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Home » Category Listing » Opinions

November 15, 2006

Confessions of a Fangirl

I took the ESPN poll on Daisuke Matsuzaka just now. Here are the results as of 7:35 AM with 40,875 respondents. My fangirl-tainted responses are in bolded text. Note that I’m not completely alone; Clay Davenport and Christina Kahrl of Baseball Prospectus are believers and Jim Callis of Baseball America has stated that Matsuzaka would be his choice for the number one prospect in all of baseball.

1) Is it worth $51.1 million just to negotiate with Matsuzaka?

72.1% No
27.9% Yes

2) Will Matsuzaka sign with the Red Sox?

83.3% Yes
16.7% No

3) If you were Theo Epstein, how much would you offer Matsuzaka per year?

33.9% $10 million-$11 million
28.7% $12 million-$13 million
22.9% Less than $10 million
9.2% $14 million-$15 million
5.3% More than $15 million

4) Matsuzaka has a career 2.95 ERA in eight years with the Seibu Lions. How will he fare against MLB hitters?

50.5% Worse than his career average
43.0% About equivalent to his career average
6.5% Better than his career average

5) Should the Red Sox try to trade Matsuzaka to fill their pressing needs at shortstop, right field, second base, and in the bullpen?

74.8% No
25.2% Yes

6) Will Matsuzaka have trouble adjusting to cultural differences between Japan and the U.S.?

56.8% Yes, but it won't affect his pitching
24.4% No
18.8% Yes, and it will affect his pitching

7) If the Red Sox are able to sign Matsuzaka, how will they fare in 2007?

36.8% AL wild-card winner
22.0% Reach World Series
18.6% Miss playoffs
15.7% AL East champion
6.9% AL champion

8) Who will be Boston's best starting pitcher in 2007?

30.2% Jonathan Papelbon
25.6% Curt Schilling
22.9% Daisuke Matsuzaka
21.3% Josh Beckett

9) Asian players such as Ichiro Suzuki, Tadahito Iguchi, and Chien-Ming Wang have made a huge impact on major league rosters. Is Asia the next untapped resource of All-Star talent?

79.6% Yes
20.4% No

Total Votes: 40,875

February 18, 2006

This Is Not My Beautiful Home

Lucky you live Hawai‘i, or so the saying goes. Poring over the newspapers, though, it seems that you’re lucky you’re not homeless in Hawai‘i if you choose to live here. Lee Cataluna, a columnist for the Honolulu Advertiser, wrote about a closet being rented for $100 a month. Not only did someone secure the space almost immediately, the lessors had over 30 inquiries. The housing prices on Maui make Boston-area real estate look practically sane. The median price of a single-family home continued to drop from a record $780,000 last summer to just barely under $700K this month. Well, at least you could possibly pay for such homes with a 50-year mortgage, a product banks and loan companies may begin offering.

Today I’m going on a sojourn to find Alexander Cartwright’s grave in Honolulu. I also did some research on the player Jere of A Red Sox Fan in Pinstripe Territory mentioned in the comments to my previous post, Joe DeSa, but if the cemetery DeSa is interred is the one I’m thinking of, it will be very difficult to find him.

The University of Hawai‘i baseball team is on a tear. They beat Loyola Marymount on the road, 3-1, with right-handed pitcher Steven Wright (not that Steven Wright) pitching a complete game with only a single hit against him. The story says Wright had a career-high 10 strikeouts, but the boxscore states only 9; this discrepancy really annoys me. There’s not a statistical reason why this difference would exist, I believe. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong. Wright was invited to the Cape Cod Baseball League last summer. As a relief pitcher, he helped the Orleans Cardinals win the league championship with a 3-0 record, 12 saves, and a 0.63 ERA.

January 28, 2006

My Time is Water Down the Drain

Vwr

After nearly three hours of staring at this screen, I managed to get tickets to two games. I’ll be going to the July 31 game against the Cleveland Indians and the August 31 match-up versus the Toronto Blue Jays. For the Jays tickets, I got the “Walkway Traffic Advisory.” Truth be told, that warning should apply to three-quarters of the seats at Fenway given the odd angles and narrow aisles. The warning could have read “Avian Flu Advisory”--after three hours, I’m still buying tickets.

