Archive for March, 2008

Land of Competition

I’m sorry to make this such a short post, but with thefoulline.com war room up and running for tonight’s draft, resources are running low. So here are a few quick hits.

  • The Sox split their Japan series with the A’s. Considering that they traveled across the world for this goodwill tour and still walked away with a win, it’s not too shabby. Plus, there are now a million Japanese fans who are part of Red Sox Nation.
  • Maybe it’s time for John Henry to create Red Sox World.
  • Jon Lester consistently pitches well for the Sox, but he always seems to give up a 3-run home run. Hopefully this will change with experience.
  • J.D. drew loves to toy with fans’ expectations of him. He teased us with 7 RBIs in the first two games, then pulled a typical Drew move and removed himself from the opener with “back stiffness.” It’s a long season, he’s going to need to play with a few aches and pains eventually. But why would this season be any different?
  • I wouldn’t take J.D. Drew in the 20th round of the fantasy draft. Dylan can have him.
  • What type of bizarro world are we in when Julio Lugo and Brandon Moss are looking great, and Big Papi and Jason Varitek look like it’s their first day of spring training?
  • Did Manny’s early success at the plate leap frog him into a first-round draft pick?
  • There is still an outside chance the Sox will go 161-1.
  • Did you hear about Jose Canseco’s new book? He claims that A-Rod was constantly hitting on Canseco’s wife. I hope no one tells this to Derek Jeter. I wouldn’t want him to get jealous.
  • Brandon Moss was optioned to Triple A Pawtucket today. Something tells me he’ll be back.
  • I guarantee that I will not pick any Yankees under any circumstances in tonight’s draft.

Just to echo “The Commissioner” Matt McLaughlin, let’s all have fun this season. Good Luck.

The Best of What’s Around

With Opening Day of the 2008 Major League Baseball season a few short hours away, the staff at thefoulline.com has come up with the inaugural Thefoulline.com All-Pro Team of Awesomeness. This is a team of players, handpicked by Dylan and me, who represent what this site stands for. These players may not necessarily be the best at their respective positions, some may not even be good at baseball at all, but they have the attributes to make them worthy of this prestigious honor.

To be eligible for this team, players have to meet certain requirements:

  • No Yankees allowed
  • Must be able to play hurt, and not spend more time on the DL then on the active roster. (This means Rocco Baldelli is out.)
  • Must keep their name on the sports page, not on the police blotter.
  • Not on the Mitchell Report. Sorry, Roger.
  • Most importantly, these are players that Dylan and I like. It was hard to not make it all Red Sox, but we did our best.
  • No Yankees allowed

Here is the 2008 Thefoulline.com All-Pro Team of Awesomeness

Catcher: Jason Varitek
Varitek is not only the captain of the Boston Red Sox, but we are making him the captain here as well. Although he’s getting on in years, he still prepares his pitchers well and calls a great game.

First Base: Mark Texiera
Tex flies under the radar as far as elite first basemen go. He’s solid every year he plays.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
The baddest man in Boston provides the scrappy trash-talking factor for the team. If this guy was 6 feet tall, he would be a household name.

Shortstop: Orlando Cabrera
I still can’t get over the Sox not signing him in favor of Edgar Renteria. The O.C. was great for Boston during their 2004 run.

Third Base: Alex R…..NOT! David Wright
This guy has every chick in New York City wanting him, and he still goes out and hits .324 with 30 HRs. Plus I like the fact that Derek Jeter gets this guy’s leftovers. Best 3rd baseman in NYC.

Right Field: Vladimir Guerrero
Vlad swings for the fences with every swing of the bat and has a laser-rocket arm. What’s not to like? He once went yard in the on-deck circle.

Center Field: Grady Sizemore
Sizemore plays the game like a new and improved Jim Edmonds. Not to mention, Grady is a pretty cool first name.

Left Field: Carl Crawford
Poor Carl, playing in relative obscurity in Tampa, still manages to put up great numbers. And he has to play his spring training games next to road-rager Jon Weber.

