Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Don't it feel like tonight might never be again

Louis le Brocquy, Image of Samuel Beckett, 1979, oil on canvas – Lifted from Wikipedia.

A long, LONG time ago, in an effort to expand my horizons in the entertainment field past writing, I was in an acting class. One of our first performances was “Waiting for Godot”. Being a woman, there was no role for me. So I got to sit through rehearsals, listening to the young actors butcher Samuel Beckett’s words. (It should be noted that I flunked out of this class. Yes, I flunked out of acting class. Gives you an idea why I stuck with writing.) I watched as the play went from totally meaningless to absolutely brilliant as the actors got more into their characters. I go back and read Beckett when I have the time and inclination. Lines from this play had been floating around in my mind all week. I finally took a few moments today to go through the script and was struck by this dialogue (thanks to Wikipedia for the text via cut and paste. Saved me a bit of typing):

ESTRAGON: And what did he reply?

VLADIMIR: That he’d see.

ESTRAGON: That he couldn’t promise anything.

VLADIMIR: That he’d have to think it over.

ESTRAGON: In the quiet of his home.

VLADIMIR: Consult his family.

ESTRAGON: His friends.

VLADIMIR: His agents.

ESTRAGON: His correspondents.

VLADIMIR: His books.

ESTRAGON: His bank account.

VLADIMIR: Before taking a decision.

It all makes perfect sense now. Scott Boras is a fan of Samuel Beckett.

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January 30, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , | Leave a comment

Like a ship that's going under, bring me home in rain and thunder

Another photo I took of Tek back in 2005

I fell asleep in the middle of writing an entry about Jason Varitek. That, pretty much, sums up how I feel about the entire situation. Normally, when people start arguing that baseball players should just be grateful for the obscene amounts of money they make, I argue that you can’t compare baseball to the “real world”. And I still believe that. But I have to admit to being bored with someone needing to take time to accept an offer that will guarantee him $5 million for one year – especially when there aren’t any other offers out there.

The most current rumor being floated is that Tek might sit out the beginning of the season until he gets an offer he likes. Or he’s going to retire. Or he’s going to Disneyland. No one is really sure. All we DO know is that his “deadline” to respond to the Sox is Friday. I sense many hits to the main page at WEEI.com in anticipation of the breaking news of what the hell Tek decides to do.

I wouldn’t hold it against Tek if he decides to retire. Why not? He’s had a long and successful career. Last year seemed to take a lot out of him physically and personally. He’s a legend with Major League pitchers and he’ll never have to pay for a drink in this town as long as he lives.

But if he decides to hang out and wait for a better offer? Waiting around through spring training to see if anyone gets hurt or under-performs so he can, finally, look like a good catch to a team that isn’t based in Boston? I’d be a bit pissed by that. I suppose the flip side is that maybe he doesn’t feel like he could play the beginning of the season? Maybe he’s feeling his age and thinking that, like Clemens did before him and Paul Byrd wants to do now, starting late in the season will benefit him more than starting up when everyone else does? Of course, he could just be waiting for the draft in June so that any team that signs him then wouldn’t have to give up a pick. (Shout out to KellyO for that bit of information.)

Honestly, I have no idea what to think or how to feel. I was thrilled when the Sox re-signed Tek and made him captain in 2004 – even though I thought they gave him a contract much better than he was probably worth. Although I’m not a huge believer in “intangibles”, I believed the pitchers when they said he made them better. I believed that he was worth more than people thought, even when he wasn’t exactly tearing up the field. So this whole situation just makes my head hurt.

I think the offer the Sox made was fair. And given how many other offers are out there (seemingly zero), I think it was good as well. The Sox want Tek back and even though no one else seems to want him, the Sox still made him an offer he wouldn’t be getting even if there ARE teams out there looking at him. I want Tek back with the team in 2009. But I also want to know that the team is going into spring training with a fullt-time catcher. If it isn’t Tek, I want to see the Sox take action and get the team a catcher. Which means I really hope this deadline business isn’t a load of bull and we find out what road the Sox need to take some time on Friday.