There must be a better way of doing ticket sales that is still scalper-resistant. As a non-season ticket holder, I’m disappointed to see that the special ticket privileges that Red Sox Nation members used to have aren’t being reinstated as of yet. In fact, renewals for 2006 aren’t even being offered at this time.

Sitting outside of town
Everybody’s always down
(Tell me why)

Because they can’t get up
(Ahhh... Come on and get up)
Up from the waiting room

November 16, 2005

I Wanna New Drug

Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association came to an agreement over a tougher schedule of penalties for violators of the performance-enhancing drug policy. The notable lacuna of amphetamines has been mended and agreement enforces a “three strikes and you’re out” approach to steroids. One of my primary issues with the policy remains: the testing is limited to urine. Since blood tests are still not permitted, any player taking the next generation of growth hormones will go undetected and unpunished.

To be sure, this is a great leap forward. However, it is incredibly shortsighted not to allow blood tests nor the retroactive testing of stored samples for enhancers for which tests have not yet been developed, as the National Football League does. The MLB drug policy continues to be mere window-dressing to satisfy Congress. The federal government will probably intercede in a few more years, when offensive production propels into the stratosphere once again and the gaps in the policy are exploited by the next generation of cheaters. And the burlesque will begin anew.

Violation Steroids: Previous Penalty
Steroids: Revised Penalty
Amphetamine Penalty
First positive test 10 days 50 games Mandatory additional testing
Second positive test 30 days 100 games 25 games
Third positive test 60 days Lifetime ban 80 games
Fourth positive test 1 year ban -- Commissioner’s discretion with arbitration option
Fifth positive test Commissioner’s discretion -- --

November 4, 2005

Back to the Past

So, disparaging domain names about the Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino are already popping up like mushrooms after the rain: this one calls for a boycott of the Boston Globe (been there, done that, doesn’t get you anywhere) and you can buy a t-shirt while you’re there. I’d say it’s rather disingenuous to criticize a man that has over-commercialized the Red Sox with a merchandising venture of your own.

The World Series championship days seem so long ago now that many, too many, of the key men that brought the title to Boston are gone. And yet there are certain things that I remember clear as day despite the delirious joy victory inspired. So famished was I for any type of talk about the World Champion Boston Red Sox (do I send a nickel to Lucchino’s coffers each time I use that phrase?), I brought myself to tune into WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan show to hear their weekly interview with Lucchino. He said that it was unfortunate that the World Series did not last more games because the team would have gotten a bigger share of the gate as the series progressed. He did say it with tongue somewhat planted in cheek, but he proceeded to explain in detail and length how the percentages of profit change after four games. I don’t recall the exact split because I was taken aback by his comments were more about maximizing postseason earnings rather than enjoying success in the game.

In contrast, Theo Epstein spoke of certain Red Sox executives who had pen and paper at the ready during Game 4, poised to craft a fitting statement of defeat. Whether it was Dr. Charles Steinberg or Lucchino was left open to interpretation.

Epstein’s press conference on November 2nd also left much to the imagination. After mulling over his departure and having a few more days to read the transcript of his cryptic responses, it would be lunacy for me or anyone else to claim to know the true story of why he left, but I’m left with a few impressions of this regrettable process.

Epstein felt he had earned the right to be treated as part of management. I revise my previous statement that I thought Lucchino was the source of the leaks, but the fact remains that someone with access to sensitive details spoonfed these particulars to Dan Shaughnessy. Such an act seems to be predicated by an apparent lack of respect for Epstein that may permeate the organization. Everyone thought of him as the young protegé and hometown kid willing to take his lumps indefinitely.

But kids grow up. He was not willing to play the ingenue any longer. He helped bring a championship to a town that was fallow for decades. Perhaps his front office peers, for he saw them as peers, never thought of him as being more than a novelty act. Epstein imagined that he had established himself as a full-fledged member of the management team and a league elite, not part of the rank and file. But when it came down to it, Epstein wasn’t accepted as part of the old boys’ club.

