Thursday, October 29, 2009

Waxing Nostalgic...

As I sit here watching Phillies vs. Yankees game 2 I cannot help but get a nostalgic. Now I know he left under bad circumstances, but man I miss Pedro. The talk on the radio this past few weeks has been about what kind of team is Theo Epstein building. Seeing Pedro back on the mound and watching the old highlights makes me wonder if the Sox are building a bunch of OPS machines who have no character. J.D Drew and Jason Bay lead what crew. It makes me a bit nervous to be honest, this off season there is one All-Star free agent, and its Jason Bay. That leaves a lot to be desired. The Sox need some help in a lot of places, but I think one big place they need it is leadership and a sense of identity. Guys like Kevin Youkilis have left a lot to be desired in the grit department. It takes more than pine-tar on your helmet to make you a leader.

Ask yourself quickly who you see as the leaders of this Red Sox team next year: the ghost of David Ortiz? Mike Lowell's hip? A money hungry Papelbon? I think my one answer would be this guy, Victor Martinez. I think his attidtude, his goofiness, and his ability to hit in big spots lend himself to making his way deep into the heart of Red Sox nation.
The Sox need this guy...

Theo Epstein has an interesting off-season ahead of him. This is a year where little decisions could go a long way. There is no group of players that the Yankees can splurge on. This year GMs will be tested to find some diamonds in the rough

One key the Boston Brass seems to miss out on every once in a while is a little thing I like to call a "known commodity." Here are some known commodities we have had in recent memory: Orlando Cabrara, Alex Gonzalez, and Johnny Damon. I think Jason Bay is another guy who falls into that category. The Sox let Cabrara go and have not been able to find a steady Shortstop since. Renteria, Gonzalez, Lugo, and many more have tried their hand at SS. None of them have panned out. Sometimes having a guy you KNOW can produce is better than a guy you THINK can produce. If we let Jason Bay go it had better be because he is being grossly overpaid by the Yankees, there really should be no other reason.
Remember when this guy robbed John Henry of 36 million bucks?

With all of that being said if you take a look at the possible free agents for this off-season, it seems like there is some potential to pick up a Nick Swisher type. A locker room presence who will return a little bit of the "idiot attitude" again. I know some people are glad the whole "idiot" thing is gone. I wonder how many playoff exits without even a wimper it will take to have people calling for a team like the 2004 Sox again.

Monday, October 19, 2009

FIFA beats out NCAA as most controlling governing body.

Today a nation was delivered a blow. A blow that will probably cost them a trip to the World Cup Finals next summer. A blow that as of one week ago should have never been allowed to happen. This morning FIFA held one of the most important, and scandalous "draws" in the history of the association. The draw was to decide which eight teams would play each other in home-and-home matches to earn the final four places in the World Cup.
Roy Keane. My soccer idol.

The eight teams involved in the draw were: France, Bosnia, Portugal, Greece, Ukraine, Ireland, Russia, and Slovenia. As of ten days ago this "draw" was going to be done randomly. Meaning, everyone had an equal chance at playing each other. However, ten days ago FIFA realized that if they followed through with that idea then there was a chance France and Portugal could face each other, meaning one team would be out of the competition next summer. Meaning there was a chance Christiano Ronaldo might not be there, there was a chance Thierry Henry might not be there. FIFA could not take that risk. Therefore FIFA made an about-face and changed the entire way the "draw" would be set up. The teams would be seeded.

This meant France and Portugal would not face each other, it was impossible. It meant France and Portugal would face a weaker team and would boost their chances of making the World Cup.
Ireland's hope lay in the hands of an Italian...honestly...

Today the draw was done, and today I found out that Ireland would be playing France. As a son of two Irish born parents I grew up loving the Irish soccer team. I remember being on the phone with my friend when Ray Houghton scored the only goal in a 1-0 Ireland win over Italy in the 1994 World Cup. I remember being so sick when Packie Bonner let a ball slip through his hands to allow the Dutch team to beat them in the second round of the World Cup in 1994. I remember waking up early to watch the Irish, without Roy Keane, nearly beat Spain in penalty kicks in 2002. Ireland is my team, not the US, not any other country. To have them in the World Cup again would be amazing, it would might be enough to drag me to South Africa, seriously.

The problem now is the French are in the way. Would I be ticked off if this was done fairly? No, just upset at the bad luck. But knowing that Ireland should have had a better chance, knowing there were five teams, other than Portugal and France, that they would have a great chance against, that is what ticked me off.