January 30, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | Leave a comment

A newspaper blown through the grass falls…

Photo of Kyle Snyder arriving in Japan in 2008 – Taken by Rob Bradford

Checking in on random Red Sox players from the 2007 team: Eric Hinske: MLB Network is reporting that the Pirates are close to a deal with Eric. One year for $1.5 million. Given that a couple of weeks ago this same network had an analyst on who was convinced Hinske was going to Japan to play in 2009, this is a surprise. A wonderful surprise, but a surprise nonetheless. Good to see Hinske getting another chance. He might be far from his Rookie of the Year days but he’s still a good addition to any Major League bench. Added bonus number one: He’ll be in the National League so I won’t feel guilty rooting for him outright. He’ll also be joining 2007 alum Brandon Moss. So now there will be TWO reasons to follow Pirate baseball. (I’d include Craig Hansen as a third reason but I’m not convinced the kid will see the light of day at PNC Park. I hope he will, though!) Added bonus number two: If the Pirates pick up Hinske, they most likely won’t pursue Doug Mientkiewicz. You’ll find Mientkiewicz is one of a handful of MLB players that I’ve just never been able to take to. It wasn’t “stealing” THE BALL that did it for me. He’s just always rubbed me the wrong way. So, hell, win-win. Eric gets a job; not so much for Mientkiewicz. I never said I was logical or fair. JC Romero: Designated for Assignment in 2007 (to make room on the roster for Mike Timlin coming off a stint on the DL) he landed with the Phillies. He then went on to pitch in the 2007 NLDS (losing to Colorado) and ended last year on a high note, as the winning pitcher in games 3 and 5 of the 2008 World Series (game 5 being the series clincher). Thus far, 2009 hasn’t treated JC so well. During the first week of the new year, he was slapped with a 50-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance. JC is quick to claim his innocence. So much so that he refused a deal MLB wanted to cut so that a “tainted player” wouldn’t be playing in the 2008 post-season. That’s the part that baffles me. He took a substance that the Player’s Association told all the players was “legal” but when he took his test, he failed. So, regardless of what they were told, the substance turned out to be illegal. I don’t fault Romero for that. (Although I wonder why players haven’t learned to NOT put anything in their system that they don’t have a team doctor sign off on first.) What I do wonder is what he was thinking in refusing the offer. I suppose he was hoping he’d win the appeal (which he didn’t). But now there will be people (Mets and Rays fans come immediately to mind) who will always consider the 2008 World Series “tainted”. (I, for the record, am not one of those people.) Given what has gone on in baseball lo these many years, players really need to be smarter about the choices they make. How difficult is that to learn? Kyle Snyder: How do I not include him? After a career full of injuries and disappointments, 2007 was Kyle’s best year in the majors, ending with his being left off the playoff rosters until he was chosen for the World Series roster. Kyle got his World Series ring (and a photo op with Steve the Ferret) and another contract with the Red Sox. In 2008 he started the season with the big team (even getting the opportunity to pitch in Japan!) but April did not go well for Kyle and he was Designated for Assignment and ended up pitching with the Pawtucket Red Sox all season. Sadly, multiple groin injuries sidelined Kyle on and off in ’08. Even still, Kyle and the PawSox ended up in the playoffs. So while it wasn’t the season he probably expected, it could have been a lot worse. At the end of the season, he became a free agent again and just this week the New York Mets signed him to a minor league contract and gave him an invite to spring training. Kyle gets another shot to show folks what he has. Why should you care? For two reasons. One being that Kyle’s a good guy and we see too few good guys in baseball so it’s nice to root for one to make it. The other is because you’ll be getting Kyle Snyder updates throughout 2009 so there’s no harm in being prepared for it now. Doug Mirabelli: Two World Series rings, an appearance on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy“, a police escorted ride to Fenway from Logan Airport…how do you top this? You don’t. You acknowledge that you had a good career, mostly due to your ability to catch a knuckleball. You accept your second World Series ring in civies to the roar of the fans and you spend your first season of unemployment quietly watching your old team. Then you take a job as a baseball coach. Not in MLB, but for a Catholic high school in Traverse City, Michigan. He’s 38 years old and spent over 10 years in MLB and he’s decided to become a high school coach. I’ve always liked Dougie but this just adds another reason, for me, to find good things to say about him. I have the utmost respect for teachers and others who work with children. I think it’s wonderful that this is the path he’s chosen and I wish him a lot of luck.

