Archive for March, 2013

Question Authority

Tomorrow I’m going to my fifth and final Spring Training game. I hadn’t planned on going to any more, but RedRays (Trent) made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. RedRays is one of those guys that gets along with everyone and has friends from many walks of life. One of those friends is MLB umpire Chad Fairchild.
Chad Fairchild photo by Adrian Wyld
Chad Fairchild has been umpiring in the big leagues since 2004. He’s been involved in two Division Series, and he was also on the field for A-Rod’s infamous “got it” call when running towards third base in Toronto.

One of the perks of being friends with an umpire… four free tickets to every MLB game in which he is umpiring.

RedRays took advantage of this a few years ago and traveled up to Fenway Park to catch a game. Tomorrow, he’s getting taken care of again, but this time it’s Port Charlotte for a split-squad game. Hey, any baseball is good baseball.

The reason I’m writing this post is that I hope to meet Chad Fairchild and maybe ask a few questions for the site. So, I pose this question to the readers. If you could ask an MLB umpire any question, what would it be? I’ll ask him the best ones tomorrow.

You’re the Best

There are a few things I would rather be doing today. Getting a root canal, finding a jury summons in the mail, passing a kidney stone, stepping on a Lego… Any of those would be preferable to this… Having to to write the 2012 thefouline.com fantasy baseball champion post for Dan Mckewen and his Rays those Cowbells.

For some strange reason, our league doesn’t award a trophy to each year’s winner. Instead, you get a few paragraphs noting your great accomplishment. But I will tell you this: if Dan wins back-to-back titles, I may hijack the Lord Stanley Cup trophy to hand out to him. It might be easier than having to write this two years in a row.

In spring of 2008, things were going great on thefouline.com. The Red Sox had just won another World Series title, and we had a loyal following and a steady stream of new posts. But despite all of the positives on the site, we were missing something. Everyone who commented on the site was a Red Sox fan. I appreciated their insight, but we all shared similar opinions. We were in desperate need of someone with a different perspective. We needed a villain.

This all changed on May 18th, on a post titled Like the Weather. A young, brash, opinionated Dan Mckewen had randomly Googled, “awesome baseball blogs written by really cool guys” and stumbled upon thefoulline.com. This was a post written in a derogatory manner that Dan did not appreciate, and he came out guns blazing in the comments section. Like Batman & the Joker, Rocky & Drago, and Buzz Lightyear & Zurg, it was thefoulline.com vs. Dan the #1 Rays Fan. We had our bad guy.

For a long time, no matter what Dan commented on, he received a bunch of abuse. He was pro-Rays on a Red Sox-dominated site. We were relentless on him. But no matter what we said to him, Dan kept coming back to the site and stating his opinions. We couldn’t get rid of him.

As time passed, we began to appreciate Dan’s loyalty to the site, even awarding him a coveted spot in our fantasy league (after his incessant begging). For four seasons, Dan has been all-in. He is arguably the most passionate owner in the league. The first couple of seasons, some may even say he was too passionate. Young Dan drove us a little nuts his first couple of seasons, and he will admit that his buttons were easily pushed. He was frustrated when trades didn’t go in his favor, or when Grady Sizemore got injured. He complained when he missed the playoffs. Then, after finally making the playoffs, he complained about losing in the finals in what is known in the league as “Tulo-gate.” He had a million excuses.

But here’s what I finally realized about Dan: He knows his baseball.

As much as it pains me, I have to admit Dan has matured. He’s a super-smart baseball mind, a tough competitor, and a loyal Rays fan. He has the only team in the league that has gotten better every year, finally culminating in his first and well-deserved baseball championship.

I’ve said a million times how hard it is just to make the playoffs in our league. To win a title is unreal (not that I know), and to dethrone the three-time champ while doing so is ridiculous.

We appreciate all of your support to the site. You’re our most loyal contributor and a great ambassador to thefoulline. Thanks for spreading the word about our little blog. I’m glad we didn’t run you off in 2008!

Congratulations on winning the title, Daniel-san. You really are the best around.

httpv://youtube.com/watch?v=fOY_P5BdcN0

Tick Tock

Since finding out my fantasy draft position three days ago, I’ve had a constant clock ticking in my head. Tick… tick… tick…

I drew the second pick, which assures me of a great player. But with that pick comes a sense of responsibility/pressure to nail this selection. Our league is a bunch of fantasy assassins ready to pounce on any mistake and take advantage of any misstep.

Tick… tick… tick…

I think it’s pretty obvious that Miguel Cabrera, Mike Trout, & Ryan Braun are going to be the top three picks. But who’s going first? Will Chefdick take the American League Triple Crown winner? Or will he set his sights on the AL Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up? Maybe he goes with Mr. Consistency and his automatic .300/35/110, even with the cloud of PED suspicion hovering over his head.

Tick… tick… tick…

Will Chefdick reveal this prior to the draft? Would I, if I were in his shoes? Hell no!

