February 28, 2011

Beckett Hit In Head By Ball, Suffers Mild Concussion

Josh Beckett was hit on the left side of his head by a batted ball this morning. He walked off the field with a trainer and was seen on the Sox bench during the early innings of today's game against Minnesota.

Several writers at the park just reported that Beckett has "mild concussion symptoms" and was sent home. He will be re-examined tomorrow.

Crawford And Drew Debut Today

Twins   - 103 020 000 - 6 10  1
Red Sox - 003 002 20x - 7 11  2
Boston got three runs in the third on a moon shot from David Ortiz (with Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia aboard). After Matsuzaka went two innings, Tim Wakefield and Daniel Bard were first out of the pen.

Josh Reddick hit a two-run dong in the seventh. Jason Varitek had two hits and Drew Sutton had two RBI.
Lineup for today's 1 PM game against the Twins:
Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B
Crawford, LF
Ortiz, DH
Drew, RF
Varitek, C
Dlugach, SS
Sutton, 1B
Navarro, 3B

Matsuzaka, P

Doing The Wave With Beer

Michael Bowden pitched in ten games as a reliever for Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela this winter. He was used in a lot of different situations, something Bowden felt was "very beneficial".

He told Brian MacPherson of the Journal about the crowds:
If you get a big out or end an inning, the place goes crazy. ... They're dancing. There's bands. They're doing the Wave with beer.
And what, exactly, does "doing the Wave with beer" mean?
Instead of throwing your hands in the air, they throw beer, and it goes all the way around the stands. It actually looks really, really cool. ... They waste beer the whole game. They're throwing it at us if we're not good. They're throwing it at other people if they're fans of the other team. It's pretty wild.

February 27, 2011

Mayor's Cup: Too Much Too Soon

Red Sox - 000 000 031 - 4  9  2
Twins   - 010 041 02x - 8 12  1
Beckett (2-2-1-0-0, 23) allowed a double, a triple, and a couple of loud outs. Buchholz (2-0-0-0-1, 18) retired all six batters he faced. Okajima imploded (1-5-4-4-0-2), allowing three singles to load the bases to begin the fifth, then giving up a one-out triple to clear them. (Pitch counts from the Globe.)
Terry Francona knows the stakes are high:
There's a lot of anxiety. Gardy can say what he wants but he moved up Pavano two days, And we're bringing in [Clay Buchholz] second. It's like facing the Yankees Opening Day. It's too much too soon.
The Red Sox have won the Fort Myers city series against the Twins each of the last four springs. Tito: "It's hard not to be arrogant."

In addition to the 7 PM game tonight, the Sox and Twins also play afternoon games tomorrow and Tuesday.

McDonald, LF
Lowrie, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 3B
Cameron, CF
Saltalamacchia, C
Kalish, RF
Anderson, 1B
Iglesias, SS

Pitchers: Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Brandon Duckworth,
Hideki Okajima, Scott Atchison, Dan Wheeler

Affleck Working On Script About Wife-Swapping Yankees

In the fall of 1972, Yankee pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich traded families, taking the idea of "swinging" (since the men changed residences, you couldn't really call it "wife swapping", although I did in this post's title) to the extreme. As Rick Cleveland of the Clarion Ledger put it:
Peterson traded his wife, Marilyn, his two kids and a poodle for Susan Kekich, the two Kekich children and a Bedlington terrier.
News of the switch leaked out in the spring of 1973. One Yankee executive -- either Lee MacPhail or Dan Topping -- quipped: "We may have to call off Family Day."
Kekich pitched in only five games for the Yankees (9.20 ERA) in 1973 before being traded to Cleveland in June. Peterson stayed with New York for the entire season, but was also traded to Cleveland the following spring. I don't think they played together, though, as it looks like Kekich spent that year in AAA. Peterson ended up marrying Susanne Kekich, while Kekich and Marilyn Peterson split up.

I have known about this story for a long time, of course -- and have always meant to go back and see the reaction of the sports media when the news broke -- but now word comes that one of Ben Affleck's projects is a movie about the pitchers' story, entitled "The Trade".* Kekich is refusing to participate and the Post quotes a source as saying that the former pitcher is
panic-stricken. He has moved away and has a new identity. He is freaked out that those working on the movie found out where he is. ... Other Yankees from that time have also been really unhelpful with facts and details of what happened. They are stonewalling.
* - It turns out that Bronx Banter had a post about this project roughly one year ago. So this isn't exactly breaking news. Maybe Kekich's objection is the new twist?

Fellow pitcher and teammate Fred Beene said that Peterson "was practically destroyed by all the negative reaction."

And Kekich once stated:
All four of us had agreed in the beginning that if anyone wasn't happy, the thing would be called off. But when Marilyn and I decided to call it off, the other couple already had gone off with each other.
In 2009, Peterson published a book -- "Mickey Mantle Is Going To Heaven" -- and he told the Times he emails occasionally with Kekich.

The best thing about this possible movie is that because Affleck is a huge Red Sox fan, Yankees fans are going nuts when they hear about it. One comment under the Post's Page Six item accused "been a-flic" of "screwing with AMERICAS team", but I really liked this comment at the Baltimore Sun's Read Street blog:
Cry foul! How do two Red Sox fans get to make a movie about the NY Yankees?
There ought to be a law.

February 26, 2011

It's Baseball!

Northeastern - 100 100 0 -  2  4  7
Red Sox      - 000 526 x - 13  6  0
In addition to the seven errors, Northeastern pitchers issued 12 walks. Jose Iglesias went 2-for-3, with 3 RBI. Che-Hsuan Lin walked twice, scored twice, and drive in two runs. (And Peter Abraham is glad there's good meth in Fort Myers.)

The Huskies' leadoff hitter, Ryan Maguire, smacked Kyle Weiland's first pitch of the game over the left field wall.

Ellsbury, CF
Lowrie, SS
Cameron, DH
Nava, LF
Exposito, C
Navarro, 3B
Linares, RF
Sutton, 2B
Padron, 1B
Boston College - 000 000 0 - 0  1  0
Red Sox        - 302 001 x - 6  6  0
1st: After Scutaro and Pedroia both walked, Youkilis homered to right-center.

Scutaro, SS
Pedroia, 2B
Ortiz, DH
Youkilis, 3B
McDonald, LF
Kalish, CF
Anderson, 1B
Reddick, RF
Lavarnway, C

February 25, 2011

Pirates Score In Every Inning!

Friday box:
Manatee CC - 010 000 0 -  1  4  3
Pittsburgh - 373 242 x - 21 20  0
Only six innings, though.


For tomorrow's doubleheader!
vs Boston College, 1 PM    vs Northeastern, 6 PM
Scutaro, SS                Ellsbury, CF
Pedroia, 2B                Lowrie, SS
Ortiz, DH                  Cameron, DH
Youkilis, 3B               Nava, LF
McDonald, LF               Exposito, C
Kalish, CF                 Luna, 1B
Anderson, 1B               Navarro, 3B
Reddick, RF                Linares, RF
Lavarnway, C               Sutton, 2B
Pimentel, P                Weiland, p
Peter Abraham says Jose Iglesias's mohawk haircut "looks awful, but it's better than Yamaico Navarro, who has what looks like a bunny's tail on the back of his head". Adrian Gonzalez took 45 swings off a tee today, Dennys Reyes will report tomorrow, and Carl Crawford will be dealing with some personal business in Houston this weekend.

February 24, 2011

Left Elbow Tightness Shelves Doubront For Two Weeks

Felix Doubront has tightness in his left elbow and while an MRI showed the elbow is structurally sound, the 23-year-old lefty will not throw a baseball for 10-14 days.