January 29, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

You're a pain in every day of every month of every year

Don’t mind me, I had a bit of a crappy day so I’m just going to rant for a few minutes.

* If the best that someone at MLB.com can come up with is a story about Game 4 of the 2004 World Series…what hope does someone like me have in coming up with an interesting topic?

Mike Lowell photo taken by me in 2006

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I could write or talk about the 2004 World Series all day and night. And I have. But if you have access, I’d think you could find something better to spend your time on, no? It isn’t as if it’s an anniversary of the win. MLB.com is just trying to get folks to watch Game 4 on their site Wednesday morning.

Honestly, is there anyone out there who would sit and watch a four year-old baseball game who doesn’t already own it? (And if there is you can buy the 2004 World Series Collector’s Edition on sale here.)

* Did Joba Chamberlain have his DUI arraignment delayed so he could appear on the MLB Network? I mean, what the hell? He can’t bother to show up for court after blowing 0.134 (when 0.08 is the limit in Nebraska) but he can sit down in New York for an ass kissing from Al Leiter? As if I needed another reason to dislike this kid.

* I love that Tony Massarotti felt that the deadline for Tek to decide whether or not to accept the offer the Red Sox put forth needed to be “clarified“. I think it’s fair to assume that Varitek AND Boras already knew when the deadline was and weren’t relying on the Boston sports media to tell them. No worries, Tek, Massarotti has your back. (And in case you’re reading this, Jason, Tony says the deadline is Friday. Don’t forget now!)

* My friend Kelly Jefferson is a huge Worcester Tornadoes fan. I’m not sure she’ll watch them this season, though, if Manny Ramirez accepts their offer.

* Hey, we can all rest easily now! Slappy isn’t offended by the Joe Torre book he hasn’t read yet. Phew. That’s a relief.

* Rob Bradford has the goods on Mike Lowell. It’s definitely a good news/bad news situation. Knowing that it was important to him, I feel sorry for Mike that he won’t be in the WBC. As a fan of his and the team he plays for? I couldn’t be happier. If we could kidnap all of the Sox players who are/could be playing in the WBC and then return them to Ft Myers once the WBC has begun, I’d be a really happy gal.

Truck Day is a week from this coming Friday. It’s the little things in life that keep me going.

January 28, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , | Leave a comment

And there we saw the men and boys as thick as hasty pudding

And now for the post I originally planned to write tonight!

I wrote last night a bit about the Joe Torre/Tom Verducci book and I just finished reading more about it. Poor Tom Verducci. Everyone talking about his book that hasn’t even been released yet. I’m sure he’s disappointed that, supposedly, all the talk is about things that really aren’t written in the book.

Riiight, Tom.

ESPN.com has a story about how Brian Cashman hopes the book brings Slappy closer with his teammates this year. (This after Joe Torre supposedly called Cashman to tell him that the book wasn’t as bad as has been reported.) Dig:

“I think we’ve gone through so much of the Alex stuff that, you know, if anything, maybe this brings people closer together,” Cashman said.

Sure. Alex Rodriguez has “uniter” written all over him. Anyone can see that.

