thread, I want Kim to remain the closer. Last night, he got the first two guys (Blake and Gerut) easily. Kim seemed pissed at Gerut for not getting out of the way of an inside pitch earlier in his at-bat and when he drilled Martinez in the thigh, I was sure he had done it on purpose. It certainly looked that way. But because it brought the tying run to the plate, it didn't make a whole lot of sense. Kim's next pitch barely grazed Hafner's shirt and that was that.

Kim has had trouble with LH hitters this year, as his slider has a tendency to sail way inside. All 10 of the batters he has hit this year have been left-handed hitters. In 2000-02, there was little difference in who he hit. Fans have mentioned his flat fastball and decreased velocity. He could be tired. He has pitched 20 more innings this year than in any other season and 34 more than last year:
2000:  70.2

2001: 98
2002: 84
2003: 118.1
There is also the question of why every single relief pitcher handed over to Grady and Dave Wallace has caused such headaches. One poster in the thread above wrote: "We've seen way too many pitchers underperform their established career levels to call this a fluke. My question is, what exactly are they doing wrong? ... Are our pitchers not getting help fixing mechanics? Are they unprepared for the batters? ... [W]hat goes on behind the scenes that is negatively affecting the pitching?"

Kim since the ASG: 31.1 IP, 26 H (2 HR), 8 BB, 33 K. Opp. BA .210. That's not bad. ... Kim's ERA by month: April 4.00, May 1.29, June 4.50, July 0.96, August 5.75. So he should be due for a strong September (0.00 so far)! ... Since his recent bout of overuse ended September 3, he's pitched in 5 games and faced 21 batters: 4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 K, 0 runs.

Eric Van looks at Grady's "criminal overuse" of Varitek. ... Terry Mulholland will start for Cleveland instead of Lee tonight. After 6 innings in Oakland, Seattle leads the A's 5-2.
Old Man Napkin, He Just Keeps Rollin' Along. John Burkett pitched his finest game of the season and Boston made its 2-run third inning stand up, winning 2-0 in Cleveland. In Oakland, Seattle won 6-1. The Red Sox's magic number for the wild card is now seven.

According to Elias, Red Sox starters entered last night tied for first (with Toronto) in the AL in ERA this month (3.17); only the Dodgers (2.19) and Cubs (2.88) are better. ... ERAs in September (3 starts each): Pedro 1.17, Wakefield 1.61, Lowe 2.57. ... Burkett has allowed three earned runs or fewer in 14 of his last 19 starts. Nice.

Kim began the ninth, but after getting the first two outs, he hit Martinez and Hafner on successive pitches. Grady was quick out of the dugout to yank him and Embree needed only two pitches to get the final out on a grounder back to the box. ... There are plenty of fans who are now officially scared when Kim enters a game, and while I'm not a member of that club yet, I am getting close. Grady has been true to his word lately of getting pitchers out of the game when they begin to struggle (he also did it with Burkett in the 8th). I agreed with both of those decisions (as well as moving Jackson from CF to 2B in the 8th). Now, what Grady and Dave Wallace should do is use the final 2-3 innings of every game the rest of the way to restore some order in the pen. I'd like to see Kim setting up Williamson, Arroyo get more work and Embree to be more than a LOOGY (lefty, one-out guy)

David Pinto discusses Zone Rating ... Hey, it's Mr. Intangibles! ... Bill Simmons on HBO/Bambino. ... A good blog. ... Cubs ticket scams: 1908 and 2003. ... Tom Tippett: "Boston has lost eight more stolen games than they've won, easily the worst imbalance in the majors. ... [T]his Boston team is a statistical juggernaut that should be leading the league in wins." Chat. ... Seattle (Pineiro)/Oakland (Duchscherer) at 4 pm; Lowe/Cliff Lee at 7 pm. Lee has a huge reverse split (AVG/OPS: v LH .311/.882, v RH .196/.596), so hopefully Damon, Mueller and Nixon can all play.

So Bush admits that for months his administration fed us a huge lie (and sent hundreds of American soliders to their deaths based on that lie): there is no evidence Saddam Hussein was involved with the 9/11 attacks. Big news, right? Think again. According to Editor & Publisher, most major American newspapers either buried the story or ignored it completely. ... Pvt. Kenneth Henry, 21, a Third Division radar operator with a field artillery unit: "[Bush] likes war. He should go fight in a war for two days and see how he likes it."

