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Home » Monthly Archive » March 2006

March 30, 2006

Going, Going, Gone

Get up, get get, get down. The prices certainly were not in the fantasy auction I participated in last night. My ten team, AL-only rotisserie league with scoring based on categories had its first auction last night. I won’t delve into too much detail because the auction isn’t completed yet, but one of the GMs who has worked in nuclear power plants likened the pace to that of a nuclear accident.

The auction draft format is much more suited to my current capabilities than live drafts. For a newbie like me, it’s far easier to quantify the value of certain players with monetary units rather than draft slot. I also like that the general managers are all constrained by a salary cap. My ideal league would draft players via auction and score with points rather than categories and have a keeper component as well.

One of the neat parts is that the auctioneer, a veteran fantasy GM, used a red upper case typeface to conduct the proceedings. It was one part fantasy baseball, one part Good Omens, with the auctioneer playing Metatron, the Voice of God. At the end of the bidding, he would conclude with the player’s name, winning bidder, and final price. On occasion, he would improvise. For Johnny Damon, he wrote, SATAN V7D 22. Although V7D shelled out 22 bucks for the unfrozen caveman center fielder, it was priceless for the rest of us.

March 29, 2006

Springtime on the Farm

Chris Kline of Baseball America has been touring spring training camps and posted his observations on the Red Sox yesterday. Most of the column inches were devoted to the Red Sox advanced class A affiliate Wilmington Blue Rocks. With the return of first baseman Ian Bladergroen (or, as he appears to be known, “The Blade”) and first round draft picks shortstop Jed Lowrie and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, the Blue Rocks look to compete in the Carolina League once again. If there is any doubt about what homegrown players up the middle can do to form the foundation of a championship team, please refer to the Yankees of the late 90s.

I’m definitely considering a trek down to Delaware to watch the team live. Of course, there are those three prospects to observe, but you can’t forget the undeniable appeal of a team that has three mascots. Not only do they have a 6'7" boulder named Rubble, but a blue moose named (appropriately enough) Rocky Bluewinkle as well as the matchless Mr. Celery. Of the three, the one I find most intriguing is Mr. Celery. He’s healthier than the food mascots you’ll find at MLB parks, particularly the trotting tubular meats in Milwaukee and the prancing pierogies of Pittsburgh. I think he’s had a problem with stalkers, however, so be sensitive when you seek him out.

Kline also devoted a paragraph to the low profile, switch-hitting utilityman Alejandro Machado. Kline interviewed the recently hired farm director Mike Hazen, who said Machado has “been outstanding. His versatility allows us some options with him and that’s his strongest suit.” I’ve been a Machado fan since I saw him play in Pawtucket last year and I hope he’ll get another chance to play with the MLB club when rosters expand. In fact, I’ve written about Machado in every one of his eleven major league starts with the Red Sox; here’s to many more.

March 28, 2006


Spring Training Game 24: March 26, 2006
Red Sox (7-16-1), 3
Phillies (15-9-1), 2
W: Josh Beckett (2-0)
L: Cory Lidle (1-1)

Josh Beckett was about as intense as Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver on Sunday. He was as keyed up as Curt Schilling was when he made his Spring Training debut back in 2004 against Boston College. Beckett had a run-in Ryan Howard, the Phillies’ enfant terrible who was on a torrid homer streak. The Red Sox held Howard to no hits with two strikeouts in three at bats, and his last out in the seventh inning was a long fly ball to center that was brought down by the wind. Howard gazed adoringly at the trajectory of his eventual out, something that Beckett took issue with:

“It’s not like I wanted to fight the guy, but I wanted to make the point that you look like an idiot when you do that and it’s an out. It was my fault. I should’ve let it go. He didn’t do that last year when he was hitting a bunch of homers. I guess one season changes you.”
Interesting words from a World Series MVP about the NL Rookie of the Year. In turn, Howard stated that he wasn’t trying to showboat and wasn’t sure where the ball went. Benches cleared but no blows were thrown. The two teams meet in two series this year: a May series at Philadelphia and a June series at Fenway, so we’ll see if there’s any repercussions.