I checked the Dodgers schedule to see if maybe they play the Yankees in inter-league this year. They don’t. So, short of hoping it would cause a stir in that sense, I can’t figure out what Verducci and/or Torre thought the good would be of not only writing this book while Torre was still in baseball, but of having parts of it leaked out just before spring training begins. In addition to talking about his new contract with the Yankees, Andy Pettitte was put in the position of answering questions about ARod. (Come to think of it, is Scott Boras involved in this some how? Showing up Andy on HIS day would be right up his alley.)

I love me some baseball drama. Especially when it doesn’t involve the Red Sox. But this all just seems so contrived. “Ooh they’re picking on ARod again, we’ll all have to come together as a team and support him!”. Meh. I just hope the book is juicier than Verducci is telling us it is. We already know Slappy is an insecure, egomaniac. That stuff won’t keep people reading past a few pages.

January 26, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

Oh, they're hollerin' and cheerin' and they're jumpin' in their seats

Photo of Kyle Snyder making my day last season taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net

Many thanks to Lisa and Ted – both were the first to let me know (I received both of their messages at exactly the same time) about Kyle Snyder signing a minor-league deal with the New York Mets! (Note that the story I linked has incorrect info. Kyle actually made the World Series roster in 2007.)

I’m just so happy for Kyle! And I couldn’t be happier about his being with the Mets. If I had to pick a team that wasn’t the Red Sox for Kyle to pitch for, it would be the Mets. They’re close to home (well, close to MY home) and they aren’t the Yankees. I’m thrilled, absolutely thrilled for him.

For those of you new to my blog, Kyle is, without a doubt, my favorite player. Chances are there will be at least one post a week about him, especially once the regular season begins. My fondness for Kyle is unwavering and I make no apologies for using my blog to help promote the guy!

Kyle has an invite to spring training where he’ll be fighting for a spot on the big team. My hope is the worst case scenario will turn out to be he ends up playing for the Buffalo Bisons (who just so happen to be playing in Pawtucket in May, July and August this season). Mets or Bisons, either way I’m happy for him. He really deserves this shot. But, really, how great would it be to see him up with the Mets? The Mets are coming to Boston in May. If Kyle is with the team then, I know roughly 25 people who are getting together that weekend who just might storm Fenway in an attempt to see him. Kyle Snyder has a bit of a posse here in Boston! (Sidenote to my fellow Megapaloozaers – WOOOOOOOO!)

If you’re so inclined, send some positive vibes Kyle’s way, would you?

Congratulations, Kyle. Go show them what you can do!

January 26, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

There's nothing more to tell about. There's nothing left to be decided.

A photo I took last year of Kyle Snyder in Pawtucket. Often when I write about things that are unpleasant, I’ll throw a picture of Kyle up. It always puts me in a better mood!

Given my choice of things to read, I prefer books over newspapers, magazines and even the Internet. I like having to take days to read a story instead of the quick blurbs you get from other media. I read many different genres and make sure to throw in a few sports-themed books to the list every year. This week, there was news about three different books either on their way to being published or, in one case, shopping for a publisher. All three I find myself oddly fascinated with, even though I know at least two of them could be nothing but fables and lies.

According to Deadspin, Mark McGwire’s younger brother Jay has written a tell-all book about McGwire’s steroid use called “The McGwire Family Secret: The Truth about Steroids, a Slugger, and Ultimate Redemption”. The title says it all, doesn’t it? McGwire’s brother takes the credit (such as it is) for introducing McGwire to steroids and even relays a story where Mark’s “roid rage” come through in an interaction he had with one of Jay’s children. For anyone on the fence about whether or not McGwire did steroids, this book (if it ever finds a publisher) might help you choose a side. It’s worth noting that Mark and Jay aren’t on speaking terms and Jay claims he isn’t spilling the beans on his brother to be spiteful, he’s doing it out of love.

This is where I make a mental note to make sure anyone who loves me doesn’t run out and write a book about my Red Bull addiction.

