Tagged: Red Sox

Ignorance Is This

CLEVELAND (AP) — Baseball investigator George Mitchell, also a director for the AL champion Boston Red Sox, denied Monday providing information for a story that Cleveland Indians pitcher Paul Byrd used human growth hormone.

Mitchell said his office was contacted by people accusing him of leaking information on Byrd to the media. The former Senate Majority Leader released a statement from his New York office to “correct that mistaken impression.”

“Neither I nor any member of my investigative staff had anything whatsoever to do with the publication of the allegations about Mr. Byrd,” the statement said. “We had no prior knowledge of those allegations, and we first learned of them, along with the rest of the public, through news accounts.

“Any information obtained in my investigation will not be made public until the report is released in the near future.”

SI.com – MLB – Mitchell denies leaking HGH info on Byrd – Monday October 22, 2007 9:11PM

OK, let’s take Mitchell at his word and assume there was no nefarious plot to leak  information.  You can’t leak what you don’t know.  A player abusing PEDs with a paper trail was news to them.  But then it must be asked:  if such an incident is unknown to the investigation at this late date (the Meetingreport is to be released in the “near future”), could the the report possibly be anywhere near comprehensive?  

I think we can surmise from this episode that the Mitchell Report will not provide any reliable information as to the extent of the abuse, much less a complete list of the abusers.  The Mitchell Report will be more like The Colbert Report, a farce.

Schooling Schilling

Considering Curt Schilling’s recent remarks, wouldn’t it be ironic if Barry Bonds takes mealy mouth deep for the all time home run record?  Believe it or not, not only is it possible, if current trends continue it is likely Bonds will bust number 756 in Fenway.  The Giants have played 33 games, Bonds has played in 30 and has 11 home runs, needing 11 more to pass Aaron.  Thirty three games from now?  June 15th, the first of a three game series, San Francisco at Boston.   

Bloody Dogooder

First he says steroids are rampant in baseball.  Then he gets before Congress and says he may have overstated his case, and calls Canseco, who named players using steroids, a liar.   Then Curt Schilling says this:

“He (Bonds) admitted he used steroids. There’s no gray area,” Schilling said. “He admitted cheating on his wife, Mike Krukow thinks Schilling's rear end matches that of the great Secretariat, or any number of equine athletes.cheating on taxes and cheating on the game.”

He later said “It’s just unfortunate there’s good people and bad people.”

Giants flagship station KNBR has a morning show centering on announcers Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow. On Wednesday, Krukow pulled no punches, calling Schilling a “horses’s ***.”

Mike Krukow thinks Schilling’s rear end matches that of the great Secretariat, or any number of equine athletes.

Krukow essentially said that Schilling is a blowhard, calling him an “idiot” who always seems to pop off about things he doesn’t need to comment on and saying “a little knowledge goes a long way. He thinks he knows a lot about everything.”

Source: SFGate: San Francisco Giants : The Splash : Krukow: Curt Schilling is a ‘horse’s ***’

Now he apologizes, I’m sure after getting his horse’s *** chewed by every responsible person in Major League Baseball (does Bud Selig count as a responsible person?) trying to protect their product.  And, of course, you know his little slip of the tongue cost him a pretty penny.

The way this is going next thing you know Schilling will be on top of a building shouting “The Sheriff’s a Ni**er!

— Michael Norton

The Red Sox in Arlington

Seeing the Red Sox in Texas on Sunday nights ESPN game brought back some fond memories of my younger days.  My boss, who knew I was a Red Sox fan, sprung for a trip to see Roger Clemens pitch against Nolan Ryan.  This was in Arlington Stadium–not the Ballpark in Arlington, Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Ranger Ballpark in Arlington, or whatever they’re calling wherever they are calling it these days.   My boss was a Ranger fan, but I still thought of them as the Senators, almost two decades after they left D.C.  The thing about the Red Sox is stability.  They’ve been the Red Sox forever (practically speaking), in Boston forever, in Fenway…forever. And they hadn’t won a World Series since forever.  2004 was a long, long way away.

It was hot as a firecracker in that old stadium, especially down near the field, where fastball after fastball sizzled like steaks on a grill as the two pitchers mowed down batter after batter in a pitcher’s duel that not only met but exceeded expectations.  I’ve never attended a more thrilling game.

