for April 16-30, 2003
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April 30, 2003
A high-ranking Red Sox executive called the refusal of Pedro/Manny/Nomar to talk to the media a "major situation" which the team will address this week. The executive said the situation is "evolving in a direction that calls for management to intercede. I simply don't understand the stands that have been taken. I can no longer sit back and hope this thing sorts itself out. The media has done nothing - nothing wrong here."
A "baseball source" claims Theo Epstein has talked with Cubs and Reds, but Epstein himself says there's "nothing" to reports of a three-way trade involving Shea Hillenbrand (to Cubs), Juan Cruz (Cubs to Reds), Scott Williamson (Reds to Boston).... The Angels thought John Burkett was scuffing the ball last Saturday night (they saved 15 baseballs as evidence), but the umpires found nothing. Peter Gammons reports that one Red Sox official told him "fortunately they didn't look hard enough." ... Here's the second installment of Kevin Millar's diary. ... Stickergate continues: Ron Chimelis says Mike Timlin and Howard Bryant of the Herald exchanged words Tuesday regarding Bryant's April 22 column. In the Globe, Bob Hohler offers a wider look at Timlin. ... Clif Keane, who covered baseball for the Globe from 1939 (Ted Williams's rookie season) until his retirement after the 1975 World Series, died last Friday at age 90.
Moron of the Week: Todd Jones. Speaking to the Denver Post about the play Take Me Out, in which a baseball star announces his homosexuality, Jones said:
"I wouldn't want a gay guy being around me. It's got nothing to do with me being scared. That's the problem: All these people say he's got all these rights. Yeah, he's got rights or whatever, but he shouldn't walk around proud. It's like he's rubbing it in our face. 'See me, hear me roar.' We're not trying to be close-minded, but then again, why be confrontational when you don't really have to be? ....[I]f the guy's a gay, he'd better be a really, really good player. Because if (the team) thinks for one minute he's disrupting the clubhouse - if he doesn't hit 50 homers or win 20 games - they're not going to put up with that."
How stupid can Jones be (post-Rocker) to sound off like this? It's quite amazing. ... The paragraph before Jones's quote reads (in part):
Colorado Rockies pitcher Todd Jones ... said an openly gay player would create a hostile locker-room environment, and that opposing pitchers would likely throw intentionally at his head.
Jones is not directly quoted in this sentence, but I wish he was. I'd like to know exactly what he said. He says an openly gay player would create a hostile environment and if the player isn't a star, his teammates wouldn't put up with knowing he is gay. So how would they not put up with (or tolerate) it? And it sure sounds like Jones is admitting he'd throw at the head of any opposing player who he knew was gay. ... The Rockies dutifully released a generic statement calling the remarks "unfortunate", but what puzzled me was the quote from team president Keli McGregor:
As an organization and as a part of this community, we are committed to providing an environment for our employees and fans that is free of discrimination and prejudice regardless of race, color, sex, religion, national orientation, age, disability, or status as a veteran.
What the hell is national orientation?
April 28, 2003
Weekend stuff: the paint on the Monster and two stories about the slump that brought Nomar's average from .305 to .248. He has looked horrible (even though he went 2-5 Sunday, trying to pull everything in sight. He should watch when Hillenbrand whacks those outside pitches to right, which is a nice improvement.
Meanwhile, Tony Massarotti gives more ink to a story he apparently wishes would go away. (?) In revisiting the Timlin bumpersticker story (see April 22 below), he immediately sets up a strawman -- So when was it exactly that Mike Timlin announced his candidacy for the Nobel Peace Prize? When was it that he stopped being a relief pitcher, now with his sixth organization, and became a diplomat or an ambassador or a dignitary? -- which is easily slapped down. But as far as I know (granted, reading only print media), no one has made either of those foolish suggestions. If Mazz knows of anyone who did, he should quote them. ... The only reason Derek Lowe's outburst about the column made the papers is because a few writers thought it was worthy of attention. If they had ignored it or as Massarotti suggests the Red Sox should have done -- kept it private -- the story and ensuing tumult would never have existed.
But Massarotti does hit on some truths deeper in the column: "The [Boston] media are unbelievably self-serving and insecure, and are not held nearly as accountable for their actions as are the players. That's why clubhouse members get so annoyed at what they perceive as a slight, particularly those star players who have been exposed to so little criticism during their careers. They simply cannot understand why they are often subject to so much scrutiny from media people who are subject to little, if any. It's an entirely understandable reaction." ... He wonders if newcomers like Chad Fox will see Pedro and Nomar leading an anti-media revolt and wonder what the hell is going on in Boston; he should worry that Fox will read the Boston dailies and experience an even-greater shock.
The Cardinals and Marlins played 20 innings yesterday -- the longest game in 10 years. It reminded me of the greatest game I've ever attended: August 23, 1989.