McGwire is an odd example of a player from the, so-called, steroid era. Thought the sports writers with votes for the Hall of Fame seem to be taking out their perceptions of him on their ballots, for the most part he’s been given a free ride. Aside from the Andro in his locker all those years ago (which, at the time, was legal) no one (except Jose Canseco) has definitively linked him to steroids. People seem to want to turn a blind eye to his possible/probable steroids usage. Whether it’s because people thought he was a good guy, or there are racial undertones, or folks genuinely believe he didn’t use…they’ve been, relatively, easy on him. Heck, just the fact that Deadspin broke the story instead of, say, ESPN, tells you that there still is a preference in the media to not focus on the possibility that McGwire cheated. Unfortunately, McGwire’s brother, given his own past use of steroids and the rift between the two McGwire brothers, isn’t quite a reliable source. The fact that publishing houses are already rejecting the book speaks, I’d assume, to the lack of credibility Jay and what he wrote hold. None of this means I wouldn’t buy the book as soon as it hit the bookstores, mind you. Hell, I’d be first in line.

Continue reading

January 25, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

My heart is broke but I have some glue

Jason Varitek in 2005 – Photo taken by me

I keep starting entries about Jason Varitek and every time I do, I end up deleting them. I try to focus on the positive and not the negative, but I’m having a difficult time finding anything positive to write in the way of Tek.

I want Tek to come back to the Red Sox. I know he’s regressing (okay, I believe he’s regressing. I guess none of us really KNOW except Tek, right?) but I also believe that he’s the best option out there for the Red Sox right now. The thing is, I don’t think he’s worth anything over $6 million a year. He turned down what could have been double digits when he refused arbitration. It seems that he really believed he was worth more money and that other teams would think so as well. I naively believed that Tek would have a better sense of his own worth. If the stories out there are true, Tek is still looking for somewhere between 10 to 12 million dollars from the Red Sox. This, while at the same time leaking the information that 1) Tek didn’t realize draft picks would be involved if he refused arbitration and 2) He was afraid that accepting arbitration wouldn’t guarantee that the Red Sox didn’t trade him.

Tek is, arguably, one of the most respected players in Boston. All you read about is how all the players trust him (especially the pitchers) and what a great teammate he is. None of which I doubt. They gave him that “C” for a reason. But all of this fluff coming out, at least for me, is tarnishing his stellar reputation. I don’t believe for a minute that he didn’t know the consequences of refusing arbitration. I also don’t believe he refused it because he was afraid of being traded after “settling”. It seems to me that he and Boras majorly misread the market and are trying to use ignorance and fear as a defense. And then after doing that, after using Heidi Watney and Jon Heyman as mouthpieces to spread the word, the story comes out today that he’s still looking for $10-$12 million? I’d love to live in the world that Tek does just for one day.

Could this “report” sound MORE scripted?

Friday, February 6th is Truck Day, so I guess it’s safe to say the Red Sox would like things settled up before then, right? Some time within the next two weeks the wondering, the excuses, all of it will be over and we’ll either have the Captain back with the team or we’ll have to start hoping Bard/Kottaras/Brown will instill confidence in the pitching staff. I have my money on number 33 being back where he belongs. I only hope I don’t lose any more respect for him before that happens.

January 24, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | | Leave a comment

Wil(l)y is my joy; he is my sorrow

Yep. Both these bobbleheads are mine.

Before I started blogging at WEEI.com, I began a segment for the old site called “Five Fun Facts”. I only trotted out three entries before I let the post-season take over and then I kind of forgot about it. I’m hoping to remember long enough to trot it out on Fridays. We’ll see how long that lasts.