Terry Francona:
He's had this before and we'd rather not have him go 3-4 days and have him throw and nurse it through. He's too young and potentially too good, that we would rather take the cautious approach. ... So you won't see him out there for the near future.

Seven Pieces Of Information

Does anyone have any favourite examples of baseball being mentioned in non-baseball novels? Here is one that Laura shared with me years ago.
As I walked to Yankee Stadium I reflected upon the means that Smedjebakken had devised for our meeting. With seven pieces of information printed on a little piece of cardboard (Yankee Stadium, the gate, the section, the row, the seat, the date, and the time) you could, with machinelike certainty, bring two people from entirely disparate parts of the earth to positions side by side at a particular instant.

This, I thought, might be a way to salvage the potential of normally wasted encounters, such as sharing a train car on a late summer's afternoon with a woman as beautiful as summer itself. I sometimes think back to the earlier years of the century and women I saw then ...

If only I had seized those moments, but I was almost always too shy. A ticket, though, to some public event -- a baseball game, a lecture, a concert -- might allow the woman to whom you presented it to reflect at length upon her short memory of you on some public conveyance, and perhaps to be enchanted. And if she didn't show, you could at least enjoy a baseball game, a lecture, or a concert, sitting next to a mournfully empty seat.

Smedjebakken was no woman, and the sight of him sitting in Yankee Stadium, with a cardboard box of baseball food on his lap, jarred me from my revery.

"What's that?" I asked, pointing to the food in the box.

"This is food," he answered. "You've heard of it?" ...

"Beer," he said, handing me a paper cup. "My beer is Rheingold, the dry beer."

"It smells like a urine sample," I said, sniffing at it.

"Yes," he said. "One of them is a urine sample that I'm supposed to deliver to my urologist. And one is beer. Who knows which is which?"
Mark Helprin, Memoir from Antproof Case (paperback, pp. 321-323)

February 23, 2011

Crawford: Yankees Never Contacted Me

Carl Crawford said the Yankees were never an option:
I never talked to New York. They never offered me a contract. I never had any kind of communication with New York, so it was never an option to go to New York. Cliff Lee was their first choice. I didn't want to be somebody's backup plan. I wanted to go to a place where they wanted me just as bad as I wanted to go there.
Crawford also downplayed the news that the Red Sox monitored his off-field activities:
I understand why they did it, and it wasn't like anything negative. That's just the way I felt. That's pretty much it. I never had anything like that happen before. It's a process. They explained to me that they do that to all the guys. It's just something they have to do. It wasn't a big deal at all. It just was different.

Rewind Yourself

Jason Kendall of the Royals may be wound a bit too tight.

Nick Wright (610 AM), interviewing Kansas City pitcher third baseman Mike Moustakas on Monday: There's a decent chance that no matter how well you do this Spring Training, you might still start the year off in the minors just because of baseball's rules and wanting to hold on to eligibility, all that stuff. Do you think about that?

Kendall (sitting nearby but not part of the interview): No, he wants to stay in the minor leagues all fucking year. Are you shitting me right now?

Wright: Well ... you heard the question, Jason?

Kendall: Yes.

Wright: The question wasn't--

Kendall: Do you wanna start in the big leagues this year? ...

Wright: That wasn't the question, Jason.

Kendall: Rewind yourself.
Will McDonald, at Royals Review, is amazed that Wright, despite knowing exactly what he said, still offers an apology to Moustakas. It's the mature thing to do (although I would have rather heard Wright rewind himself and make Kendall look like more of an ass*).

* But then who would have recorded it?

Crawford "Freaked Out" By Sox's Investigation

Theo Epstein said part of the Red Sox's due diligence in deciding whether to sign Carl Crawford involved following him around for "literally the last three, four months of the season at the ballpark, away from the ballpark ... we covered him as if we were privately investigating him."

Theo is undoubtedly kicking himself for using what he later said was "a bad figure of speech", and while Crawford says he was "creeped out" when Epstein told him about it during the negotiations, he still signed with the Sox.
I guess that's what they have to do when they're making that kind of investment. ... He told me straight up ...I didn't say nothing, but I'm from an area where if somebody's doing that to you, they're not doing anything good. I get paranoid when I hear those kind of stories ... I wasn't comfortable with that at all. I don't know how they do it, how much distance they keep from you when they watch you the whole time. ... I'm always looking over my shoulder now. Now I look before I go in my house. I'd better not see anything suspicious now.
Epstein said yesterday the team did nothing out of the ordinary with Crawford, that it was part of normal process before signing a high-priced free agent.
Switch-hitting D'Angelo Ortiz, 6, says the Red Sox have not spoken to him about a contract.

February 22, 2011

Dropkick Murphys: Solidarity With Wisconsin Workers

The Dropkick Murphys
would like to take a moment to acknowledge the struggles of the working people of Wisconsin and to pledge our support and solidarity by releasing the song 'Take Em Down' from our upcoming album. We think it's appropriate at the moment and hope you like it.
I do like it. It's a rousing kick in the ass -- "We gotta take the bastards down -- let them know!!" -- that would raise the hairs on the back of your neck if shouted by a few thousand desperate, determined, and pissed off people.
Ted Rall [is] different from almost everyone else in public life who wants the corporate state to refrain from war crimes and destroying nature. He thinks violence is viable and the only real option on the table when the other choice is doom. ... He wants a revolution. And I agree with him. A revolution is exactly what the United States needs.
That quote comes from an essay/review of Rall's new book, The Anti-American Manifesto, posted recently at OpEd News.

The essay's by-line - Charles M. Young - raised my eyebrows. I used to enjoy the work of a music critic by the same name roughly 25 years ago. He wrote for Rolling Stone (penning the cover story of the worst-selling issue in the magazine's history) and Musician, and he played bass in a NYC punk band called Iron Prostate. Could this be the same guy? ... In a few internet clicks, I had my answer: Yes!

Young now writes for a website called This Can't Be Happening, which is where the Rall essay was first posted, in mid-January. In that essay, and many others, time and time again, Young argues logically that the answer to many of the US's problems -- the problems of any capitalist society, actually -- is socialism.

Rall, from a Q&A with the CUNY Graduate Center Advocate:
I would say that there is no such thing as non-violent revolution; no radical change has ever taken place without violence or the credible threat of violence ... The rich and the powerful don't give up wealth and power voluntarily so you can't fight it non-violently without effectively tying one hand behind your back. ...

[I asked myself] whether there was any possibility that this system, the Democrats and the Republicans and the corporatist capitalist system that they support, could or would address any of the really serious pressing problems that are faced by the Unites States today --  whether those are income inequality or the environment and climate change, or skyrocketing deficits, or war and militarism, or healthcare --  and I don't think so.

[W]e're talking about a government that passes a health care reform plan that actually makes health care more expensive and harder to obtain ... We are talking about a democratic president who issues an executive order granting himself the right to assassinate American citizens ... I am forty-seven years old, I have seen a constant downward trajectory and I came to the conclusion more in sorrow than in anger that the system had become unreformable. ... There's no Left whatsoever in the United States. All there is is wimpy liberals. ...

[I]t's actually kind of ridiculous to be in a situation where you have to write a book like this ... [I]t's only in the United States that we have such childish politics that the idea of bringing up revolution as an option is somehow shocking or radical. ... The revolution is not underway, but certainly the revolutionary climate is upon us. And the Europeans seem to be, as usual, setting the standard for what needs to be done.
Meanwhile, people in Egypt -- and more than a dozen other countries around the world -- are ordering pizzas (from a local joint called Ian's!) to be delivered to the Wisconsin protesters. Fuck the fries -- gimme some Freedom Pizza!