The Red Sox usually save that sort of thing for the Devil Rays. It’s early, but Julian Tavarez already had his first incident, this time against an animate object. Joey Gathright and the righty reliever got tangled up in a play at home. Tavarez hit Gathright “like a woman,” so I’m surprised the center fielder is still alive to tell the tale. As usual, the Red Sox and Devil Rays will play nineteen times, so there will copious opportunities for retribution. I wonder if Tampa Bay will exact revenge now that Joe Maddon rather than Lou Piniella is the field manager?

March 24, 2006

Choice Pickup

Nice to meet youNice to meet you, Hee-Seop Choi. It’s surprising to me that this left-handed first baseman was claimed off waivers by the Red Sox today. Somehow, no one saw value in the 27-year old and he escaped the attention of some twenty-odd general managers. Not only does Choi make only $725K, he even has an option.

With a surfeit of corner infield options, the Red Sox can mix and match between Choi, Mike Lowell, J.T. Snow, and Kevin Youkilis. If one of them becomes hot, he can be traded for needs that may arise, much like Shea Hillenbrand was for Byung-Hyun Kim. (I understand that by 2004 this transaction had soured, but Kim served his purpose well in 2003. He bolstered the bullpen as closer in September and had an ERA of 0.00 that month.) Or, if one remains cold, he can be unloaded without leaving a hole.

Flexibility, infield options, and youth in one fell swoop. The team is not be the same troupe of lovable misfits of 2004. But it may be turning into something better.

Support Groups See Upsurge in Numbers

With the departure of sports icons Adam Vinatieri and Bronson Arroyo, support group facilitators throughout New England have seen a marked increase in attendance by bereaved fans.

“Usually there’s a slight increase around the time of Spring Training or when the Patriots do their annual salary dump,” said Shelly Lazaro, a facilitator of numerous Boston area support groups. “This year it has been almost untenable,” Lazaro continued. “We thought Johnny Damon’s departure was going to be the peak of intake, but we’re accruing more people than we can currently accommodate.”

Samantha Tearce, owner and administrator of the Vinatieri fan site “Adam’s the Apple of My Eye,” said her web traffic had tripled as word of the clutch placekicker’s departure spread. “As soon as I heard I set up a guestbook for fans to post their memories of Adam, but it became clear that some fans needed more assistance to endure this trying time. I linked to Shelly’s support group service. She and her staff have been an absolute godsend.”

Lazaro initiated several player-specific groups to oblige the needs of the public and coordinated the groups for larger gatherings. “I thought it would be good for the lovers of different sports to come together to explore their emotions in the aftermath of their loved ones’ leaving.”

“Those combined groups were so awesome,” exclaimed Trina Dugmore, a former Damon constituent who crossed over to Arroyo upon the center fielder’s departure to the Yankees. “I had no there were so many football and hockey hotties until I met with the other groups. There were even some Joe [Thornton] and Sergei [Samsonov] fans that were totally cool and taught me how to cope with serial departures. Now I’m a triple threat!”

“I know there’s some big stereotype that a good-looking player has only female fans,” said a long-time member of Sevier’s fan forum who asked to remain anonymous. “But that’s just what it is: a stereotype.” Holding back tears, Bedgegood commented shakily, “I made around $3,000 in the Super Bowl against the Rams. But it’s not just about the money to me. I stuck with the team and Adam even though the odds on the Patriots got shorter and the payoff smaller. It’s what true fans do.”

Devotees of Bronson Arroyo are particularly irked because he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Wily Mo Peña after signing a “hometown discount” contract with the Red Sox. Unlike Damon and Vinatieri who were free agents who chose to pursue bigger contracts with rival teams, Arroyo signed the deal with the hope to remain on the Red Sox. The right-handed pitcher appeared genuinely saddened to have to leave the city that embraced him. When interviewed about the trade, Arroyo said “[We’re] just pieces on the freaking board.”