September 19, 2003

Timmy! Wakefield was set to throw his first complete game since August 19, 1998. He began the 9th inning having retired the last 10 Devil Rays, but Walker dropped a popup for an error and after a fielder's choice and a single, Wakefield was pulled (and received a huge standing ovation). I got nervous as Kim walked his first batter to load the bases. But after an RBI-grounder, Baldelli lined to center and Boston had a 4-3 victory. And at this point, a win is a win, especially if it comes after a Seattle loss. The wild card lead is back to a handsome 2½ games because the Mariners lost 2-1 to the Rangers in 10 innings.

Mueller left last night's game with back spasms, but the Professional isn't worried. Damon thinks he'll be able to play tonight also, but with rain today in Cleveland, waiting until Saturday would be wise. ... Guregian on Pedro and John Henry. ... Re the fuss with the bullpen TV, one AL scout says of the Red Sox: "They've been cheating all year. We've been trying to find out how, but we knew there was something."

Manny Ramirez's 35th home run of the season came in the 6th inning and it gave Boston a 4-2 lead. It was an obsence blast, crushed over everything in left, into what was measured as an 18 mph wind. "When he got back to the dugout, his teammates were all shaking their heads in disgust because having that kind of power should be illegal."

Sean McAdam notes Grady's new strategy of letting the starters pitch longer: "Expect more of the same in the postseason. The inference, by now, is clear: the less you see of the beleaguered bullpen, the better off the Red Sox are." This is not good. The chances of getting complete games in the playoffs are slim (and why would you want to tire out Pedro?) and if the bullpen is rusty or if Grady doesn't know who he can count on, it'll be a disaster. One side benefit, though, is that the Sox may carry only 10 pitchers, which would help their bench.

Angelos on Steinbrenner: "There goes George again. He didn't get his way. Like a spoiled child, he berates and insults others, never realizing that his tirades strongly suggest that he may very well be the one who's suffering from the condition he attributes to others." ... More humor. ... Art Martone wrote to correct me that Bob Ryan, in the quote I snipped yesterday, was talking about Joe Kerrigan, not Jimy Williams. That make more sense; Kerrigan was criticized quite a bit during his brief stint as manager (unfairly in my opinion). ... Tonight: Seattle at Oakland (Franklin/Hudson); Burkett/Stanford in Cleveland at 7:05 pm.

September 18, 2003

Hypocrisy? Dan McLaughlin is a Mets fan known as the Baseball Crank. He wrote a column for the Providence Journal website before starting his own blog. I love his baseball writing, but was turned off by the blog because he also wrote about politics. Which wouldn't be a problem, really, but he's much more conservative than I am. [Looking at his site today, I see for the first time that readers can click for baseball-only content. Has that been there the whole time?] Anyway, I realized about a week ago that I'm doing the same thing here and that there must be at least a few fans out there who are similarly put off by my politics. I have no idea what the ratio of baseball:other stuff will be, or even what it should be, but I realize I'm doing something I wouldn't necessarily like to read if I didn't agree with it. ...

The Bush regime has used the 9/11 attacks as justification for invading and occupying Iraq, but now it's flat-out denying that it ever linked Saddam Hussein to 9/11. Indeed, Bush says there is no evidence that Hussein was involved in the attacks, but he has made many, many comments that link Hussein to al-Qaeda. Here are some uttered over a one-month period last fall (more lies here):

10.7.02 Bush in Cincinnati
"We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. ... We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. ... Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

10.14.02 Bush in Michigan
"... we need to think about Saddam Hussein using al Qaeda to do his dirty work, to not leave fingerprints behind."

10.28.02 Bush in New Mexico
"This is a person who has had contacts with al Qaeda."

10.28.02 Bush in Colorado
"He's got connections with al Qaeda."

10.31.02 Bush in South Dakota
"This is a guy who has had connections with these shadowy terrorist networks."

11.1.02 Bush in New Hampshire
"We know he's got ties with al Qaeda."

11.2.02 Bush in Florida
"We know that he's had connections with al Qaeda."

11.2.02 Bush in Atlanta
"He's had connections with shadowy terrorist networks like al Qaeda."

11.2.02 Bush in Tennessee
"We know that he has had contacts with terrorist networks like al Qaeda."

11.3.02 Bush in Minnesota
"This is a man who has had contacts with al Qaeda."

11.3.02 Bush in South Dakota
"And, not only that, he is -- would like nothing better than to hook-up with one of these shadowy terrorist networks like al Qaeda, provide some weapons and training to them, let them come and do his dirty work, and we wouldn't be able to see his fingerprints on his action. "

