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Home » Monthly Archive » February 2005

February 27, 2005

Billy Ballgame

Billmuellerst2005Name: William Richard Mueller
Called: “Billy Ballgame” by his teammates, “The Professional” by Red Sox fan board members, “Yankee Kueller” by me
Born: March 17, 1971
Hometown: Maryland Heights, MO
High School: DeSmet High School
College: Southwest Missouri State
Major League Debut: April 18, 1996
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 180 lbs
Position: 3B
Bats: Switch
Throws: Right
Salary: $2.1M
Memorable Moments: Where to begin? We know them all by rote, but I’d be remiss not to relive some of them again.
July 29, 2003: 9 RBI game. He hit three home runs, including two grand slams, the first player to ever hit a GS from both sides of the plate in a single game.
July 24, 2004: Game-winning home run against Mariano Rivera in the 9th inning.
October 17, 2004: Single up the middle. Tie game. Against Rivera. Wow.

Why this guy doesn’t get more attention is beyond me. Some people just fly under the radar, I suppose. I’ve heard people chanting Pokey Reese, Gabe Kapler, even Freddie Sanchez’s name, but never Mueller’s. He probably prefers it that way, too.

There’s a nice article on him in the Boston Globe today. His goal is to start more games this season than he has in any other. He is the anti-Alex Rodriguez. He is humble. He does not act as if you should be honored to watch him, he is honored that you come to see him play. He is what fans hope players are like in real life. Sometimes, they do make them like they used to.

Setting Tongues A-Wag

IsgI’m sensing another olde towne team song revival, alà the Dropkick Murphys’ remake of “Tessie.”

In the Boston Globe, Joshua Glenn writes about Isabella Stewart Gardner’s passion for the Red Sox, a diehard fan. To show her devotion, in December of 1912 she attended Symphony Hall wearing a banner emblazoned with “Oh you Red Sox,” the title of a ditty popular with the Royal Rooters. Let it be known that Gardner was no casual fan bitch; she braved the comments of a gossip columnist, who wrote that “it looked as if the woman had gone crazy ... almost causing a panic among those in the audience who discovered the ornamentation, and even for a moment upsetting [the musicians] so that their startled eyes wandered from their music stands.” The scandal of it all!

February 26, 2005

Games Within Games

RobertsstealChris Snow of the Boston Globe continues to impress with this article today on the strategy to squelch stolen bases in the upcoming season. Looking back at 2004, the Red Sox allowed the most steals (123 bases) at the highest success rate (79.9%) in the major leagues, and Jason Varitek ranked last in throwing out runners attempting to steal. These alarming statistics, along with their 16-18 record in one-run games, combine to make a compelling argument to improve their methods of keeping runners stationary.

Terry Francona and Dave Wallace have three criteria to track progress: time to plate, varying checks on the runner and pitch timing patterns, and not altering pitches with men on base. All are more easily said than done, particularly the last point. Certain pitchers get spooked and distracted with men on base, and the quality of their pitches decreases drastically with the slide step. Frank Castillo and Derek Lowe immediately spring to mind, and fortunately neither are with the team now.

In a league and era where most of the emphasis is on power hitting and pitching, I enjoy seeing attention paid to nuances. The interplay between runners and pitchers is one of my favorite aspects of the sport. Often, it’s extremely tiresome on television. In live games, though, where you can look at whichever part of the field you want, the throws to first on a base-stealing threat can be riveting. In person, you can observe the defensive shading as well, another under-appreciated facet of the game.

Something that Jerry Remy always postulates is that teams that don’t steal are more likely to get stolen on. Since we’re not hearing about a plan to improve the team’s stealing success, I’ll be watching to see how Francona and Wallace’s tactics play out this season.

February 25, 2005

Dave’s Diegesis: Synesthetes Unite

MccartyIt’s been fun down here in Ft. Myers, but if I work out too hard, I get winded and start feeling chartreuse.

That doesn’t make sense you say? Well, to a unique group of people called synesthetes who have oddly entwined perceptions, that statement could be true. This condition, called synesthesia, causes a person’s sense of hearing, touch, taste, and smell to be associated with color. Although once considered an overactive imagination, this has an actual basis in neurology. Neurologists theorize that we are all born synesthetes. However, in the course of normal development, people’s neural connections gradually process sensory inputs into more and more discrete categories that eventually become the five senses. In synesthetes, it is believed that the separation of senses is not completed. So, each letter of the alphabet is tangibly associated with a color, or chicken tastes like chicken, but also like puce.