I have the second pick and 13 days to prepare. I can’t screw this up… I hope.

Tick… tick… tick…

And now, your slightly rained-on thefoulline.com quick hits:

  • I hate to write anything pro-Yankee, but it’s hard as a baseball fan not to appreciate everything that Mariano Rivera has accomplished over his illustrious career. He has epitomized class while performing at the highest level in the game, all while playing in most scrutinized city in the world. He announced his retirement, effective at the end of the 2013 season. MLB needs to waive the five-year waiting period and induct him into the Hall of Fame immediately after his last game. He’s been a great ambassador of the game and deserving of this honor. He’s earned it… even if he is a damn Yankee.
  • Al Roker in a New York Yankees uniform photo by Mark Feinsand

  • How does Kyle Lohse not have a job yet?
  • You think you’re having a bad day? Jordany Valdespin took a Justin Verlander fastball to his nuts yesterday.
  • Back to my regularly scheduled Yankee bashing… The New York Yankees are cursed this year, and I love it. With the rash of injuries that New York has suffered already this year (A-Rod, Granderson, Teixiera, Cashman), I can’t name five starters. They have fewer well-known players in their starting lineup than the Houston Astros. Brian Cashman is so desperate to field a “quality” team, that he tried to lure Chipper Jones out of retirement. When you have this guy suiting up for you, you’re in for a long year.
  • I love baseball, but going to watch the Rays/Yankees game in the rain with only scrubs playing might be the low point of my week. At least I’ll get to meet the Foul Line guys.
  • Ginger has written two posts for thefoulline.com and has had the most comments of anything that has been written over the past year. Should she try to write something on a regular basis?
  • Don’t forget to follow Yaysports: Real Talk Radio on Facebook.

Enjoy your week!

We Used to Wait

The premium league (not that we paid for it) is worth it for the early draft positions alone…

Draft Pick Order

  1. chefdicks
  2. Yankeehaters
  3. sportsmanMike
  4. The October Boys
  5. Love Boat Captains
  6. Panda the Hammer
  7. Rays Those Cowbells
  8. RedRays
  9. WillisBeTheYear
  10. King of Controversy

Der Kommissar

Ginger here.

We have the opportunity to switch from the usual free fantasy league to a CBS Commissioner League at no cost to any of you fine fantasy losers (and Dan). The main differences with the premium league are that every detail (roster requirements, point values, transaction rules…) can be customized and everyone gets free access to MLB Gameday Audio (home and away radio feeds for every regular season game). If we use the Commissioner league in future seasons (no promises), we’ll also have league history details maintained on the CBS site, which will be sad, because it won’t include my championships.

It is not our intention to change any of the scoring, roster, or transaction rules. If anyone thinks any of these details should change, let’s chat about it in the comments and see what everyone else thinks.

All this customization would allow us to add an 11th team for our pal Dave (brother of October Boys’ Dennis). Obviously, changing the league to 11 teams is no small thing, so please share your thoughts about it. We think he would be an enthusiastic and attentive team owner who would fit in well with our group. On the other hand, we discussed a 12-team league a few weeks ago, and there were concerns about spreading the talent too thin. Personally, I don’t buy this argument. Sure, you’ll have fewer studs on your team, but so will everyone else. I like the challenge of having to dig deeper to fill out your team. But if you’re scared…

I’ve set up the new league, but everyone will need to join again. If anyone has any concerns or doesn’t want to make the change, let us know. Otherwise, you’ll find the new league at thefoulline.baseball.cbssports.com. Please go sign up! Nothing will change as far as rules or league size without plenty of discussion here. For now, you’re just signing up for our usual game with the Gameday Audio perk.

If you run into any trouble signing up, send me your email address and I’ll send you an invite with the direct signup link.

Good Riddance

In the nine years that Carl Crawford played for the Tampa Bay Rays, I never heard him say a word. He always portrayed himself as a gamer who kept his mouth shut and played the game the right way. He put up great stats and rarely missed a game. I’ve obviously misjudged his character.

Carl Crawford is a little baby. Since leaving the Red Sox organization, in what is going to go down as the greatest trade in Red Sox history, Crawford has been running his mouth on the pressure that he had to face in Boston. Today, Crawford came up with this gem:
“I think they want to see that in Boston. They love it when you’re miserable,” he said. “Burying people in the media, they think that makes a person play better. That media was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life.”
Boo…Hoo!

Crawford is also claiming that the media led him to hit .255, and that a Boston reporter snuck into his hotel room and severed a ligament in his elbow.

The guy is delusional.

Of course there is going to be pressure, Carl… you’re getting paid $142 million! Do you know how many neck tattoos you can buy with that kind of money?
Since signing his monster contract with the Boston Red Sox, all Carl Crawford has done is disappoint Sox fans.

This is what $20 million a year gets you when you sign Crawford.
2011: 130 games play, .255 batting average, 18 stolen bases.
2012: 31 games played … Enough said.