Pamele Trehint, although an ardent Arroyo follower, took the trade in stride. “Dude, I’m so understanding the deal with sports being a business these days. It’s annoying, but I just take out my frustrations by writing. I have this humor piece I’m working on--Top Ten Things Bronson Arroyo Will Do in Cincinnati to Feel Better.” According to Trehint, number eight in the list is “Get a Sharpie® and write “Sox” after “Reds” on his unis” and number three is “Pretend Adam Dunn is Big Papi, only taller, heavier, and slugs less. And doesn’t smile as big.”

But other fans in the Arroyo support group take umbrage to Trehint’s easy-going attitude. “It’s just plain betrayal by the front office,” said Eddie Kretz. “Everyone likes to point out how greedy players are, but when a club doesn’t honor loyalty, no one’s busting down John Henry’s doors for quote about how he pinches pennies.”

Lazaro remarked on the passions of the sports buffs of the area, saying, “I thought it was rough during the championship drought, but now people are unnaturally fixated on individual players who were on title-winning teams. We encourage them to reach out to friends, family members, and the new players on their teams. We don’t have to go through this alone.”

“And now with this Juan González incident,” continued Lazaro, “I’m going to need to add even more resources.”

March 20, 2006

A Peña For Your Thoughts

Even when Bronson Arroyo signed his contract extension back in January for a bargin price there was a sense it wasn’t for keeps but for positioning. The three-year, $11.5M contract, which was signed against his agent’s wishes, made Arroyo too tasty a morsel for baseball’s first team to resist. This morning, the Red Sox traded the right-handed pitcher for the powerful, 24-year old, right-handed right fielder Wily Mo Peña, now officially a former Red.

In my opinion, the Red Sox got the better end of the deal. The general rule is not to trade a pitcher for a position player. In this instance, however, the age of the players and the probable trajectory of their worth override conventional wisdom. Furthermore, a few of the more pressing needs of the teams were satisfied, and, in the Red Sox’s case, the future of the outfield assumed a younger, healthier aspect.

The oft-injured Trot Nixon needs an insurance policy and platoon mate, and Peña fits the bill. According to Peter Gammons in his Insider column, Austin Kearns or Adam Dunn would have cost at least a touted pitching prospect like Jon Lester, if not more. But they were willing to part with Peña for Arroyo and $1.5M.

I wonder if the Reds considered that Arroyo is trending towards more and more flyball outs as he ages and that Great American Ball Park is more of a home run park than Fenway. It may have worked into the equation, but, in Cincinnati’s estimation, the paucity of pitching and Pearl Jam cover bands in their town prevailed.

This trade overshadows and probably renders further irrelevent the signing of Juan Gonzalez to a minor league contract. He’s a shell of himself now; the impressive production he generated from 1992 to 2001 compared to his abrupt decline appears suspicious. I was shocked his team picture actually captured a look of levity.

Johnny Pesky, who is never short on smiles, had his leg broken by a foul liner this past Saturday. It was the one time he didn’t have his eye on the ball. Pesky plans to make the Red Sox home opener on April 11 regardless of the injury. Get well soon, Mr. Red Sox.

March 19, 2006

Day After Day

Red Sox Journal Day by Day
John Snyder, author of Cardinals Journal, Cubs Journal, and The Worlds Series’ Most Wanted: The Top 10 Book of Championship Teams, Broken Dreams, and October Oddities Bill Nowlin, author or co-author of numerous Red Sox books including Blood Feud, The Kid: Ted Williams in San Diego, and Ted Williams at War, as well as the upcoming The 50 Greatest Red Sox Games

716 pages
7 7/8 by 10 inches
ISBN 157860253X
Emmis Books
614 pages
6 by 9 inches
ISBN 1579401260
Rounder Books

Each decade summarized with best and worst teams, moments, and player moves, as well as an all-decade team
Seasons have significant dates beneath each year
Each season lists team record, manager, team statistics, starting lineup, season attendance, and club leaders
Photographs appear throughout
Daily entries with events organized by year in reverse chronological order
Detail of transactions, debuts, birthdates, and deaths at the end of the day
Entries of special significance marked with an icon, but no other images featured