All of my teammates are just as fascinated by synesthesia as I am. Why, just yesterday I think I diagnosed Jason Varitek as synesthetic. I asked him if he could smell Alex Rodriguez’s fear at the plate, and he said, “Yep, by the blue of his lips I can tell he’s scared.”

Well, I hope you enjoyed my first appearance here. I certainly did, and I’ll be here before next Friday. I can’t say much more than White House visit... live.

Every Friday, Dave McCarty will join us to discuss a topic of interest to him and probably no one else but the author of this site.

February 24, 2005

Home Movies

How much would you give to see Mike Timlin’s movie? An arm, a leg? A deer gave its life, apparently, at the end of the film, which was Trot Nixon’s favorite part. (I’m neither a PETA fanatic nor a “Charlie Moore Outdoors” viewer, just someone who is nonchalant about hunting, so I won’t be soapboxing today.)

Another part that they say brings goosebumps (or “chicken skin,” in Hawaiian Creole English) is the October 28th bus ride from Logan Airport to Fenway Park. “It’s the best,” said Kevin Millar. “You see all the people bowing down and getting out of their cars and trucks.”

Returning to those recent days of splendor, I have an embarrassing story to tell. I forgot my dad’s birthday, October 27th. I called Hawai‘i that weekend, apologetic. He said, “Well, I guess I raised my daughter right.” My parents had visited me earlier that year in July, right during the Yankees series at Fenway. He almost bought scalped tickets for us one day, and was later sorry that he didn’t. On July 24th we visited a different battleground, Minuteman National Park, and listened to some of the game on the radio on the way home. We got home in time to see the extra innings and the Mueller home run.

Before he visited Boston, my dad hadn’t watched baseball since his teens. Football was the sport we bonded over. But while he was here, he started to appreciate the game again. I’d come home from work, and he’d have a Red Sox gift for me. One day, a “Red Sox Fan Parking Only!” sign for my parking space. Another day, pictures of Ted Williams’s first and last at-bats. My landlord (who didn’t mind the sign being put up, thankfully) and Yankee fan said, after the World Series, “Your dad broke the curse!”

Needless to say, I won’t ever forget my dad’s birthday again.

Another strange coincidence: when I went to pick up my parents from the airport, they had a champion on board their plane. Bill Russell came to Boston the same time they did. We saw him waiting for his baggage. He wore one of his eleven rings. I wonder which year it was for? I didn’t get close enough to check.

Eleven. That’s Bill Mueller’s number. Cue “Synchronicity” by the Police.

Collect Them All

Bill Parcells has a thing for drews, this much is obvious now. It seems his obsession started off with Drew Bledsoe when he was with the New England Patriots. When Parcells went to the Dallas Cowboys, it wasn’t long before he longed for another drew, and he even raided the Yankees’ farm system to get Drew 2.0, Henson. Overlooking Brees in San Diego, Parcells has gone retro by bringing Bledsoe back into the fold.

What will be the master strategian’s next step? Well, no one can really tell what Bill Belichick will do next, but here are the next drews that Parcells may consider:


Parcells thinks it’s really funny when he yells “Drew!” in the quarterback meetings and both Bledsoe and Henson turn their heads. He thought that up around the same time he was thinking up new racial slurs.

February 23, 2005

Straighten Up and Fly Right

MillarFrom the Boston Globe, we get this tantalizing snippet: “Kevin Millar may appear on an episode of Bravo’s “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.” Millar said he’s working on a date for the taping, which would be done during spring training, and hopes to persuade a few teammates to participate.” With Curt Schilling’s recent appearance on “Celebrity Poker,” Bravo is looking more like NESN2.

The picture to the left is from this spring training. Carson would tell him to get rid of the “Cowboy Up” thing, since that’s so 2003, losing-Game 7, already. I don’t think he chews tobacco, but if he does, I’m sure the Fab Five would try and break him of that habit, especially Ted and Jai. Kyan would recommend some strategic tzujing, and prohibit him from ever growing the Amish beard again.