Heyman: Sox Intend To Extend Francona Through 2013

If true, it is perhaps the easiest and most obvious decision Red Sox management will make all year.
Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman reports that the Red Sox "intend" to pick up Terry Francona's two-year option at the end of this season. The $9 million option would cover the 2012 and 2013 seasons.

Tito: "I know nothing about their decision."
Caption this?

Starting Pitchers For The Weekend (Revised (Possibly))

The Globe posted some of the pitchers for the first four games of the spring and have Saturday's starters are flip-flopped from what I posted yesterday (and what WEEI posted earlier today).

Saturday vs. Boston College, 1 PM: Stolmy Pimentel, Michael Bowden, Jason Rice

Saturday vs. Northeastern, 6 PM: Kyle Weiland, Alex Wilson, Rich Hill

Sunday at Twins, 7 PM: Josh Beckett, Clay Buchholz, Brandon Duckworth

Monday vs. Twins, 1 PM: Daisuke Matsuzaka

The Globe's post came 30 minutes after WEEI's post, so maybe that is more accurate. Who knows?

Terry Francona, on Sunday's pitchers:
It's the Mayor's Cup so we're going to stack it a little bit.
Peter Abraham reports: Adrian Gonzalez took 30 swings off a tee this morning. ... Marco Scutaro took infield practice today and every throw was strong and over the top, not the sidearm style he used last year when his shoulder was sore ... Jonathan Papelbon is suffering from flu-like symptoms.
Full Count's Kirk Minihane looks at the slash stats for two Boston outfielders:
Player A: .278 / .366 / .478 - 116 OPS+
Player B: .270 / .377 / .476 - 120 OPS+
Player A is Trot Nixon's Red Sox stats (1996, 1998-2006) and Player B is J.D. Drew (2007-2010). (Minihane has Nixon's SLG at .464, which is actually his career mark. I added the OPS+ number.)

In 10 seasons with the Red Sox Trot Nixon played in at least 130 games three times. In four seasons with the Red Sox J.D. Drew has played in at least 130 games three times.
This is not entirely fair. In two of Nixon's 10 seasons with Boston, he was merely a September call-up, playing in a total of only 15 games (two in 1996 and 13 in 1998). So let's say this:

Nixon: 130+ games played in 3 of 8 Red Sox seasons
Drew: 130+ games played in 3 of 4 Red Sox seasons
Back in 1980, Allan Simpson, an accountant in British Columbia, had a great idea. He wanted to quit his job and start a baseball newspaper that focused on
every facet of baseball -- the majors, minors, colleges, youth baseball, everything ... I ran the idea by everyone and they all thought I was completely nuts. Except my wife. ... Here I was, a guy with no publishing background, limited financial resources, few active contacts in baseball ... trying to launch a national baseball publication out of the garage of my house. In Canada, no less.
Thus began the publication of All-American Baseball News, later renamed Baseball America. The first year was anything but smooth, but the magazine survived -- and Simpson was elected to the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in January.

February 21, 2011

Justine Siegal Becomes First Woman To Throw BP

Justine Siegal has wanted to throw batting practice to major league hitters since she was a teenager going to games at Cleveland's Municipal Stadium.

Siegal, now 36, got her wish today, becoming the first woman to throw BP to a major league team.

Wearing #15 -- the February birthday of her 13-year-old daughter Jasmine, who watched the session this morning -- Siegal pitched to five Cleveland minor leaguers, and a group of three big league catchers.

Siegal, one of only two women who have coached college baseball and the first woman to coach in professional baseball, pitched her idea to various managers and general managers at the winter meetings in December. No one paid much attention to her, but in January, Cleveland said yes. When asked if she was nervously anticipating the session last night, she laughed:
I've been thinking about this almost every hour for the past month.
Siegal founded and runs Baseball For All, a non-profit organization which helps girls participate in baseball. (BP Q&A from 2009 here.)

On Wednesday, Siegal will pitch batting practice to the Oakland A's.

Starting Pitchers Named For Saturday

The Red Sox's first starting pitcher of 2011 will be Kyle Weiland, 24, who will face Boston College at 1 PM Saturday. Stomly Pimentel, who turned 21 three weeks ago, will get the ball at 6 PM that evening against Northeastern.

Weiland started 25 games for Portland (AA) in 2010. In 128.1 innings, he walked 49 and struck out 120, with a 4.42 ERA. This spring, he is resurrecting the cut fastball he used as a closer for Notre Dame. ... The Red Sox begin their Grapefruit League schedule on Sunday when they play the Twins.

Dustin Pedroia is 0-for-10 against new teammate (and former Devil Ray) Dan Wheeler. FY snapped the skid today (in BP): "I got one off of him! I got one! Finally!"

Boston's future shortstop Jose Iglesias worked out with Alex Rodriguez this winter in Miami, and Mr. McBluelips was impressed:
That kid is gonna be sensational. ... His hands ... great hands. Really, really stood out for me. He's gonna be a good one. The Red Sox fans should be very excited to see this kid in the future.

Adrian Gonzalez Is A Swinger

Adrian Gonzalez was cleared to swing a bat today and took 20 swings at balls on a tee this morning, his first swings since having right shoulder surgery last October.

The team said that during Gonzalez's evaluation last Friday, "he was noted to have full range of motion, no tenderness, and excellent strength". Was it exciting to finally swing a bat?
Twenty swings, that's all it was. It felt good. I'll be excited when we win the World Series. ... They said four months to start swinging and today is four months plus a day so I'm on schedule. ... I didn't hold back, I took good healthy swings and I felt fine.
Gonzalez says that he would "definitely" lose in a race against David Ortiz.
I'm the slowest guy you'll find. You'll find out, trust me. When I get thrown out the first time, you'll be like, "Man, he didn't make it?"
Josh Beckett threw live batting practice on Sunday morning -- 31 pitches to minor-league infielders Drew Sutton and Oscar Tejeda. Jarrod Saltalamacchia caught the session:
You want to mix all your pitches. You're telling the hitter what's coming, so it's not a matter of trying to fool anybody ... It's just working on stuff, staying crisp and keeping the ball down.
Tim Wakefield threw live batting practice to Carl Crawford. Jason Varitek was catching:
[Crawford] was wondering, "Does Wake know he's making it go this way, that way, up, down?" I was like, "No." (laughing) That was their perception when they hit off him — he's trying to make it go towards his feet, he's trying to make it go away from him. If he did, he should let us know.
Varitek says he feels great (but everyone says that) and believes he can play into his 40s (he turns 39 on April 11).
If my body holds up and I'm able to do the things I feel I can still do then I'll play as long as I can. ... [T]he work I've done 10-15 years ago, this is when it's starting to show and pay off. It's put my body in position to handle different things.
Leslie Eddins has been working full-time as Varitek's trainer, nutritionist and personal assistant for the last five years.
I'm in the cage with him every year and I've never seen him swing the bat like he's swinging it now. He's comfortable from both sides. I'm jumping out of the way every time he swings, and I'm behind the cage.
Back in 2003, Daniel Bard was a highly-touted high school pitcher, but was leaning towards accepting a scholarship offer from the University of North Carolina. So teams were wary of wasting a draft pick on him. Bard was finally selected by the Yankees in the 20th round.
I think I told them I wanted $2 million, and if it happens, great. They never even made an offer.
John Lackey says he found out about the Crawford signing from Jon Lester.
He texted me, "We don't have to face Carl any more." It was pretty cool.
Over in Yankeeland, Hank Steinbrenner keeps yapping. He says this year's team has "a new hunger", i.e., "what it takes to win":
In '09 I saw it. ... Sometimes they celebrated a little too much last year. Some of the players too busy building mansions and concentrating on other things and not concentrating on winning.
Hank said he was "not singling anybody out", but the only Yankee building a "mansion" is Derek Jeter -- though in fairness to the Cap'n, it's not like he was flying to Florida on off-days and actually hammering nails or installing a sink.

