I’ve missed baseball this week. Tonight at 8 o’clock it’s back with the first game of the Rangers/Yankees ALCS. CC Sabathia goes up against CJ Wilson, which should be story enough but we’ll get hit with how much we should love Josh Hamilton (I don’t*), how amazing Derek Jeter is (I disagree) and how the Yankees will be taking notes on Cliff Lee and vice versa since Lee will be a Yankee in 2011 (something I’m not convinced is true). The good news is the ALCS is on TBS this year, which means no Joe Buck or Tim McCarver (don’t get too excited, we get them for the NLCS). I’m disappointed that Don Orsillo didn’t get the nod to call these games and not thrilled that we get Ron Darling and John Smoltz doing color, but I’ll be appreciative of the small things. At least the promos for Conan O’Brien’s new show are actually funny and not on the annoying level of the George Lopez or Frank Calliendo spots from years past. And, so far, I haven’t seen Dane Cook once. So there’s that.
Forty-three years ago today, both Trevor Hoffman and Scott Cooper were born.
Cooper made his MLB debut in 1990. He was an All-Star twice (both times being the only player from the Red Sox chosen for the ASG) and hit for the cycle. He spent six years in MLB (playing on three different teams) with a one-year break in there spent playing in Japan. Over the course of his career, he made just under $3 million total in salary.
Hoffman made his MLB debut in 1993. He’s been on seven All-Star teams. He has a list of impressive accomplishments and has been in the league for 18 seasons and is still an active player. He’s only been on 3 teams (with 16 seasons on the Padres), he’s considered a lock for the Hall of Fame and over his career has, thus far, made over $80 million in salary.
I don’t mention the two to compare their talents. I write it because, upon finding out they both share a birthday, it struck me how these two men, born on the exact day, had the exact dream and it turn out quite differently. Every fan of Major League Baseball knows who Trevor Hoffman is. How many know the name Scott Cooper? It just gets me to wondering how the Scott Coopers of the world feel once their time in baseball is over. Cooper left MLB after signing with the Rangers for the 1998 season and never playing a game with them. He just quietly faded away. Hoffman won’t get that treatment.
I love the superstars of the game. Pedro Martinez is on my short list of favorite players of all-time. I get the importance of the superstars and why they’re so popular. But it’s the Scott Coopers of the world who fill up those roster spots more than the superstars. Those are the guys whose stories I want to hear. This is why I keep tabs on former players, like Kyle Snyder. I’m in awe of those who go through the process of becoming good enough to realize their dreams but who also get their dreams shot down (or ended much more quickly than they anticipated). Of course, while I still hold out hope that Kyle Snyder can make a comeback from his health issues, there are other players whose dream is totally lost just because they get beaten down by the system. Charlie Zink immediately springs to mind:
“I don’t love the game anymore the way I used to,” he said. “My dreams of the big leagues are not there anymore.”
How can you read that and not feel sorry for him and his dead dream?
I’ve had plenty of dreams. Some I still pursue and some I’ve left on the side of the road. But none that would leave me seemingly unprepared for the real world if they didn’t come true. Or, at the very least, none that might mark me publicly as a failure if I didn’t see them through. (Charlie Zink is not a failure. Charlie Zink is a victim of really crappy circumstances out of his control.)
To many who know of him, Scott Cooper is a side note of a bad time in Red Sox history. The Red Sox lost Wade Boggs to the Yankees, were struggling while the Yankees were making their comeback after the 80s and the ONLY player good enough to be on two All Star teams for them was Cooper. What is most likely the highlight of his career is a question to so many (“How did he make the All Star team?” almost always gets brought up when his name does) and that too makes me sad.
They can’t all be Trevor Hoffmans And while I believe Trevor and those of his ilk should get the praise and respect that they do, I feel that every so often someone (and I’m happy for that someone to be me) should remind people that there are other players out there who work just as hard, give it their all and dream of being the next superstar who don’t get as far or as famous but still are worthy of being remembered and appreciated. None of these men are failures. They made it to a level most of us only dream about. That isn’t failure. Failure is never even attempting to reach that goal. There’s no shame in trying and not succeeding.
So think kindly upon Scott Cooper today. After all, it’s his birthday. Everyone should feel special on their birthday!
|Charlie Zink, earlier in the season at McCoy Stadium. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.
Although it was a long day, I was fully awake for last night’s game up through the second inning when Betancourt hit his two-run home run off of Beckett. Then I gave in to my body begging for rest. I was then awakened by “Jeff Bailey hits a home run on the first pitch he sees!” (or something like that) in the fifth and didn’t even lift my head because I, honestly, thought I was dreaming. Oh me of little faith. I didn’t wake again until the ninth inning where I got to see Papelbon finish things up for the 5-3 win over the Mariners. Not the best way to “watch” a game but I can’t argue with the results.