I’m not a devotee of the program, but on nearly every episode I’ve seen, I’m amused when the rest of the gang takes the star of the show shopping, wine tasting, and spa-ing, leaving Thom back at the ranch (and this could be a literal ranch, knowing Millar) to work his tuchis off. I’ve watched him landscape, paint, remove wallpaper, and clean the scum off bathtubs. This man is not adverse to manual labor, at least in front of the cameras.

The online recruiting form states “NYC or LA area.” So, why aren’t the New York City or Los Angeles clubs getting on board with this? Does it fly in the face of the Yankee credo? Or is there just not much work to be done with Jeter or Rodriguez? The Fab Five probably call them for tips.

February 20, 2005

Varitek Accepts Captaincy’s Challenges

RikertekThis season, Jason Varitek will be the first Red Sox captain since 1989 and only the fourth since 1923. When he resigned with the team in December of 2004, the team unexpectedly conferred this rank on him. It was the granting of a title that many believed he already held.

With pitchers and catchers reporting to Fort Myers for spring training, the new captain faced questions about his additional duties. “It’s a very big honor, but my role isn’t going to be any different,” he said. “It’s the same responsibilities I’ve always had. My most solemn oath is that I will give my life, even the lives of my entire crew, rather than violate the Prime Directive.”

Ensign Dave McCarty has already begun compiling his “Top 100 Reasons Why Varitek is Better Than Picard, Kirk, and Jeter” list. “I’m so excited that Vari-, I mean, Captain Varitek, has been named captain. It’s so awesome. The captain was the second cadet at Starfleet Academy to beat the Kobayashi Maru simulation. I don’t need to tell you who the first was. I’d be the first to don a red shirt and die in a random mission for Captain Varitek.”

A high-ranking officer from Varitek’s crew added his voice to the chorus of support for the newly-instated leader. Commander Curt Schilling said, “[Varitek’s] impact is so significant, on and off the ship. I’ve always thought the consummate officers in the fleet, the best leaders, are guys who made their weakest crew members better. Remember how Picard helped [Reginald] Barclay? That’s what the captain does for our crew.”

The first spring training missions are on the horizon, and Varitek faces one of the biggest challenges of his career by having to prepare the new pitchers on his staff. But with him at the helm, the days of 25 officers, 25 shuttlecraft are over.

February 19, 2005

Heart Transplant

You’d think that the hardest adjustment for someone from Hawai‘i moving to Boston in December would be acclimating to the winter. In 1997, shopping for a new wardrobe excavated a whole new vocabulary to me, an entirely new strategy for dressing. Soon, I learned what parkas, duck shoes, toques, and anoraks were. I knew when and where to deploy wool or microfleece. As winter melted into spring, however, I noticed a change not only in the weather, but in the atmosphere of Boston and the attitude of its denizens. I wondered if the warming in the region wasn’t caused by the increasing ardor of Red Sox fans rather than the tilt of the planet.

My first spring here, I participated in some water cooler sports talk. Hawai‘i has no franchises in the major team sports. When someone from Hawai‘i makes the big leagues, the team they play for becomes Hawaii’s team. So, when the Broncos won the Superbowl two years in a row, Denver wasn’t the only city partying. The islands celebrated because two University of Hawai‘i graduates, Maa Tanuvasa and Jason Elam, were on that fabled team. Without a home team, you cheer for the closest thing: the small town kid made big city sports hero.

In 1999, I had a job in a law firm in Cambridge. During lunch, the subject often turned to baseball. One day, I casually mentioned that my cousins and I were so excited when the Mets won the World Series in 1986. Dead silence in the breakroom, which I misinterpreted as rapt attention. So, I blathered on about how local boy and lefty Sid Fernandez was one of the relief pitchers, and that everyone in Hawai‘i loved the Mets because he was on their World Championship winning team. One of my co-workers sighed audibly and her shoulders sagged. Others looked away, embarrassed for me.

And then it dawned on me. Bringing 1986 up here in New England was like broaching the delicate subject of, say, someone’s facial deformity or the death of a beloved pet. I had basically insulted the religion and nationality of everyone at the table by invoking that year.

Later that day, another co-worker came by my office and narrated the entire history of the Red Sox. He told me about the 81-year drought and the litany of seven-game World Series since 1918. He talked about how it felt as a 10-year old taken with baseball watching his team fall, and how his father had been similarly smitten in 1967 and 1975. He was a smart fan, and laughed off any notion of “The Curse.” No supernatural force loomed over the team, according to him, just mismanagement and the laggard acceptance of racial integration. Despite my reservations with the Yawkey legacy, I was enthralled with the stories of players like Williams, Yastrzemski, Rice, Lynn, Tiant, and Fisk. I felt the first stirrings of a new faith on that day. It was the beginning of my conversion from a fan of players to a team fan.

