Archive for the ‘People’ Category

You Complete Me

I don’t consider myself a writer. I’m a guy that enjoys talking about baseball and sharing my opinions with a group of educated baseball fans. During the baseball season, I read every article I can get my hands on, and I follow a bunch of baseball writers on Twitter. Of all the writers I follow, there are a handful that are a must-read every day. Pete Abraham & Nick Cafardo with the Boston Globe, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com, and Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian with ESPN. But my favorite of all is Buster Olney.

Buster Olney is everywhere… Baseball Tonight, Twitter, Podcasts, SportsCenter, and ESPN’s baseball telecasts. He also writes a daily article on ESPN.com in which he links all the baseball news for all the MLB teams. It’s always a good read. He really is the hardest working guy in baseball.

I had planned on going to the Rays practice today with my buddy Trent (RedRays) and a couple of friends from work. While making our plans, I noticed on Twitter that ESPN and Buster Olney were going to be in Port Charlotte. I relayed this to Trent, who replied, “We gotta get a pic with him for thefoulline.com!” This became our mission.

We arrived at the stadium at 9:30 to a capacity crowd of twenty other fans. The gates opened and we made our way to the closest field to watch the Rays stretch, run 20-yard dashes, and play catch. We were able to score a prime fence-line position in front of the immortal Shelley Duncan (who promptly shouted “Nobody likes you!” to an annoyingly obnoxious fan that has some sort of personal vendetta against Jose Molina) and the enigmatic Yunel Escobar, who for some odd reason got along great with the loud obnoxious jackass. He even tossed the loudmouth a ball. That sounds about right.

We worked our way around the park checking out the different fields. No sign of Buster.

We watched Matt Moore throw batting practice. I know it’s early, but he was all over the place. I only saw him throw a handful of strikes the entire session. We witnessed James Loney making a SportsCenter top-10 catch during fielding drills, and a bewildered Jeff Niemann having trouble keeping the ball down in PFP.

Practice was winding down, and still no Buster. I was receiving texts from thefoulline.com headquarters inquiring on the status of the Buster meet & greet. I had nothing to report.

But as the clock struck 11 am, who do I see walking down the center sidewalk, notepad in hand? It’s Buster Olney!

I walked up to him and told him I was a big fan and enjoyed his writing. He seemed taken aback by this and maybe a little embarrassed. Maybe he doesn’t have many lunatic blog writers bum-rush him at spring training practices? I asked for a quick picture with him. Redrays was Johnny-on-the-spot and snapped a keeper. I thanked Buster for his time and said it was nice to meet him. He replied, “Any idea which field Wil Myers is on?” I just happened to know exactly where he was. “Sure, I’ll show you.” As we walked to the field, we had a quick Q&A:

Buster: so are you a Rays fan?
Me: Nope… I like the Red Sox. This park is just so convenient to watch practice.
Buster: How do you think they’re going to do this year?
Me: They have to be better than last season, right?
Buster: It’s hard to say… They all really hated each other last year. The guys they brought in may make a difference.
Me: They were hard to watch. Hopefully their mojo is better at least.
Buster: Well, gotta go… Good luck with your Sox this year!
Me: You complete me!
Ok, that last part didn’t happen, but this encounter with Buster Olney confirmed my thoughts about him. He’s engaging, friendly, and professional. It was worth the trip to Charlotte County Stadium.

Rays-centric Quick Hits:

  • How does Dave Martinez not have a managing job? When he was asked this today by a fan, he replied, “I want to win one in Tampa before going anywhere else.” He’s a class act.
  • Luke Scott is crazy. He hung the boar’s head that he killed with a spear in the Rays clubhouse. He talks to everyone – players, coaches, fans, security guards. Is he the new Jonny Gomes in Tampa?
  • I watched Chris Archer throw some serious cheese. He has an easy, effortless delivery that pops the catcher’s mitt on every throw.
  • Speaking of impressive performances… Juan Sandoval had quite a crowd around him during his pitching session. He looked good, throwing strike after strike. What made this even more impressive? He’s blind in his right eye.
  • I saw Super-GM Andrew Friedman walk into a port-a-potty while chatting on his cellphone, then walk out while still talking. I’m guessing he didn’t wash his hands.
  • Watched super prospect Wil Myers take BP today. He didn’t rake like I had hoped, but RedRays and I both noticed he doesn’t wear batting gloves. This led to RedRays asking, “Do you think he pees on his hands like Moises Alou?”
  • It blows my mind that the Rays don’t have more fans. They have a quality organization, great spring training facility, and legitimate superstars in Price and Longoria, and they compete every year. They deserve better.

We finished the day at The October Boys’s restaurant, Bocca Lupo in Port Charlotte. It’s the best pizza around. It was a perfect ending to a fun day. Check it out when you’re down here for spring training!