Maybe it’s because he didn’t put on airs. So many of the players spoke out on Epstein’s departure: Curt Schilling (not entirely surprising), Jason Varitek, David Ortiz. Rookie phenom Jonathan Papelbon spoke out on how Epstein gave him confidence when he was told by the man who recruited him “to act like you’re meant to be here this whole time.” Much like how the now former Red Sox general manager took to his own responsibilities at the age of 28 with an aplomb and deftness alien to recent Red Sox admininistrators.

For one so young, he understood how the Red Sox were not cursed by figments of former players but by a lack of innovation. The team Theo loved growing up was plagued by uninspired owners and managers who couldn’t see beyond their provincial cant and received so-called wisdom. The legacy of racism and moribund imagination that hobbled the team is so often whitewashed by the song and dance of Shaughnessy’s devising.

How deliciously vile that this specific Boston Globe columnist play a part in this drama. In a struggle between counterfeit understandings of Red Sox history represented by Shaughnessy against a vibrant baseball dynasty-in-the-making exemplified by Epstein, the former triumphed and a part of a promising future that was lost. Why write a new story when you can just keep on reissuing the old?

October 13, 2005

It Ain’t Quaint

Much of the appeal derived from baseball is its rich and celebrated history. We can imagine, when attending a modern game, that it was much like the sport our predecessors watched.

And yet, it is much different. Fielders used to perform their duties without gloves, and by the 1870s they wore gloves designed only to relieve the impact to their hands of balls they rapped down to eventually throw back into the infield. Gloves gradually evolved into the fundamental defensive tools they are today. Players did not wear numbers on their uniforms until 1929, when the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees began the practice so that fans could identify their favorites from afar. Numbers used to indicate a player’s position in the batting order. Now we honor players for their achievements by retiring their numbers, signifying their everlasting impact on the game.

So things change, often for the better.

Last night, Game 2 of the ALCS was determined in part by a questionable signal given by home plate umpire Doug Eddings. The scored was tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth. A.J. Pierzynski was at the plate with 2 outs and the count full. He swung and missed at Kelvim Escobar’s sixth pitch that backup Angels catcher Josh Paul caught cleanly. Eddings first signaled with his right arm that Pierzynski swung and then pumped his fist, seemingly indicating the last out of the inning. However, he did not verbally announce Pierzynski was out, so the White Sox catcher bolted for first base. Meanwhile, Paul rolled the ball to the infield and the rest of the Angels defense ran towards their dugout because they thought Eddings called the final out when he was actually indicating the third strike.

Pablo Ozuna pinch ran for Pierzynski and stole second base on the 0-2 count. Of course, Ozuna scored the winning run on a double to left field by Joe Crede to grant the Chicago AL club a series split before flying to the West Coast for the next three games.

It is time for further standardization in baseball. Football referees have a system to indicate every type of score, foul, and down. Baseball umpires are in desperate need of such a system, especially because play can continue based on their judgment. There is no clock to stop nor replay system to which an appeal can be made.

To be sure, the Angels made an incorrect presumption that cost them the game. They also would have likely played differently had they known Eddings was calling strike three rather than the third out. Umpires are like air: essential, but it’s better when you don’t realize they are there.

And don’t even get me started on the capricious personal strike zones of individual umpires....

August 25, 2005

Memento Morbid

I’m unsure how to feel about Daniel Edwards’s exhibit at First Street Gallery in Chelsea entitled The Ted Williams Memorial Display with Death Mask from The Ben Affleck 2004 World Series Collection. I don’t condone censorship, so I’m not calling for the exhibit to fold. Perhaps it is an opportunity to explore the way we build myths around our cherished heroes such as Williams.

Most unsettling is that the authenticity of the mask is not made evident; the press release is unclear as to whether the death mask was actually cast from Williams’s head. The mask will be displayed alongside actual memorabilia, so it is swathed with an air of genuineness. The announcement plays on its intended audience’s uneasy feeling of tension between the macabre need to know if the mask is real and the desire to maintain a modicum reverence for someone no longer with us. More than anything, however, I think it merely prolongs the circus surrounding the circumstances of his final resting place, which has been anything but.

The man had his faults, there is no doubt about that. The almost hagiographic treatments of his exploits after his death are at completely at odds to the sideshow happenings since his passing. I only hope that the years following Williams’s death will erode the dross of hyperbole and desecration and bring us to a more intimate understanding of the man in all his intricacy.

