Change of Ideas

I’m the biggest Sox fan I know. The Red Sox can do no wrong in my eyes, and the Yankees are the most evil team in the universe.

Who doesn’t prefer the quaintness of Fenway Park over the sterility of the new Yankee Stadium? Who doesn’t prefer hanging Sox over pinstripes? Or Pedroia over A-Rod?

That’s what makes writing this post so difficult. The Yankees are without a doubt better than Boston, and are arguably the best baseball team I’ve seen in the past several years.

I used to argue that New York bought championships, that they couldn’t develop any of their talent and relied on throwing buckets of money at any and all high-profile free agents. Take Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett, just to name the 2009 off-season. They committed over $200 million to three guys? I thought that this was a bad thing, and horrible for baseball.

But the more I think about it, I can’t help but think that they’ve got the right idea, and maybe Boston should get off their pocketbook and throw some cash around. Can you imagine if Theo Epstein had given in to Teixeira’s demands and given him an additional ten million? They would be running away with the division. Instead, they get to face him 19 times each of the next eight years, and we’ve already seen how that’s worked out.

Epstein thought it would be better to sign low-cost, potentially high-reward players in John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Takashi Saito, all of whom have equated to bust, bust, bust. To make matters even worse, Boston is now trying to add 38-year-old Billy Wagner. Wagner is fresh off Tommy John surgery and is due to be paid $8 million this year. That’s a lot of money to pay four aging ex-all-stars, all past their prime. What’s next, is Theo Epstein going to make a run at Sandy Koufax?

The last high-profile free agents that Boston signed have been Edgar Renteria, J.D. Drew, Julio Lugo and Dice-K Matsuzaka. I just threw up in my mouth.

If Boston’s free agent scouting was half as good as their farm development, they could avoid these money-pit signings and land some real talent. Is it time to start looking at a new General Manager in Bean town?

I hate that the Yankees are better than Boston. I hate that this may be the norm for the next several years, unless the Red Sox change their off-season approach. I hate that the Yankees are arrogant douche bags that are far too clean shaven for my liking.

But what I hate most, is that New York is primed to win their 27th World Series title this year.

Let’s Get It Started

My favorite time of the year is finally here.

As much as I love the real sport of baseball, there’s something about playing in a fantasy baseball league that really gets my juices flowing. Maybe it’s the spirit of competition, as ten team owners vie for the league title. Maybe it’s following every team in baseball, keeping track of “your” players, instead of just the ones on your favorite team. Or maybe it’s the six months of constant trash talking, or working out blockbuster deals with your family members over dinner. Perhaps it’s the chance for regular people to play General Manager, making trades, scouring the waiver wire, looking for the next hot player. For me, it’s all of those things.

So let’s get it started. These are a few questions I have going into the 2009 fantasy season.

  • Is A-Rod still worthy of a top-5 pick, or will the Un-Natural wilt under the extreme pressure of the steroid scandal?
  • Which round do you start looking at Manny Ramirez? If he had been signed a month ago, I would say 2nd or 3rd, but the longer these negotiations drag on, the more uninspired Manny will get. We all know how Manny reacts to being “disrespected.”
  • Will Big Papi rebound from his disappointing 2008 season?
  • Who will be the first pitcher drafted? Johan? Lincecum? CC?
  • Is Dan the #1 Rays Fan too scared to join our league?
  • Will Matt McLaughlin attempt to draft a team entirely of Red Sox and Twins players?
  • Can we finally put to rest the “I could’ve won if I hadn’t lost my password” excuse? (That means you, Boston badboys.)
  • Will anyone trade with Team Yankeehater?
  • Will Dylan attempt to draft Cal Ripken Jr., Ozzie Smith and Robin Yount to add to his stable of shortstops?
  • Can the Love Boat Captains continue her impressive run, or has that ship sailed?
  • Will Dave McLaughlin finally acknowledge that he got lucky in the 2008 finals?
  • Is Dan Mc a closet Yankee fan? With a team name like Fran-comas, I’m starting to wonder.