Last Chance

After a really disappointing end to the 2011 Baseball season, I was close to saying “Screw you Boston”, throwing away all my Red Sox memorabilia and finding another team to follow. The problem was, I love baseball and would have to follow someone. But who?…what team would be so lucky to get me as their #1 fan?

Here was my criteria:
1. Had to be an AL team ( NL sucks..although the Brewers and Cubs were considered)
2. Can’t be on the West Coast- the games are on to late. But when we move to Seattle in 10 years, I will support the Mariners.
3. Has to be an American team – Sorry Toronto.
4. Yankee’s and Rays are automatically out- my hate burns too deep.
5. Preferably a team with a bit of history/tradition.

Surprisingly, the two team that I came up with were the Detroit Tigers and the Baltimore Orioles. For some odd reason, I have a really old picture of myself and my dad wearing Tigers hats. I was maybe a year old? I think my Dad bought them was because he really liked Sparky Anderson..or maybe it was because there was a “D” for Dave on it? Who knows, I never asked. I do know It’s one of my favorite pictures.
As for my second choice, Baltimore. I really can’t pinpoint it- they seem like a nice team, their players stay out of trouble, Boog’s BBQ, Camden Yards and who didn’t like Cal Ripken. Plus, my Little League team was once the the Oriole’s. Silly reasons, I know..but they made the cut to the short list.
I want to follow a team that plays hard, has me on the edge of my seat on every pitch and hopefully win their fair share of games. That’s not too much to ask for is it?
Ultimately, I fought the urge to become what I loathed- a fickle sports fan. If my fandom can survive Bucky Dent, Bill Buckner and Aaron Boone- surely it can be resuscitated after a historical 2011 collapse. I guess we’ll have to see what this team is made of in 2012.

All this leads up to my question- if your favorite baseball team ceased to exist for what ever reason…who would you follow, and why?

Changes

Well, it’s been almost a month since the Red Sox lost game 7 of the ALCS to the damn Tampa Bay Rays. I think it’s finally time to come out from the dark recesses of thefoulline.com headquarters, dust myself off, and talk about what I think Boston needs to do to improve their team.

This is a pivotal offseason for the Red Sox. There are some glaring holes in the Sox lineup that need to be filled. If this team remains unchanged, they’ll be watching the playoffs on television in 2009.

There’s going to be a lot of Hot Stove activity going on in the next couple of weeks. The damn Yankees have $90 million coming off their books and are eager spend to improve their poor pitching, and like it or not, the Rays are going to be here for a while. If Tampa acquires a legitimate closer and a quality right fielder they’re going to be dangerous. The American League East is no longer a two-horse race.

So if I were Theo Epstein, this is what I would do, in order of importance.

1. Sign Mark Texiera.

Tex would tear up Fenway Park offensively and play Gold Glove-caliber defense at first base. This MUST be done! A switch-hitting. perennial All-Star first baseman does not become available very often. As an added bonus, Tex is a free agent, so it wouldn’t cost Boston any of its young talent to acquire him.

Of course, this means Kevin Youkilis is moved to third base, and Mike Lowell is odd man out. I would try to convince a healthy Lowell to learn how to play first base and become Boston’s super-sub. With Lowell playing a mix of first, third and DH, he could prove to the rest of the league that he is healthy, and improve his stock for a trade. (Minnesota and the White Sox need a third baseman). It wouldn’t be the most popular move in Boston, since Lowell is such a class act, but we are here to win ball games. Get out your checkbook, Theo, and make it happen.

2. Derek Lowe makes his triumphant return to Boston.

Lowe is the type of sinker-ball-throwing, ground-ball-inducing pitcher that is tailor-made for Fenway Park. He’s proven to come up huge in big games, as in the 2004 playoffs, when he won the deciding game in all three playoff series. Not to mention, he wants to pitch in Boston again. He may even give Theo a discount.

I look forward to a rotation of Beckett, Lester, Dice K, Lowe, and Wakefield. This would keep Justin Masterson in the bullpen to help solidify the 7th and 8th innings before turning it over to Papelbon.

3. Deal a solid pitching prospect, namely Michael Bowden or Clay Buchholz, for either of Texas’s catchers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia or Taylor Teagarden.

They each have different strengths: Salty is still a raw talent that hits pretty well but needs to improve defensively. Teagarden is a solid defensive catcher with a laser-rocket arm, and he has the potential to put up some big power numbers. What they have in common is that they both are ready to be a starting catcher in the majors.

I’m starting to lean towards a  Buchholz for Teagarden deal, but either way it’s an upgrade of the aging Varitek. Thanks for all of your hard work, ‘Tek. We’ll see you at Jason Varitek Appreciation day.