Just wish I had seen more of Beckett to get a better feel for what folks are saying about him today. 120 pitches in 7 innings would have driven me nuts had I been awake for Beckett coming back for the 7th with 108 pitches already behind him. But it all worked out. I didn’t see it, he got out of the inning and Okajima, Ramirez and Papelbon finished things up.
4:10pm (EST) today. Masterson pitching (for the last time in the rotation before Daisuke gets back?) against Jason Vargas. It’ll be pleasant to be able to sit and watch a game without falling asleep or wondering how I’m going to get up for work in the morning.
Charlie Zink won the Zink v Snyder battle last night in Pawtucket. Kyle threw 71 pitches in just over five innings, giving up three earned runs on seven hits. Those three runs were enough, though, because Zink threw 91 pitches in six innings, giving up two earned runs on six hits and four walks. Charlie matched Kyle for strikes with four on the night. PawSox radio dude Steve Hyder said Kyle looked “sharp”. (My understanding is that was just prior to giving up the 3 runs, though.) Well, the pressure is off me, no more wondering which team I was rooting for. Nice to have something going on yesterday so I didn’t even get to pay attention to the game until it was over.
Road trip on Tuesday to Pawtucket for a 12pm game (and then back to Boston for the 7:10pm game against the Jays) should be fun. And it just got a little more interesting in Pawtucket as Tito announced Kevin Youkilis will have two rehab starts at McCoy – this coming Monday and Tuesday. I’ve missed Youk in the BoSox lineup but I’m not sure I’m all that delighted at being at a game in Pawtucket where he’s playing. I think the crowd there changes when the big leaguers go down for rehab assignments (at least the bigger names). Instead of the diehards who go to see the PAWSox play, you get a lot of people who wouldn’t normally go to a game head down just to see a big name player. Takes a little away from the minor league atmosphere for me.
Looking outside at a cool, grey Sunday. A good day to stay inside and curl up on the couch to watch baseball all day!
|Oh Crabcakes, you vex me so. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net in 2008 and used with permission.
I think Jon Lester put it best about last night:
“I really don’t know what to say, other than it’s been [expletive],” Lester said. “I bust my [behind] every five days to go out and perform, and I’m not performing right now. I’m letting the team down. There’s no reason that we should not have won that game after four runs in the first three innings. It’s inexcusable.
That bolded part is pretty much what I said after watching that train wreck of a performance by Lester. Please don’t tell me how great he was over the first five innings. His meltdown in the sixth inning after he made the mental error of not being able to start the double play that would have gotten him out of the inning, for me, erases anything else he did last night. Everyone wants to talk about Papi’s struggles and there are still many out there who want to bash Julio Lugo (who happens to be hitting .326 with a .392 OBP right now) but Jon Lester (and Josh Beckett, if I’m being fair, but that’s for another rant) seems to be untouchable when it comes to criticism. When do people start saying “How is it that the kid so many had pegged for Cy Young this year has an ERA well past 6.00 with teams hitting .311 against him?” Sure his strike outs are there (54 in 47 innings) but if he’s not following through to pitch well enough for the win – what good are they doing?
As a comparison, I looked up a player no one expected anything out of. The Anti-Jon Lester, if you will. Here are some numbers: The Anti-Jon Lester has pitched 37.2 innings (to Lester’s 47), his ERA is 6.45 (to Lester’s 6.51), he’s given up 50 hits (to Lester’s 60), he’s given up 4 home runs (to Lester’s 10) and opponents are hitting .321 off of him (to Lester’s .311). Lester bests him in strike outs (Lester has 54 to this guy’s 26) but the Anti-Jon Lester has a WHIP of 1.54 compared to Lester’s 1.62.
Who is the Anti-Jon Lester in this example? Cleveland Indians pitcher Carl Pavano.
|How many different times do players have to get their “official” photo taken? I love seeing different photos of the guys but it must be annoying to have to keep posing for them.|
Still feeling a little shaky but got back to the real world yesterday (just in time for there to be no Sox game. Timing, she is everything) and get myself psyched up for some in-person baseball this weekend!
Saturday will be my first trip of the season to McCoy Stadium to see the PawSox. Initially, we thought we’d see Charlie Zink pitch for the 327th time, but PawSox manager Ron Johnson has decided to pitch Charlie tonight on short rest so for the game I’m going to on Saturday we’ll see the ever elusive “TBA” pitching! I can’t wait.
I really can’t wait. I love McCoy and I really enjoy watching the PawSox who, incidentally, are currently 5-3 on the season. This puts them second behind the Yankees AAA team from Scranton/Wilkes Barre. And, yes, the rivalry is just as heated in Triple-A as it is in the bigs. The other Triple-A team I’m following (waves to Kyle Snyder and the Buffalo Bisons) is currently in last place in the division with a record of 1-7. Yes, Mets/Bisons fans, I broke your team. I’m so sorry. (Kyle is doing well, though, with his 3.38 ERA and 9 strike outs in 3 games – and teams are batting .226 against him!)