Is there an equivalent to this? If I were to try this might be the closest:

MLB a week away from the playoffs starting, realizes the two best teams in baseball are both in the AL (not too far fetched). Therefore, to avoid having these teams face each other before the World Series, MLB decides to seed the playoffs and allow AL and NL teams to play each other before the World Series.

When things like this happen, something always backfires. Some team is galvanized and begins to believe they were mistreated, disrespected. I am hoping that an old Italian manager, who has transformed this Irish team, will work his magic. I am hoping that the Irish team that recently tied the defending World Cup champion Italy 2-2 in Dublin will show up and spit in the face of FIFA and their lack of fair governing. I hope I might have a reason to consider a trip to South Africa, man I hope Ireland are back. The World Cup needs them, the World Cup needs their fans. And selfishly, I need them to go. I need some new memories.

The Bhoys in Green will be up for the challenge, and we all know how the French react to resistance...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Monday Morning thoughts...

It has been an interesting week and a half since my last post. I proved that I know nothing about baseball after I predicted the Sox would beat the Angels win in four games. The Sox were mildly embarrassing, however the key to the Angels success was their starting pitching, which was outstanding, especially in Anaheim. Kudos to the Angels.

The Yankees are looking too strong and too clutch. A-Rod seems to have outgrown his postseason suckitude. His homer last night was impressive, other than the fact that the right field in Yankeee Stadium is a joke. In most stadiums that is a fly-out, but Fuentes made a stupid pitch. Why do you throw one of the best hitters in the history of baseball a high fastball 0-2. Makes no sense to me. Best quote after the game, "I tried to elevate it, I guess I didn't elevate it enough." Brian Fuentes everyone! He had TWO 1-2-3 saves after the All-Star break....TWO.

Personally, I hope it ends up being an Angels-Dodgers World Series, and here is why. Their fans are miles away, other than my friend Pat who works down the hall from me. I don't have to deal with any gloating Yankee or Phillies fans. How many people on the east coast would even know if a World Series was going on if every game was played on the West Coast? Would that mean every game would start at like 11:00pm EST?
I cannot put it any better... The Angels did not heed the last line..."Do not screw up."

As a Boston fan the Yankee success is also continuing a trend that is making me more and more uncomfortable, New York is a more successful sports city right now than Boston. The Jets have won the last two games against the Pats. The Giants Super Bowl victory over the Pats still makes me dry heave....a lot. The Yankees destruction of the Sox in the second half of the season. If the Yanks continue their run, then this whole Boston vs. New York thing gets a brand new life.

I am currently watching the Patriots destroy the Titans. This game is more of an embarrassment than any game from 2007. Which made me send a text to some of my buddies asking what is the baseball and basketball equivalent of a defeat like this?

You would have to figure a game where a team scores 15 runs before the sixth inning then loads the bases in the sixth inning. My buddy Pat, the Angels fan nomiated that. I agree. The thing about baseball and also football is that you have very little control of how you score. If a team cannot tackle you, then you are going to keep scoring. If a team keeps turning the ball over there is only so much you can do. Obviously, there are some things you can do, but it is tough.

Baseball is hard because if a team cannot get you out, then you have to keep running the bases and scoring. When the defense holds the ball (like in baseball) you have a hard time controlling how many runs you score.

I think beating a team by 60 points in football is equal to beating a team by 100 in basketball, while holding the opposing team to single digits.

These are the types of defeats that hurt the feelings of any competitor, no matter how old they are.

Here are some stories for you to enjoy on this Monday morning:

Terrible story about UCONN footbal player....

Cool story about Holy Cross Crew Coxman with one arm...

Nothing to do with sports, just a dude trying to sing five octaves on a piano...hilarious...

Unreal audio of Honduran coverage of US-Costa Rica game...nothing like having the US score in the last seconds to send you to the World Cup...

Love reading the losers view...Orange County thoughts on 13 inning loss....

Classic "what have you done for me lately" article about A-Rod....

The MLS, where European soccer stars come to die (rich)...Is Frenchman Henry the next target?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

When everything matters just a little bit more

I think I speak for most Red Sox fans when I say that the playoffs have come out of nowhere this year. The Sox looked to be in the middle of a playoff race when the Rangers started to make a run in the early part of August. Many people thought the Sox did not have enough to hold off the Rangers. They said the Rangers were too young and naive, ignorance is bliss they yelled. They referenced the Tampa Bay Rays last year, when they had a superb year and finished strong, even with a lack of experience. Well injuries caught up the Rangers, and the Sox managed to put together a solid last 6 weeks of the year.