August 14, 2005

Red Rain: News Roundup

During the second protracted rain delay of today’s game I had enough time to rifle through some recent baseball news, some serious, some fun:

Jon Papelbon will probably be called up from Pawtucket to start on Tuesday, August 16th against the Tigers in Detroit. He would be replacing Wade Miller, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list on August 9th to make room for Mike Remlinger. Papelbon should find the vastness of Comerica Park somewhat of a relief to McCoy and Fenway as long as hitters don’t find the gaps.

First-round draft pick Craig Hansen, signed July 25th, was assigned to the Portland Sea Dogs on August 11th. The 21-year old was rated by Baseball America as having the best breaking ball and second-best fastball amongst draft-eligible college pitchers, was considered the draftee closest to being able to compete in the majors, and was the 4th pitching prospect in the June 2005 draft. The righty might have to readier sooner than he thinks given the current state of the Red Sox bullpen.

Larry Krueger, host of the pre-game show that aired on KNBR, was first given a one-week suspension and then fired from his position at radio affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. He said that the Giants were a team of “brain-dead Caribbean hitters hacking at slop nightly” and that field manager Felipe Alou’s mind had “turned to Cream of Wheat.” After the initial comments by Krueger, Alou responded on ESPN where he labeled Krueger as a “messenger of Satan.” KNBR parodied Alou by splicing his comments with sound bites from South Park. You would think that the suspension was warning enough. I’m not one to encourage censorship, but rather promote enough tolerance and understanding so that such obviously idiotic behavior wouldn’t be possible. Call me an idealist. Not knowing if KNBR is consistently racist and sexist like WEEI or Boston Dirt Dogs, I can’t say if the terminations of Krueger, program director Bob Agnew, and producer Tony Rhein were justified. The personnel responsible for making the follow up parody certainly weren’t prudent to so flagrantly and immediately taunt those they had wronged, however.

Rafael Palmeiro returned to baseball after serving his 10-game suspension for use of steroids, a banned substance under the collective bargaining agreement agreed to by MLB and MLBPA. As the designated hitter batting 6th, he went 0 for 4. The fourth player to achieve both 3,000+ hits and 500+ home runs failed to assist his team with his final at bat with the tying and winning runs on base.

An elephant named Laura threw out the first pitch of the August 13th West Michigan Whitecaps game versus the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. The 23-year old star of Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, has decided to intentionally lower her profile by making small appearances in events across Michigan. “I couldn’t believe how far and how hard she throws it,” said Andrew Kown, a pitcher for the Whitecaps. Perhaps Laura can consider a second career in the national past time.

Finally, 12-year old Katie Brownell threw out the first pitch for the Los Angeles Dodgers on August 12th. Doesn’t seem very noteworthy, as many parks have kids throw out the first pitch, right? Brownell, however, is a Little League pitcher that threw a perfect game consisting entirely of strikeouts. She sat down 18 hitters in succession on May 14th in a game pitting her Oakfield-Alabama Little League Dodgers against the Yankees. She is the only girl in her league. The major league Yankees are trying to see if they can secure her services in time for a September call up.

August 2, 2005

Hall of Shame

PalmeiroschillingWith your accomplishments, you placed yourself in a pantheon that contains only Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Eddie Murray, but may have been aided with performance enhancing drugs. You testified before Congress and stated your innocence before your god and your country, but perhaps perjured yourself with your assertions of innocence. Now you issue weak, equivocal denials regarding your positive test results for steroids.

If a respected, high-profile player like Rafael Palmeiro is willing to put at risk his health, his credibility, his integrity, his Hall of Fame candidacy, what about lower tier players that toil in obscurity to get their shot at fame or a bigger payday?

Major League Baseball’s drug testing policy, as I noted back in January, is still woefully incomplete in comparison to the National Football League and Olympic policies. This might be the best, worst thing to happen to the MLB and the MLBPA, the only thing that would goad them into further collaborative efforts to combat performance enhancing drugs in the sport. The gaping absence of blood tests, the only method to detect human growth hormone, needs to be rectified and the penalties need to be stricter. How many more will fall from their artificially attained heights of glory before there is action taken?