Designated Hitter: David Ortiz
This one was obvious. He’s one of the most likable people in all of sports as well as the greatest postseason clutch hitter on the planet. Plus, I can’t really think of another DH worth a damn.

Starting Pitcher: Josh Beckett
He makes the team due to his remarkable playoff record and the fact that he never smiles during a game. This guy epitomizes intensity.

Starting Pitcher: Scott Kazmir
This future Red Sox led the league in strikeouts last year. Also Dylan has a man-crush on him, and vice-versa.

Starting Pitcher: Jake Peavy
He’s great at nothing but really good at everything.

Starting Pitcher: Felix Hernandez
His nickname is King, and he one-hit the Red Sox last year. That’s good enough for me.

Starting Pitcher: Tom Glavine
Token old-timer of the staff and 300-game winner. Also Dylan saw him play high school hockey in Billerica, Mass.

Closer: Jonathan Papelbon
Great stuff. Decent dancer. Crazy as hell.

Bench: Carlos Pena
The pride of Haverhill, Mass.

Bench: Troy Tulowitzki
Pretty good ballplayer, even if he does play for the Rockies.

Bench: Joe Mauer
Close personal friend of Matt McLaughlin, so he makes the team.

Bench: Kevin Millar
This guy will never make it out on the field for this team, but he’s a fun guy to keep around.

Manager: Sparky Anderson
My dad’s favorite manager when I was growing up.

League Commissioner: Bill Lee

Here’s our team. I think that they would fare pretty well in the league. Who makes your Team of Awesomeness?

Turning Japanese

I wasn’t too excited about the Red Sox cutting their spring training short to travel halfway around the world for a couple of exhibition games. The Sox will have a hard enough time defending their title without having to fight jet lag, and it’s obvious that MLB is trying to capitalize on Boston’s recent success now that they are the best baseball team on the planet. But after watching today’s game, and seeing how excited the Japanese fans were to watch the World Series champions, I think maybe MLB got it right when they chose the Sox to be international ambassadors for baseball.

Thefoulline.com’s Quick Hits, the International Version

  • MLB.tv used the Japanese broadcasters for today’s game. I didn’t understand a word they said, but I still preferred it to Jerry Remy’s incoherent babble.
  • Dice K has proven that he is Japan’s version of Elvis.
  • J.D. Drew has 7 RBIs in two games. He is on pace for 567 RBIs this season.
  • I always found it funny that the Red Sox assign their rookies uniform numbers more appropriate for an offensive lineman or wide receiver. I’m pretty sure that Jed Lowrie didn’t dream about wearing #82 for a major league team when he a kid. I wonder if this increases their motivation to make the team, so that they can get a good number.
  • Jonathan Papelbon was given #58 as a rookie and he kept it, but we all know he has a few screws loose.
  • In an attempt to fix his dismal batting average of the past two years, Coco Crisp is now wearing batting gloves. It has to help, right?
  • The Sox lineup has the chance to be special this year. A batting order of Pedroia, Youkilis, Papi, Manny, Lowell, Drew, Varitek, Ellsbury, and Lugo could wear down an opposing pitching staff and put up a ton of runs. Plus, this lineup gives Francona the flexibility to move players around if they aren’t performing well.
  • Thefoulline.com’s public enemy #1, Jon Weber of the Tampa Bay Rays, is batting .211 this spring training. Public enemy #2 Doug Mientkewicz of the Pirates is hitting .273 with one measly RBI in 16 games. This just proves that you don’t mess with foulliners. Karma will come back to haunt you.
  • Speaking of foulliners. Thefoulline.com inaugural fantasy league baseball draft is only three days away. We still have three spots to fill. If we don’t have ten players, the league will be disbanded, and we will never see Dylan chose J.D. Drew with his first round pick. Find a friend and sign them up!! There will be a great prize package for the league champion (me). Email me with any sign-up questions.

Have a happy Easter!

Who’s Johnny?

Dylan and I and two friends of ours went to the Tampa Bay Rays-Toronto Blue Jays game this past Friday. After having a great time at the Red Sox game a few weeks earlier, I was expecting good things. The last game we went to included nice weather, World Series trophies, and the best team on the planet. This game consisted of the always-crappy Rays and Canada’s only team. My expectations may have been too high.