Monday I’m back at Fenway for the Patriots Day game! Two afternoon ballgames in the same weekend is rare and I intend on taking advantage regardless of the fact that it seems God plans to rain on us at some point on both days. I enjoy being at Fenway on Patriots Day more than I do on Opening Day. To me, the atmosphere is more relaxed, yet fun. And with the game starting at 11:05am, that’s a 9:05am gate opening which usually includes a customary pre-10am beer (can’t break with tradition! Sox haven’t lost a Patriots Day game that I’ve been to yet!).
If you’re a Red Sox fan, you might not read anything better than this today. Neil Swidey gives a fascinating and revealing glimpse into the life of the RemDawg. (And on a related side-note: Kudos to Jerry for finally trying to kick the smoking habit!)
Tonight Brad Penny on the mound against Jeremy Guthrie. Poor Jeremy. He could throw a no-hitter and I’d still remember him from the “Mother’s Day Miracle” game. (“He’s taking him out? Why is he taking him out? Holy cow we’re going to win this game, now, aren’t we???”)
This has felt like the week that wouldn’t end. Let’s celebrate that the end is nigh!
|Photo of David Pauley in 2006 – taken by Kelly O’Connor/Sittingstill.net|
So David Pauley’s short-term fate has been determined: Today, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for right-handed pitcher Randor Bierd. Pauley only made two starts with the BoSox in 2008 – his real contributions were with the PawSox where, in ’08, he won 14 games (and lost 4), walked 41 batters and struck out 103 in 147 innings. Charlie Zink, in an interview with MLB.com, gave Pauley a lot of the credit for pushing him during his career year that ended with Zink winning the AAA Starting Pitcher of the Year award. I spent many fun days at McCoy Stadium last year watching each of them pitch and I’ll miss being able to do that this season.
Pauley had been designated for assignment in order to put John Smoltz on the 40-man roster. Can’t argue with the whys. But he was a sentimental favorite of mine and it’s a bit of a bummer to find that he won’t be in Pawtucket in 2009. The unselfish part of me is happy that he is going to a team that might actually have a spot for him on the big team. David has more than paid his dues and I think Baltimore could be a good fit.
And one bit of housekeeping: Entries on the blogs I’ve had previous to this one were rife with trolls and people who just wanted to bash me. I’m okay with that. If you’re going to put yourself out there, you have to expect to get negative reactions as well as positive. Not everyone will always agree with me., nor do I expect them to. So, please, feel free to let me have it. All I ask is that you know of what you write. As someone pointed out in the comments today (and as I mentioned in my first entry here), I’m not a reporter. I have no access and I’ll never “break” a story. When there is baseball-related material to write about, I will. I’ll also be writing about aspects of the game that are important to me. Especially in these off-days of baseball. That’s to say, this is, for the most part, a very personal blog. It’s an op-ed column, if you will. If you don’t want to read about one fan’s views, feelings and experiences with the Red Sox and with baseball in general, you’re in the wrong place. My hope is that people enjoy reading this blog. If you aren’t enjoying it, WEEI.com has a long list of bloggers who might be better suited to your tastes.
Dig me, already pimping for the man!
I know what you’re wondering. You’re wondering whatever happened to Charlie Zink, aren’t you?
You remember Charlie. His major league debut was on the same night that the Red Sox and Rangers slugged their way to a 19-17 final. The knuckleballer who wasn’t sure he’d ever see time on a major league mound.
Well, at the end of October he won the 2008 “MiLBY” for best AAA starter of the year. It’s a tremendous honor and one Charlie more than deserved. Kevin T. Czerwinski wrote an interesting piece about how Charlie roomed with David Pauley all season and the two spurred each other to a 14-6 record and a 2.84 ERA with 106 strikeouts (for Zink) and a 14-4 record with a 3.55 ERA with 103 strikeouts (for Pauley). These guys kicked ass in AAA and got a taste of the bigs as well.
Charlie’s one-game stint in Boston was a long time coming for him. The Sox won that game, but he didn’t get a decision. No matter, though, Charlie tasted blood and he wants more. The idea of two knuckleballers on the team, though, is probably not all that enticing to the higher-ups or to any of the fans. BUT the MLB article does seem to indicate there is cause for hope:
Zink is on the 40-man roster now but has a pair of options remaining, so odds are he’ll be on the fringe of returning to Fenway for quite some time. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who turned 42 in August, has been a staple on the Boston staff for more than a dozen years. He’s also been a friend and mentor to Zink.
While it would seem logical to the casual observer that the Red Sox place a premium on what Wakefield can do, Zink didn’t make the connection until Boston called him up this season.