So it begins, boys and girl. I don’t care which team you play for. I don’t care if you sucker-punched Coco Crisp last year or if you’re dating Madonna. This year I’m pulling out all the stops to grab the title of TheFoulLine.com Fantasy Baseball Champion.

Only three spots in the league remain. Sign up now!!!!

Start Me Up

Baseball season is finally back, and although the offseason for the Boston Red Sox didn’t go the way I’d hope it would, I’m still optimistic for a successful 2009 campaign.

It’s becoming more and more obvious that Theo Epstein and Terry Francona don’t read thefoulline.com. If they had, we’d be watching Mark Texiera and Derek Lowe gearing up for the season in Fort Myers, while watching the enigmatic Julio Lugo and overrated Jason Varitek packing their bags to destination Anywhere But Boston.

But after my initial disappointment with the lack of big name signings, I’m starting to really like the additions of Brad Penny, Takashi Saito and especially future Hall of Famer John Smoltz. These guys are low cost, with potential huge rewards for Boston. Even though Smoltz won’t be ready until June, he could be the big addition to the lineup that usually takes place at the trade deadline. If Boston makes the postseason, a lineup with Josh Beckett and John Smoltz would be scary.

Before we can talk about the playoffs, there are a lot of questions about this team that could severely affect their post season chances. Will Josh Beckett, David Ortiz, and Mike Lowell rebound from their 2008 injury-plagued season? With Coco Crisp shipped off to Kansas City, is Jacoby Ellsbury ready to be the everyday centerfielder and leadoff hitter? Can a full season of Jason Bay make up for the loss of Manny? Who will be the Red Sox catcher of the future?

To make matters worse, rivals Tampa Bay and New York revamped their already dangerous lineups. The Yankees decided to spend a quarter of a billion dollars on big-game choker CC Sabathia, the oft-injured A.J. Burnett, and current thefoulline.com public enemy #2 Mark Texiera. Will this high priced talent lead to a return to the postseason for the Bronx Bombers? Or will these guys wilt under the pressure of playing in the Big Apple like Randy Johnson, Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano? Let’s hope for the latter.

As for the Rays, I really like the additions of Pat Burrell and Matt Joyce to fill the right field and designated hitter spots. This is a big upgrade of the Gabe Gross/Cliff Floyd combo. I’m interested in seeing whether Evan Longoria can duplicate his rookie season, and if the Rays can repeat their success with their closer-by-committee bullpen.

The good news is baseball is back.
The competition  for the AL East crown promises to be fierce.
Let the games begin!

I Believe

364 days ago I wrote a post called “Keeping the Faith, Part 2.” At that time Boston was in a 3-1 hole to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series, and they were getting ready to face CC Sabathia in game 5. One year later, I find myself in a similar position, full of hope and optimism and sitting in front of my laptop. Can Boston make another comeback and crush the hopes and dreams of Rays fans everywhere? I not only hope so, but I’m going to give the reasons why.

  1. Scott Kazmir is pitching tonight. Why would Joe Maddon do this? He is either hoping that Kazmir rebounds from his last several poor performances and pulls out a win, or he’s that confident that “Big Game” James Shields will be money in game 6 at Tropicana Field to win it in front of the home crowd. Whatever the reason, I giggled a little when I saw Kazmir as tonight’s starting pitcher. This series is at least going back to St. Pete.
  2. The Red Sox have played horrible baseball. This the all-or-nothing, backs-to-the-wall scenario that shows a team’s character. Like Gene Hackman said in The Replacements, “winners want the ball.”  The Red Sox are the defending World Series Champions. Let’s start acting like it.
  3. 1986, down 3-1 to the California Angels in the ALCS. 2004, down 3-0 to the NY Yankees in the ALCS. 2007, down 3-1 to the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. They’ve been here before and have won. They will do it again.
  4. Jon Lester and Josh Beckett. There is no way in hell that these guys throw another crappy game like their last time out.
  5. Big Papi actually got an extra-base hit last game. The offensive flood gates are officially open.
  6. There is no way that the Rays can keep up with their 8 home runs a game pace. MLB is going to start charging them for lost baseballs.
  7. Dice K is a ninja. The Rays won’t know what hit them.
  8. Jason Varitek got the hole in his glove stitched up, so no more inning-extending passed balls.
  9. The Sox only have to win three measly games. A three game winning streak is nothing. They’ve done it 16 times this season.