My boss, Dan Coughlin, passed away shortly thereafter of the same throat cancer that took Ruth.  He never smoked.  I can never watch a Ranger/Red Sox game without recollecting his generosity taking a younger man to a ballgame, even if the perenially jovial Catholic Irishman wasn’t a Boston fan (go figure), and hoping his time in purgatory is a little less so.  Dan was a true baseball fan.


No, I haven’t flipped.  I am preparing to make a pilgrimage to the land of pilgrims, New England, and will be visiting baseball’s holiest of holies, Fenway Park for the second time, the first to attend a game.  Last time was in the middle of winter, and exposes my devotion to baseball.  Of all the must see places in Boston and environs, Fenway followed only Walden pond and the Museum of Fine Arts on my list.

I took three hours out of my hectic schedule (I was in Boston on business) to brave the subway, a long hike through the Fens (after I got off at the wrong stop), and the bitter New England cold only to walk around the venerated ballpark and put my hands on the bricks of left field, like a worshipper at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem.

It had been a long time coming.  I had been a Red Sox fan starting with rookie phenom Carlton Fisk in 1972.  I was a catcher in high school, and the dramatic homerun in game six of the 1975 series sealed the deal.  Moreover, I had intended to attend Harvard since I was in the sixth grade and read a Reader’s Digest article on surgeons.  That was when I ceased being an indolent little boy with a deserved reputation for cutting class and corners and became a serious student.

I had the grades and scores by the time I graduated, but by then I had discovered religion, which, I suppose, goes along with being a Boston fan.  I entered the ministry and a religious school, although strictly speaking I was an art major, having been persuaded by my mentor that I would receive enough divinity education in seminary.  Figured I might as well pursue my passion as an undergrad.  I ended up with a Bachelor of Arts–in Philosophy.

By then I was quite the little intellectual, even more suited for the environs of Boston.  I thought about that as I took the train to Fenway that cold winter day and listened to two intellectuals, not much younger than I, engaged in an inane discourse on the moral imperative of dressing spiffily.  I realized by then, of course, that some people never get out of college.  But listening to those two made me understand more than ever why Thoreau got the **** out of Boston and camped on that pond.

I didn’t survive Boston, either.  My days as a Rooter ended the year Clemens got tossed from a playoff game.  Red Sox fanatics excused incredibly boorish (not to mention cowardly) behaviour from their saviour, which exposed a certain blind hypocrisy.  By then I was a father considering the moral education of my then young son. Maybe I just grew up.  More likely it was that the Cubs started appearing daily in the friendly confines of cable television.

I am, after all, ultimately a baseball fan, which is the only reason I am, and always will be, a fan of the Red Sox.  Not a Red Sox fan, a fan of the Red Sox.  It is a subtle, but important, distinction.

Primitive Interpretations

One of the primitive interpretations of sports, or life in general, for that matter, is as a form of morality play. When bad things happen, it must be a form of divine justice; bad karma, if you will. Contests-even if they are forms of entertainment–become evidence of approval of the gods.

Nowhere is this more evident in baseball than in Boston, which perceives New York not just as a rival, but as “evil”. This is natural, I suppose, since Red Sox fans proudly proclaim that in Boston baseball is a religion. Of course in Boston everything is a religion. Education. Liberal politics. Even patriotism was a religion in New England, at least in the eighteenth century. That turned out alright, I suppose, although the Salem Witch Trials got a bit ugly. That happens when religion becomes a religion.

We are talking about Massachusetts Bay, after all, where the Puritans escaped when their endless preaching made them insufferable in England. The Boston team itself was variously dubbed the “Puritans”, “Plymouth Rocks” or “Pilgrims”. So it shouldn’t be any surprise that some Bostonians consider themselves the true high priests of baseball (and everything else, for that matter) bearing a responsibility to enlighten the rest of us before we reap the awful wrath of the Almighty. As Daniel Boorstin in The Americans: The Colonial Experience observes:

The New England meeting-house, like the synagogue on which it was modeled, was primarily a place of instruction. Here men found their separate paths to conversion, so they could better build their Zion in the wilderness, a City upon a Hill to which other men might in their turn look for instruction.

Of course winning a World Series once in a lifetime would hardly seem to qualify one for baseball almightiness; quite the opposite. But then that is, as I have noted, a rather primitive interpretation.