Multiple, including offensive and pitching leaders and an all-time roster with dates of service Single appendix with an all-time roster listing birth, death, debut, and years on the team

Sample Entry: July 29, 2003
From page 660
“Bill Mueller becomes the first player in major league history to hit grand slams from both sides of the plate during a 14-7 win over the Rangers in Arlington. Mueller had three homers overall and drove in nine runs. Batting left-handed, Mueller hit a solo homer in the third inning off R.A. Dickey. Batting right-handed in the seventh, he hit a grand slam against Aaron Fultz. An inning later, he connected again for his second grand slam of the game, this one as a lefty facing Jay Powell. On the same day, the Red Sox trade Phil Dumatrait and Tyler Pelland to the Reds for Scott Williamson.
In actuality, Pelland wasn’t named until a few weeks later.
From page 318
“In back-to-back innings (the seventh and the eighth), switch-hitting Bill Mueller hit back-to-back grand slams, one from each side of the plate at The Ballpark in Arlington. He already had a solo home run back in the third. His nine RBIs helped beat the Texas Rangers, 14-7.”
Under “Transactions,” the Williamson trade is mentioned, and it properly does not name Pelland, instead stating a player to be named later. The left-handed pitching prospect was not named until August 18, 2003; this updated information does not appear in Nowlin’s book.

It’s hard to choose between the two because they both lend themselves to different types of reading. If I wanted to relive a decade or season, I would pick up Snyder’s book. But if instead I wanted to see the odd synchronicities between throughout the eras, Nowlin’s book would be my selection.

Snyder’s book would be best if you wanted to best your peers in Red Sox trivia involving team leaders, but I question the criteria he used to determine those best and worst categories throughout the book. A note on the methodology used to select these events and players would have been appreciated.

Those wanting to explore the day-to-day coverage of the team would do well to peruse Nowlin’s volume. My issue with the Nowlin’s work is that I needed to have Retrosheet at the ready to know which game he was commenting on. Perhaps eventually Day By Day will be an electronic book with links to the box score in question.

Both books are welcome editions to my ever-growing baseball library, Given the discrepancy in the Williamson trade details, however, I suggest they hire me as their factchecker for their next editions.

March 18, 2006

Radio Free Red Sox

Red Sox Global Media, Inc. threatens to encompass yet another medium. After this season WEEI may lose the right to broadcast Red Sox games. The Red Sox are pondering the purchase of a 25% stake in WBOS, an FM station owned by Greater Media and whose format is described on the Boston Radio Dial as “modern adult contemporary.” I’ve had issues with the personalities on WEEI, primarily Dennis and Callahan, who on repeated occasions showed their intolerance of minorities, so I advocate the move.

For the Red Sox, owning a share of the FM station would enhance sound quality and perhaps give them greater control over the representation of their franchise. For WEEI, it would be an opportunity to see if its their content or their contracts that grant them the largest sports radio market share in the country.

Monday’s Weiner Whiner Line promises to be lively.

March 17, 2006

Wish You Were Here

So go the postcards from Cuban, Dominican, Japanese, and Korean players who are on their way to San Diego for the World Baseball Classic finals. Mexico knocked off the United States tonight in a 2-1 pitcher’s duel. The US featured a powerhouse lineup that leads the tournament in home runs (9), is third in team OBP (.385), and first in team slugging percentage (.533). The home team was supposed to flatten the competition with its offensive prowess, but instead suffered on the other side of the plate due to Dontrelle Willis’s two starts. Willis turned in an ERA of 12.71, the fourth-worst of the event.

Mexico was the victim of atrocious umpiring in the bottom of the third inning. Outfielder Mario Valenzuela hit a ball that clearly bounded of the right field foul pole for a homer, but it was ruled a double. Valenzuela eventually scored on a Jorge Cantu single, erasing a potential scandal. But for the WBC to enhance its stature to even a fraction of other international sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics, better umpiring and greater media coverage will be a must.