Steinbrenner also complained about the $130 million the Yankees had to kick into baseball's revenue sharing and luxury tax system last year. "We've got to do a little something about that ... Socialism, communism, whatever you want do call it, is never the answer."

It's good to know Hank is consistent. Back in 2008, he said: "It's a socialist system, and I don't agree with it. ... Is it even American? I'd argue no ..."

February 20, 2011

Millwood Rejects Yanks, Hilariously Fun Off-Season Rolls On

Joel Sherman of the Post reports that
Kevin Millwood recently rejected the Yankees' offer of a minor-league contract that was structured similarly to the one the team gave Freddy Garcia ...
Yankees officials do not want to give Millwood a major-league deal, despite having serious question marks -- Hank's confidence in "this kid Nova" notwithstanding -- at 40% of the rotation.

Millwood had an 83 ERA+ for the Orioles last season -- which was actually better than two of New York's 2010 starters: A.J. Burnett (81) and Javier Vazquez (80). He was apparently looking for a guaranteed deal in the $4-$5 million range and comments from Brian Cashman would indicate that talks between the two parties are kaput.

February 18, 2011

Marathon Game: 45 Innings

SABR member Philip Lowry has been researching marathon baseball games for almost 50 years. In a 2004 interview, he said:
[M]y father and I attended a 26-inning twi-night doubleheader at Forbes Field August 9, 1963. After a long rain delay, the first game took 15 innings. Roberto Clemente's RBI single ended the second game in the bottom of the 11th at 2:30 AM. The next day, we discovered that nobody at KDKA Radio or any Pittsburgh newspaper, indeed nobody in the entire world, could answer the question, "Is that the longest-ever night of baseball?"
Thus began a life-long fascination with very long baseball games (20+ innings or 6+ hours). Last year, Lowry published "Baseball's Longest Games: A Comprehensive Worldwide Record Book" with McFarland. I don't own the book -- McFarland is more of an academic press (or they sell primarily to universities) so this book is roughly $50 -- but I was looking at it in Google Books and found an entry of a Japanese game that lasted 45 innings!

It was the title game of the 38th annual Amateur Industiral Emperor's Cup Nan-shiki Tournament between Tokyo Raito (Light) Kogyo (Manufacturing Company) and Miyazaki Tanaka Byouin (Hospital), played at Ibaraki-Mito Kenei (Prefectural) Kyujo (Stadium) in Mito, on September 20, 1983.
TRK: 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 010 000 000 001 - 2
MTB: 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 010 000 000 000 - 1
Scoreless for 34 innings -- one inning longer than the famous Pawtucket-Rochester game in 1981 -- and then both teams score!

The game began at 8:50 in the morning and did not end until 5:15. After 25 innings, the players declined a 30-minute break and the umpires took six minutes to have a snack. Time of game: 8:19. A total of 318 batters came to the plate, and 1,029 pitches were thrown. A poster in this forum says ("IIRC") the winning pitcher threw a compete game with over 500 pitches.

February 17, 2011


Despite popular perception, John Lackey wasn’t a total meatball artist last year. In 33 starts, Lackey went 14-11 with a 4.40 ERA. He led the Sox with 215 innings and struck out 156. Only 14 American League pitchers won more games than Lackey. So how come Lackey gets the Way Back Wasdin treatment everywhere he goes?

233 hits allowed – worst of nine-year career
72 walks – tied for worst of career
4.40 ERA – worst since 2004
105 ER allowed – tied for worst of career
99 ERA+ - worst since 2004
1.418 WHIP -- worst of career
.277 opponents average – second worst of career (by only .001)
.339 opponents on-base – tied for worst of career
.765 opponents OPS – second worst of career
.320 BABIP – second worst of career
358 Total Bases allowed – second worst of career (by only 3 bases)
5.1 RSI (Run Support While In the Game) – highest of career (excluding partial rookie season)
1.9 Wins Above Replacement – worst since 2003
0.3 Win Probability Added – tied for worst of career (with rookie season)
–1.3 Adjusted Pitching Runs – worst of career
16.8% of PA ended with K – second lowest/worst of career
8.9% of PA ended with extra-base hit – highest/worst of career
36% of all hits went for extra bases – highest/worst of career
21% of balls in play were line drives – second highest/worst of career
63% of pitches thrown for strikes – tied for lowest/worst of career

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln ...

It might also have something to do with the fact that Lackey allowed 233 hits and 72 walks. He put a ton of guys on base and got a lot of wins because the Sox offense gave him plenty of support when he pitched.

Fuckin’ A, Dan! Nice sabermetric logic! Sure, Lackey was a horse last year – lots of starts and innings pitched – but he “put a ton of guys on base”. The 233 hits allowed was the second-worst in the AL. But the reason he got a lot of wins was because the Red Sox scored lots of runs. So if Lackey allowed 4-6 runs, whether he got a win or a loss was entirely out of his control. He had to sit on the bench and hope his teammates bailed him out. Only two of his 14 wins in 2010 came in games in which he allowed more than four runs, but the logic is there. Could the CHB be embracing his inner Bill James? LOL!

Oh, and let’s not forget that sun-starved stat geeks insist wins are overrated.

Huh? You just used stat geek analysis to easily and quickly and logically explain how Lackey could “put a ton of guys on base” and still almost crack the Top 10 in wins. Then, with your VERY NEXT SENTENCE, you make fun of people who do what you just did. CHB's editor must be AWOL, or maybe Dano is paying tribute to William S. Burroughs by using his cut-up technique for piecing his column together. (Like a diabetic and his insulin shots, the CHB cannot go six hours without making a gut-busting crack about “stat geeks” and how they stay inside all day long, getting all tingly and excited playing with their numbers.)

He doesn’t make excuses about personal issues ... Francona speaks of Lackey as a "stand-up guy," and that was Lackey’s M.O. when he pitched for the Angels.


And sometimes his body language bothers teammates when they fail to make plays. That’s unfortunate and unnecessary. Lackey is thoroughly equipped to be a Sox leader, on and off the field.

Poor, unclear writing. Is it “unfortunate and unnecessary” that Lackey exhibits questionable body language on the field or is it “unfortunate and unnecessary” that his teammates get bothered by it? Whatever. Lackey is a total leader.

“If I had that [2010] year in Anaheim, I’d have probably had a 3.60 [ERA], my normal deal," he said. “I’d have probably had less wins, though, because they didn’t score any runs.”

The Angels scored fewer runs (681) than the Red Sox (818) last year, so yes, Lackey likely would not have finished with 14 wins with the same performance in Los Angeles. That is Stat Geek 101. But if Lackey had the exact same year – same innings, same hits, walks, etc. – with another team, how would wearing a different uniform result in him allowing 19 fewer runs – which would lower his ERA from 4.40 to his "normal deal" of 3.60? The Angels were a better fielding team than Boston last year, but 19 runs better?