11.3.02 Bush in Illinois
"He is a man who would likely -- he is a man who would likely team up with al Qaeda. He could provide the arsenal for one of these shadowy terrorist networks. He would love to use somebody else to attack us, and not leave fingerprints behind. "

11.4.02 Bush in Missouri
"This is a man who has had al Qaeda connections."

11.4.02 Bush in Arkansas
"He's had contacts with al Qaeda."

11.4.02 Bush in Texas
"This is a man who has got connections with al Qaeda."

Also CIA Director George Tenet, October 7, 2002: "We have solid reporting of senior-level contacts between Iraq and al-Qaeda going back a decade." Tenet added that "credible information" also indicates that Iraq and al Qaeda "have discussed safe haven and reciprocal non-aggression." ... And Christian Science Monitor, March 14, 2003: "In his prime-time press conference last week, which focused almost solely on Iraq, President Bush mentioned Sept. 11 eight times. He referred to Saddam Hussein many more times than that, often in the same breath with Sept. 11. ... Sources knowledgeable about US intelligence say there is no evidence that Hussein played a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, nor that he has been or is currently aiding Al Qaeda. Yet the White House appears to be encouraging this false impression ..."

There has also been outcry over Cheney's statement about his financial connection to Halliburton, the oil company he was the CEO of before joining the Bush ticket in 2000. Last Sunday, Cheney said: "I have no financial interest in Halliburton of any kind and haven't had, now, for over three years." However, there are many stories that seem to contradict this. ... Josh Marshall: "[T]his seems to be the first time that the press, the editorialists, everybody is reacting with mounting indignation over the Vice-President's habit of stating notorious falsehoods and unsubstantiated allegations on national television. The behavior isn't new; the reaction is. Something's changing."

Not only that, but Halliburton is having so much trouble getting the Iraqi oilfields restored, the US is currently importing oil into Iraq -- at a cost to US taxpayers of about $6 million per day.

Ted Kennedy says the Bush administration has failed to account for nearly half of the $4 billion the war is costing each month. He believes much of the unaccounted-for money is being used to bribe foreign leaders to send in troops. It's possible. Back in May, General Tommy Franks admitted Senior Iraqi officers who commanded troops crucial to the defense of key Iraqi cities were bribed not to fight by American special forces. ... Kennedy said administration officials relied on "distortion, misrepresentation, a selection of intelligence" to justify their case for war. "This was made up in Texas ... This whole thing was a fraud." (Max Cleland is also speaking out.)

Meanwhile, as Thomas Friedman prattles on about "America's military victory in Iraq," there are reports of eight American soldiers killed in a bomb and grenade attack about 50 miles west of Baghdad today (3 more killed near Tikrit). It says here that 298 Americans soldiers have died in the invasion, including 94 since July 2, when Bush said (regarding further attacks on American troops): "Bring 'em on."

So, no weapons of mass destruction; no connection between Iraq and 9/11; thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of Americans dead; more than $166 billion wasted. When do the war crime trials start?
The Sheriff described it best: Fugly. The 7-0 whitewash, coupled with Seattle's 5-1 win in Texas, cut Boston's wild card lead to 1½ games with 11 games left. ... Boston was without Damon (abdominal strain), Nixon (strained left calf), and Millar (food poisoning) last night, but Gump still found a way to make the junior varsity lineup worse than it had to be.
     Gump                Me

Brown cf Mueller 3b
Garciaparra ss Garciaparra ss
Walker 2b Ramirez lf
Ramirez lf Ortiz dh
Ortiz dh Varitek c
Mueller 3b Kapler rf
Varitek c Abad 1b
Abad 1b Walker 2b
Kapler rf Brown cf
Same guys (though why not McCarty at 1B and Jackson on the turf at 2B?), but it doesn't look quite so putrid. ... So Abad got his first major league hit; now can he go back to the bench? ... Although Boston was shutout for the first time at home this season, they set a new extra-base hit record; they now have 608 doubles, triples and home runs, one more than the 1996 Mariners.

Boston left 13 men on base, including the bases loaded in the 2nd and 5th. The 5th inning was a disgusting display that must have had Theo pounding his head on his desk: Brown walked on 5 pitches, Nomar fouled out on the first pitch, Walker walked on 5 pitches, Ramirez popped out on the first pitch, Ortiz walked on 9 pitches (loading the bases), Mueller fouled out on 5 pitches. Considering that Zambrano has walked more batters than anyone else in the AL, the hacking was indefensible. ... Read Hench on Mr. Garciapopup.