I like to get to the park early so I can watch batting practice and check out the stadium, so we arrived at 11:30 for a 1:05 game. As soon as we passed through the turnstiles at Progress Energy Park, it started to rain, and the temperature dropped.

This sucked for a few reasons. First of all, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt. Secondly, the field crew threw the tarp on the field, so no BP. Thirdly, there was absolutely nothing going on at this stadium. This place is essentially a bunch of concrete and bleachers, nothing like City of Palms park, where they have a beautiful stadium and didn’t cut any corners. So there we were, stuck standing around the concourse with the other seven fans at the game.

For about an hour it continued to rain off and on and get colder and colder until it got to the point that I made the very difficult decision to get off my wallet and invest in a long sleeve shirt. After going to four different souvenir stands, I had the choice between a long sleeve Rays shirt and a Rays sweatshirt. I reluctantly forked over $28 and experienced one of the lowest moments of my life as a sports fan.

Eventually, the rain stopped and we got to our seats, two rows up on the first-base line. We watched as the players warmed up and then started coming off the field, stopping to sign autographs and chat up the fans. Then a short, fat guy wearing #63 for the Rays came off the field and tossed a ball into the stands, right into the hands of yours truly.

I’d never caught a ball at game before so I was pretty psyched. Until I looked back at #63 to thank him and saw that he was shaking his head in disgust and calling me a few choice words. Confused, I turned around to see a 15-year-old kid, glove in hand, sitting right behind me. Feeling like a loser for stealing this kid’s ball, I apologized and gave him the ball.

As the game started, I found myself getting more and more irritated, thinking about #63 and his overreaction. I didn’t know there was a kid behind me, and I didn’t appreciate some no-name giving me a bunch of crap over it. So I decided to make Mr. Short Fuse my verbal target for the rest of the day. I quickly did some research on him and found out that he is a 30-year-old career minor leaguer named Jon Weber. Lucky for us, he was starting in center field.

So at the beginning and end of each inning, as Weber runs on and off the field, I hit him with a “Look alive out there Johnny” or a “Let’s show some hustle out there Johnny.” Each time I said something, he made a point to look right at me to give me the stink-eye. We were officially in his head.

Our exchanges came to a head in the fourth inning. As he was running off the field, I told Weber to “enjoy Double A this year, Johnny.” I don’t think he appreciated this, as he again stared me down, and then told Carl Crawford that I was something that rhymes with “brother-clucker.” Victory is ours.

After pushing Johnny’s buttons for four innings, I figured it was probably time to leave this psychopath alone, before he jumped the wall and beat me to death with a Louisville Slugger. Although, that may have made the game more exciting for the fans in attendance.

Boring game. Bad weather. Lousy stadium. $28 dollar Rays shirt. Not the best way to spend a Friday afternoon.

After the game, a few questions popped into my head:

  • At what age do kids become fair game, when you don’t have to give them the ball?
  • What kind of Employee Assistance Program do the Rays have to help Jon Weber with his anger management problem?
  • Will the Rays ever be contenders in the hardest division in baseball?

If anyone has the answers to these highly debated questions, I would love to hear them.

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

Attention all Major League ballplayers, playing hard against the Yankees will no longer be tolerated!

After some no-name Tampa Bay Ray ran over some no-name Yankee player a few days ago, the Bronx Bombers took exception to anyone daring to challenge them, and they vowed revenge. Yesterday, during Round 2 of the epic Yankees-Rays brouhaha, that revenge took the form of Shelley “My Parents Really Wanted a Girl” Duncan.