Now we are on the brink of yet another Angels-Red Sox Playoff series. The Sox have OWNED the Angels since Dave Henderson crushed the hearts of the Anahiem Los Angles Angels of the Northwestern Hemisphere.

Last year the Angels were the hot favorite. They had the most complete lineup, Texeira was a hige pick up who was the driving force behind their second half surge. The Sox were broken down, had a ton of question marks. Not a lot of people gave them a chance. And yet, the Sox pulled it out in 4 games. Winning game four after the Angels squandered chances to win the game and go back to Anahiem.

Red Sox fans have been where the Angels fans currently are. The hopelessness, the anger, the frustration. They are trying to do anything in their power to reverse this slump. One example, my friend, a huge Angels fan, gave me a Josh Beckett t-shirt jersey last week. It was a gift to him, and he had it in his possesion for the past two years. He decided he was harboring an enemy and therefore hexing his beloved halos.

Red Sox fans have been there. Red Sox fans are no longer there, because of a crazy come-back in 2004 to the Yankees, which was preceeded by a heart breaking series loss in 2003. Aaron Boone sucks!
Red Sox fans would love to see this a few times...

Here are my thoughts about the the series:

The keys to the series for the Sox:

J.D. Drew is my guy for this series. He has quietly had a solid year. 24 HR, 68 RBI, .279 avg. He also has the highest OPB for outfielders in the AL.

This guy is always at the heart of something. Yes at times "something" means the end of an inning because he hits that gorgeous top spin grounder to second base. His presence in the middle of the order could bolster the offense and drive the Sox into the ALCS.

The Guy who I think could cost the Sox a game or maybe even the series:

Manny Delcarmen. This guy has been a trainwreck. This September he has had 10 appearances. He has allowed a run in 6 of those appearances, and he has allowed more than one runs in three appearances. His ERA is 4.53, his WHIP is 1.63. Simply put, he puts guys on base, and he is not a guy you bring in with runners on base. He is going to kill us if Terry Francona has to lean on him for anything in big spots.

The keys to the series for the Angels:

The starters need to go deep. The Angels always came into the playoffs with a great bullpen. K-Rod and Scott Shields were at the back end. They could shorten games and made the opposing offenses force the issue in the first 6 innings. Now K-Rod and Shield are long gone. Guys like Brian Fuentes, who throws the ball like it has some dog poop on it. They have Darren Oliver, who has the best ERA of the bunch at 2.71. Everyone else is very average or below average. It will be up to the Angels starters to get deep enough into games, especially the first two games in Anahiem, to keep the pressure off the weak Angels bullpen.
He throws like he just picked the ball up with poop on it...seriously...

The Guy who could cost the Angels a game or even the series:

Vladimir Guerrero has been invisible in the playoffs. The only big hit I can remember is the grand slam he hit in 2003 or 2004, not sure which year. It was a big hit, but it was in game 3, which the Sox won to sweep the series. Other than that, he has never been a threat. His bat is a big problem for the Sox, but if he cannot get it going it could spell trouble for the Angels and their offense.

The result:
The Sox win this series in 4. I think the Angels have a TON of pressure to get the first 2 games in California. Fenway is a tough place for the Angels. They have Lackey in game 1, a guy who has had success against the Sox, as long as he is not in Fenway.

The Red Sox lineup will be patient and get into the bullpen, making it difficult for the Angels to win more than a game.

Should be a fun series, and if the Twins-Tigers game is any indication of what is to come it should be a great October. So get some sleep, take some naps, and enjoy the feeling of every pitch meaning some just a little bit more than it did a week ago.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

How about some links with your coffee?

Its playoff baseball time...

Can Ortiz do it again?

Lester and that order...

Pre-playoff baseball... who has better chance against the Yanks? Twins or Tigers? My answer: Verlander could win a series by himself, no one on the Twins can do that...


The Ravens continue to be cry babies...

Everything else...

Every Boston fan should have this bookmarked...

Perk lost a lot of weight...

This post might take you into Tuesday.... Celtics starters and rotation...

Chris Paul trick shot off the ceiling...

This Herb Brooks Miracle speech always gives goosebumps, even when a 5 year old is giving it...