Angeles - 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 1 - 1 20 1
Montreal - 000 000 000 000 000 000 000 0 - 0 13 1
April 25, 2003
The Red Sox held a closed-door meeting before Thursday's game about their relationship with the media. Two incidents prompted the gathering. Derek Lowe was furious at Howard Bryant's Herald column (see April 22 below) about a bumper sticker in Mike Timlin's locker. Lowe got into a shouting match with a reporter (not Bryant, though, who was not with the team) before Timlin told Lowe to forget about it.
Then Pedro Martinez expressed annoyance that Bob Hohler included a casual quip Pedro made as Brandon Lyon was being interviewed -- ''Get your news while you can, you guys'' -- in his game notes. Martinez was miffed to find an attributed quote in the paper. Steven Krasner called Martinez's subsequent talk with Hohler as "a decibel level louder than his normal even tone of discussion, but not full-blown yelling." Martinez later said he will maintain his silence for the rest of his career in Boston. ... My take is that both Lowe and Pedro are wrong. If a player has something openly displayed in his locker, he shouldn't be surprised if he's asked about it (especially something relating to such a hot-button issue like the invasion of Iraq). And if Pedro doesn't want to be quoted, he should work harder to maintain his silence.
Finally, David Heuschkel noted that contrary to an AP report, Nomar Garciaparra had not "asked reporters to get away from Martinez" when Pedro was speaking to Hohler. Heuschkel: "Garciaparra, while he did intervene, did not say anything to the members of the media standing nearby." He did speak to Pedro, however. ... This is a perfect example of sloppy reporting that can (and does (in Boston)) make a molehill into a mountain. In fact, the AP writer, Stephen Hawkins, wasn't even in the clubhouse when the incident happened. Suddenly, it's a fact that Nomar told reporters to back off ... and sensitive Pedro apparently can't defend himself. ...
Tony Massarotti adds gas to the fire today by calling the team "more distracted and distrustful than ever before" -- Ever? Hey, Mazz, where were you in late 2001? -- and asking: "Why, fellas, did you go out and play the game today as if you had your heads rammed up your butts?" This is a question an 8-year-old who has been a baseball fan for all of two weeks might ask. Boston lost 16-5 and it wasn't fun. But it's part of the game. The 1927 Yankees lost a game 14-4 to Detroit (June 9).
This is a good discussion of how the players-media situation in Boston has deteriorated and what the players and management could do to fix it (a little more here). Giving scoops to favored reporters sounds good, but would require strict adherence from all 25 players. Having John Henry and Theo Epstein ban certain reporters (after polling the team, perhaps?) is also plausible. I have no confidence the writers will clean up their act.
Martinez told NESN's Jerry Remy that he's been bothered by a small but nagging knot in his lower back since losing to the Orioles April 12. ... Yankee shortstop Erick Almonte had a good first four games (7-for-17, .412), but since then he's 5-for-35 (.143/.167/.171). It's hard to hit that badly even by accident. And his infield play has made Jeter look like Ozzie Smith. ... Two days ago, Ron Chimelis of the Springfield Republican conceded the AL East to the Yankees; today, Paul Doyle of the Hartford Courant throws in the towel.
April 24, 2003
So 20 games into the season, Grady Little has settled on Chad Fox and Brandon Lyon as closers (Mike Timlin and Ramiro Mendoza will be the set-up guys). It's pretty clear Little never accepted the idea of using your best reliever when the game is on the line. The early shoddy work from the bullpen gave Grady cover as he trotted out various pitchers in various roles (while also, granted, making it hard to figure out who the "best" pitcher was). Now that things have settled down somewhat, Grady says he knows who the closer(s) will be. If Boston's front office is open to new or unconventional strategies, they need someone in the dugout who is equally open-minded -- and Grady ain't that guy. Still, I'm tempted to (or desperately want to) agree with a few SoSH posters who see this as no big deal. Jinhocho writes:
It was discussed on here a while ago that the major blunder by the Red Sox in the offseason was not in bringing in a bunch of crappy pitchers, but rather in publicizing the whole CBC/situational relief approach. ...
First, in making their approach public, it was immediately assumed, rightly or wrongly, that with a young GM, two stats guys new in town, a stat albino for an owner, and the ever arrogant and much disliked Lucchino in the mix that the Sox thought they knew better than everyone else. This might have started as a media perception, but it appears to be baseball opinion as well in terms of former players and managers and the unnamed sources often quoted. When people think you believe you know more than them or are better than them, they are very quick to pile on.
Second, while I firmly believe letting UUU go made sense from a baseball and economics perspective, it set up a scenario where you compare the results of UUU and the CBC. ... Third, if they had gone quietly about this and brought in a bunch of guys like they did, the story would have been about the competition for closer, who was the darkhorse and the favorite and the media would have gotten into it as it involves competition and conflict. ...