Return of the Speed Boys?: For the first time since 1914 the Red Sox have three players with 15 or more stolen bases. Damon has 28, Garciaparra 17 and Jackson 15. In 1914, Tris Speaker had 42, Hal Janvrin 29, Duffy Lewis 22, Harry Hooper 19 and Larry Gardner 16. ... Suppan's pitch count for the first five innings: 20-20-20-20-20! ... Red Sox players think about end-of-year awards.

Bob Ryan writes this is a "relaxed, confident team that enjoys coming to work" and "Two years ago at this time the Red Sox were battling with the media, their overmatched manager -- just exactly what was Dan Duquette thinking? -- and even themselves." Is the official line now -- that Jimy was overmatched? I can't recall the media questioning his moves at all when he was in Boston. And they have given Grady a free pass for two seasons when he has clearly been in over his head. He's worse than Jimy at bullpen management and in-game tactics, and while I'll take Grady's lineups over Jimy's, saying he's better at that than Mr. Weebles is hardly a ringing endorsement. ... Tony Massarotti discusses Little's contract status, adding: "By many accounts, Little is, at best, a marginal game manager, often taking far too long, for example, to pull troubled pitchers from a game. What most fans never can appreciate, however, is the challenge of managing a clubhouse ... In the clubhouse, Little excels."

In a Herald pay column, Michael Gee believes Grady "isn't giving his starters more rope because he trusts them all as much as he does the peerless Martinez or Derek Lowe. He simply has no faith in his bullpen whatsoever. ... Starters will be expected to cope with their own problems in a manly fashion. Relievers will enter only if said starters are being hammered to bits or are gassed beyond repair."

However, Grady must get over this fear/lack of faith before the playoffs. Shying away from the problem is no way to prepare for October. Grady's choice of pitchers last night shows he still doesn't know what he's doing. When Suppan was in trouble in the 3rd and 4th, Arroyo was up in the pen, but when Suppan began the top of the 6th, Sauerbeck was warming, and he came into the game three batters later. Sauerbeck was followed by Timlin, Lyon, Embree (1 pitch), Williamson and Kim (Jones also was up at one point). ... Sauerbeck was the only guy who had pitched since August 13, so this wasn't a matter of overwork. But 7 pitchers in a 7-0 loss?!? ... Why Sauerbeck instead of Fossum? It turns out Casey has a recurrence of tendinitis in his left shoulder.

BlogWatch: Musings: "Ten Things That Would Be Nice"; DirtDogs ponders a "Curse of the HBO"; Dewey's House looks at NL bullpens and best and worst managers; Guapo's Ghost: "if the Sox make the playoffs and go with more than 10 pitchers in the first round, it would be a huge roster blunder." ... You should be reading Mudville.

The Yankees are playing this afternoon in Baltimore as Hurricane Isabel closes in (as I post, it's 1-1 after 3). ... Seattle playing in Texas at 2pm. ... Wakefield/Bell at 7:05 pm.

September 17, 2003

Looking Good! Postseason Odds Percentages:
      Div    WC   Total

NYY 97.2% 2.2% 99.4%
Oak 98.4% 0.2% 98.6%
Bos 2.8% 92.3% 95.1%
Sea 1.6% 5.1% 6.7%
Playoff schedule (if season ended today (jinx schminx!)):

Begins Tue., September 30 and Wed., October 1
Twins/Yankees: Games 125 in New York; Games 34 in Minneapolis.
Red Sox/A's: Games 125 in Oakland; Games 34 in Boston.

Games 1267: Red Sox at Yankees, Red Sox at Twins, A's at Yankees or Twins at A's
Games 345: Yankees at Red Sox, Twins at Red Sox, Yankees at A's or A's at Twins
Game 1: Wed., October 8, 8 p.m.
Game 2: Thu., October 9, 8 p.m.
Game 3: Sat., October 11, 4 p.m.
Game 4: Sun., October 12, 7:30 p.m.
Game 5: Mon., October 13, 8 p.m.
Game 6: Wed., October 15, 4 p.m. (If NLCS over, 8 p.m.)
Game 7: Thu., October 16, 8 p.m.