July 13, 2005

Letter to the Boston Globe

I sent the letter below to the Boston Globe through their feedback page. I kept the boycott issue separate for sake of clarity.

To Whom it May Concern:
I am the writer and owner of a blog that was once listed on redsox.feedster.com. I noticed that traffic from this source suddenly dropped off. When I checked boston.com’s feedster page, I saw that my blog had been removed.

I am one of many Red Sox bloggers that have voiced our disgust with Steve Silva’s Boston Dirt Dogs site because of his recent use of a Civil Rights era picture in a racist manner. Silva also has control over the blogs that are listed on redsox.feedster.com. Under this arrangement and with the tacit approval of the Boston Globe and boston.com, Silva not only has freedom to disseminate hate speech on his site but also controls the access of other blogs to the public. I believe that my blog was removed because of my stance against Silva’s site.

If I am mistaken and my blog was removed for other reasons, I would like to know the reasoning behind this decision. If my suspicions prove correct, I recommend that someone other than Silva be responsible for the blog listing on the feedster page in order to achieve a level of respectability and integrity that is otherwise lacking.

If I get a response, I’ll post it here.

June 27, 2005

Replaced Probable Pitchers Link

Due to my boycott of boston.com and its advertisers for providing Boston Dirt Dogs the bandwith to post his inflammatory use of controversial images, I now link to Sports Illustrated’s Probable Starting Pitchers page in my Red Sox Blogs & Links section.

June 25, 2005

Doggedly Dumb: Boycott Boston Dirt Dogs

I do not visit Boston Dirt Dogs at all these days. Fortunately, Bullshit Memorial Stadium was able to document what is the most incendiary use of a photo yet by Steve Silva. The photo was of an African American man getting kicked by a white man in the Civil Rights era, made trivial by Silva when he associated it with Terry Francona returning to Philadelphia. It was replaced by a photo of a Philadelphia protest where a police officer died, not directly because of mob violence, but because of a heart attack in the course of a scuffle against protesters.

Boston.com pulled the first picture and posted an apology, but you can still give them feedback by clicking here. I continue to boycott the site and any advertisers that pay for space there.

June 4, 2005

D&C: Discriminatory and Contentious

In October of 2003, John Dennis and Gerry Callahan were suspended for two weeks for comparing the Metco initiative of busing inner city students to suburban public schools to a gorilla that escaped from Franklin Park. It was the most enjoyable two weeks of the WEEI morning show I’ve ever experienced; actual sports talk on my commute was a great change of pace. But WEEI didn’t have the integrity or bravery to permanently oust the duo, primarily because of the pair’s high ratings.

Now D&C are boycotting a “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” party because they are upset that the Fab Five will be throwing out the first pitch of the game on Sunday. WEEI doesn’t have the most visionary leadership. Jason Wolfe, program manager of WEEI, was upset by “the openness and the flaunting of it.” Should heterosexual couples be shamed for walking down the street holding hands? Should I apologize for my Asian features?

The cast is in town for Boston Pride Week, a tradition of over 35 years. Each year there is a theme, and this year’s is “Pride in Progress...What’s Your Fight?” My fight is against hatred of, discrimination against, and intolerance towards any person based on their ethnic or national origin, color, race, religion, age, gender, sexuality, or disability. (Baseball affiliation, however, is non-negotiable.) I will be at Sunday’s game, and I will be giving the Fab Five a standing ovation.

Is D&C’s absence at the fête supposed to symbolize them not granting their fiat to the occasion and the philosophy of life it represents? If so, fine by me, since they have proven that what they stand for is diametrically opposed to my beliefs.

May 29, 2005

Grave Situation

Danny Graves was designated for assignment on May 23, 2005, a day after he had made an obscene gesture to a fan that yelled, “Go back to Vietnam, you slant-eyed [epithet].” Graves was born in Saigon to a white American father and Vietnamese mother. The “Baby-Faced Assassin,” as he was known (a nickname I have issues with), was the first player born in Vietnam to make the major leagues. The fan was seated in the high-priced seats near the dugout. Being able to afford such seats doesn’t buy one class, intelligence, or tolerance to people of different ethnic backgrounds.