Steven Krasner reports that Pedro Martinez told him he has experienced some discomfort in his right side/lower back since his April 12th start, it won't keep him from doing his regular side work nor will it keep him from his next start on Sunday night. Martinez said the tight muscle bothers him most when throwing his curveball.
Ron Chimelis has conceded the AL East to the Yankees: "I'm not proud. Call me a wimp. Let our team into the playoffs through the back door, and I'll run up the white flag and concede the division before May Day." ... Are the Yankees as good as their 18-3 record? Based on their runs scored and runs allowed, yes. Here is a great discussion of the Yankees performance to date. Rudy Pemberton notes: "The only Yankee who is playing worse than their career averages is Giambi. I guess very Yankee batter could all better their career bests in the same year, but I'm not counting on it." By OPS (not including last night):
Career 2003 Diff
Soriano .879 1.092 + 213 Johnson .742 .838 + 96 Williams .893 1.108 + 215 Giambi .964 .763 - 201 Posada .837 .956 + 119 Mondesi .826 1.081 + 255 Ventura .813 .918 + 105 Zeile .778 .785 + 7 Wilson .656 .713 + 57 Trammell .807 .971 + 164 Matsui .740
I looked at the Red Sox numbers to compare (including last night):
Career 2003 Diff
Damon .776 .824 + 48 Walker .784 .752 - 32 Nomar .937 .862 - 75 Ramirez 1.010 .921 - 89 Millar .871 .967 + 96 Ortiz .809 .616 - 193 Hillenbrand .743 .790 + 47 Giambi .818 .640 - 178 Nixon .835 1.000 + 165 Varitek .762 .920 + 158 Mueller .769 .822 + 53
Plus the Yankee starters are 16-0, 2.53, 1.10 WHIP. Boston is 9-5, 4.45, 1.42. I'll give Gene Conleys Plane Ticket the last word:
Looking at the Yankees this year, there's no question they've played a bit over their heads to this point. But probably not very far over their heads ... The Red Sox are capable of winning the division, but they don't have much margin for error if they're going to make it happen. ... I'd like nothing better than to see the Yankees fall apart. We can dream, can't we? But frankly, it's just that. A dream. If the Red Sox are going to get this thing done, it won't be because the $175 million Yankees suddenly dive into the tank. The Red Sox can win only if they, the Boston Red Sox, perform to the peak of their ability in every aspect of the game from the front office to the 25th man on the roster, for every single one of the 143 games between now and September 28. If recent history proves anything, it's that going up against the Yankees, it's not a marathon, it's a sprint. A very long sprint, but still a sprint. I just hope the Red Sox players and their management understand that.
April 23, 2003
Pedro walked six men in Texas last night -- his highest total in five years -- and while he wasn't all that wild, he did throw a ton of balls among his 121 pitches. He went to three-ball counts on 10 of his 28 batters; only 16 of his 70 strikes were swinging. Pedro was stretching as though his back was stiff, which I noticed after his second pitch of the night ... Tony Massarotti wonders if Martinez is hurt and since the ace isn't talking, "we'll just have to speculate." ... Bob Ryan has written a book about the 1903 World Series -- When Boston Won the World Series: here is the introduction and chapter one. ... Rob Neyer: "Rickey Henderson, the greatest speedster of all-time, statistically appears to have a bias against triples"; column and reader mail. ... I was two weeks shy of my 15th birthday when the Red Sox lost the 1978 playoff game to the Yankees. That hurt a lot, so I don't share Art Martone's feelings about the game. But he's still the best sportswriter around when it comes to the Sox, so go read his latest Notebook. ... I was skeptical of spending $40 to get access to Baseball Prospectus for the year, but I have been floored by their content (both quantity and quality) and I feel like I've gotten my money's worth already.
April 22, 2003
Getting caught up: Pedro Martinez has decided to stop talking to the media (three more links).
"I don't care. I just got tired. I don't have anybody to blame. I don't have anything to say. I just don't want to talk. I don't feel like it. ... Maybe not now, not the end of the year, not ever. ... Start looking for the other guys you want to talk to. I'm not talking anymore. You guys are professional. Write whatever you have to write. ... don't bug me every day. Don't ask me every day because I'm not going to be talking. ... [Pedro was reminded he would serve as Manny Ramirez's spokesman] ... Too bad. That's what you miss when you don't talk to me. Find your own way to talk to Manny.''
Theo Epstein was asked if he had a problem with Martinez and Ramirez declining to speak to the media. ''We don't pay them to talk.'' Bob Hohler: "Martinez has yet to explain why he chose to go mum, but if he has any problem with Sox fans in general, it was not evident as he spent time before the game signing autographs along the first base line."
