Not Ready to Make Nice

After a disastrous 2012 season, the Red Sox owners added some character guys on the tail end of their careers. In an effort to make the team more likable, Sox owners signed Ryan Dempster – great Harry Caray impersonator, got shelled in Texas last year; Shane Victorino and his .255 batting average; Mike Napoli and his two necrotic hips.

But the the most egregious signing of all was Johnny freakin’ Gomes! What the hell was that all about? How can Gomes ever get cheered at Fenway after his sucker punching and hair pulling of Coco Crisp in the bottom of the “fight” pile? I can understand defending your teammates, but what I can’t comprehend is having this orangutan patrol left field in Fenway Park. I’ve disliked a lot of players in my time, but it’d be hard to find anyone I dislike more than Gomes. But what the hell… It’s only $10 million, and he’s all ours for two seasons.

Quick hits:

  • Speaking of that fight… Does anyone wonder if Coco and James Shields have ever thrown a punch in their collective lives? Whiff… whiff!
  • I still hate the Rays, but I’m interested to see Wil Myers play.
  • I’m making a return to the Rays Opening Day game. Last year’s Rays vs. Yanks game was one of the best I have ever seen live.
  • I’ll be not-so-secretly hoping that the Cleveland Indians do well this season. I’m still a huge Francona fan.
  • I’ll be not-so-secretly hoping that Bobby Valentine contracts syphilis. I still can’t stand that guy.
  • Am I the only one that feels sorry for Houston Astro Carlos Pena? They are by far the worst team in MLB. Moving to the American League is not going to help.
  • It’s my tradition to buy a new Red Sox hat before the start of every season. I might skip it this year. I’m really starting to dislike the Sox ownership.
  • The word around Red Sox camp is that John Lackey is in great shape. They’re also reporting that he’s still a mouth breather.
  • I made the decision a few weeks ago that I was going to cut back on Spring Training games this year. Next thing I know, Dylan hooks us up with Sox vs. Cardinals. Followed by my brother scoring Sox vs. Rays. Then the October Boy asks me to go to the Rays vs. Phillies. Followed by my buddy Nate getting Tigers vs. Mets tix. Suddenly, my spring is looking up!
  • I really, really hope Ryan Braun isn’t a juicer. But I think he is.
  • AL East final 2013 standings: 1. Blue Jays, 2. Rays, 3. Yankees, 4. Red Sox, 5. Orioles
  • What are your thoughts on a 12-team league? Does that interest anyone?

Well, that’s two posts in two days… Is it baseball season yet?

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!

Don’t Stop Believin’

OK, now this is getting crazy. Boston looked lousy during games 2, 3, and 4 and 2/3 of game 5. Meanwhile, Tampa was playing like a team on a mission, trying to make up for ten years of futility. Suddenly during game 5, the switch was flipped, and like a modern version of Freaky Friday Boston began playing loose, youthful, carefree baseball, while Tampa turned into a  cautious, conservative baseball team that’s playing not to lose, instead of pushing the action and trying for the win.

So this brings us to game 7. Which version of these teams will show up?