Another sign of spring: CHB has Jacoby Ellsbury in his sights already:

... would it have killed him to come here a couple of days early? ... Ellsbury stonewalls better than most. Maybe it comes from being a Scott Boras client. Or maybe the kid is just a natural. ...

Or maybe you are just a (natural) shit-stirring hack and a vindictive asshole.

Schadenfreude 106 (A Continuing Series)

Daniel Barbarisi, Wall Street Journal:
The latest episode of "The Biggest Loser: Yankee Edition" kicked off in earnest Wednesday when General Manager Brian Cashman acknowledged that reliever Joba Chamberlain reported to camp well over his listed weight of 230 pounds, to the team's chagrin.

"He's obviously heavier. That's as much as I'll say on it," Mr. Cashman said. ...

Going by the listed weights, the Yankees have 18 players in camp listed at 225 pounds or more, just under one-third of the total group in camp. Five players are listed at 250 pounds or more. On the pitching staff, new arrivals Freddy Garcia (250) and Bartolo Colon (245) join the mammoth Mr. Sabathia (290) and the voluminous Phil Hughes (240).

If Mr. Colon and Mr. Garcia both made the staff alongside A.J. Burnett (230), the Yankees would have perhaps the heaviest rotation in baseball history, weighing in at a positively amplitudinous 1,255 pounds. ...

Mr. Chamberlain danced around the subject, insisting that he's in the best shape of his life. ...

Colon's Yankee profile actually lists him at 185 pounds — a clear typo, as Colon probably hasn't weighed that much since middle school. Even Mr. Cashman laughed when told that was the pitcher's listed weight.
Jon Heyman (SI), Twitter, February 14:
not saying jobas fat, but he looks like he may have swallowed one of the clubhouse kids
Ben Shpigel (Times), Twitter, February 16:
Cashman on Joba: "he's heavier."
How much heavier? "He's heavier."
Is he out of shape? "He's heavier."
Joba, who spent the off-season watching cartoons with his son:
My weight feels stronger.
On NESN today, Peter Gammons said the Yankees are "very upset with Joba's physical conditioning" and suggested that he might start the season in AAA -- something Cashman has hinted at.

(The Yankees roster at mlb.com lists 14 players at 225+, not 18, though the rosters being examined may not be identical. In case you are wondering, mlb.com's Red Sox roster lists 10 players at 225+, with Bobby Jenks (275), John Lackey (245), Jon Lester (240), and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (235) leading the way.)

(Thanks to Benjamin for the WSJ link.)

February 16, 2011

John Keats And David Ortiz

We finally watched Ken Burns's "Tenth Inning" this week, and I copied down three quotes.

The episode was quite good. I thought it did an admirable job (overall) with the steroid issue. Mike Barnicle, the stand-in as the long-suffering Red Sox fan, was far more enjoyable and poignant than I had expected, based on various comments I had read when the episode first aired last September. I enjoyed listening to Daniel Okrent, Tom Verducci, Marcos Breton, and Thomas Boswell, though at several moments, I expected Boswell to break into a George Plimpton impression. Even George Will showed a deadpan humour and (gak!) charm.

On the other hand, some of Howard Bryant's comments on steroids were cringingly ignorant, actually embarrassing coming from a well-established writer who has written a book on the subject. I might have agreed with some of Bob Costas's comments, but I am not sure, as his words were hard to hear over his raging pomposity. And I don't remember what the exact comment was that turned me against Gary Hoenig, but he got more annoying as the show went on.

I sat silently fuming (seriously fucking fuming) through one section of the film, re-shocked that such monstrous stupidity could exist in the world, and closed my eyes for roughly 20-30 seconds at one point -- a bit of meditation, perhaps. Then things got really wonderful. (Oh, and Pedro slept with his mom.)

Okay, the quotes.

Okrent, on Barry Bonds hitting his 756th career home run:
There are no asterisks. There is no asterisk next to the name of the Cincinnati Reds, who won the 1919 World Series that was thrown. It doesn't say "They didn't deserve to win", then an asterisk [mimes an asterisk indicating a footnote] "They should have lost." The asterisk is whatever exists in the mind of the fan.
Boswell, on Bonds and steroids in general:
The moralist wants to decide what's right and wrong; the artist wants to see things exactly as they are, even if there are so many shades that right and wrong isn't a place that you get to. John Keats wrote in a letter -- he was talking about William Shakespeare -- he said the feature that distinguished Shakespeare the most and made him the greatest of all writers, was what Keats called "negative capability", which he described as the ability to remain in tension, undecided, between opposing poles. And he said that Shakespeare had that negative capability -- the ability to see everything and not jump to one side of the question -- to a greater degree than any other artist. Now we live in a sports age and a baseball age, where nothing is more valuable than negative capability. Because if we are just in a rush, if we can't wait to see Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds or whoever it is, as right or wrong, then we are missing the complexity of these people and the difficulty of the age that they are living in.
In all the reporting of the 2004 post-season, Boswell stood alone. He was to the sports page that month (writing in the Washington Post) as David Ortiz was to the baseball field.

Keats explained the concept in a December 1817, letter to his brother:
... & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason ...
That attitude of accepting uncertainty and the unresolved mysteries around us would have suited Red Sox fans quite well for decades. Beats the hell out of believing in ghosts. It turns out to have likely been a passing thought, however, as the idea of negative capability does not appear in any of Keats's other surviving correspondence.

Doris Kearnes Goodwin, as the 2004 World Series was about to begin:
For the first time in my baseball life, I watched every play of every inning. [She had talked earlier about having to leave the room at extremely tense moments.] I don't think there was a single time when I ran away, closed my eyes, went out of the room. I began to no longer think we were going to lose; I felt brave. The team, I think, had transformed the fans. It was almost as if they believed in themselves so much, and if they could get us through that Yankee series on the brink of disaster in every moment and come back at the last minute -- who were we not to believe in them?
I think it goes deeper than that. The team picked up on the unflagging faith and hard-headedness of the fans -- especially after the horrific end to 2003 -- and did their best to reward that at times unfathomable loyalty. There was a unique and powerful symbiosis between the fans and players for those two weeks. David Ortiz hinted at it, after winning Game 4 with a 12th-inning home run:
After last night's game, I saw a woman on the sidewalk crying. I had to turn that frown upside down.
One more thought about Keats, from this BBC page:
It is this ability to hold onto a beautiful truth despite the fact that it does not fit into an intellectual system that Keats praises in Shakespeare. ... [W]hat matters to Keats are moments of intense feeling that combine "thought" and "emotion" in appreciating beauty. This explains why much of Keats' poetry is devoted to catching, and holding, moments of beauty. ...

In many of Keats' poems this need to hold a perfect instant leads to an excited tone, an almost excessive use of superlatives and an atmosphere of crushing, voluptuous intensity as Keats demonstrates the depth of his appreciation for the beautiful and in the act of appreciation creates poems as exquisite as that which he is admiring. ...

Checking Out

Note to Self: When I'm in a cashier line at the grocery store and I'm feeling somewhat impatient and think I could probably get my stuff paid for and bagged and be on my way in less time if I went over and used the self-scanners, DON'T DO IT! These scanners are a total disaster. The process never goes smoothly.

Either an item won't scan, the machine stops because it thinks you have not put a scanned item in your bag, it stops because it thinks you have put an item in your bag without scanning it, or it simply decides to stop working for no apparent reason. It is completely maddening. (Just pay humans to do the work; everyone will be happier. Well, except the store owners, who are trying to get rid of as many employees as possible, to boost profits.)