In going around the Internet this morning, I found that today is Wily Mo Peña’s 27th birthday so I decided to dedicate today’s Fun Facts to Wily. Given that the Red Sox picked him up in a trade for one of my all-time favorite players, Wily, even now, holds some interest for me. I tried my best not to hold the trade against him. He couldn’t be blamed for what goes on in the front office. So, once he got to town, I decided to support him. Cheer for him when he was struggling and defend him to those who picked on him. (I’ll admit, though, to that all being a little difficult to do many times during his stint in Boston.) I never really “took” to him until close to the end of his time with the Red Sox. Feeling a little guilty about that since I try to make it my goal to support all the guys who don’t usually get support from the fans or media, I try to send him good vibes whenever I see him play and truly do hope he’s successful.

So there’s your background and here are Five Fun Facts about Wily Mo Peña:

* Wily Mo played for the Dominican Republic team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic.

* On July 31, 2006, he was a double short of hitting for the cycle at Fenway Park against the Cleveland Indians. **

* June 8, 2005 was Wily Mo Peña Bobblehead Night at Great American Ballpark. The Reds beat the Devil Rays 11-9 thanks to Wily Mo’s two home runs that night, including a two-run shot that ended the game.

* In July of 2008, he had shoulder surgery for a partial tear of his rotator cuff and a tear and fraying of his posterior labrum – ending his season and resulting in his only appearing in 64 games in 2008.

* The “Mo” is short for “Modesto”.

**This is also known as the game where Kyle Snyder got the attention of Red Sox fans and the Boston media. Kyle came into the game when David Wells was taken out after being hit by a line drive. Kyle proceeded to pitch the rest of the game, giving up only one hit and striking out six (and getting the win!).

January 23, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

And I want these words to make things right, but it's the wrongs that makes the words come to life

Rocco Baldelli screengrabbed by me

After I saw Rocco Baldelli at the Boston Baseball Writer’s dinner earlier this month, I wrote to friends that he was “…officially my 2009 player no one shall badmouth in front of me lest I punch them in the throat”.

I tend to get protective of the players I favor. And I tend to favor the players who come across as genuinely good guys (which will explain why I am still a fan of Kyle Snyder even though he isn’t signed anywhere yet – and will continue to be regardless of where he ends up signing).

At the dinner, Rocco was gracious and appreciative and seemed a little overwhelmed. I didn’t know it at the time, but the Red Sox had introduced him earlier that evening and announced that he’d be wearing the number “5”. Rocco knew that the Sox hadn’t given that number out since Nomar wore it in 2004 and had the proper perspective on his being allowed to take it over:

“It was brought to my attention that obviously this has always been a special number in this town and I recognize that as much as anybody …” Baldelli said. “I accept it and I think it’s great and I am very happy about it.”

I defy you to listen to Rocco speak for a few minutes without coming away thinking he’s a good guy with his head on straight. And true to that, the word has spread that Rocco took out an ad thanking the Rays fans in today’s St. Petersburg Times. You can see a copy of the ad here.

To the fans of Tampa Bay.

Nine years ago you welcomed me into your community. You greeted me as a name and embraced me as a person and I leave you now as a friend.

Giving thanks is a difficult thing to do as I have crossed paths with so many extraordinary people, but I will try.

I will always think of the Tampa Bay area as my second home and I would like to thank everyone for accepting me and for making my time here as enjoyable as it was.

I will never forget.

Thank you once again.

This ad in the paper was a handwritten note and it’s obviously heartfelt. I hope the Rays fans appreciate the person Rocco seems to be. This isn’t Johnny Damon shooting off an ad after getting ripped by the media and the fans and hoping to mend some fences or save some face. The Rays didn’t intend to re-sign Rocco and he knew it. He signed with a team he knows a lot of Rays fans won’t be very happy about. Rays/Sox isn’t quite Yankees/Sox, but there’s a lot of bad blood there. So instead of ignoring it. Instead of jumping on a place out of Florida and forgetting where he came from, he does this. I hope it helps smooth things over for the Tampa Bay fans who were so upset with him for going to the Red Sox.

Rocco continues to impress me and he hasn’t even played a game for the Red Sox yet.

January 21, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | | Leave a comment