thefoulline.com quick hits

  • Jon Lester vs. Matt Garza, game seven, winner goes to the World Series. This is the match-up Boston fans were wishing for and Rays fans were dreading.
  • Regarding the TBS technical difficulty that caused first-inning coverage of last night’s game to be preempted by The Steve Harvey Show: According to a theory by thefoulline contributor Dylan “Conspiracy Theorist” Hamilton, TBS, concerned that the Rays’ current losing streak has reminded much of the Tampa Bay fan base how much they prefer Steve Harvey to baseball, did it on purpose.
  • The Sox bullpen has looked fantastic. Okajima gets better every time he pitches and looks like the Oki of 2007. Masterson looked absolutely scared shitless out there, and then he proceeded to shut down the Rays 1-2-3 hitters. Then there’s Papelbon. Tired, sore, gassed from pitching two tough innings in game 5, he goes out throwing 90 MPH fastballs with good location and gets the save. In a word… awesome.
  • High definition television is not kind to Kevin Youkilis.
  • Coco Crisp is doing his best 2007 Jacoby Ellsbury impersonation. Coco did more damage to James Shields last night than any punch would ever do.
  • Dan the #1 Rays Fan: Hang in there. This is still better than watching the Rays of the past. There’s still a lot of baseball left.
  • Jason Varitek saved his job with the Sox next year with a huge home run and an even bigger throw out of Dioner Navarro. That’s why he’s the Captain.
  • Terry Francona is the best manager in Red Sox history. Although the 78 pieces of tobacco wrapped in Double Bubble that he is constantly chewing during the game is pretty disgusting.
  • Josh Beckett dug down deep last night and pitched his ass off for 5 innings. This guy is a competitor.
  • James Shields is a tough pitcher with a promising future, but his “Big Game” nickname may have been a little premature. Names like that get invented in the postseason.
  • Dustin Pedroia is going to blow up tonight. He lives for moments like this, and he’s been too quiet for too long.
  • During the 6th inning of game 5 in Fenway Park, did anyone really think we would be watching a game 7?
  • There is no moment better in sports than the MLB playoffs.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

Thursday night’s come-from-behind win for the Red Sox was amazing, series altering, life changing and whatever other hyperbole that the national media is throwing around these days. So why is it that I feel like Teddy KGB, so unsatisfied?  Boston’s win to force a game 6 was dramatic, but it’s not like they just won the series. Tampa Bay still holds a 3-2 series lead with the next two games at Tropicana Field. Don’t get me wrong, I feel infinitely better that Boston was finally able to string a few hits together, and David Ortiz had some resemblance to his 2004 version, but there is a lot of baseball left to be played.

Going into tonight’s game, I really wish that Josh Beckett’s ERA was sub-10.00 this postseason. I also wish that James Shields threw his shoulder out in June when his left cross missed Coco Crisp by three feet. But I guess we’ll just have to deal with this match up. Shields is the one guy on the Rays staff that scares me. He didn’t get his “Big Game” moniker from his deer hunting ability. This guy is a stud that rises to the occasion and relishes the pressure.

Shields is going up against some guy that has a striking resemblance to Josh Beckett, but without the 96 mph fastball and the pinpoint control. There is obviously something wrong with Beckett. He’s going to need to channel his inner Curt Schilling and make the adjustment from strikeout pitcher to a control pitcher that keeps the hitters guessing. But Beckett is a fierce competitor. Whichever version of him shows up tonight is going to be pissed off and spitting nails. This will be fun to watch.

As for the hitters on both teams, now that Boston has seen how productive it can be when they get consecutive hits, I really hope that they try and do that again. It was fun to see them scoring runs again. The Rays, on the other hand, are obviously taking steroids and corking their bats. There is no way that they can hit that many home runs. I’m calling for George Mitchell to reopen his investigation.

But seriously. Rays players have to be thinking that they have just woken a sleeping giant. They had Boston on the ropes and let them back in it. It will be interesting to see if the Rays hitters are squeezing their bats a little tighter and trying for the long ball tonight while playing in front of the home crowd.

Up a touchdown in the 7th inning. Champagne on ice. The smell of the World Series in the air. Only to blow it.  This has the potential to crush the confidence of a young ballclub. This is a must-win game for Tampa. With a potential game seven match up of baseball’s best story, Jon Lester, vs. headcase and chronic spitter Matt Garza. This is the biggest game in the history of Tampa Bay baseball. Again.

The Rays are still in the driver’s seat, but they have to be keeping a close eye on the rearview mirror.

I Predict a Riot

The Tampa Bay Rays have had an impressive start to their tenth season, a season that has shown a lot of promise, hope, and potential for a successful future. After 68 games the Rays are finding themselves in unfamiliar territory, with a winning record and hopes for a possible playoff berth.

