Rivalry Renewed

It’s that time again.

I’ve noticed over the last decade or so that the MLB schedule every year has the Red Sox and Yankees play an early April series, on the weekend, with the Sunday game always being shown on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball. You can seriously set your watch to it.

So off we go with the first of 187 meetings this season in the greatest rivalry in sports. I’m actually intrigued to see how this one goes.

Personal Dan the #1 Rays Fan punching bag Wade Miley toes the slab for the Sox in game one, and I’m interested to see how he fares in the little league ballpark that is the new Yankee Stadium. If he goes out and throws 7 scoreless, I may have to turn my phone off for the night. Although I’m sure when I turn it on again, I’ll have three missed messages from Dave, laughing at my expense. He’ll probably throw in some cracks that Rays Those Cowbells can’t crack the 100-point barrier in week one either. I’m getting there, slowly but surely!

As for New York, big-time offseason addition (lol) Nathan Eovaldi tries to slow down one of the best offenses in the American League, and I’m sure it will work out great. I’ve always found that the recipe for success is trading for a mediocre pitcher who posted a 4.37 ERA in the light-hitting National League, and bringing him over to the best hitters’ park in the American League where the big-boy offenses play. The Yankees front office is already in mid-season form.

My only regret is that this series isn’t in Fenway Park. I’d love to see the Red Sox faithful make Alex Rodriguez regret ever returning for this year, one AB at a time.

Red Sox take 2 of 3.

Please Go Away

Wasn’t 2014 a great baseball season?

The World Series was awesome and came down to the final out. The Royals’ postseason run was amazing to watch. Derek Jeter’s farewell tour was both fitting and well deserved, and Bud Selig finally stepped down after years of ignoring small-market teams.

But the best part of the 2014 season?

Alex Rodriguez was nowhere to be found.

© New York Post
© New York Post

I must admit, I thought this was the end for A-Rod. I figured there would be no way he could return after taking an entire season off. I thought his steroid riddled body would finally break down and his crappy skill set would be gone for good. But no, that glorious day will have to wait.

Seriously, is there a bigger clown in baseball in the last 30 years than this guy? He cheats the game, cheats on his wife, cheats the Yankees out of buckets of cash, and cheats us fans at the opportunity to see him limp out of the game unceremoniously after his one-year suspension.

The latest line of garbage is that A-Rod wants to meet Brian Cashman and the Yankees face to face, to “clear the air.” How he can say this with a straight face I have no idea. The Yankees have tried everything in their power to get rid of him, short of eating the $150 million or whatever is left on his contract to make him go away. Maybe it’s worth it?

I don’t know what he has to gain from continuing to embarrass himself like this. Is money really THIS important to him? So much so that he would be willing to endure the sandstorm of jeering and ridicule heading his way this year? Or could it be that he desperately wants to break baseball records so that he can taint them in some form of “revenge” against everyone?

Whatever it is, I guess one good thing comes from all this. He’s giving baseball fans all around the country one last chance to tell him how we really feel about him. It’s the Alex Rodriguez farewell tour.

Much like his chances of being voted into the Hall of Fame, let’s just hope it ends quickly.

Tick Tock

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

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

Tick… tick… tick…

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

Tick… tick… tick…

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

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

Tick… tick… tick…

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

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

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

Enjoy your week!

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

I enjoy watching the NFL for about three weeks, then I’m bored out of my mind.

I couldn’t care less if Brett Favre plays another year or which Manning is going to the Super Bowl. I’m tired of running backs running into the butts of their offensive lineman and quarterbacks with their special “do not hit” rules. I’ll watch the Superbowl, but believe me, I’m counting down the days until Spring Training.

There are people that complain that the baseball season is too long. These people are either communists or Pittsburgh Pirate fans. I’m all for extending the season another 30 games. I’ll gladly take 200 games of baseball over 16 weeks of football.

So here it is, the Top 22 reasons that baseball is the best sport around (in no particular order).

  1. The Boston Red Sox – America’s Team. Some may dispute this, but they are wrong. Boston is the model franchise in MLB – good farm system, an ownership not afraid to spend money, players that stay out of the police blotter. Always in contention. Tradition. Fenway Park. Yankee fans can suck it.
  2. Getting to the park early to watch batting practice.
  3. Manicured fields and the smell of freshly cut grass. Well, maybe not at Tropicana Field.
  4. Fantasy baseball is a thousand times better than fantasy anything else.
  5. Watching the game, eating a hotdog, drinking a cold beer.
  6. Very few face painters in the stands.
  7. If you act like a jackass after hitting a home run, you get nailed in the back your next at bat. Meanwhile, football players celebrate every tackle like they just cured cancer.
  8. Red Sox vs. Yankees
  9. Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer, two great examples of professionalism and loyalty to their teams.
  10. Winning the All-Star game actually means something. Why is the Pro-Bowl even televised? It blows.
  11. Breaking up the double play.
  12. Having the balls to try to steal home.
  13. Walk-off home runs
  14. I know they’re jackasses, but I really like Joe Buck and Tim McCarver calling the Fox Saturday afternoon game.
  15. The Rays going from worst to first in one season.
  16. Players not talking to the pitcher throwing a no-hitter.
  17. Every elite closer having their own walk-in music from the bullpen.
  18. You hit one of my stars, I hit one of yours.
  19. MLB trading deadline, the most exciting day of the year.
  20. Buying a new Red Sox hat every year.
  21. The hit-and-run
  22. The double switch

This list could be a thousand lines long. Baseball is awesome.