I thought the lack of coverage on Red Sox Spring Training games would be irksome, but it will be compelling to watch the Red Sox, current and former, on the remaining WBC teams. I doubt a match-up between David Ortiz and Byung-Hyun Kim is in the offing, but I’ll enjoy watching their distinctive pivots. Heck, even throw Julian Tavarez into the mix as one whose face I’ll have to grow accustomed with.

Speaking of postcards, I found Aardsma to Zuverink, a little site commemorating autographed baseball postcards. There’s a surfeit of Yankee players (really, one would be too much), but it nevertheless is an engaging site. You’ll even find Jere’s (A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory) favorite player.

Bobby Doerr
Postcard courtesy of Aardsma to Zuverink.

March 14, 2006

2008 Is Enough

At last, a contract extension totally lacking in drama or intrigue. Those Christmas cards Terry Francona sent out must have made an impact; his contract was extended for two more years. The front office was probably highly motivated to avoid a return visit of the circus surrounding Theo Epstein’s contract negotiations, making Francona’s renewal a footnote in Red Sox’s offseason thesis on (mis)management.

Of Red Sox managers who have presided over more than 300 games, Terry Francona is second only to Joe McCarthy in winning percentage for their first two seasons. His in-game management often leaves me scratching my head, but the numbers, as well as the championship, are hard to refute. Let’s see if he remembers his lessons from the 2005 season and does not allow his bench to lie fallow.

Manager Total Seasons Years WP* W** L** WP**
Joe McCarthy 3 1948-1950 0.606 192 117 0.621
Terry Francona 2 2004-2005 0.596 193 131 0.596
Bill Carrigan 7 1913-1929 0.494 131 92 0.587
Don Zimmer 5 1976-1980 0.575 139 98 0.586
Grady Little 2 2002-2003 0.580 188 136 0.580
Jimmy Collins 6 1901-1906 0.548 156 117 0.571
Jimy Williams 5 1997-2001 0.540 182 142 0.562
Darrell Johnson 3 1974-1976 0.539 179 143 0.556
Dick Williams 3 1967-1969 0.545 178 146 0.549
Ralph Houk 4 1981-1984 0.525 148 122 0.548
Pinky Higgins 8 1955-1962 0.502 168 140 0.545
John McNamara 4 1985-1988 0.521 176 147 0.545
Kevin Kennedy 2 1995-1996 0.559 161 135 0.544
Joe Cronin 13 1935-1947 0.539 165 139 0.543
Joe Morgan 4 1988-1991 0.535 129 110 0.540
Ed Barrow 3 1918-1920 0.512 141 121 0.538
Eddie Kasko 4 1970-1973 0.539 172 152 0.531
Lou Boudreau 3 1952-1954 0.497 160 147 0.521
Patsy Donovan 2 1910-1911 0.520 159 147 0.520
Butch Hobson 3 1992-1994 0.472 153 171 0.472
Johnny Pesky 3 1963-1980 0.451 146 175 0.455
Hugh Duffy 2 1921-1922 0.442 136 172 0.442
Billy Herman 3 1964-1966 0.413 128 182 0.413
Lee Fohl 3 1924-1926 0.349 114 192 0.373

*Career with Red Sox
**First two seasons with Red Sox

World Baseball Carnage

In revenge for M*A*S*H episodes beyond season four (after Colonel Henry Blake died and beyond the admittedly disputed end of the war), Korea beat the United States last night 7-3 in the World Baseball Classic to remain the only undefeated team in the tournament. It would have been a much worse defeat had the Korean short track speedskaters not triumphed in Torino. Recall that the South Korean soccer team recreated the 2002 Olympics controversy between Apolo Anton Ohno and Dong-Sung Kim at the World Cup later that year after scoring a goal in a match against the United States. I enjoy that other countries take sports on the international stage so earnestly.