World Series
Game 1: AL City Sat., October 18, 7:30 p.m.
Game 2: AL City Sun., October 19, 7:30 p.m.
Game 3: NL City Tue., October 21, 8:00 p.m.
Game 4: NL City Wed., October 22, 8:00 p.m.
Game 5: NL City Thu., October 23, 8:00 p.m.
Game 6: AL City Sat., October 25, 7:30 p.m.
Game 7: AL City Sun., October 26, 7:30 p.m.

Happy Birthday to Kamato Hongo, who was 31 years old when the Red Sox last won it all. She's famous for her habit of sleeping for two days and then staying awake for two days.

Arrrrr! Don't forget: Friday is National Talk Like a Pirate Day!
"It's OK to smile. To hope. To ponder the sweet hereafter, otherwise known as the American League playoffs." [Hohler, Globe] However, I remain, like Lenny Megliola, a bit cautious. Last night's win was Pedro's 100th in a Red Sox uniform (just 93 more, Pedro); he's now 100-28. His career record is 165-66, a winning percentage (.714) that is the best in history among pitchers with 200 decisions. Whitey Ford is #2 at .690.

Tony Massarotti notes that Martinez has pitched a combined 17 innings in consecutive starts, something that has not happened since August 29 and September 4 -- of 2000." ... Steve Krasner writes that Pedro is not likely to finish high in the Cy Young voting because of his low win total. Yet, as Krasner points out, Martinez has had 10 no-decisions, his ERA is 2.34 and he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in 21 of his 27 starts. Over his last 19 starts, Martinez is 10-2 with a 1.99 ERA. But he's probably right; if he didn't win last year, he won't win this year. I want to look at the numbers and see if I can make a case for him, though. ... Martinez is usually stingy (.219 BA, .278 OBP, .321 SLG), but Alex Speier points out that when he "stretches past the 105-pitch mark ... batters suddenly tag him at a .370 clip, getting on base with frightening frequency (.419 OBP) and with Wall-banging clout (.444 slugging percentage)."

BlogWatch: Paul Testa remembers Game 6 and Travis Nelson looks at the stats and says Pujols is more valuable than Bonds. ... Thom Loverro, Washington Times: "There has been no farewell tour for Roger Clemens, who insists this will be his final season. Instead, it has been more like good riddance." ... Jim Baker wrote an article for ESPN Insider yesterday saying that Alex Rodriguez should win the AL MVP. Baker printed some of the emails he received and Jason Ellenbogen's litmus test is exactly the same as mine: "If you were creating a team for one year and you were guaranteed 2003 production from each player, who would be your first pick. That is your MVP."

Red Sox ALDS tickets will go on sale Friday evening. "If the Red Sox earn the A.L. Wild Card, they would host Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary) of the Division Series on Saturday, Oct. 4 and Sunday, Oct. 5." ... Suppan/Zambrano at 7:05 pm. Thanks to Extra Innings, I can also watch Seattle (Moyer) at Texas (Drese) at 8:05.

Off the Diamond: Christiane Amanpour, CNN's top war correspondent and a guest on "Topic A With Tina Brown": "I think the press was muzzled [during the Iraq war], and I think the press self-muzzled. I'm sorry to say, but certainly television and, perhaps, to a certain extent, my station was intimidated by the administration and its foot soldiers at Fox News. And it did, in fact, put a climate of fear and self-censorship, in my view, in terms of the kind of broadcast work we did. ... I mean, it looks like this was disinformation at the highest levels." [Full transcript] Irena Briganti of Fox News: "Given the choice, it's better to be viewed as a foot soldier for Bush than a spokeswoman for al-Qaeda."

Briganti must not have gotten the latest White House memo. Cheney and Rice are now saying Iraq has nothing to do with al-Qaeda and Saddam was not in any way connected to 9/11. ... But didn't Rice say this on September 26, 2002: "There clearly are contacts between al Qaeda and Iraq that can be documented; there clearly is testimony that some of the contacts have been important contacts and that there's a relationship here." ... And didn't Bush, in his 2003 State of the Union Speech, say this: "Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of Al Qaida." ... And haven't they been hinting there is a connection for months? ... No, I must be mistaken. We've always been at war with Oceania.