You’re to blame for this mess Carl. You’re a delicate flower that wilted under the pressure of playing in a big city.

We won’t miss you.

Don’t Come Around Here No More

The following is a guest post by long-lost and much-beloved thefoulline.com contributor, Dylan.

The 2013 fan experience for any sport is like no other that we have seen before. 20 years ago, and even 10 years ago, the act of going to a game beat out the experience of watching it on TV at home any day of the week. Nowadays, I can’t help but wonder why someone would want to leave their house to attend a sporting event. (Unless, of course, that game is a windy spring training game with thefoulline.com crew.)

At home, I can keep up with my fantasy roster, stream the game to my iPhone if I need to take a nature break, and pay less than $10 for a beer. Gone are the days of kids begging Dad to drive an hour into the city so that they can get a glimpse of the players they read about or heard radio announcers applaud. This is the 21st Century!!! No longer is a guys’ night out held at the game, but rather a local sports bar that has a TV the size of a wall. Ownerships need to ask themselves what would draw someone back in for the fan experience.

Two teams that equally need new stadiums are the Tampa Bay Rays (obvious) and the Boston Red Sox (gasp!).

The Tampa Bay Rays need a new stadium more than any team in any sport at any point in history. This is a team that, love ’em or hate ’em, has performed very well the past five years and has a marketable cast of players and a unique and popular manager, along with a seemingly intelligent ownership group. So why can’t this team break out of the bottom third of MLB fan popularity and stop having attendance in the gutter year after year?

The stadium.

An absurd contract with the City of St. Pete has the Rays staying in the Trop until what I believe is the year 2095, but I’m not too good at contractual facts. The City of St. Petersburg commissioners are making every attempt to hold the Rays hostage to their contract, and by doing so are slowly eroding away at any chance the Rays have at climbing out of the attendance cellar. Last time I checked, the dukes and duchesses of St. Pete will not let the Rays ownership speak with Hillsborough County officials. If the Tampa Bay region wants to be part of the baseball world, then talks need to open up across the bay in Tampa.

The Tampa Bay Rays need to be in Downtown Tampa. Tampa has seen a revitalization of sorts, with the Seminole Heights District attracting the middle-aged hipster crowd to its 1920s houses, and Cigar City Brewing helping build a Portland-esque artisan crowd. The Rays ownership could capitalize on the renaissance that Tampa is experiencing by placing the team smack in the city, along the water and near the business of downtown that so desperately needs an attraction within reach. A downtown stadium with a view of the bay would celebrate the waterfront that Florida is known for, could spark a new crop of bars and restaurants in a downtown that is a ghost town after 5pm, and could once and for all start a freshening up of inner-city Tampa that has been forgotten to the ugly urban sprawl outward.

Now, to the more controversial topic. The Red Sox need to get out of Fenway!!! In 1998, I too got caught in the hype of Saving Fenway Park when talks first began about tearing it down and building a new stadium. I hated the idea and I couldn’t stand to see Fenway go. Memories were there for me and always will be. The first time someone walks up the ramp and sees the bright green grass and dark green walls, and feels the intimacy of Fenway, it gives goose bumps. The amazing thing about that feeling is it never goes away. No matter the amount of times someone walks into that stadium, the feeling is there. But what I think tied so many to that stadium was the shared feelings of hurt and letdown that bonded all of New England together. Blame it on the blue-collar spirit of Boston, but pre-2007 (no, not 2004), Red Sox fans knew there was unfinished business and couldn’t let the stadium go away until the job was done.

The Red Sox HAD to win the World Series while playing out of Fenway. It wouldn’t have been right if done otherwise, and they had to do it twice. 2004 may have broke the curse, but 2007 cemented the Red Sox atop the heap in baseball. ’07 proved that ’04 wasn’t a fluke and the Red Sox were to be taken seriously. I wrote a piece about how after 2007 I felt different as a Red Sox fan. At the time I thought the piece was a little ridiculous, but looking back I think I was spot on. The Red Sox did change after 2007. No longer was this “the idiots” or the days of reverse the curse. Boston was all of the sudden a town of winners, that for decades had been lovable losers. The persona that so many Red Sox fans, and to some extent, I think, the players took on was over. Things really did change in 2007.

Now, in 2013, the team is coming off a terrible year and the image of the Sox has gone from the lovable idiots that wouldn’t give up in 2004 to spoiled grown men that eat chicken and drink beer. This is why Fenway needs to go. The era of the Curse is over. The story of 2004 will live on forever but it’s time for the Red Sox to build a new image, a cleaner image, one that celebrates what Boston is now and embraces a new era. A move out of Fenway could mean a new stadium on the waterfront by either Pier 4 or Long Wharf. A new stadium that could incorporate the North End, Fanueil Hall, the waterfront, and the growing pop-culture popularity of South Boston. Red Sox fans don’t need to look toward a past filled with curses and a broke-down stadium anymore, it’s time to celebrate the team, and to a greater extent, the City of Boston.