Former Red Sox closer Byung-Hyun Kim made a one-inning appearance with a line of 2 hits, no runs, 1 walk, and 3 strikeouts, including a key whiff of Vernon Wells with the bases loaded and two out to end the fourth inning. Key to the US’s loss was the 11 left stranded on the bags, some of which can be attributed to Jason Varitek, who struck out swinging with the bases loaded in the first inning. Mike Timlin pitched the sixth inning and had a similar line to Kim’s except he allowed an earned run with 2 hits, 1 walk, and 2 strikeouts. Finally, another Red Sox organization member has been seen hanging around in Korea’s dugout: Chang-Ho Lee, the assistant trainer.

The spirit of competition the WBC is invigorating, but could do without the jingoistic and yet impassive American fans. Judging by sight, the folks sporting the “F*CK CASTRO” t-shirts were your typical ugly Americans with an axe to grind. The reaction of these types if the US loses to Mexico on March 16th will be like the fox in Aesop’s fable of the grapes. But if the US wins, suddenly patriotism will abound. Since Japan has two more games to play, the Pool 2 prospects are murky.

In Pool 2, the picture is clearer. Every team is knotted at 1-1 records. Therefore, the winners of the Venezuela-Dominican Republican and Cuba-Puerto Rico games will advance.

In other news, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has contacted David Ortiz because he is so exemplary at getting things into orbit.

March 11, 2006

Dr. Heckle and Ms. Snide

Inspired by Rick Paulas (a.k.a. Zon Dimmer) on McSweeney’s and his Tales of the Heckle, I wanted to chronicle one of the greatest days in the history of my Red Sox fandom. On April 13, 2002, I helped the Red Sox win a game against the Yankees. I can’t take all of the credit, of course. But I was an integral part of that 7-6 come-from-behind victory.

It was early in the season and the first series against the Yankees. I hadn’t been to Fenway a lot, so I had no idea that games in April weren’t usually blessed with mellow blue skies hardly marred by clouds. The day wasn’t so clear for Pedro Martinez. In the first inning, Derek Jeter ripped his first pitch into shallow center field for a leadoff double. After striking out Nick Johnson, Martinez walked Bernie Williams in one of their interminable contests. You know how those two are when they face each other: Williams steps out of the box to attempt to disconcert the pitcher, so Pedro steps off the rubber to unnerve his quarry. Lather, rinse, repeat. This time, Williams succeeded in drawing a walk. Martinez hit Jason Giambi to load the bases with still just one out. Three runs scored on Jorge Posada’s ensuing triple, and the pinstriped catcher eventually scored on a Rey Sanchez error.

Despite the four-run first inning, Martinez settled in to hold the Yankees scoreless for the next four innings. The Red Sox had managed to score three runs in the fourth in a scoring outburst that began with Rickey Henderson’s leadoff base on balls. New York increased their lead to three runs in the sixth inning. Emotions were running hot, even for the normally jovial Tony Cloninger. He was ejected in the bottom of the sixth for mentioning to home plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth that he thought he missed a few calls while Rolando Arrojo was on the mound. Inspired by Cloninger’s example, I vowed that when it came time for me contribute, I would step up.

I wasn’t alone in my commitment to the team. Johnny Damon doubled to center field in the bottom of the eighth, chasing David Wells from the game and prompting the insertion of Ramiro Mendoza. My seat for this game were right near the visitor’s bullpen. While Mendoza warmed, a pair of wits next to me heckled him. “You’re in for it now, Mendoza!” Then, sotto voce, “Yeah, this guy always gets us. Versatile: short relief, long relief, spot starts.” Out loud: “Look at Nomar, he’s ready to jump all over your slop.” Under breath: “Nomar will probably fly out to short.”

The Nostradamii were wrong. The Mendoza that Red Sox fans would come to know well made an appearance. He hit the Red Sox shortstop and then Manny Ramirez singled to score Damon. The gap between the teams slid to two runs and the crowd was deranged with joy. Joe Torre tarried so that his indomitable closer, Mariano Rivera, could warm up sufficiently to take the mound and staunch the bleeding.