That year I moved to an apartment on Queensberry Street, just a few blocks from Fenway Park. I was on the fourth floor and I could see the park through my window. When a Red Sox player got a hit, I could hear the cheering. Extra bases, more fracas. Home run, pandemonium. It was the year of the All-Star Game in Boston. The year Ted Williams held audience with his would-be successors. You needed a microscope to see Pedro Martinez’s ERA. The Red Sox made it to the postseason that year, gutting out a 5-game series against Cleveland only to lose to the Yankees in the ALCS.

I didn’t go to a live game at Fenway until the new ownership group came to the helm, partially because of the old owners’ tainted history, but primarily because of lack of money. In 2002, I could afford two Sox Pax in Section 87. The seats were close enough to the visitor’s bullpen so that, when required, I could add my voice to the chorus of insults raining down on the relief pitchers. On Opening Day, April 1, I became a full-fledged fool for the Red Sox and true believer.

Every follower has her beliefs tested at some point. October 16, 2003. Then, I understood. The most difficult change wasn’t the winter climate, but facing it without the glow of a championship.

This winter has been like a day back in Hawai‘i for me. Balmy and calm in my heart, I wait for the first pitch of the season.

February 18, 2005

Flashback to September 26, 2004

Permit me to show how my dedication has turned a bit into madness. I spent all Saturday morning making a sign for the game. It said “Bill Mueller: Yankee Kueller.” A detail you can’t see is that instead of stars on the top hat in the Yankee logo, there are skulls and crossbones. Also, there’s a Royal Rooters shout out in the upper right.


I was absolutely determined to have Bill Mueller sign my creation. I left at 11:00 AM for a 2:05 PM game. I arrived at Fenway at 12, just in time for the opening of the gates. Usually the visiting team is taking batting practice as the first fans arrive. Today, however, it seems the Red Sox front office had the Sox take BP while fans were there.

I made my way to the seats behind home plate. I got there just as Mueller finished up his turn at the plate. He came by the stands to start signing autographs. There were two rows of people in front of me, but not many for clamoring for him to sign. Many were there mainly to be near the players. He saw my sign and autographed it for me. It didn’t seem he thought it funny or anything, and that disappointed me somewhat, but he signed it, and it was the last thing he signed before he went down to the clubhouse.

Beautiful day, great game.

The Red Sox were 3.5 games behind the Yankees after beating them 11-4. Derek Jeter made a throwing error in the second by airmailing it over Jorge Posada’s head, which prompted us to do the mocking “Jeee-ter! Jeee-ter!” chant.

Bill Mueller hit a home run in the fifth inning off of Esteban Loaiza, and Tom Werner ended up getting the ball since he was sitting in the bleachers where it landed. We gave Ellis Burks a standing ovation because the public address announcer stated that it was his last regular season game in a Red Sox uniform at Fenway Park. There were opportunities to have him pinch hit, and we chanted “We want Ellis! (clap, clap, clap clap clap)” at those times. He didn’t come into the game, however.

And “Yankee Kueller”? Prophetic.

Special thanks to Jere at A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory for the retro idea.

February 16, 2005


McSweeney’s didn’t select my Red Sox sestina for publication on their website. I think I was too earnest by half and didn’t tinge it with enough irony.

Hello [Name Deleted to Protect the Inept Sestina Writer] --

ThumbsdownThanks for sending this and letting us read it. I’d love to run a BoSox sestina, and yours is definitely skilled and uses the form well, but it just misses being right for the section. So we’ll have to pass. I’m sure this will find a home elsewhere. Do send more sestinas if the moment strikes you.

[Name Delected to Protect the Inept Sestina Writer Pointer-Outer]
Assistant Web Editor for Sestinas

“Moment”? It took me three days to write. Not a solid three days, but I just got sick of looking at the same six words and thinking of novels ways to use them.

Update: I wrote to NDtPtISWP-O to find out where I strayed.


Thanks for the feedback. If you have any specific criticisms or suggestions you could pass on, I’d appreciate it. I’m always looking to strengthen myself as a writer.