Despite Graves being the Cincinnati Reds’ career saves leader, a two-time All Star (2000 and 2004), and winning the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award in 2002, he was unceremoniously cut shortly after the incident. It was an unsurprising move from a team that boasts Marge Schott as part of its illustrious history. Playing in a Rust Belt city as a person of color, particularly of a minority group that is considered perpetually foreign is a challenge, more so when your ERA is 7.36.

In baseball terms, the move can be justified. But I think the Reds organization was remiss in not strongly condemning the fan who verbally assaulted Graves. The Reds could have done what the Red Sox did to the fans that interferred with the ball in play at Fenway Park. Some measure of punishment in terms of being ejected or having his ticket privileges revoked is in order. I also wonder why this incident was not covered more extensively by the media. I was on the road when this happened, so perhaps I missed it, but usually debate is sparked by such happenings. I have seen nothing in response on ESPN, not even a segment on “Outside the Lines.”

Given Keith Foulke’s recent difficulties and ERA of 6.65, if Graves comes cheaply, he might be worth trying out for a spell. With the Red Sox fans’ history with pitchers of Asian descent, however, I doubt that Graves would find Boston an appealing option. And it’s a sad thing if players don’t want to come to Boston because of the team or its fans’ reputation, since the Henry ownership team has tried to overcome its past problems with integration.

(On a different tangent, my problem with Graves’s nickname is that it alludes to the myth of the Asian male as somehow less manly than white American males. “Baby-faced” infantalizes him, while the “assassin” part of the name reinforces the “shifty” stereotype that plagues Americans of Asian descent. Furthermore, “assassin” is rife with cultural resentment because of its origins as the appellation of a clandestine group of Muslims in the 11th century who fought against Christians during the Crusades.)

March 6, 2005

Making Amendments

robinsonThis past Thursday, Jack Roosevelt Robinson was posthumously bestowed the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award. Jackie Robinson is only the fourth athlete and the second baseball player to be so honored; the others were Jesse Owens, Joe Louis, and Roberto Clemente.

The Red Sox have a shameful historic connection to Robinson. On April 16, 1945, the team held a tryout session with Robinson and two other Negro League players, Sam Jethroe and Marvin Williams. It is alleged, but not confirmed, that it was Tom Yawkey himself that yelled, “Get those niggers off the field” during the sham event. At any rate, only Red Sox management was in the stands. It was clear to Robinson that he and his fellow Negro Leaguers were there just to placate a Boston City Council decree and the Red Sox had no intention of integrating the team. Just eighteen months later, Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Robinson would likely be rendered ineligible for the award by recent House-approved legislation that restricts posthumous medals to a 20-year period beginning five years after a person’s death and also limits the award to two medals a year. With these possible restrictions impending, two Massachusetts legislators, Senator John Kerry and Reprepsentative Richard Neal, co-sponsored the bill to award Robinson the medal. The John W. Henry ownership group actively worked with Kerry and Neal to pass the Robinson bill. Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe reports that George Mitrovich, a former press aide to Robert Kennedy and a close friend of Larry Lucchino, also contributed to this effort.

Rrobinson Under the Henry ownership group, a much coveted and long awaited championship came to New England. But more importantly, while bringing baseball and commercial success, the group has acknowledged their organization’s previous shortcomings and have actively made amends for the racist and intolerant regimes of the past. The group has a multi-layered approach to promoting diversity, including: “trying to find a black or Hispanic multi-millionaire to join their new ownership group; starting a scholarship program for city kids; doing business with black radio stations; and organizing visits by Red Sox officials to black and Hispanic civic and religious groups.”

In 2002, Henry stated, “I think we have to make a statement not just in baseball but in our community that diversity is an issue that hasn’t been fully addressed in the past and certainly has to be fully addressed. I think it’s important what your actions are. That will really define the franchise going forward.” Henry has largely abided by his statements.

For my part, I think Henry and the Red Sox could exert more pressure on their radio broadcast partner, Sports Radio WEEI, to diversify their programming. Tiny steps forward are made, with Michael Holley named as co-host for the 10 AM to 2 PM show with Dale Arnold. I understand that programming is reflective of audience demographics, but WEEI assumes that only white males listen to its broadcasts. Wouldn’t more African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and women listen to WEEI if they felt the were being represented? Isn’t it in the station’s best interests to broaden their audience base rather than merely cater to a vociferous subset of the population?