Invariably, I get overheated and frustrated, especially when I realize that I would have been out of the store faster if I had simply stayed in the goddamn line in the first place. (Maybe I should bring a book with me.)

February 15, 2011

Everyone Is Happy, In Good Shape, & Ready To Play

Getting caught up on some of the bits of news from Fort Myers:

Daisuke Matsuzaka says he lost 11 pounds over the winter and feels he can pitch even more innings than he did in 2007 (204.2). Dice threw two bullpen sessions last week and on Sunday, he threw approximately 70 pitches off a mound. Matsuzaka worked out in Honolulu in the off-season with some of his former Seibu Lions teammates.

John Lackey, who also lost about 10 pounds (not from his chins, though, judging from photos), admits he "definitely could have pitched better" last year. Ya think? Third worst ERA of his career, the worst WHIP of his career, and the worst opponents OBP of his career (actually a tie for worst).

Josh Beckett confessed that he relied on his cutter far too often last year and was impressed that catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia has picked up a few of Jason Varitek's mannerisms behind the plate. "He does things like Tek now. There's not a better guy to follow if you're in that position." Also:
I've always wanted to been on a team that won 100 games. ... I feel like this team has a chance to do something really, really special like that. ... I'm eager to get this year rolling. I think I'm ready. ... I'm only 30. Thirty's the new 20. Someone told me that.
During a bullpen session last Friday, WEEI's Rob Bradford noticed Beckett "was raising his hands up from his waist when executing his delivery, a small change from when he would keep his hands at his waist".

Clay Buchholz is at the same spot in his career -- two years and a couple of months of service time -- as Jon Lester was when Lester signed a 5/30 extension in 2009. While the Red Sox have not talked with HH about a deal, he has been thinking about it.
[Lester's contract] would definitely be a base model for it — numbers-wise, security reasons. ... I'm not saying I'm as good as Lester or I deserve what he got, but just from the other guys who signed their deal in the past year or so with the same service [Toronto's Ricky Romero and Milwaukee's Yovani Gallardo], I think that's definitely a good starting point if there ever was one.
Kevin Youkilis would like to win a Gold Glove at third base, but "as long as I'm not making mental errors, that's the key". He is glad to be away from what he called the "social scene" at first base.
It's just not interesting. It's fun sometimes if you have guys you know ... [but] there's some guys you might not care for too much. ... I'll leave it to Sean Casey, Jim Thome, guys that are really good over there. Kevin Millar. I'll leave it to them to master that.
Carl Crawford is expected in camp on Thursday.

Mike Cameron is fully healed from his sports hernia surgery and will be playing a lot of right field this spring. In a related story, J.D. Drew recently visited noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews to have his balky hamstrings examined.

Considering all the times he has been ended up being completely full of shit (the outcome of the 2004 ALCS being a prime example), you would think the CHB would not offer any more pronouncements with such a haughty tone of inevitability:
He's gone. This is it. One more season and Jonathan Papelbon and the Red Sox get divorced. ... Papelbon knows it. General manager Theo Epstein knows it. We are on the threshold of Papelbon's final campaign at Fenway ...
Papelbon says getting Bobby Jenks was "a pretty strong acquisition ... he's going to be a huge instrument for our success". And Jenks says that Boston
is a place that I've wanted to play in for a while. ... It wasn't a matter of the money or years. ... I wanted to play baseball for the Red Sox. I got that opportunity and I jumped on it. ... I'd rather be here than anywhere on the East Coast.
The Red Sox traded right-handed reliever Robert Coello, who had been designated for assignment on February 9 to clear a roster spot for Alfredo Aceves, to the Cubs. Boston received second baseman Tony Thomas, 24, who hit .276 in the Southern League (AA) last year, finishing fourth in slugging (.485) and tying for second with 11 triples.

Hank Steinbrenner Is Still A Moron

Hank Steinbrenner:
"We're gonna be in it every year. Every single year. You can't say that about any other team, except maybe the Red Sox. But they weren't in it last year. And the Phillies seem to be keeping it going but how long will that last? The only team you can be assured as long as we own them is going to be in it every single year is going to be us."
So. The Yankees are the only team that will be in the playoffs every single season ... Well, maybe except for the Red Sox. ... Oh yeah, the Phillies are a third team you could say that about, I suppose. ... But the Yankees are the only team that will be in the playoffs every single season.

Could someone please ask Hank how the Red Sox finishing third in 2010 means "they weren't in it", but the third-place Yankees were "in it" in 2008?

We got the best bullpen in baseball, we got the hitting, we're gonna be good defensively and the starting pitching hopefully will come around. We think A.J. Burnett will turn it around and all our baseball people like this kid Nova.
I know we play them on March 4 and 14 in Florida, but April 8 cannot come fast enough.

PECOTA Sees Red Sox Winning East (Barely)

Steven Goldman, Baseball Prospectus/ESPN:
Boston Red Sox: 92-70 (projected 2011 record)

A reloaded and presumably healthy offense invigorated by Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez will get all the attention, but [Baseball Prospectus' projection system] PECOTA sees the real improvement as being due to a strong starting rotation aided by a rebound season from Josh Beckett and a deeper bullpen. ... PECOTA expects the Sox to allow 50 fewer runs than last year, a tall order if Beckett, John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka don't deliver on past performances. ... Adrian Gonzalez could be due for a real breakout in Fenway Park. ... PECOTA foresees .281/.379/.502 rates and 31 home runs, but that projection might prove to be too conservative. ... Player who could disappoint: Beckett.

New York Yankees: 91-71

[S]everal Yankees disappointed at the plate last year and yet they still led the league in runs scored. They should be potent again this year, with PECOTA calling for them to lead the division in runs scored. The bullpen, with its Rafael Soriano-to-Mariano Rivera endgame, should be a standout. Why they might not win: Because the richest team in baseball has Bartolo Colon, Sergio Mitre and Freddy Garcia competing for rotation spots ... Player who could disappoint: Derek Jeter. ... [He] couldn't get the ball off the ground last year. (His ground ball rate of 65.7 percent was the highest in baseball.) PECOTA's .281/.350/.389 projection offers faint hope for the 37-year-old shortstop.

Tampa Bay Rays: 84-78

Rays starters had the third-best ERA in the league. Replacing Matt Garza ... with top prospect Jeremy Hellickson should further strengthen the unit. ... Almost the entirety of last season's bullpen is gone and the replacements have names like Farnsworth and Peralta. Joe Maddon is the game's most creative manager, but it would take an act of sorcery to create a bullpen as good as last year's best-in-AL unit. ... According to PECOTA, the Rays will drop nearly 60 runs of offense and allow more than 60 more. ... Player who could surprise: Manny Ramirez ... A conservative PECOTA calls for him to hit .269/.380/.462.