By now, I’m sure everyone has seen the replay. Duncan did her best Pearl Harbor impression into the unsuspecting second baseman Akinori Iwamura. What made this dirty play even worse was when Duncan stood up and acted like (s)he didn’t do anything wrong. This chick is your typical, cheap-shot, idiotic, self-entitled Yankee. I expect this stuff from A-Rod, not from some moron that has done absolutely nothing in this league.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits

  • The Red Sox released Doug Mirabelli today. How this one-trick pony has lasted in the league this long is beyond me. This guy hasn’t been able to hit his weight in average over the past several years. If the Sox are going to use a weak-hitting, defensive-minded backup catcher, make it one of the young kids. Jason Varitek needs to start grooming his heir.
  • Clay Buchholz is dating a Penthouse model. This just proves my theory that woman are attracted to dumb, lanky, goofy-looking men. She is in no way interested in his potential future earnings.
  • Bartolo Colon looked pretty good today. Two innings and 1 ER against the always-potent Tampa Bay Rays. Not a bad way to begin his epic comeback.
  • To be filed in the Talk Is Cheap folder: Coco Crisp vowed at the beginning of spring training that he would not be happy with being a backup outfielder and would win the starting centerfielder spot. Since this bold statement, Crisp has played in two spring training games. Thanks for totally killing your trade value.
  • In sad news today, the loyal thefoulline.com reader/contributor known as “the Canadian Yankee/Pirate fan” has suffered a serious injury. It appears that in an attempt to simultaneously cheer for his two favorite teams during the Yankees-Pirates game today, his head exploded. We all hope for a speedy recovery.

The Sounds of Silence

For some reason MLB.tv had legendary announcer Vin Scully call the Red Sox/Dodgers game yesterday. Wow! Listening to Vin Scully call the game made me want to move to Siberia and never listen to another game for as long as I live.

Scully is a huge name in the broadcasting world. He’s been calling Dodgers games for 57 years and has been inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame. But enough is enough. This guy needs to hang up his microphone and enjoy his golden years.

During yesterday’s broadcast, some of the poignant topics that Scully talked about included: a detailed lesson about every palm tree in Dodgertown; which flavor bubble gum Matt Kemp was chewing; the reason that Mike Lowell doesn’t chew gum at the plate; and a history lesson about the field the Dodgers play on. He even managed to call a few balls and strikes. And this was just in the first inning.

This guy is the reason that television and radio broadcasts added a color commentator. If you ever have the opportunity to listen to Scully in action, don’t do it. Find a WNBA game and watch that instead. You’ll thank me.

Thefoulline.com’s tantalizing tidbits and predictions for the week.

  • If Josh Beckett’s back injury is even remotely serious, the Red Sox are screwed.
  • If Julio Lugo’s back injury prohibits him from playing ever again… oh well.
  • The Grapefruit League’s worst record belongs to the Boston Red Sox. The best record belongs to the Tampa Bay Rays.
  • The Sox treat Spring Training as a way to evaluate their young prospects. The Rays treat Spring Training as their World Series.
  • I think Coco Crisp is going to have a good season for the Oakland A’s.
  • If Bartolo Colon’s ERA matches his weight this year, he will go down as Theo Epstein’s best transaction… ever.
  • The 2008 MLB All-Star game will be held at Yankee Stadium. Manny Delcarmen will be on the American League team. Derek Jeter will not.
  • Thefoulline.com fantasy baseball draft starts in 17 days. Spots are still available, and competition is fierce for 2nd place.

Closing Time

One could make the argument that a team’s closer is the most important player on the roster. A good closer is the guy that can come out of the bullpen in the bottom of the ninth inning of a close game and consistently shut the opponent down. He may only pitch sixty innings a year, but every single one of them counts. He needs to have a short memory, mental toughness, and ice water flowing through his veins.

The pressure of being a Major League closer has ruined the careers of countless pitchers. These guys are special and are a rare breed of ballplayer. Fortunately for the Boston Red Sox, they have such a guy, and they need to lock him up for a long time.

Jonathan Papelbon is entering his third season as the Red Sox closer, and during his short career he has quickly turned into the game’s elite closer, all for the bargain basement price of $425,500 a year. Major League Baseball has a weird salary structure that bases salaries on a player’s initial years of service, so Boston is under no obligation to pay him any more than that. But why take the chance of insulting the best closer in the game?

