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?

I Hate Everything About You

I had a great week. I was fortunate enough to go to three spring training games, filled with youngsters trying to make the team and superstar players doing their thing.

Unfortunately, there are also a few jerks that linger on the baseball diamond. On the heels of writing thefoulline.com All-Pro Team of Awesomeness, I thought I’d mix it up, and come up with thefoulline.com’s All-Pro Team of Jerkiness.

And here it is.

  • Catcher: A.J. Pierzynski
    Even his own teammates don’t like him.
  • First Base: Mark Teixeira
    I’m not resentful that he spurned the Red Sox so that he could get an extra $10 million from the stupid Yankees. I just really want to punch him in his huge, ugly face whenever I see him. I accidentally drafted this d-bag in a recent mock draft. I immediately shut the computer off, my draft/day ruined.
  • Second Base: Ian Kinsler
    Has a well known feud with the far superior Dustin Pedroia. Injury prone. Needs to find a pair of baseball pants that fit him.
  • Shortstop: Stephen Drew
    J.D.’s brother… that’s enough for me.
  • Third Base: Alex Rodriguez
    Cameron Diaz fed him popcorn on national television. I’d like to feed him a knuckle sandwich. A-Fraud is captain of my d-bag team.
  • Outfield: B.J. Upton
    Million-dollar talent, 10-cent brain. If this guy ever decided to give a damn, he’d be unstoppable.
  • Outfield: Jonny Gomes
    This d-bag loves to be the third man in on someone else’s fight. Dylan and I were at a Rays game a few years ago. Gomes was playing left field (lousily I might add). We kept calling him a lard ass with a crappy arm. I’ll swear to this day that I saw a glint of a tear in his eyes. This rager is a token tough guy.
  • Outfield: Alfonso Soriano
    Easily the worst defender in baseball, makes Johnny Damon look like Roberto Clemente in his prime.  $136 million over 8 years! Really?
  • Designated Hitter: Miguel Cabrera
    I don’t care if Miggy hits 80 home runs and bats .400 this season. His decision to drive drunk and act like an idiot is inexcusable. You make $19 million a year. Hire a driver, jackass.
  • Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
    Ok, we get it. Your dad used to put a dollar bill on the ground when you were pitching to make sure you were following through… Enough of this stupid commercial. This pot smoker really needs a haircut.
    Although I do like that he tanked it down the stretch last year, ultimately foiling Dan’s season.
  • Pitcher: Matt Garza
    Spit… spit… spit… spit… spit… Garza is a big-game pitcher… spit… spit… spit… spit… has some really stupid facial hair… spit… spit… spit… and is the grossest man in baseball.
  • James Shields takes a swing at Coco Crisp
  • Pitcher: James Shields
    If you’re going to incite a baseball brawl against the smallest guy on the other team, can you at least look at what you’re swinging at?
    15 losses with a 5.18 ERA in 2010. I think we can officially lose the “Big Game James” moniker.
  • Pitcher: Carlos Zambrano
    Fighting teammates, throwing temper tantrums, going -24 in the first week of fantasy baseball — it’s the triumvirate or douchiness.
  • Pitcher: Daisuke Matsuzaka
    I can give you 100 million reasons that he’s on this list. My biggest problem is that Dice-K went 18-3 during his rookie season, then stopped throwing fastballs and started trying to nibble the corners with bad off-speed stuff. He’s chronically slow on the mound and causes his games to drag on forever. I’d rather watch a Lifetime movie marathon than watch Dice-K throw 110 pitches in 4 innings.
  • Closer: Francisco Rodriguez
    This class act berated his girlfriend and then pummeled her dad after his manager didn’t let him pitch in a game. And he looks stupid in his prescription pitching goggles.
  • Coach: John Rocker
    Racist. Redneck. Homophobe. Jerk. Remember?

There are 750 baseball players on Major League rosters. There’s bound to be a few bad apples in there.

Baseball is still the best sport in the world.

18 days.

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 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!

All Star

Baseball has some of the most passionate and knowledgeable fans in all of sports, but for some reason, when the fans have the chance to select the starters for the mid-summer classic, they have the tendency to pick with their hearts instead of their brains. As much as I like players like Jason Varitek and Ken Griffey Jr., they are not deserving of an All Star nod. With the All Star selections being announced at 2:00 p.m. today, I’m going to jump the gun and give you the players that have truly played like an All Star during the first half of the season.

Although I’d like to make the team entirely of Red Sox players, I’m going to try to be as impartial as possible, which means there may be a Ray or a Yankee on the team. Ugh!

American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer
Pencil him in for the next ten years.

First Base: Justin Morneau
This was a close race between Youkilis and Morneau. Both players have similar numbers. I just think Morneau is better.

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia
This guy is a great hitter and an under-appreciated defender. His defense gives him a slight edge over Ian Kinsler.