“When they called me up, it finally opened my eyes that they have value in me,” Zink said. “I had been putting up fairly good numbers and had not gotten any feedback. I was always right at the top of the organization in wins the last four or five years. You would think someone would notice.
“When I finally got the acknowledgment, that was huge for me. It told me they are watching and they do care about what and how I am doing. I have no problem waiting here if they ever need me to fill in for Wakefield.”
Charlie has hope. So we should too!
Incidentally, folks, I totally miss baseball right now. I absolutely can’t remember how I blogged through the baseball-free days these last few years. The election helped me take my mind off of it for a little while, but now, well…damn…I really want some baseball.
One side note: KellyO is having a truly bad weekend and she’s as good a person as you’ll ever meet. So I’d be much obliged if folks could send some positive vibes her way.
So I know I promised a write up of our Friday with the Taylors – but timing hasn’t worked out and that will have to wait until tomorrow. (And not only will you get my take on the day, but Tru’s as well…it’ll be Taylorpalooza around here tomorrow!)
And a shout out to the Taylors who, by now, are all back home. It’s my privilege to say that I know you all.
On to baseball and he who is crabby:
“It’s a long season with a lot of innings, and right now I feel pretty good and hopefully can just keep riding that wave.”
What wave is that, Jon? The suck wave that only got you the win because your offense went insane? (And, no, I’m not saying Lester sucks…I’m saying he suckED. Last night. And he did. And his saying he “felt good” and had “good stuff” made me want to pluck my eyeballs out. That’s all.
On the other hand, Dustin Pedroia didn’t suck and doesn’t seem like likely to suck anywhere in the near future. It is, again, interesting that I’ve stopped getting those “How can you think Pedroia is a better player than Cano” emails. 😆
Sox gained a full game in the standings with the Yankees beating the Rays. Hey, it works for me.
I had a ticket to today’s game, which I will, sadly, not be using. Another shout out, this time to Dori, who I feel like I always miss her texts and then respond to her emails way late. It isn’t intentional!!! Hope you have a great time today!
Spinners won their final home game last night at a game I was also supposed to be at. The SG gang brought the good mojo! Spinners now move on to the playoffs – and speaking of which, PawSox play the Yankees tonight at McCoy. Charlie Zink (woo!) gets the start against Chase Wright. You all remember Chase Wright. He’s the kid who gave up the back to back to back to back home runs last year. Good times.
Good luck to Charlie and the rest of the PawSox. Kick some Yankee ass!
The SeaDogs also start the playoffs tonight. They’re up against the Trenton Thunder (another Yankees affiliate team). Kris Johnson gets the start in Trenton tonight and Clay Buchholz goes tomorrow. You can follow both the PawSox and SeaDogs games over at Milb.com. With the BoSox playing an afternoon game – you’ll need SOMETHING to occupy your empty baseball time!
One last shout out for the day – to my mom. Without getting all personal, she’s been, in a word, fabulous over the last week. Hell, she’s usually fabulous, but this time she went above and beyond. Mom’s don’t get enough credit, sometimes, so here’s mine to her. Thanks for everything, MD, I love you!
Jon Lester reverted to the Lester of old for at least one game. Here’s hoping Daisuke Matsuzka doesn’t do the same or today’s game might not end until midnight.
Good luck, fellas. Kick ass!
First off, some housekeeping. For those of you who comment here and want to change your avatar…if you go here, you can register your email address and upload your own. If you get a message that your email address is already registered, just “sign in” and click the lost password button and you’ll get an opportunity to sign back in. It’s silly, but fun!
In my angst about a possible trade last night, I missed out on telling you all about Jeff Bailey and Charlie Zink!! Congratulations are in order! Bailey was named “International League Most Valuable Player” for the year and Zink was named “International League Most Valuable Pitcher”!
Along with those honors, four PawSox players made the “International League Post-Season All-Star Team” (chosen by the league’s managers and coaches as well as the IL media and other representatives of the clubs) – Zink (as the starting pitcher), Bailey, Joe Thurston (along with Bailey, currently up with the BoSox) and Chris Carter.
Last night, Bailey went 2-4, scoring a run and knocking in two RBI, yet Andy Pettitte was quoted after the game as saying “(Jeff Bailey) I think that’s his name”. Andy, you gave up 10 hits in less than 5 innings…yeah, that’s his name, asswipe.
Didn’t get much sleep last night, yet woke up in quite a good mood. It’s nice that baseball doesn’t ruin my moods like it used to, but still helps put me in a BETTER frame of mind when we get a great night like we did last night.
I’m in such a good mood, I’m not even going to bitch about Paul Byrd (who happens to be pitching against SIdney Ponson tonight). Taking at least two out of three in the series would be sweet. If Byrd’s the guy to help us do it…let him have at it.
Focusing on the positive!
Kick ass tonight!
Charlie and my hair…taken by Kelly Jefferson!