Pitcher and catchers report in 20 days!

Perfectly Clear

I wrote a post Monday stating that the New York Yankees are the best team in baseball and are poised to finally land their 27th World Series title. I didn’t get into a lot of the details on why I felt this way, because I thought I was pretty much stating the obvious.

After reading some comments that disagreed with the post, I figured the thing to do was to plug all the players, stats, and information into thefoulline.com’s supercomputer and find out for sure which team is the best. So, I’ve ranked the positions of the three teams that are the cream of the crop in the AL East: New York, Boston and Tampa Bay.

If I were a General Manager, these are the guys I would want.

First Base

  1. Mark Teixeira
  2. Kevin Youkilis
  3. Carlos Pena

This position was pretty close. All three guys are Gold Glove-caliber players with some pop in their bats. Teixeira has more power than Youkilis, Youkilis has a better batting average than both guys, and Pena grew up in the next town over from me. Each guy brings a lot to his respective team, but if I were starting a team and could pick a prototypical first baseman, it would be Teixeira.

Second Base

  1. Dustin Pedroia
  2. Ben Zobrist
  3. Robinson Cano

Pedroia is the reigning MVP and has emerged as a team leader for the Red Sox. All-Star, Gold Glove, Rookie of the Year – this guy has already had a great career and he’s only been around for three seasons. Zobrist has emerged this year as the all-purpose All-Star for the Rays who delivers big hits in the clutch. Although he doesn’t have much of a track record, he’s reliable at any position; I’m still waiting for this guy to play catcher. Cano has had an up-and-down last couple of seasons, but this enigmatic Yankee can hit for average with above-average power. What knocks Cano to third is his inconsistent defense and mental lapses on the basepaths.

Shortstop

  1. Derek Jeter
  2. Jason Bartlett
  3. (Distant 3rd) Whichever has-been SS Boston has thrown out there this year

Derek Jeter wears his pants too tight, but the Yankee captain always delivers in tight situations. Just when I thought Jeter was on the decline, he puts up a monster year and is the AL MVP. Speaking of MVPs, Jason Bartlett was the St. Petersburg Devil Rays Most Valuable Player in 2008. He provides the Rays with solid defense and is among the league leaders in batting average, and he’ll be a top 5 shortstop in 2010. As for Boston: Julio Lugo, Jed Lowrie, Alex Gonzalex, Nick Green… enough said.

Third Base

  1. Evan Longoria
  2. Alex Rodriguez
  3. Mike Lowell

As much as I love Mikey Lowell, this is obviously a two-horse race. Longoria is going to be a Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best third baseman of all time. Meanwhile, A-Rod is a steroid-using, Madonna-dating douche bag that can also play some ball. Not to mention, A-Rod is still owed a billion dollars on his contract and is playing with one hip.

Outfield

  1. Bay/Ellsbury/Drew
  2. Crawford/Upton/Gross
  3. Damon/Cabrera/Swisher

Carl Crawford is the best all-around outfielder out of all these players, and Upton is the best defender, but BJ is still living off his amazing ’08 postseason and has done absolutely nothing all year. The fact that Gabe Gross has a Major League job blows my mind. Boston’s triumvirate is superior as a whole; all three Red Sox outfielders are all-around solid players with base stealing ability. J.D. Drew drives me nuts and is overpaid, but he has the tendency to come up big when it counts. I love to watch the Yankee outfielders play. Johnny Damon makes every routine pop-up an adventure, I’m certain that I have a better throwing arm than Nick Swisher, and who the hell names their kid Melky? New York will upgrade this position in the offseason with either Matt Holliday or Jason Bay.

Catcher

  1. Victor Martinez
  2. Jorge Posada
  3. Dioner Navarro

Martinez is a great hitter but a defensive liability behind the plate. Posada can still hit, but he’s getting old and dinged up. Navarro is hitting .221 and has fallen off considerably in 2009. This is the weakest of all the positions. I’ll take V-Mart.