Despite the large amount of stress that this could cause, it’s refreshing to see that the Rays have been able to keep their sense of humor. I was reading the newspaper the other day and came across this quote from Rays pitcher and part-time comedian James Shields, referring to Coco Crisp charging the mound during their game last week: “If he wants to come out and charge the mound, he’s going to feel the wrath. That’s just bottom line. If he wants to go cry about it, that’s fine.”

James Shields takes a swing at Coco Crisp

After closer examination of the brawl, I noticed a few things. First, Shields threw the worst punch that I’ve ever seen. He really should look at what he’s swinging at. Secondly, when involved in a fight, you really should take your baseball glove off.

Now I’m not a boxing expert, but when Shields missed his punch by six inches, was that the “unleashing of the wrath?” His punch did nothing more than dry out Coco’s contact lenses from the wind blowing by.

These two teams meet again June 30th at Sam’s Wholesale Warehouse… I mean Tropicana Field. It’s going to be an exciting series that should provide some fireworks. Let’s hope that with all the bad blood between these teams, that they will sell this place out (for the the 12th time… ever).

I’ll definitely be there along with the other 20,000+ Red Sox fans.

I just hope Shields will keep his wrath contained.

Fighting Temptations

Baseball fights are stupid. It’s essentially a pig pile of grown men. No one ever lands a clean punch, and all it does is increase the hostility between the two teams. Players’ egos are getting out of control.

With that being said, 3rd base coach DeMarlo Hale body slamming James Shields was awesome.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits:

  • I would trade Coco Crisp for James Shields/Jonny Gomes any day of the week.
  • The Red Sox are a close-knit team, but you have to figure if anyone is going to fight in the Sox dugout, it’s going to be Kevin Youkilis and Manny Ramirez. Youk is an intense, hardworking, blue-collar player. Manny is a naturally talented, lazy idiot. I’d be surprised if this was the first fight between the two.
  • With Manny’s contract up at the end of this season, I think Boston should make a serious run at Colorado Rockies Matt Holliday. He’s younger than Manny, would have a comparable salary, can play left field, and would absolutely destroy Fenway Park.
  • Please, please, please…. let’s hope Jacoby Ellsbury didn’t break his wrist in last night’s game. If he did, the Sox are in big trouble. Ellsbury has been doing a great job as Boston’s table-setter.
  • After last night’s basebrawl game, the Rays are now neck-and-neck with the Yankees as public enemy number one at thefoulline.com
  • Jonny Gomes, Carl Crawford, and Akinori Iwamura are a bunch of punks. These three are the biggest cheap-shot artists I have ever seen. Punching Coco when he was being he held down by Dioner Navarro was cowardly. These three should receive longer suspensions than both Coco and Shields.
  • I have to mention Joba Chamberlain’s performance the other night at Yankee stadium: 2.1 innings, 148 pitches, 4 walks, 55,000 dejected fans, one foolish looking owner. Question: If a guy is playing great in the set-up role, why mess with that? Answer: Hank Steinbrenner is a friggin moron.
  • I hope the Rays enjoyed their 22 days in first place of the American League East. It will be the last time they sniff first for the rest of the year.

Everything in Its Right Place

Thefoulline.com quick hits:

  • For the record, I wrote a few months ago that the Red Sox should make every attempt to trade for Johan Santana. This included dealing Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jacoby Ellsbury, pretty much anyone. Obviously the Sox front office is smarter than I am.
  • In case you missed it, Jon Lester threw a no-hitter against the K.C. Royals the other night. I’ve always figured that Lester would be a solid contributor for the Sox. He’s a guy that I thought could go out and win 12-15 games a year and be a solid #3 guy in the rotation. After Monday’s performance, I think I’ve underestimated his ability.
  • Watching the Sox as a kid, they were always a slow, prodding team that relied on the long ball. They rarely manufactured runs, and stolen bases were nonexistent. The 2008 team with Ellsbury, Coco, Pedroia, Youk and Lugo stealing bases and playing small ball is a lot more fun to watch.
  • Speaking of Lugo, his tenure in Boston may be coming to an end. What kind of message is Terry Francona sending when Lugo gets a defensive replacement four games in a row? Paging Jed Lowrie…
  • Jacoby Ellsbury stole 25 bases in a row to start his career, two short of the record set by Tim Raines. Ellsbury was thrown out on a pitch-out and a perfect strike from the catcher to second base, and he still was barely out. This kid is scary fast.
  • Manny Ramirez stated that he has stopped hitting home-runs on purpose. He said that fans aren’t excited enough about it, and he is going to wait to hit them on the upcoming west coast trip. The reason fans aren’t excited, Man-Ram, is that you’re hitting .178 with 11 strikeouts over the last 12 games. And you’re an idiot.
  • The Sox have had solid contributions this year from their young players: Jonathan Papelbon, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Manny Delcarmen, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Jed Lowrie, Justin Masterson, and Brandon Moss.
  • The Yankees “top” young players have done the following: Phillip Hughes 0-4, 9.00 ERA; Ian Kennedy 0-3, 8.48 ERA; Jeff Karstens 1-4, 11.05 ERA; Melky Cabrera, .252 batting average; Joba Chamberlain, 10 holds, 2.66 ERA, 700 cheeseburgers eaten. Advantage: Boston.
  • Bartolo Colon is wicked fat, but he pitched pretty well last night. He may make his Fantasy debut for the Yankeehaters next week.
  • Joba Chamberlain is joining the New York Yankees starting rotation. This is going to be just the boost the Yanks need to leapfrog the Blue Jays and seize fourth place in the division.
  • Ex-Sox and current freak show Eric Gagne is being sidelined with a shoulder “injury.” Have you seen this guy lately? Not only is he stinking it up in Milwaukee, but he may be the ugliest human on the planet. 7.45 ERA, multiple blown saves, $10 million… money well spent.

Hey Man Nice Shot

Good teams find ways to win.

Sometimes it’s a pitcher throwing a complete game to give a tired bullpen the night off, or a great defensive play to keep your team in the lead. In the case of the Red Sox, it’s been back-to-back games with a game-winning home run in the 9th inning.

Thefoulline.com quick hits:

  • It already sucks to be a Cleveland Indians fan. It must suck even more when the Red Sox come to town and you know that your team is going to find a way to lose. The Indians have a ton of talent and should be running away with the division, but with a 5-9 record they are one game out of the Central Division cellar. Maybe they need some Lake Erie Midges swarming around their heads to get them back in the groove.
  • Did you see the lineup Terry Francona put out last night? Coco, Ellsbury, Lowrie, Lugo, and Cash. I thought they were mailing it in before another Yankees series. I guess even the Sox reserves can beat most teams.
  • It was great to see yet another Red Sox prospect live up to the hype. Two years ago it was Jonathan Papelbon. Last year it was Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester, and Manny Delcarmen. After last night’s 3 RBI performance in his first Major League game, it may be time to add Jed Lowrie to the list of legitimate prospects.
  • Which reminds me, how are the over-hyped Yankees Phil Hughes and Ian Kennedy working out for New York? Last time I checked, Hughes was was 0-2 with a 9.00 ERA, and Kennedy was 0-1 with an impressive 8.74 ERA. Do you think the Yankees are regretting not dealing these guys for Johan Santana?
  • Mike Mussina and Carl Pavano will make a combined $22,071,029 this season.
  • Tim Wakefield and Jonathan Papelbon will make a combined $4,775,000 this season.
  • To further reinforce how crazy the Steinbrenners are, these idiots actually dug up the “cursed” Ortiz jersey buried in Yankee stadium. News Flash, Hank! The shirt is not the reason your team stinks. It’s the lousy pitching pitching staff, over-hyped prospects, and $28 million cancer playing third base.
  • The Red Sox are in first place. Woo-hoo!

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!