So now you can see how obvious it is that Boston will rally back and win this series. I almost feel bad for the Rays…

Go Sox!

Eat for Two

My favorite time of the baseball season is right around the corner. No, not the annual American League ass-kicking of the National League in the All Star game. I’m talking about the Major League trade deadline, the time of year when teams make that final push towards the postseason. It’s a time when the hopes and dreams for your team are renewed. The time when general managers and scouts determine which player is a must-have, and who will be the final piece to the World Series puzzle.

It was announced this morning that the Milwaukee Brewers have already made a huge splash in the trade market with the acquisition of C.C. Sabathia. And when I say it was a huge move, I mean gigantic. And when I say gigantic, I mean FAT.

Have you seen Chocolate Cake Sabathia lately? This dude gets fatter every time I see him. What was Brewers GM Doug Melvin thinking, bringing him to the land of bratwurst, cheese curds and dark beer? That’s like sending a diabetic to work for Willy Wonka. This part-time rental is not going to end well.

Sabathia is a great regular-season pitcher, with 19 wins and a Cy Young Award in 2007. But when Chunk-Butt pitches in October, his ERA climbs to an abysmal 7.17. Combine that with fellow lard-ass and big-game blower Eric Gagne closing games, and it’s good night Milwaukee.

My only question is this: Which will be higher, C.C.’s ERA, or his cholesterol?

Josh Beckett got hosed

The Cy Young award is officially the biggest joke in baseball.

Leave it to a bunch of sportswriters to screw it up. How can these guys vote on this award before the season is over? Isn’t the postseason when people see which pitchers shine, and which pitchers wilt on the big stage? If these dumbass sportswriters waited two weeks they would have seen the glaring difference between C.C. Sabathia and Josh Beckett. Instead they made their choice based on the regular season.

If you did a head-to-head contest based on the regular season it was a close race. Sabathia pitched more innings and had a lower ERA then Beckett. Josh Beckett on the other hand led the majors in wins with 20 and proved to be the ace of the staff.

Now let’s talk about the playoffs, where Josh Beckett went 4-0 and had 1.29 ERA and was the second coming of Don Drysdale. Beckett dominated every game he pitched and was hands down the best player on the field. Sabathia, on the other hand, looked like the second coming of Calvin Schiraldi, touting a 10.45 ERA. This guy was in a neck-and-neck competition with Fausto Carmona to see who could look worse on the mound. But looking bad on the mound is nothing new to fat-ass Sabathia.

This guy needs to take a long look in the mirror, provided that he can find one big enough, and realize that he stole this award from Beckett. It’s easy to play in relative obscurity when you play in Cleveland, but when the ALCS rolls around it’s time to bring your A-game. Sabathia had the deer-in-the-headlights look throughout the series with Boston and it showed in his horrendous performances.

This is a bullshit award. The writers got it wrong.

Shipping up to Boston

The Red Sox may have finally turned the corner on this series. Their offense began to show some signs of life, putting seven runs on the scoreboard. The Sox were patient at the plate, looking at a lot of pitches and capitalizing on C.C.’s mistakes. It was nice to see Pedroia bust out of his slump and Youk continue his great series. Boston had opportunities early in the game to jump out to a big lead, but a couple of bases-loaded double plays and Manny admiring his long single off the wall just a little too long thwarted the rallies.

Coco Crisp may have played his last game of the ALCS. He played another horrible game: 0 for 5, 2 strikeouts, 4 runners left on base, and he couldn’t get down a sacrifice bunt resulting in another key strikeout. How does Francona not sit this guy for game six? Maybe a game on the bench will light a fire under him and get him to refocus for the World Series. Even if Ellsbury comes in and stinks just like Coco, he is the Red Sox centerfielder of the future. Let’s get him some playoff experience.