[Inept Yet Insistent Sestina Writer]

I then received the following response:

[Inept Yet Insistent Sestina Writer] --

No specific criticisms -- the higher-ups -- and this is just a guess -- may not have wanted to go with another baseball sestina. We had a St. Louis one before. This is just a guess. They never tell me. But do know it was one of my picks, that I presented. Send more if you have ’em!

Assistant Web Editor for Sestinas

I did a quick read of the Cardinals poem, and I don’t think the author actually followed the sestina format correctly. In the final stanza, she doesn’t use the proper word repetition pattern. Also, it isn’t recommended to use ending words that rhyme. Like all redbird fans, she got by with sheer enthusiasm and pom pom waving. She actually writes this: “Lord, does Cardinal Nation love baseball.”

They might have won the McSweeney’s Sestina battle, but we know who won the war. Still, I don’t like knowing that there is one baseball sestina on the site, and that the poem is dedicated to that St. Louis team. I plan to write another.

Francona Goes On a Bender

These things write themselves, truly. Terry Francona is rear-ended while on the Dale Arnold Show on WEEI.

FranconaFRANCONA: We have Jay Payton as our fourth outfielder, kinda be the Gabe Kapler.... Aww, geez! Guys, I gotta go. Somebody just rear-ended me.

ARNOLD: See you, Ter.

FRANCONA: You know what, it had the Yankee logo, too.

ARNOLD: See you, Terry.


ARNOLD: That’s unbelievable.

MASSAROTTI: No, it happens, you know. Probably did it on.... It’s probably Steinbrenner who’s driving. That’s probably who it is. Who knows?

“Geez”? Gosh darn it, I love this guy.

The Boston Globe updates this incident. Regarding the Yankee decal: “I was joking.” He also has a new interview tactic: “Next time someone asks me a tough question or a dumb question,” he said, “I’m going to say I had a car accident.”

February 13, 2005


Everyone’s taking this, and now I have, too. My results:

  • Johnny Damon 77%
  • Theo Epstein 77%
  • Jason Varitek 70%
  • Curt Schilling 63%
  • Kevin Millar 57%
  • Mark Bellhorn 47%
  • Manny Ramirez 33%
  • David Ortiz 30%

I wish those percentages meant that I actually get that amount of that respective players’ net worth. Those would be some numbers I wouldn’t mind be connected with. But being Johnny Epstein is cool, too.

Giambi, Hallmark Announce New Card Line

GiambihallmarkFollowing Jason Giambi’s press conference on February 10th at Yankee Stadium, he and agent Arn Tellem announced a partnership with Hallmark for a new line of apology cards. Giambi stated that “I’m sorry, but I’m trying to go forward now. Most of all, to the fans, I’m sorry. I know it’s going to be hard, and I understand how they feel.” Giambi is taking this sense of simpatico to a larger audience by helping pen prose for a series of cards that feature him.

“These days people are so easily offended by any slight,” said Tellem. “We spoke with Hallmark and we found that the public is clamoring for a flexible approach to saying sorry. And Jason is just the man to symbolize this new trend.”

Some of the messages reflects thoughts from Giambi’s recent equivocations, like “I’m Sorry for... Something” or “Saying Sorry Isn’t Easy When There’s Legal Matters and You Can’t Go Into Specifics.” However, Giambi plans to eventually add more tangible sentiments, like “I Apologize For Being the More Talented Brother (Or Rather, For Having a Better Pharmacist)” and “I’m Truly Contrite for Being a Distraction in the Clubhouse.”

Prices for these cards start at $2.99, and will be found at all MLB ballparks this coming season.

February 12, 2005

The Precious Returns

LucchinoballLUCCHINOL: Lucchinol will takes care of the precious, yes? Makes it a nice home in the Red Sox Hall of Fame with the trophy.

GOLLARUM: Why, when we can have it for us?

LUCCHINOL: Because the fansies are so kind and sweet to Lucchinol. They high fives him and cheers. Fansies are my friends!

GOLLARUM: You don’t have any friends. Nobody likes you.

LUCCHINOL: I’m not listening, I’m not listening.

GOLLARUM: We wants it, we needs it. Must have the precious. They stole it from us. Sneaky little mientkiewiczes. Wicked, tricksy, false!

LUCCHINOL: Yes, they betrayed us.

GOLLARUM: We waits ’til they sleep, puts them on waivers, or trades them to non-contenders, then takes the precious! [Gollarum! Gollarum!]