I’m not saying that WEEI should be NPR, as the topic is “only” sports. But we see the impact that Robinson had and continues to have on American civil rights history and he was “only” an athlete. Participation in the discourse on sports and society, much of which takes place on talk radio, should not be limited to those of a particular race or gender.

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.

Continue reading “Heart Transplant” »

February 6, 2005

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 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.

January 18, 2005

Destination: Dynasty

Bruschi

Tedy Bruschi’s robbing of Dominic Rhodes will likely be the signature moment of Patriots’ playoff run this season. It is symbolic of the team’s hunger, its overwhelming desire for another title. Ask a player which ring is the best, they’ll say “the next one.”

January 13, 2005

Bulking Up the Steroid Policy

MLB is finally attempting to strengthen its steroid policy. Facing threatened legislation and grand jury testimony leaks, Bud Selig unveiled new measures today at the owners’ meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. ESPN revealed some of the details of the stiffer penalties. The bans below are all without pay, with the previous punishment follows in parentheses:

  • 1st positive test: 10-day ban (“treatment”)
  • 2nd positive test: 30-day ban (15-day suspension or $10,000 fine)
  • 3rd positive test: 60-day ban (25-day suspension or $25,000 fine)
  • 4th positive test: 1-year ban (50-day suspension or $50,000 fine)
  • 5th positive test: Discipline determined by the commissioner (1-year suspension or $100,000)

Notably, stricter penalties for amphetamines are not part of the plan. It is widely believed that stimulants, or “greenies,” are a larger problem than steroids in baseball. The Olympic banned substance policy is stricter with this category of drugs. While I understand that the nature of the 162-game season is grueling, I am disappointed that the league did not take this opportunity to take stronger action against amphetamines. Since only the hot topic, steroids, is addressed, the policy change smacks of a public relations ploy.

Only players’ urine, not blood, will be tested. This limitation means that use of human growth hormone will go undetected, since only blood tests can reveal this substance. Again, this aspect of the policy seems to be hurriedly put together due to public pressure.

The MLBPA still needs to vote to pass this policy. I hope that they will take what the owners have agreed to, but add some foresight to the plan. How about including provisions for testing of any future performance-enhancing substances, so that baseball does not again find itself with “tainted” records? If the parties are truly interested in cleaning up the game, these seemingly stopgap measures are a start, but an in-depth, comprehensive plan addressing amphetamines and yet-to-be-invented compounds should be considered.

January 2, 2005

Francona/Belichick

Bob Hohler’s January 2nd article in the Boston Globe goes into detail on how Terry Francona had to deal with some of the player incidents during the season. For me, the piece highlighted the similarities and differences between the leaders of the two current world champions of their sport, Terry Francona and Bill Belichick.

FranconabelichikBoth managed to keep a shroud of secrecy around their team basically intact. The reasons for this requirement are vastly different. Francona needs to be an ambassador, nursing egos and relationships over the course of a long and sometimes tedious season. His players are paid regardless of performance or behavior. The clubhouse atmosphere was loose, a necessity in the glare of media attention.

Meanwhile, Belichick can worry less about personalities, as long as his players buy into his system. It is incredible to hear interviews with Patriots players about any “controversies,” such as Charlie Weis’s appointment as Notre Dame’s head coach, and how everyone’s answers are in lockstep. No distraction or deviation from the task at hand is acceptable in the Patriot locker room.

The Red Sox front office has stated that Grady Little was fired because of his lack of preparation for games, and hoped that the next person they hired would use the information the advanced scouts and statisticians compiled for each game. Francona has satisfied this requirement, as well as being able squelch incidents before they arise. The official appointment of Jason Varitek as captain is the next step in the evolution of the 2005 Red Sox. It seems they are looking to have a team that does not cater to its superstars’ whims, where everyone more or less works under the same rules. With the subtraction of certain players who demanded special treatment, it appears that this goal will be attainable. We’ll see how “Patriotic” next season’s team will be.

December 14, 2004

Aftermath

Pedro leaving...Schilling out until May. If the exclamation points used in posts to Red Sox fan forums were molecules of sarin gas, the nation would be under severe threat advisory.

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