Proper heckling requires intimate knowledge of your target. If you think you’re going to get into someone’s head by yelling, "Hey, 42, you suck!" you are sorely mistaken. Your words must deftly penetrate the neocortex of an elite athlete hardened by years of concentration and fortitude. They must there become seeds of doubt and apprehension that will blossom into your prey’s undoing.

In March of 2002, Rivera’s cousin, outfielder Ruben Rivera, was caught stealing Derek Jeter’s equipment and selling it to turn a quick buck. Shameful enough for a major league team, but devestating for the supposedly pristine Yankee clubhouse. Recall then that mystique and aura were aging yet at least had their reputation unstained. How humiliating then, for the paragon of Yankeedom, the Hammer of God, to have a relative leave in such unsavory circumstances.

I was truly curious about how Ruben was doing, so I posed the question to closer as he loosened up. “How’s your cousin doing? You know, Ruben?” I queried. “Does he like Texas?” After being released by the Yankees, he was invited to the Rangers’ spring training camp. “Tell him I think he has a career in memorabilia brokering.” I thought Rivera would appreciate some career advice for his young cousin. Of course he couldn’t thank me for my input as he was about to exit the bullpen, but I think my words may have resonated with him.

Rivera induced Tony Clark to ground out to first, but since Garciaparra was on third, he scored easily and Ramirez advanced to second base. Shea Hillenbrand came to the plate and Mariano pitched him high and inside. One could say he was head-hunting. Undaunted, the Boston third baseman hit the go-ahead two-run home run into the screen on the Green Monster. Ugueth Urbina shut down the first two Yankee batters of the ninth. Posada reached base on a single and Alfonso Soriano pinch ran for him. Soriano was thrown out by Jason Varitek while attempting to steal second, ending the epic game.

Shea and I haven’t always gotten along, but we worked well together that day.

March 7, 2006

Is This the Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy

In life, there are three topics that only captivating to the individuals directly involved and immensely tedious to those who are subject to the rantings and ravings on said topics. These three things are: children, vacations, and fantasy baseball teams. Since I’ve inflicted you all with my vacation posts (I’m finally back on the East Coast) and I don’t have offspring, it is now time for me to enthrall you with dispatches from my first season playing fantasy baseball.

I had my first draft this past Saturday at 5:30 AM Hawaiian Standard Time, so I can use that was an excuse. It was for a 16-team keeper rotisserie league with 18 categories: R, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, SB, OBP, SLG, OPS, W, CG, SHO, SV, HR, K, ERA, WHIP, and K/9. I didn’t consider which young players to take in the later rounds as potential keepers, but I was at least aware that this should be part of the strategy.

  1. (11) T. Hafner
  2. (22) C. Carpenter
  3. (43) J. Peralta
  4. (54) R. Johnson
  5. (75) H. Matsui
  6. (86) H. Blalock
  7. (107) B. Zito
  8. (118) F. García
  9. (139) R. Mackowiak
  10. (150) B. Wickman
  11. (171) N. Johnson
  12. (182) J. Posada
  13. (203) W. Peña
  14. (214) G. Maddux
  15. (235) M. Kotsay
  16. (246) D. Báez
  17. (267) B. Arroyo
  18. (278) J. Tavárez
  19. (299) Ja. Wilson
  20. (310) A. Pierzynski
I think it was a mistake to pass on David Ortiz with my first pick, but I don’t believe Hafner is an awful choice. I understand that I took Mackowiak way too early. There was a run on reliable closers, so at the moment I’m conceding saves for other pitching categories.

Like Sam Walker, the author of Fantasyland, I’ll probably regret not having Ortiz on my team. I saw an interview with Walker where he describes trading Ortiz around the time of the All-Star break with Ortiz’s blessing. Shortly thereafter, Papi went on a tear. The author had another opportunity to talk with Ortiz after the trade, and the designated hitter said something to the effect of, “Well, I thought I was going to get hot, but I wasn’t going to jinx it by telling you that.”