LUCCHINOL: Yes...yes! ...And take it for ME!


LUCCHINOL: I meant for us.

February 10, 2005

New Feature: Stop the Atrophy

RedsoxtrophyThe 2004 World Series Trophy of the Boston Red Sox adores its fans and revels in the attention it has been receiving. It’s been touring the nation, a traveling beacon of hope to its downtrodden citizens. Every piece of hardware has its hardships, however.

The Trophy is burnt out. The Trophy needs to unwind, relax, and rejuvenate itself. It needs hobbies, something to revive its flagging energy. Bizarre pastimes are especially appreciated, since it’s a unique bling bling. The last time the Red Sox won, trophies weren’t awarded, and the term “bling bling” certainly wasn’t considered for inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary. If you have a suggestion, e-mail it to the author (that’s me). Be sure to include a link, your name (if you wish be credited), and blurb about your diversion of choice. The best recommendations will be featured in “What’s the trophy doing today?”

Remember: only you can stop the atrophy.

February 8, 2005

Who’s On First?

PetagineHey, it’s a baseball blog. I had to use this as a title at some point in time, right? So, I’ve gotten that cliché out of the way.

The Red Sox signed Roberto Petagine to a minor league deal today. For the last two years he has played in the NPB. He comes to the team from the Yomiuri Giants, the organization known as the Yankees of Japanese baseball. I’ve never seen any published studies of how performance in Japan translates to the MLB, but there must be some sort of initiative in Red Sox baseball operations to vet these signings. It’s probably a matter of comparing league averages to individual players. Since this data are not readily available to us in manipulable formats, it’s not easy for the layperson to do this.

Let’s see if Petagine will be this year’s edition of Crespo.

February 6, 2005

City of Champions

BranchLa Agonía regroups over the city of Philadelphia with the New England Patriots defeating the Eagles in Superbowl XXXIX.

Deion Branch (shown here making an amazing catch) wins MVP of the game. Looking over his particulars, can you believe he is only 5'9"? He is the typical Patriot player who proves his mettle through preparation and results.

I have to admit to being moved by the group embrace of Bill Belichick, Romeo Crennel, and Charlie Weis. The coaching staff that founded a dynasty will be no more. This is one football offseason that could rival baseball’s hot stove, since the team has to regroup and put new coaches in place.

But, until then, congratulations to the 2004 NFL Champion Patriots!

(In da postgame interviews, Christian Fauria stay wearin’ all kine leis li’dat. Stay cuz his wife’s muddah from Hawai‘i. Cool, yeah?)

My Tribute to the 100/442nd

GoforbrokeSince the NFL didn’t have any representatives from the 100/442 Regimental Combat Team as part of their tribute to the Greatest Generation for the Superbowl pre-game, I post here to recognize them.

  • 100/442nd RCT became the most decorated unit in U.S. military history for its size and length of service
  • 18,000 individual decorations for bravery
  • 9,500 Purple Hearts
  • Seven Presidential Distinguished Unit Citations

442There were so many Purple Hearts because they were sent on the most dangerous missions. These Nisei (second generation Japanese Americans) fought for our country despite the prejudice and civil rights violations they experienced back home.

February 4, 2005

Cap-tured: Nixon Speaks

NixonSomething really strange happened while I was on the field last season. It’s only now that I’ve been able to talk about it....

During games, I wouldn’t remember what I did on the field. I’d be sitting around in the dugout while the other guys batted. I’d go up to bat and I’d remember everything. Then, when the opposing team came up to bat, I’d have no memory from the time I’d take right-field until I was back in the dugout. Completely blank.

One time, I came back to the bench and Johnny [Damon] raved about some play I made. “Holy crap, Trot, that catch you made was insane.” I just smiled and nodded, since I didn’t recall a thing. Seems like I had just saved Pedro Martinez’s ass in Game 5 of the ALCS by making a diving catch of a ball hit by [Miguel] Cairo. I just looked down at the lucky cap in my hands, reworking the bill and getting more and more confused.

I decided to talk to [David] McCarty, since he’s the brainiac on the team. He got all excited. “Gee, Christopher, a few of my buddies were doing studies on the spontaneous proliferation of hive intelligence in microorganisms. In fact, these life forms seem to thrive in an environment of human sudor—”

“What’s ‘sudor’?”