Before Boston fans get too excited about last night, let’s remember that Chocolate Cake Sabathia was pitching. This guy was an All-Star this year. He is the front runner for the Cy Young award. But when the playoffs start, he turns to crap. Maybe the C.C. stands for Chokey Chunkbutt?

The Sox looked better last night, but they were the beneficiaries of several Cleveland mistakes: Grady Sizemore dropping Youk’s triple, passed balls, Rafael Perez throwing away a sure double play. All these things padded the Sox lead. Boston is going to have to play better the rest of the way.

I wish game six was tonight. Fenway Park. Crowd Buzzing. Schilling on the mound. Sox with some momentum.

Buckle up! This series is just getting started.

thefoulline.com ALCS analysis

It’s hard to get too excited about the Boston Red Sox playing the Cleveland Indians in the ALCS. How do we root against these guys? The Indians play hard. They have some great pitchers and some legitimate All-Stars. They have loyal fans. And they are not the Yankees.

But, it’s the playoffs. Winner goes to the World Series. Time to leave it all out on the field. And it’s time to show Cleveland why Boston has, and will always have, the better team and more passionate fans. Boston fans have been way too quiet prior to this series. If the Yankees were coming to town, Sox fans would already have been on a four-day bender of cheap beer and trash talk. The question I have is this: Why show any restraint against this team and their fans? Let’s make this the most hostile environment they have ever played in. Boston has been in this position before and as recently as 2004. Heck, every home game at Fenway has a playoff feel to it. This whole experience is new to the Indians. They are young and primed to be overwhelmed by the playoff atmosphere. The Sox and their fans need to make the most of this home-field advantage and start the series with a sweep of the first two games.

The Indians have a young lineup featuring the always-dangerous Grady Sizemore. This guy is a complete five-tool player. Mix in Travis Hafner, Ryan Garko, and the ageless wonder Kenny Lofton and you have a team that can hurt you in many ways. Cleveland is coming off a big series with New York where they smacked the Yankees around. They played well in that series, getting great performances by Fausto Carmona and the Lake Erie Midges, but let’s be honest: the Yankees sucked. They definitely did not play like the team that went on a tear after the All Star break. How bad was it for the Yankees? Derek Jeter batted .176 and hit into 3 double plays. This guy is supposed to be Mr. October, and he looked more like A-Rod than A-Rod. Anytime you can beat New York 3 out of 4 games it’s impressive. The Indians are a good team, but they are positioned for a letdown.

Let’s look at the game one starters: Josh Beckett vs. C.C. Sabathia

These are two 27-year-old potential Cy Young winners who have carried their teams and been the aces of their respective staffs. The difference between the two is that Beckett is smarter, more fiery, and is a past World Series MVP. Beckett has already thrown three complete-game shutouts in the playoffs during his career. That is the second most EVER! Beckett lives for these games.

C.C. Sabathia is a big pitcher. When I say big, I mean FAT. This guy is 6’5″, 250 lbs. He should be playing tight-end for the Browns. Have you seen this guy lately? Hat crooked on his head, pants that look like they are used to cover the Goodyear blimp. He does not look like a professional athlete. I wonder if C.C. stands for Chocolate Cake.

I break down the rest of the match-ups like this:

Offense: Papi, Lowell, and a resurgent Manny vs. Sizemore, Hafner, and Garko. Advantage, Boston.

Speed: Julio Lugo and Coco Crisp vs. Grady Sizemore and Kenny Lofton. Slight edge to Cleveland.

Team Defense: Coco, Youkilis, Pedroia, Lowell, and Varitek vs. Sizemore, Peralta, and Garko. Edge Boston.

Starting pitching: Beckett, Schilling, and Dice K vs. Sabathia, Carmona and Westbrook. I want to see how Chocolate Cake and Carmona do on the big stage. Slight Edge to Boston.

Bullpen: Borowski vs. Papelbon. Borowski has been effective all year long, but he doesn’t intimidate anybody. Papelbon is the best closer in baseball. Advantage Boston.

There you have it. Boston will outclass, out-pitch and outperform Cleveland this series. They have the clutch performers and the experience on their side.

Remember you heard it here first.