Interesting snips from Howard Bryant's column today (part of the Herald's pay service):
"[O]n Patriots Day, above Mike Timlin's locker was a yellow bumper sticker. On the left side was the familiar three-pronged encircled symbol of peace. On the right of the sticker the words read: "The footprint of the AMERICAN CHICKEN.'' The sticker spoke clearly, symbolic on numerous, uncomplicated levels. ... Americans who believe in peace and oppose war are chickens, cowards. And the sticker was yellow, too ...
Timlin says he was given the sticker by a police officer, who supported the war ... he is most proud that he and President Bush hail from the same hometown. ... "I don't read it as a political statement, offensive or otherwise.'' Whether he wants to admit it or not, he's dead wrong, and for some people in his own clubhouse, the implication is rightly offensive. The sticker spoke not only for him, but volumes about him. ...
Dallas Williams, the current Red Sox first base coach ... among others in the clubhouse, is not particularly comfortable with the Iraq war, and thus was uneasy about Timlin's trumpeting of a controversial position [and his] reputation as a Southern neoconservative. ... David Ortiz, the Red Sox first baseman-designated hitter said, "I don't like it. Not at all, but he can have his opinion. You know what mine is? My opinion is that all this war is no good. There are a lot of people dying over there. How can people getting killed ever be good?''
Art Martone uses Win Shares to see who has contributed more -- ex-Yankees for the Red Sox or ex-Red Sox for the Yankees ... Don't miss his Notebook on 1978. ... Plus, there is more trouble in paradise. ... Memo to Fat Drunk: No Thanks! ... I've decided to not spend the time updating the Hack-o-Meter, but if I find stats on first pitch swings and balls in play, I'll include them here. ... Finally, check out these pictures of Shea Hillenbrand in Little League.
April 20, 2003
If you followed Saturday's Red Sox-Blue Jays game on the Internet, you followed a different game depending on the site you connected to. I counted 18 discrepancies in pitch order and type between mlb.com's Gameday and cbssportsline.com:
Inning Batter MLB CBS Boston 1st Damon bbbcc bbbccf Boston 2nd Nixon bccbffb ccbbffb Toronto 2nd Delgado bfsb bfbs Toronto 2nd Phelps bbc bcb Toronto 2nd Hinske fbtb fctb Boston 3rd Giambi fbbb bfbb Toronto 4th Myers bcbcfbff bcbfbff Toronto 4th Woodward bcbffb bcbffb Toronto 4th Hudson bc cb Toronto 4th Catalanotto cb bc Toronto 5th Phelps sbbf bfbf Boston 5th Nixon cbbc bbbc Boston 5th Walker bcbbf bfbbff Boston 6th Millar sffffbff fffffbff Toronto 7th Hinske bcbff bcbf Toronto 8th Myers bcs cbf Toronto 9th Catalanotto bbfffb bcfffb Toronto 9th Delgado csbbb ccbbb
Last year, I kept finding differences between the play-by-play accounts posted at mlb.com and espn. Judging from how non-typical plays are worked in play-by-play accounts, it appears likely that several other sites (like cbssportsline) get their information from wherever espn does. And I know from keeping score at the park and in front of my TV, in 99 cases out of a 100, espn and cbs are right and mlb is wrong.
April 17, 2003
Joe Morgan writes: "As I expected, the Yankees are the team to beat in the NL East." ... The Globe, like ESPN, has apparently also fired every last one of its editors and proofreaders. Gordon Edes opines that "the best guess to replace Howry [is] Erick Almonte, the Dominican who came back from Japan and impressed the Sox this spring ..." Err, Erick is playing shortstop for the Yankees; how about Hector Almonte?
April 16, 2003
Ramiro Mendoza's 5 Red Sox appearances (7 IP, 18 H, 13 R, 16.71 ERA, batters hitting .486):
single, double, out, out, single, single, single, double
4/6: out, K, single, error, out
4/19: HR (grand slam), out, single, double, out, walk, double, out, out
4/12: single, out, out, walk, double, out
4/15: single, single, single, single
Mendoza watched some videos of his Yankee outings and spotted a mechanical flaw in what he's doing now. "I feel good. My body feels good. It's a mechanical problem. I'll get it." Of course, that was before his outing last night -- 4 batters, 4 singles, 4 runs allowed. ... And again, last night, Grady the Moron had no one warming up as Mendoza quickly showed he still has nothing this month, allowing 0-1 singles to Ordonez and Crawford. His sinker has yet to sink and his breaking ball is worthless, but Grady was dozing, so instead of pulling Mendoza, Timlin is just starting to warm up as Rolls and Baldelli also whack singles. ... Doesn't Grady know the pen has been a little shaky lately? There are two mounds in the bullpen, feel free to use them both. ... Is it me or is it too much to ask to have the f--ing manager stay awake for the entire game?
CBS Sportsline's Power Ranking has Boston slipping from 5th to 8th. For Week 2 of ESPN's Power Alley, Boston drops to 10th.
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