September 16, 2003

                 IP   H   R  ER  BB  K   ERA

Martinez (13-4) 9 6 2 2 1 6 2.34
How sweet it is! Pedro goes 9 and Boston wins 3-2. ... Grady Little is insane. He moved Nomar to the #2 spot and put Walker at #3. Sure, Walker has been hitting lately (.354 in his last 22 games; .458 in his last 6 games), but does anyone truly believe this move has any relationship to common sense? And yet there he is, Walker, driving in the first run, moving Nomar to third to set up Ortiz's go-ahead RBI. The move is beyond moronic, but it didn't matter tonight. ... Pedro was masterful, throwing very few balls (37 to 85 strikes). His best inning was the 7th. With Boston up 1-0, Huff led off with a triple to the wall in left center. Martinez got Lee to foul out to Varitek on a 0-1 pitch, got Anderson to pop out to short on the first pitch and then struck out Rolls on three pitches. ... Out in Texas, the Rangers are whipping the Mariners 9-0 in the 7th. So at 10:00 pm, I'm off to sleep, dreaming of a 2½ wild card lead.
One down, 13 to go. Boston topped Tampa 8-2 thanks to eight solid innings from Lowe and three hits (including a long home run) from Ramirez. The Red Sox scored in 6 of their 8 innings and, because the Mariners lost 6-4 in Texas, bumped their wild card lead to 1½ games. Lowe began with 4.2 no-hit innings and of his 24 outs, only one was hit to the outfield. In his past seven starts dating to Aug. 13 in Oakland, he is 5-0 with a 2.58 ERA:
          IP    H  ER  BB  K

0813 Oak 5 5 2 2 3 7-3 W
0819 Oak 6 2 0 0 3 2-3 ND
0824 Sea 7.1 5 1 5 4 6-1 W
0829 NYY 6 5 5 3 1 10-5 W
0903 CWS 7 10 2 4 3 5-4 ND
0909 Bal 6 6 1 2 5 9-2 W
0915 TB 8 4 2 2 6 8-2 W
45.1 37 13 18 25
Blogwatch: Jeffery the Embedded Yankee checks in at Musings; the AL contenders' bullpens at Dewey’s House; Yanks Fan/Sox fan look at their pre-season predictions; Guapo's Ghost is preparing an analysis of Lowe; and an early look at part of the 2004 schedule.

Elsewhere, Three more reviews of HBO's Curse of the Bambino, which debuts tonight; Chris Dial looks at the AL races; Larry Mahnken writes: "What Alfonso Soriano represents to me is the crux of the differences between traditional analysis and sabermetric analysis"; King Kaufman on baseball v football blogs (and a follow-up); Parts 1 and 2 of an interview with Ned Colletti, Assistant General Manager of the San Francisco Giants. … Rob Neyer's AL MVP list: Alex Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Bret Boone, Carlos Delgado and Jason Giambi.

Pedro/Jeremi Gonzalez at 7:05 pm.

September 15, 2003

The Devil Rays visit the Hub and they, like Cleveland and the Orioles, have played Boston tough all season. The Red Sox are 17-13 against those three teams with a .280 batting average and 4.51 ERA (against everyone else, they hit .294 with a 4.60 ERA). ... Pedro, Manny, Nomar -- why are only the stars getting the flu? Can Walker or Sauerbeck get sick, please? ... Ramirez's dumb baserunning cannot continue. ... What's wrong with Millar? ... Seattle heads to Texas. ... Lowe/Sosa at 7:05 pm.

Mike Bauman writes that the Red Sox are "still in the maybe category for the postseason" and notes "good pitching trumps everything." Bull. Tell that to the 1999 and 2000 Red Sox, who led the American League in ERA (see here if you think the Pedro factor was at work (it wasn't)). ... In an ESPN pay column, Jerry Crasnick rates the top five starting rotations of the playoff contenders: Cubs, White Sox, Dodgers, Yankees, A's. ... The Giants without Bonds?

BlogWatch: PSF says the Sox must TCB; Musings notes the wild card odds (Boston 78.4%, Seattle 15.5%; so why am I so nervous?) and breaks down the final 2 weeks; Curse of the J-Lo?; the Sheriff notes (as I did) the short-sightedness of sending Arroyo out for a 3rd inning; and some thoughts from the Other Side of the Tracks.

Finally, the National Book Foundation is awarding its annual medal for distinguished contribution to American letters to Red Sox fan Stephen King. Harold Bloom is not pleased: "He is a man who writes what used to be called penny dreadfuls. That they could believe that there is any literary value there or any aesthetic accomplishment or signs of an inventive human intelligence is simply a testimony to their own idiocy." Now that's a blurb! ... Oh, and it's official. Dick Cheney says that September 11 is "over with now, it's done, it's history and we can put it behind us." Really? After you've hindered any and all investigations? I don't think so. Fuck you, Crashcart.