Baltimore Orioles: 82-80

Toronto Blue Jays: 76-86

SG at RLYW ran another round of sims last week (+/- are as compared to 2010 totals)
           W     L     RS   RA   ALE    WC    POST   W+/- RS+/- RA+/-
Red Sox   96.2  65.8  831  687  45.6%  17.6%  63.2%   7.2   13  -57
Yankees   92.1  69.9  821  726  28.8%  19.4%  48.2%  -2.9  -38   33
Rays      87.9  74.1  737  663  17.3%  14.6%  31.9%  -8.1  -65   14
Blue Jays 77.2  84.8  709  738   4.2%   5.0%   9.2%  -7.8  -46   10
Orioles   76.9  85.1  739  788   4.2%   4.8%   9.0%  10.9  126    3
In the AL East, the Blue Jays, Orioles, Rays and Yankees all improved, with Baltimore making the biggest gains. The Red Sox still project as the best team in baseball, but the gap has shrunk a bit. ... Even though rosters are a bit more settled than they were six weeks ago, it's still too early to read too much into these. So take them with the appropriate amount of skepticism.
On February 4, I posted the predictions from three pre-season magazines, including The Sporting News. Here is a bit more from the magazine, some of the "rival scout" remarks about the Red Sox and Yankees:

Red Sox:
... hard to find a lot of holes. The lineup looks like a monster with Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez, who I think is going to go nuts now that he's out of San Diego ... I guess if you want to pick it apart, you can wonder a little bit about that rotation if they don't get a bounce-back from Beckett and Lackey ... even if the rotation has question marks, it's still deeper than what the Yankees have right now.
Unless A.J. Burnett gets things figured out real quick, they're going to really struggle again with that starting pitching.
Joe Girardi on Burnett: "I just have a feeling in my gut that he's going to have a good year."

I fully assume that Girardi said something very similar last spring.

CC Does Not Stand For Cap'n Crunch

CC Sabathia is reportedly down to a "svelte" 290 pounds. His secret? He stopped eating Cap'n Crunch. "I used to eat it a box at a time."

In more important news, Sabathia can opt out of his Yankees contract at the end of this season -- which is set to pay him $92 million from 2012-15. The Daily News says it is "likely" that Sabathia "will tear up his contract next fall in search of one more massive payday" after seeing Cliff Lee ink a 5/120 deal at age 32. CC will be 31 in July.

Lee's total deal works out to an average of $24 million from 2011-2015 and the rest of Sabathia's current contract will pay him $23 million from 2011-2015. Lee will make "only" $11 million this year, followed by $21.5 in 2012, and $25 in each of 2013, 2014, and 2015 -- which is a 4/96.5 arrangement, not much better than CC's 4/92 (an even $23 per) after 2011. (In 2016, Lee would get either $27.5 (!) (a club option) or $12.5 (club buyout).)

Daily News writer Mark Feinsand:
I think it's a near certainty that Sabathia will opt out, but only to get a longer deal with the Yankees. He loves it here.
The 300-pound lefty underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in late October. Agreeing to pay Sabathia upwards of $25 million a year into his late 30s to keep him in pinstripes is certainly risky - and possibly downright foolish. It looks like Lee's rejection of the MFY last December will bite the team in the ass next winter, too.

February 14, 2011

Uniform Numbers

Peter Abraham posted the uniform numbers for the new arrivals:
Carl Crawford - 13 (worn in 2010 by Angel Sanchez and Niuman Romero)
Adrian Gonzalez - 28
Andrew Miller - 30 (worn in 2010 by Boof Bonser and Ryan Shealy)
Matt Albers - 32
Dan Wheeler - 36
Curt Young - 40
John Lackey - 41 (wore 40 last year)
Tony Pena Jr. - 46
Bobby Jenks - 52 (John Farrell's old #)
Alfredo Aceves - 91 (will be the highest # ever worn by a Boston player, topping J.T. Snow's 84 in 2006)
(Uniform # info found here)

Highest # that has never been worn (since 1931, when the Sox started using numbers)? 69.

Actually, 69 to 76 have never been worn.
Today is the last day to vote in the New England Sports Blog Awards, so click here to vote for Joy of Sox.

February 13, 2011

The Wait Is Over!

With so many players are already in camp -- we have seen video of hitters in the batting cages action, fielders taking grounders, assorted interviews -- this feels slightly anti-climatic*, but pitchers and catchers report today!

* Maybe this is why Truck Day remains important. (Yes, it *is* important. Obsessive, fun/silly, and important.) It is a well-defined marker of the coming season. The entire event happens at one place and at one time. We know the date in advance; there is a clear before and after. After all, *a portion* of the truck cannot leave early.
Two more days to vote for Joy of Sox for Best Red Sox Blog in the New England Sports Blog Awards.

(illustration credit: tim souers at cubby-blue. he does fantastic work, though i'm wary of looking at his 2003 archives ... ... oh man)

February 12, 2011

Sabathia Dropped 30 Pounds? Weight A Minute.

Associated Press, December 23, 2010:
Sabathia has lost 15 pounds from his 6-foot-7 frame through a tough offseason training program of cardiovascular workouts and weight training. ... He hopes to lose an additional 15 pounds before the season starts.
Buster Olney, Twitter, February 8, 2011:
AL source: cc sabathia has lost about 30 pounds this winter and looks great. He has done this to aid with past knee trouble.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman, ESPN, February 11:
I don't believe it. I saw him (last week) at the B.A.T. dinner and he didn't look like he lost 30 pounds to me. Maybe half that amount. ... He obviously has worked very hard to rehab his knee and he's lost some weight, but he's still around 300 pounds.
sachilles, SoSH, February 12:
The MLB network program "Hot Stove" just did a quick segment on who gained and who lost weight over the off season. ... MFY's Sabathia and Chamberlain were amongst the folks mentioned as reporting in with extra pounds.
Savin Hillbilly, SoSH, February 12:
The 2011 Yankee offseason really is the gift that keeps on giving, isn't it?

Reading List: Truck Day Is Silly And Serious, Fenway Bluegrass, Babe Ruth As Mechanized Warfare, The Shatometer, And Revolution In Egypt

Cyn, Toeing the Rubber:
[Truck Day] was the most fun I've had all winter! ... There was a small group of fans, including some children, who knew being there was silly but it was FUN. That's all. No one tried to sell us anything. No one asked us for money to stand there in the rain and watch them load baby toys (seriously) on to the truck. We did it because it was FUN. ...

The people at Fenway yesterday were happy. Hell, Heidi Watney was DANCING at one point. People took pictures of a truck and discussed the upcoming season with fellow Sox fans. Many who were there were also planning on being at some of the Spring Training games and this was their pregame warmup of sorts. I will never understand why so many in this town need to crap on the things that most people just find enjoyable.
Part of what provoked Cyn's post was the Globe's Eric Wilbur announcing that he is "tired of the unending Sox marketing machine". If Wilbur is fed up with unending marketing, he ought to battle NESN and the advertising onslaught it subjects viewers to during every Red Sox game -- and try hard to ignore stuff that is harmless, silly, free, and easily avoided.

Dave Cameron, Fangraphs:
Every spring, there is one constant, a telltale sign of the beginning of baseball, when people are starved for news but there just isn't any – the "Player X is in the best shape of his life" story. ...

He gives some quotes about why this is his year, how it is all going to be different, and why fans should prepare for a whole new version they've never seen before. Most of the the time, it turns out to be nothing. ...

If you see a story where a player is reported to have done one of the above things [Lost 30 pounds; Had laser eye surgery; Rehabilitated their knee/back; Rededicated themselves to the game; Found a new passion for baseball], please mention it in the comments ... Hopefully, we can get all of the Good Shapers in one list, and then look at how they perform once the season begins.
There are 12 players on the list right now, including Daisuke Matsuzaka and Bobby Jenks.