“You know, perspiration. Sweat. Anyway, they need perspiration, pine tar, and heat. Then, once the proper proportion of these elements come together, a multi-cellular intelligent being is generated. This creature can mimic beta waves of anything near it, affecting the synaptic connections of the host.” His voice started going all high, like it always does when he gets excited about some geek thing. “Actually, my theory is that the cerebral parasite living on Eric Gagne’s hat is the one responsible for his Cy Young award. When they say he’s pitching out of his mind, I think it’s literal. How else can you explain an ERA of 1.2 in 2003? It’s inhuman, I say. And what about—”

My head hurt. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. ‘Synaptic’? You mean, like, my brain?!” I started to freak out.

“Indeed, the cerebral cortex. I can put you in touch with my friend with a degree in neuropsych and evolutionary biology. Really keen guy, actually. He just was awarded—”

“Hey, uh, thanks Stretch. Er, my kid just started crying, I better go take care of him.” McCarty’s a smart dude and everything, but goes into just a little more detail than I need. I just had to get the hell off of the phone. All’s I know is that something living on my lucky hat has been controlling my brain and I needed to get rid of it. I took that hat and threw it into the incinerator so that I wouldn’t ever have to be controlled by it again.

Now I need something else lucky. I did wear the same jock all last season....

February 2, 2005

Catch Him if You Can

YogiSomeone hold me back before I attain Yogasm. We should point out that he wasn’t even the correct answer for the definition of “Yogasm.” There are at least eleven catchers I can think of more likely to induce sexual ecstasy than Yogi Berra (and the list even includes the deceased):

  1. Carlton Fisk (who tied for the lead in triples in the AL in 1972, according to my handy Red Sox Page a Day Calendar)
  2. Jason Varitek (is there anything more alluring than this?)
  3. Kelly Shoppach (sending a little love to a Sox prospect)
  4. Paul LoDuca (admirable for his hustle, which may translate to other areas)
  5. Roger Bresnahan (his Hall of Fame plaque doesn’t do him justice)
  6. Josh Gibson (he would have dominated baseball in his time)
  7. Catcher I had a crush on (reigned supreme in Little League; name is lost in the mists of purposeful amnesia)
  8. Craig Biggio (is being singled out by Bill James akin to winning the Best New Artist Grammy?)
  9. Johnny Estrada (so fetching, like your cousin, Erik. Oh, they aren’t related?)
  10. Ivan Rodriguez (made more enticing by his on the mound kisses with Ugueth Urbina)
  11. Javy Lopez (whom I really can’t cheer for as he lights up Red Sox pitchers)

And those are just off the top of my head. Berra should feel flattered that his name is even remotely connected with amorousness. He might even be able to parlay this into an endorsement deal. Aren’t we all tired of seeing random, anonymous senior citizens bathing on secluded hilltops? Add in a Hall of Fame catcher and his wife to make it all the more compelling.

February 1, 2005

Sarah Smile

If you haven’t heard of Sarah Morris, the creator of Sarah’s Dodger Place, you should get to know her. She garnered national attention for her analysis of the Los Angeles Dodgers, so much so that she earned a job writing “Sarah’s Take” for the team’s official website. She’s accomplished this while having cerebral palsy.

She would be the first to tell you that this isn’t the most important fact about her, the characteristic that determines her life’s meaning or worth. What is essential to know is that she makes a living writing about one of the things she loves most in her life. Not many people can say they have attained this.

Similar to when the Henry ownership group came to Boston, Dodger fans must feel as if they are on the cusp of reattaining the luster of the team’s storied past. It’s an exciting time for that California team because of the budding rivalry with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for loyalty, the new owner Frank McCourt trying to maneuver in the West Coast baseball community, and the new general manager Paul DePodesta flexing his mainframe brain. The Dodgers are also a team I follow more closely than others because it has the highest ranking woman in a baseball operations staff, Kim Ng, as its assistant general manager.

I’m tempted to start a correspondence with her, since Derek Lowe has gone to the Dodgers. But actually, I’m more than a bit intimated by Sarah. If I had the courage she had, I would have already sent her my thoughts on Lowe, new ownership, women in baseball, anything, everything. Perhaps someday I might have the resolve and bravery that she has shown and drop her a line. Until then, she’ll be an example to me of how achieve my goals, learn the craft, and defy the odds.

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