Third base: Alex Rodriguez
After a controversial week in the tabloids, this selection should soothe the Material Girl’s pain.

Shortstop: Michael Young
Sorry, Jeter. I know that this is the last year in Yankee Stadium, but Young is better than you.

Outfield: Josh Hamilton, Grady Sizemore, Carlos Quinton
There have been some great performances by AL outfielders during the first half of the season. These three have been the best.

Designated Hitter: Milton Bradley
Even with one arm, I think Big Papi should be the DH. But I’m afraid that Bradley will hunt me down and beat me to a pulp if he’s not picked.

Starting Pitcher: Cliff Lee
11-1, 2.26 ERA. Lee has been the biggest pitching surprise in the league.

Reserves:
Dioner Navarro C
Kevin Youkilis 1B
Ian Kinsler 2B
Brian Roberts 2B
Evan Longoria 3B
Derek Jeter SS
B.J. Upton OF
Nick Markakis OF
Ichiro Suzuki OF
J.D. Drew OF
Roy Halladay SP
Ervin Santana SP
James Shields SP
Justin Duchscherer SP
Joe Saunders SP
Gavin Floyd SP
Jon Lester SP
Jonathan Papelbon RP
Francisco Rodriguez RP
Mariano Rivera RP

National League

Catcher: Russell Martin
Martin is in a class by himself. Easily the best catcher in baseball.

First Base: Lance Berkman
After an amazing first half, Berkman is the NL MVP.

Second Base: Chase Utley
24 ding-dongs on the season so far. He has carried the Phillies.

Third base: Larry Jones
Grown men shouldn’t be called Chipper, even when they hit close to .400.

Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez
This guy makes the game look easy. He’s a lock for the next ten years.

Designated Hitter: Ryan Howard
I like that this guy will either strikeout or go yard. There is no in-between.

Outfield: Nate McLouth, Carlos Beltran, Ryan Braun
These three aren’t the biggest names in the National League, but they’ve been carrying their respective teams.

Starting Pitcher: Tim Lincecum
This kid weighs 120 pounds and throws 98 MPH. The fact that he’s 10-1 and is the lone bright spot on the Giants also helps.

Reserves:
Geovany Soto C
Brian McCann C
Adrian Gonzalez 1B
Derrek Lee 1B
Dan Uggla 2B
David Wright 3B
Jose Reyes SS
Miguel Tejada SS
Carlos Lee OF
Pat Burrell OF
Matt Holliday OF
Edinson Volquez SP
Brandon Webb SP
Dan Haren SP
Cole Hamels SP
Ben Sheets SP
Ryan Dempster SP
Kerry Wood RP
Jose Valverde RP
Brad Lidge RP

So there you have it, the official thefoulline.com 2008 All Star Team.

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.

Nothing As It Seems

After watching the Red Sox this past week, I was under the impression that their offense was still stuck in Fort Myers. The dynamic duo of Ellsbury and Pedroia have looked lousy. Big Papi is a shell of his former self and has resorted to diving head first into first base in an attempt to get on, and Manny Ramirez has more stolen bases than extra base hits. I’m tired of the 2-1, or 3-0 games. I want the Sox offense to look more like a beer league softball team.

I can understand the Red Sox struggling against Roy Halladay or James Shields, these guys are good pitchers. What bothers me is when Boston’s potent offense is held in check by the likes of Edwin Jackson and Jon Garland.

But all my worrying was for naught. After doing a little research I found that Boston’s offense is right where it should be. Check out these numbers:

Batting Average: 1st in AL
Hits: 1st in AL
Runs: Tied for 2nd
RBIs: Tied for 2nd

The Red Sox also have Man-Ram leading the league in batting average and slugging % and in 2nd in homeruns and hits.

If Boston can only stay healthy for the rest of the year, they have the potential to put up some great numbers.

Thefoulline.com quick hits:

  • After the latest Roger Clemens scandal, it may be time for him to pick up Mike Tyson and O.J. Simpson and move to Siberia. America is officially sick of your crap. I can’t see how this guy could sink any lower.
  • Thefoulline.com staff would like to wish Alex Rodriguex and Jorge Posada a speedy recovery from their recent ailments. Fourth place in the division just isn’t the same without them.
  • Surprising no one, J.D. Drew is sitting out after nicking himself shaving. Or something.
  • Boston faces Blue Jays pitcher Dustin McGowan tonight. McGowan has pitched really well against Boston in the past and has the best sideburns in the league.
  • Dustin Pedroia’s diving stop in the 9th inning of last night’s game reminded me of when he saved Clay Buchholz’s no-hitter last year. D-Ped does not get the recognition he deserves for his defense. He’ll make the All-Star team this year.
  • Has anyone else noticed that Jonathan Papelbon always gives a fist-bump to a Boston police officer when he enters the game? Anyhow, check out this article. It’s pretty cool.