Daniel Moroz, Beyond the Box Score:
Why do we care about money? If our favorite team signs a player for more than we think he's worth, why do we care? Why does giving a three-year deal at $10 M per to a merely OK relief pitcher bother (some) of us? It's not our money, after all - and the owners are more than wealthy enough to afford an extra couple million bucks. Better it go to the players than line his pockets, yeah? ... I guess this issue partially involves the distinction between fan and analyst, but to me that only distinguishes the level of emotion about a deal and not the basic reaction.
Justin Bopp, Beyond the Box Score:
[Pedroia-related, but included only to illustrate how insanely underrated Chase Utley is.]
Dave Cameron, Fangraphs:
Orioles General Manager Andy MacPhail ... derides the contract [Alex Rodriguez signed with Texas (10/275), calling it "the worst signing in the history of baseball"] because the Rangers didn't improve even with Rodriguez on the roster. ... [T]he story often gets pushed even further, with Rodriguez being blamed for the team's failures because his contract presumably limited the Rangers from being able to afford to surround him with quality players. The problem is that it's just not true.
Richard Barbieri, The Hardball Times:
Many would consider [Babe Ruth] a no doubt choice for the list of 10 most influential figures in baseball history, but does he deserve it? ... Wasn't Ruth simply the leading figure of a larger movement, one that included a livelier ball and a move away from the small-ball offense that had dominated baseball to that point?

[T]he reason I believe Ruth belongs on the list of most influential is best explained, unlikely as it might seem, by the Charge at Krojanty. ... In baseball history, Ruth is mechanized warfare. ... All that bunting and stealing and productive outs were great, but they didn't mean much when Ruth could come up, wallop a ball 400 feet and equal the output all that small ball created. Put simply, small ball was a cavalry charge. Ruth was a tank.
Bethany Heck, NotGraphs:
Baseball turf is something we all probably appreciate when we go to a game, but what kind of grass is it, exactly? Surely it isn't the same sod we go out and purchase for own own lawns. ... Different parks choose different turfs due to climate, the style of play of the team, and the personal preferences of the team field manager. Here is a breakdown of the types of turf used in Major League parks ...
Dayn Perry, NotGraphs:
That, best friends, is a pizza topped with cheeseburgers, fries and McNuggets. ... In the final photo [here], you’ll find that this pie is of course best served with Dr. Pepper, a tape measure, a throwing knife, a votive candle, what appears to be a 9mm semi-automatic, and barbecue sauce.
Dick Hayhurst, pitcher/author, DRaysBay:
[The Garfoose] lives in the Tibetan mountain groves that you can't find unless you were born there, or something. And there's these tops of trees in this grove where MLB gets its perfectly grown baseballs -- because the best baseballs in the world are organic-grown from trees in the baseball grove. And the Garfoose protects the grove from intruders.
Hayhurst, whose sequel to "The Baseball Gospels" (covering 2008, when he became both a major leaguer and a husband) will be published in 2012, plans to twitter/blog throughout the coming season:
I've actually come up with a really unique idea ... It's going to be tough for me to talk about outings because you're going to have legions of people who think I either was awesome or sucked ... So I thought, "Why use words at all?" ... Because a picture is like a thousand words ... So I needed a picture of something expressive, somebody who had the range and depth of their character that could encapsulate everything a pitcher could feel. Someone like William Shatner. So I've come up with this idea called the Shatometer. Basically, depending on how I perform that day, I'm going to take a picture of William Shatner that best captures the essence of that performance. ... [H]e's got so much range, you could do anything with the man.
Two of my favourite political writers -- Glenn Greenwald and Chris Floyd, both of whom offer an inspiring and envious combination of deep research, clear logic, and righteous anger -- have posted about the astounding ongoing revolution in Egypt. (Also: this.)

Montreal, 1977

I recently found a small box of slides that I took at my first Expos game. Fortunately, there was a date on the box: Sunday, July 31, 1977.
Dodgers - 200 000 000 6 - 8 11  2
Expos   - 000 100 100 0 - 2  5  1
Now I can update my 21 Ball Parks post! ... 1977 was the first year the Expos played in the Big O, after the Summer Olympics the previous summer.

I was 13 years old and I guess I went by myself, on a Vermont Transit bus. (I have a memory of being at Olympic Stadium with my younger brother, but he would have been only five in 1977, so that game was probably in '79 or '80.)

Going to Montreal so early in my baseball fandom -- when actually being at a game was truly an amazing event; who the hell cared what they played on! -- gave me a soft spot* for domed stadiums. I don't like Skydome for many reasons, but being in the actual building with the roof closed is not one of them. The only other dome I have been in -- the Kingdome in Seattle -- resembled a huge prison complex from the outside, but walking in and seeing the green carpet brought back warm memories of Montreal.

* Or at least not a complete hatred and disgust. I would never prefer a dome & turf stadium for my team, but I don't have a visceral dislike of them. (I remember liking that the lanes for the Olympic track events were still there, by the backstop and along the walk-in dugouts.)

(not one of my pics; it came from here)

The Big O was also the scene for the greatest game I have ever personally witnessed. The Dodgers won that game in extra innings, as well.

Driving From New York To Paris

On February 12, 1908, more than 150,000 people crowded in and around Times Square, and along both sides of Broadway all the way up to 200th Street, hoping to catch a glimpse of the six automobiles that would soon be heading west in a 22,000-mile race ... driving from New York to Paris.

The race was, at its heart, a newspaper stunt. Inspired by a Peking-to-Paris race the year before, the New York Times and Le Martin of Paris conceived and sponsored the around-the-world race as a way to boost circulation.

A total of eighteen men – drivers, mechanics and journalists – crowded into six overloaded cars, representing the US, Italy, France, and Germany. At that time, only nine men had successfully crossed the United States in an automobile – but no one had done in during winter. And huge sections of the route beyond the US, such as through Siberia, had never been traveled by automobile.

Dermot Cole wrote about the race in Hard Driving (1991):
There were no major long-distance roads in America then, only dirt tracks that connected one place to another in a jumbled pattern that owed much to chance and tradition.
Another book about the race – Julie Fenster's Race of the Century – was published in 2005.

The first car to make it to San Francisco did so in 41 days (pre-race estimates had been 22 days). The original route was through Alaska via frozen rivers and dogsled trails to the Bering Strait, but that proved impossible, so the cars headed back to San Francisco. They boarded a steam ship to Japan and then on to Siberia, where they were just in time to navigate huge swamps of mud, thanks to the spring thaw.

Only three of the six cars completed the race. The winner arrived in Paris on July 30 – 169 days after leaving Manhattan. (Another team had actually arrived four days earlier, but they were penalized 30 days for various infractions, including shipping the car by train at one point!) The third car arrived in September.

I was incredulous when I first heard about this race. Driving west from New York to Paris? In 1908? It's pure insanity! I have Cole's book, but have not read Finster's, though it seems to be better known. It's not much of an exaggeration to say that every story surrounding the race seems too good to be true.

There was a time when doing crazy shit like this completely captivated the country, because it was so far beyond the imagination of just about everyone. It's next to impossible to achieve now.

February 11, 2011

Pedroia Calls Francona "A Tool", Threatens To Kick His Ass

Dustin Pedroia's left foot is still healing and will be carefully monitored this spring, but his mouth is already in mid-season form.
I feel great, ready to go. ... I haven't talked to Tito about [playing fewer games in the spring]. I don't think that's necessary. ... I've taken ground balls, turned double plays, run the bases. I've done everything. I'm ready to go.
On Carl Crawford:
I've worked with Carl for three or four years (in Arizona). I put some whuppings on him in ping-pong and talked a lot of trash to him. ... It's a pain in the butt playing against him. ... It's going to be fun having him on our side.
On Terry Francona referring to him as actor Giovanni Ribisi because he has let his hair grow in:
I don't know what Tito's starting. He's a tool. He poured water on himself today to pretend he was working out. He didn't do shit. I might kick his ass before we get started. ... I'm a grown-ass man now. I think it looks solid. My wife likes it.