Starting Pitchers

  1. Josh Beckett/Jon Lester/Tim Wakefield
  2. James Shields/Matt Garza/Jeff Niemann
  3. CC Sabathia/A.J. Burnett/Andy Petitte

This was the toughest choice for me. I ranked this one on who I thought I would want to pitch in a five-game series. I’m obviously unsure who would be in each team’s rotation, but I’m guessing that this is pretty close. Boston has the best big game pitcher in baseball in Josh Beckett, the best left-hander in the the AL in Jon Lester, and an oft-injured 50-year-old knuckleballer in Wakefield. I would have felt better if Dice-K had been better this year, but I like this threesome. As for the Rays, Shields has the “big-game” moniker but has taken a step backwards this season. Garza was lights out last year in the playoffs but has become average. Jeff Niemann is a rookie, but he shows the poise of a veteran and has been Tampa’s best pitcher. If Garza takes his psychiatric medication and Shields regains his form, these guys could be tough. New York has the most money committed to their pitchers, but with the exception of Andy Petitte, no one has had post season success. Until CC and A.J. can prove themselves in the playoffs, they’ll bring up the rear.

These three teams are going to beat each other up for a long time. But with the playoffs right around the corner, I think Tampa will be odd man out. It’s close, but here’s how I rank them:

  1. Yankees
  2. Red Sox
  3. Rays

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.

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!

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.

When Love and Hate Collide

Foulliners, there is something I need to get off my chest that I’m not very proud of. I am embarrassed to admit I am a huge New York Yankees fan. After writing this blog for the past year, I felt that now was the time to finally come clean. I love the Yankees.

I love their 26 World Series rings. They’re so retro.

I love the supreme intelligence of Hank Steinbrenner.

I love the rules that they have in place for Joba. Next year he may get to pitch 12 innings.

I love pinstripes. They even make Don Zimmer look slim.

I love their professional grooming policy. Because everyone knows beards don’t win ballgames.

I love that they have a $200 million payroll. Because $190 million only buys 4th place.

I love that they made the playoffs for 13 consecutive years. I love even more that it won’t be 14.

I love the originality of the Yankee Universe.

I love Mantle, Gehrig, Ruth, Berra, Boone, Jeter and Bucky Effing Dent.

I love when Mariano Rivera comes on the field to “Enter Sandman.” Metallica is huge in Venezuela.

I love to watch Alex Rodriguez mash home runs, collect MVP awards, and cheat on his wife with skanky strippers and geriatric pop stars.

I love the Bronx. I can smell it from here.

I love Giambi’s mustache. It distracts from his fat ass and poor fielding percentage.

I love the Yankee fans’ passion, loyalty, and 3rd grade educations.

I love “God Bless America” during the 7th inning stretch at Yankee Stadium. It reminds me of the 4th of July, when they were still in contention.

I love Billy Crystal and Rudy Giuliani. They throw better than Johnny Damon.

I love that the Yankees pounded the Rays last night during game one of their series.

I love that the Yankees have the chance to play playoff spoiler this season.

I love the Yankees. At least until Thursday.

New York State of Mind

Don’t look now, but the New York Yankees have climbed to within three games of the AL East co-leaders Sox and Rays and are in Boston for a three-game set at Fenway Park that starts tonight. Like a bad case of athlete’s foot, New York refuses to go away. These guys have been decimated this season with injuries to Chien-Ming Wang, Johnny Damon and Hideki Matsui. Add to that the disappointing pitching from Ian Kennedy and Philip Hughes, plus the media circus of the A-Rod/Madonna/Cynthia Rodriguez/Lenny Kravitz Quadangle, and it is a miracle that these guys are still in contention. What is Hank Steinbrenner pumping through the air conditioning ducts to keep these guys motivated?

I’m not sure that the Yankees have enough pitching to make a long run at the playoffs, but you can be certain that Hank Steinbrenner will mortgage the future at next week’s trade deadline to at least make it interesting.

Objects in the rearview mirror are closer than they appear.

Thefoulline.com Quick Hits

  • I don’t know what Joba Chamberlain’s problem with Kevin Youkilis is, but if he hits Youk again tonight, I hope he gets his face smashed in with a Louisville Slugger.
  • You can tell that autumn is here when the leaves change color, and you can tell it’s almost August when Manny Ramirez starts faking another injury. This season it’s his sore knee. It never fails.
  • The attendance at Tropicana Field for the last two games for the Rays was about 12,000 and 16,000. That equates to 30.1% and 40% of total capacity. I know that it’s not the temperature in Florida that’s keeping them away. It’s always fair-weathered in the dome.
  • Big Papi David Ortiz rejoins the Sox tonight after a long layoff. This might be the big move at the trade deadline that everyone has been hoping for.
  • Speaking of the trading deadline… I really hope that Boston deals Manny to the Mets for prospects, takes those prospects and adds a top-line Red Sox prospect to the mix, and makes a deal for Matt Holliday. He would make people forget about Manny pretty damn quick.
  • Playoff atmosphere at Fenway tonight, and there is no one better to have on the mound than the best big game pitcher in baseball, Josh Beckett.

Go Sox!