So why doesn’t Boston lock him up for a long-term contract? The Red Sox have shown that they’re not afraid to spend money. (See Dice K’s $51.1 million posting fee, J.D. Drew’s $14 million a year, Julio Lugo’s $9 million a year.) Why not spend some on the guy that saved 37 games last year and was unstoppable in the playoffs?

Not to mention, Papelbon may be the most liked athlete in all of New England. I grew up in New Hampshire, and I don’t ever remember an athlete doing an Irish jig after winning a big game. I’m not sure what Boston fans find more endearing, his All-Star caliber pitching, or his ability to relate to the common man.

Papelbon reminds me of a combination of Bill “Spaceman” Lee and Karl Childers from Sling Blade, a likable party animal with a mean streak. His recipe for success seems simple: sprint from the bullpen, crazy stare to home plate, 96 MPH fastball. Repeat as necessary. Whether he comes in for one out or two innings, this combination has been the reason that Boston knows that it’s game over when Papelbon enters the game.

So Theo Epstein, please give this guy the contract that he deserves. I can’t bear the thought of him dancing in another team’s uniform.

The Call Up

I took the family down to Fort Myers today to see the Cincinnati Reds play the Minnesota Twins. It was a pretty good game. Ken Griffey Jr., Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Adam Dunn, Delmon Young were all in the lineups, and they all played a few innings.

But the highlight of the day was getting this picture. To the untrained eye it looks like TC, the Twins mascot. But deep down in the costume, undoubtedly sweating his butt off, was none other than thefoulline.com loyal reader Matt McLaughlin.

TC the Minnesota Twins Mascot

Matt did a great job amusing the crowd. Nice work!

Order of the Universe

George Steinbrenner’s mentally handicapped son and current Supervisor of Baseball Operations for the Yankees, Hank Steinbrenner, voiced his displeasure the other day to the New York Times “Play” magazine about the most popular fan base in all of sports. For those who missed it, Hank said: “Red Sox Nation? What a bunch of [expletive] that is. That was a creation of the Red Sox and ESPN, which is filled with Red Sox fans.” Hammerin’ Hank continued, “Go anywhere in America and you won’t see Red Sox hats and jackets, you’ll see Yankee hats and jackets. This is a Yankee country. We’re going to put the Yankees back on top and restore the universe to order.”

Now, we’ve let Hank say his piece, and we hope that he feels pretty good about himself. But here at thefoulline.com we would like the opportunity to respond. First of all, Hank, you are a complete and utter jackass. I thought that your dad was a whackjob, but you have now earned the title of “Craziest Steinbrenner To Run a Baseball Team.”

The reason that ESPN televises more Sox games than Yankee games is that people want to see a winner play. Not a group of overpaid, aging, lying, steroid-enabling has-beens. America likes that Boston players keep their noses clean and stay out of the tabloids. This is a good thing for the game of baseball. Having twenty current and former players on the Mitchell Report, an adulterating third baseman and left fielder, and a tax evading shortstop on your roster, on the other hand, is not.

After Hank spouted his line of crap, younger brother Hal decided to add this little gem: “The defending World Series champions have a lot of talent, and [have] done very well the past few years, but let me put it this way: I don’t think [they] wanted to play us in the ALCS. So I will concede nothing. I think we’re better than [them].”

Well Hal, allow me to retort. Boston would have LOVED to play your team in the ALCS. Winning a World Series title is nice, embarrassing the Yankees in the process is even better. Your stellar lineup, with its seven-game playoff losing streak, scares no one. Add an inconsistent rotation, an unreliable bullpen, and the annual playoff choke-job known as Alex Rodriguez, and your team can count on another early exit next year.

The thing is, they may be right about the number of fans out there. But there is a huge difference between Yankee fans and Red Sox fans. Sox fans wear their hats and jackets all year long, regardless of their wins or losses. Yankee fans hide in their parents’ basements until their team starts to lead the division, and then they dust off their Yankee gear and reveal themselves as the obnoxious idiots that they are.

Hank and Hal, you are fortunate to live in the greatest nation in the world. Unfortunately for you, it goes by the name of RED SOX NATION. And I think it’s time you were deported.