4. Trade Julio Lugo for a bucket of used baseballs.

Jed Lowrie is ready to be the everyday shortstop. Lugo sucks. Find some sucker GM to take him off our hands.

…..
It almost seems too easy to improve this team. If Boston makes these moves, you can go and get the champagne on ice. If not, it may be a long season.

Here Comes the Sun

The sun did rise today.

The birds are singing, and things seem to be OK.

After watching the Red Sox get out-hit, out-pitched, outplayed and out-cheered the last three nights, I wasn’t so sure that was going to happen. But here we are – it’s a new day and we have the damn Yankees to focus on.

There’s a lot of baseball left to played. Let’s turn this thing around.

Thefoulline.com quick hits

  • After receiving threats in the mail a few days ago, Sox players avoided fans in the stands like they had the ebola virus (with David Aardsma being the exception, but I think he may have a few screws loose anyway).
  • Walking into the game last night and seeing ex-Sox player Bill Lee in attendance signing autographs I thought was going to be a good omen. It wasn’t.
  • Evan Longoria is a great ballplayer, but after watching him interact with the young fans in the crowd, I think he is an even better person. Within two years, this guy is going to be the most popular player in baseball.
  • With Terry Francona picking the reserves for the All-Star Game, I think Longoria just secured a spot on the roster.
  • Funny observation of the night: The Red Sox coaches warm up as if they are playing that night. I watched as Brad Mills and Luis Alicea played some long toss before the game. After watching the Sox bullpen implode last night, they could have used them.
  • Three games, three dumb moves by Francona. Game 1: Not pinch hitting Sean Casey for Lugo in the 9th inning. Game 2: Having the ice-cold Jason Varitek pinch hit. Game 3: Keeping Craig Hansen in the game too long and having him walk half the Rays lineup.
  • Bonus dumb move from Game 3: Having the above mentioned Varitek do a hit and run with the slowest guy on the team standing on first base. It was a recipe for failure.
  • Manny sucks.
  • What a relief, Boston has four games against the Yankees.
  • 3 1/2 games behind Tampa Bay Rays feels like 100 right now.
  • Thanks to the Rays fan who jump started my truck in the parking lot after the game. I take back some of the bad stuff I’ve said about their kind in the past.

Take the Low Road

It’s great that the World Champion Boston Red Sox received their rings yesterday. It’s even better that they won their home opener. But having Bill Buckner emerge from the Green Monster and throw out the first pitch was the worst idea that Boston owners have had since installing a hot dog vending machine at Fenway Park.

What has happened to Red Sox fans? A standing ovation? Is this guy now forgiven for his 1986 World Series blunder? What’s next, Yankee Appreciation Day?

As Sox fans, we need a villain in our lives. We need Bucky Dent, or Aaron Boone, or Bill Buckner. It’s the one thing that unifies us as fans and inspires us to cheer on the Sox. The day that we lose that fire in our gut and become content with the titles we’ve already won, is the day we become Yankee fans.

You can use the argument that we will always have our rivalry with the Yankees to keep us motivated, but is there still a rivalry? The Yankees have an aging lineup and an overrated farm system and haven’t been the team to beat for several years. I would be surprised if they make the playoffs this year.

Remember, we are Sox fans. We don’t turn the other cheek. We don’t take the high road. And we never forgive and forget.

Sox ownership needs to remember this for next year’s ring ceremony. Because while everyone was forgetting about the past, the passion that comes with being a Sox fan may have rolled through our legs.

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.

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.

All the Right Moves

The Red Sox made a few smart moves yesterday. The first was a no-brainer, re-signing Terry Francona was long overdue. This guy doesn’t get the credit he deserves. Two World Series titles in four years is impressive, doing it in the pressure-cooker of Red Sox Nation is extraordinary. This guy is adored by his players and respected by all of Major League Baseball. He is truly one of the good guys in the game. When talking about the game’s great managers, Francona should be mentioned in the same breath as guys like Bobby Cox, Joe Torre, and Tony Larussa. Although his new contract is nothing to sneeze at, I really wish Theo Epstein made him the highest paid manager in the league.

The second move was signing 2005 Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract. Although Colon has had his share of injuries the last couple of years, he could be a decent insurance policy if any of the Sox pitchers gets injured. He won’t make the team coming out of Spring Training, but maybe he can get in shape in Triple A and make a difference when it’s time for the playoff push. This guy has won twenty games in a season twice. He hasn’t forgotten how to pitch. Let’s see how he does when he gets in shape and the Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell gets a hold of him. Either way, it’s a low-risk, low-cost, possibly high-reward scenario.

thefoulline.com updates

I want to remind everyone that there are still spots open for the inaugural thefoulline.com Fantasy Baseball league. Please spread the word to your friends and family and have them sign up. It should be a lot of fun. Thanks again to Matt McLaughlin for setting it up. To sweeten the deal, we are working on a prize package for the winning team consisting of original thefoulline.com merchandise. So if that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will.