— Michael Norton

Daisuke Matsuzaka Derby

How good can this kid really be? Does anyone remember Kaz Mania? Or is quality pitching really in that short of supply?

Baseball people still see a good competition between the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Rangers, with the Dodgers, Diamondbacks and one or two others still hoping for the chance to sign the best pitcher to come out of Japan yet. How good is he? Last season he went 17-5 with a 2.15 ERA, 200 strikeouts and 136 hits allowed in 186 innings, and some say that actually represented some slippage. Bidding could approach $20-30 as a "posting" fee for the right to win negotiating exclusivity with the star young right-hander, and with only a year to go before full-fledged free agency agent Scott Boras shows no inclination to settle below what he sees as fair value for a 26-year-old No. 1 pitcher. Including the posting price, which goes to Seibu, Matsuzaka could wind up a $100 million man.

Hot Stove storylines

— Michael Norton

Hometown Heroes

My son and I caught the Redskins game Monday night at Hometown Heroes, a local sports pub-no relation to the current MLB promo. We received the best service I’ve ever experienced anywhere, anytime, from a young woman with that wonderful New Englandah accent. She asked rather sheepishly if we were Redskins fans. She was, of course, a huge Patriots/Red Sox fan. Believe it or not, I, myself, was once a Red Sox fan, before there even was such a concept as a “nation”.

I am a lifelong Sooner fan (talk about a nation, I see bumper stickers everywhere), but I must confess my ardor has cooled considerably since moving from Oklahoma to Virginia. It is difficult to follow a team closely remotely. The local print no longer bleeds red, the airwaves are no longer filled with coverage of the crimson and cream. I miss that, which is why, I suppose, I was at a sports pub watching the Redskins.

Someone once said that all politics is local. The same could be said of our diversions. That principle was drilled home to me as a baseball fan. No matter how often I betrothed myself to another team-the Red Sox, Giants, Cubs, Yankees–ultimately it proved, season after season, impossible to escape the gravitational pull of the home team Rangers. Technology is loosening these bonds, a significant topic for another time; but baseball franchises are still very much territorial animals, as attested by the strife between the Orioles and Major League Baseball in regards to the Washington franchise. Eventually I resigned myself to being a fan of the former Senators, now in Texas headed by a future President. I even embraced the StRangers, largely because the local Oklahoma Redhawks nee 89’ers were the top of the Rangers farm system.

Fortune is fickle, however, and acceptance seems to invite change. Seems no sooner had I taken to the Rangers than fate called me to Hampton Roads, home of AAA Met affiliate Norfolk Tides. I followed the Tides and Mets, but the Nats stole my heart in spring training of their inaugural year. I caught the first 24 games ever by the Nationals via MLB.TV. Washington, not New York, is really the natural team for the area in the same way the Redskins are. When I moved here Norfolk was still in contention for the Expos franchise. I could still be a Nats fan. But Baltimore owner Peter Angelos ensured I wouldn’t be able to watch the Nationals, just when I was starting to develop good will towards the Orioles, who appear regularly on television here in Hampton Roads.

So now I’m a Met. And we’re in first.

— Michael Norton

Bosox Buttox

Here is why David Ortiz is not MVP material:

During the Sunday night edition of the Boston Massacre, Game Four, David Ortiz steamrolled down to second on a hit that got past the first baseman in the bottom of the ninth after the Yankees had tied the game in the top half of the inning. His hustle was widely praised. It was also utterly foolish. First, he could have been thrown out. More importantly, he took the bat out of the hands of arguably the best hitter in the game, Manny Ramirez. They walked Manny-of course. Ortiz was thrown out at third on the sacrifice bunt, and the lower end of the Red Sox order couldn’t get the job done.

I said then the season was over for Boston. One of the differences between baseball and football is the role of will in determination of the outcome. Yes, the will to win played a part in the dramatic 2004 Boston championship run. There was also a large element of luck. Boston has been struggling with that ever since. Luck evens out. You’ll more often die than live by the dramatic slugger. More often than not, Casey strikes out.

Jeter plays baseball. He understands the game in a way Ortiz does not. Ortiz thinks the guy who “hits 40 home runs and knocks in 100, that’s the guy you know helped your team win games”. It is all about gaudy stats.

He really wants that trophy, doesn’t he? Check out Cappiello’s Yankee Corner for an excellent analysis.

— Michael Norton