I’m also in another keeper league in which I inherited a team that included Victor Martinez. Almost immediately after I joined the league, another GM proposed Chirs Shelton and Andy Pettitte for him. I hemmed and hawed, since that GM also had Miguel Cabrera, a player I coveted. Other permutations were propositioned, including a Bobby Abreu deal. But I held out long enough and we traded Martinez and Cabrera straight up.

Since I’m green to this, this is definitely a tinkering year. But it is readily apparent why this can be addictive. Is there a support group for this?

March 3, 2006

お雛祭 (Ohinamatsuri): Happy Girl’s Day

Mebina EmpressHawai‘i has a large Japanese-American population due to immigration following the social upheavals in Japan during the Meiji Restoration. Farmers could no longer make a living on agriculture due to the rapid industrialization of their country, so from 1886 through 1911 more than 400,000 Japanese immigrants entered the United States, primarily in Hawai‘i and the West Coast. They brought with them their culture, foods, and celebrations, including Girl’s Day, or Doll Festival, which is celebrated March 3rd. Japanese dolls representative of the royal court from the Edo period are put on display and mochi colored pink, white, and green are served. Other than the dolls and treats, it’s also a day to recognize the girl or woman in your life and treat her to a nice dinner or gift.

In honor of Girl’s Day and Women’s History Month, I wanted to mention Effa Manley’s induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As owner of the Newark Eagles, she was a woman ahead of her time and she will be the first woman enshrined in the hall. With her husband, she was co-owner of championship-winning Negro League team that she believed could have beat the non-integrated teams of the time. In 1934, she carried her influence into her community by organizing boycotts against businesses that refused to hire African-Americans. These businesses relented, leading to the employment of over 300 African-Americans just a year later.

Obina EmperorIn less inspirational news, the UH Rainbows lost to the Arkansas Razorbacks last night. I know I really talked up Steven Wright, but he was inconsistent last night, lasting just six and a third innings yielding five runs and eight hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. Wright looked dominant at times, as evidenced by his strikeout total, but often left too much of the ball on the plate for his opponents. I didn’t see a single non-white Arkansas player or fan, who were obnoxious visitors. They riled up the usually easy-going UH fans with their boisterous antics, prompting some locals to yell at them to shut up. To see Wright pitch, I had to be in person at Les Murakami Stadium last night because the local television and radio stations that cover UH sports were deployed for the basketball game only.

Les Murakami Stadium
This photo is from the Mavericks-Rainbows game that was rained out.

Ohinamatsuri icons courtesy of Cedarseed.

March 1, 2006

Rainbowed Out

I was supposed to see the UH Rainbows play the Texas-Arlington Mavericks last night at Les Murakami Stadium. It would have been the first Bows games in the First Hawaii Title Rainbow Baseball Tournament, featuring a fairly competitive group of teams. In addition to the Mavericks, the Arkansas Razorbacks and the Washington Huskies are also visiting the islands.

I did see the last few innings of the Razorbacks-Huskies contest. The team from the Northwest handed the eleventh-place Arkansas club their first loss of the season. The Huskies (or Dawgs, as the University of Washington’s website calls them) had a four-run first inning and concluded the match-up with a 5-2 score. Tim Lincecum, the Dawgs’ right-handed starting pitcher and All-American last year, pitched a season-high seven innings with two runs, four hits, five bases on balls, and eight strikeouts.

Since UH baseball games are, sadly, sparsely attended, so I had exceptional seats right behind home plate and five rows back. In my area, there were about a half a dozen scouts, including an older Japanese-American gentleman who I believe works with the Red Sox. I have seen his name is past media guides and I can’t recall it at the moment. I didn’t go up to speak with the scouts because they looked busy, but it was neat to overhear their conversations. I’m sure they will be back this Thursday evening to check out Steven Wright, the 2005 Russ Ford Award recipient for outstanding relief pitcher in the Cape Cod Baseball League. Collegiate Baseball has the Bows ranked 24th; they are not currently ranked in the top 25 by Baseball America and USA Today, so these tournament games against nationally-ranked teams are crucial. Hopefully then the team will start getting more attention.

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