Also, Dylan and I are heading down to Fort Myers on Thursday to watch the Red Sox play Boston College, and I’ll be taking some pictures to add to the site. I’m not an expert photographer, but I’m sure anything will be better than the glamour shots of ourselves that are on the site now. On a related subject, Dylan and I and couple friends of ours are “shipping up to Boston” for a few days in May to check out the Sox. Unfortunately the Kansas City Royals are in town while we’re up there, but any baseball at Fenway Park is good baseball.

Checking in from thefoulline.com

Sorry about the lack of post the last few weeks, but it has been quiet in the world of baseball. I don’t want to be one of those bloggers that writes something everyday, just for the sake of writing. I want to keep this a baseball blog, so please be patient and keep tuning in. Things will hopefully heat up soon. With that being said, here are some thefoulline.com news and notes:

  • How about Hank Steinbrenner doing his best George Steinbrenner impersonation. First, giving the Twins a deadline on the Johan Santana deal. How’d that one work out for you Hank? Secondly, New York has just signed Latroy Hawkins to a one year deal. So let me do the math for the 2008 Yankees: One weak bullpen – Joba + Hawkins + re-signing the aging Mariano Rivera = another lousy season for New York.
  • Only in MLB would a team give Eric Gagne a one year, ten million dollar contract. Maybe the G.M. of the Brewers should have watched some American League baseball last year. Gagne was horrible. He blew every opportunity he had last year in Boston. I wouldn’t have given him a nickel. Although with my luck, Gagne will probably win another Cy Young now that he’s back playing in the Junior Varsity. (N.L.)
  • I’m glad to see the Red Sox haven’t re-signed Doug Mirabelli. I know that he catches the knuckleball well. But there are other guys that can catch it also, and hit higher than .202.
  • How about this week for Red Sox Nation’s favorite player Jacoby Ellsbury. First signing with the anti-christ Scott Boras. Then charging $125 for his autograph. What is he thinking? I would never pay more then five bucks for an autograph from someone with 30 games of major league experience. Now that I think about it, there are maybe five athletes/celebrities that I would pay for an autograph. Here they are in no particular order:
    1. Bill Russell
    2. Ted Williams
    3. Larry Bird
    4. Eddie Vedder
    5. Dylan Hamilton

    Maybe it’s time for Jacoby to stop reading about how great he is, and remember that he is still a rookie.

  • The Red Sox Spring training games are going on sale next week. Have you seen the prices for decent seats? Standing room $10, box seats $26-$46. Why would someone pay $46 bucks for a spring training game? The chances are pretty good that you’ll be watching the 2008 Portland Sea Dogs take the field. I would rather take the $46 dollars and buy season tickets to the Tampa Bay Rays. At least this way I’m guaranteed to see major league players… and the Rays.

Thanks for reading, stay tuned….

The birth of a dynasty

The Boston Red Sox are World Champions. It’s nice to see that they were finally able to break the three-year curse that has plagued them since 2004. Even though this was a four-game sweep, there was some great baseball being played. Colorado proved to be a dangerous team that never quit, even up to the last pitch thrown.

I can’t say enough about this team. From the manager all the way down to the role players, everyone contributed. It seemed like someone different would come through each game. One night it was Beckett, then Ellsbury, Pedroia, Lester, Lowell, Timlin, Kielty, Okajima, Papelbon. Someone always rose to the occasion. This is truly a team for the ages.

Let’s start with Terry Francona. Everything this guy touched turned to gold during the playoffs. Start Papi at first base? Put a rookie in to centerfield? Start Jon Lester in game four? Pinch hit Kielty? All of these moves were money. Francona showed that he knows his players, and in turn they want to perform well for him. I also like that Francona was playing for the win last night. He threw most of the bullpen at the Rockies last night. These guys were running on fumes and still got the call. If the Rockies had rallied back and won, Boston would have been in trouble. Oh well, we know how that ended up.

I think it’s time for the Sox to make Mike Lowell an offer he can’t refuse and lock him up for three more years. This guy has solidified the third base position for Boston and should be rewarded. As for A-Rod, who cares. I don’t care where he ends up, as long as it’s not with the Yankees.

The Red Sox are loaded with young players that can flat out play. Lester, Pedroia, Ellsbury, Youk, Papelbon, Buchholz, Delcarmen, Dice K are all under 30 years of age. This is a franchise whose brightest days are still ahead of them.

Check back tomorrow for the Red Sox Year in Review.