Saturday, March 31, 2007

I got my Papelbon!

Ever since I drafted a fantasy baseball team that was totally devoid of Papelbon, I have been kicking myself for not doing whatever it took to get him. The hell with Santana, maybe Paps should have been my 1st pick. How many ducks did Santana slaughter in the offseason? Less than 4402, I bet. Is Santana a Jedi? Well, I think he might actually be a Ninja, but that is not quite as good as a Jedi. Either way, what's the point of playing fantasy baseball if you don't have Papelbon?

So I signed up for an ESPN (Note: It's free and it rocks!) league against random internet Phillies fans for the purpose of getting Closer Boy. And I got him with the 77th pick in the draft.

The live online draft was an interesting experience- I think only 2 or 3 of the other 10 teams were actually live drafting, the rest were on auto-draft mode. So I would draft, using my full 30 seconds, and then the next 8 teams would draft. In 8 seconds! It was a bit disconcerting. Kind of tough to plan ahead at all. But the auto-draft mode also produced some strange results: the auto-drafting teams did not get enough pitchers, and got a lot of redundant positional players. For example, one team has like 4 3B! I think I did pretty well, and I have Papelbon, so I like my chances. My team:

C: Mike Piazza
1B: Richie Sexson
2B: Robinson Cano
SS: Michael Young
3B: Miguel Cabrera
OF: Carl Crawford, Alex Rios, Torii Hunter
Bench: Ian Kinsler, Jorge Cantu, Eric Byrnes

SP: Roy Oswalt, A. J. Burnett, Jason Schmidt, Barry Zito, Derek Lowe
RP: Joe Nathan, J.J Putz, PAPELBON!

Not a bad squad.

Season On Deck

The Phillies and the Red Sox played their On Deck Series this weekend, the final two games of their respective preseasons. Both games followed the same formula- Sox jump out to big lead against crappy Philly starting pitcher, Sox take out all of their starters by the 5th inning, Phillies come back in garbage time against the Sox scrubs to make the final score look respectable. As a Phillie fan AND as a Sox fan, I didn't really see too much value in playing these games. Both teams might have been better served if they hadn't been played. They could have relaxed, maybe played a little golf, hunted some ducks, did some sudoku- there were plenty of available alternatives. Of course the sudoku option may not have provided the 2 organizations with quite as much revenue.

There were some individual performances worthy of note. In Game 1, Cole Hamels and his 86 MPH heater allowed 5 ER on 6 hits in 5 IP. Four of the 6 hits were HRs. Hamels has allowed 9 HR in 20 Spring innings, which is bad. Gavin Floyd bad. Hopefully, when the games are for reals, he will get his act together. He at least needs to throw with more velocity than Garcia and Moyer.

In Game 2, Adam Eaton allowed 6 ER on 8 hits in 3 IP. His Spring ERA was 7.91. I can't believe the Phillies will be paying this guy $24.5 mil over three years. I'm not certain he is worth 24.5 CENTS over 3 years. They'll be lucky if he posts an ERA under 5. With his terrible injury history, it doesn't look like he'll be an innings eater, either. I'm just not very optimistic about Eaton right now.

The Red Sox had mostly promising performances. However, Matsuzaka's Saturday appearance wasn't exactly good. He pitched 4 innings, allowing 3 runs on only 2 hits (1 hit was a 2 run HR by Pat Burrell) and 4 (!) walks. Seven of his 12 outs were K's. Perhaps he was experimenting with pitching with runners on base. You know, in case any of his perfect games are marred by error(s) by the Sox defenders. But as a Sox fan, and a Daisuke fantasy baseball owner, I expect more from the 12 Million Yen Man.

Batshit Crazy Tavarez pitched effectively on Friday night, allowing only 1 ER on 6 hits over 5 2/3 innings. He is not scheduled to start again until April 7th, which gives him plenty of time spring Ugueth Urbina from jail.

Dustin Pedroia did some very un-Pedroia like stuff this weekend, making with the RBIs and even hitting a HR! He even managed to get his Spring OPS up to .651. Which is lower than Bobby Scales' OPS. Not good. The Sox need a real, live 2B.

Jason Varitek showed some life Saturday, hitting a HR to raise his Spring OPS to .555. Which is less than Dustin Pedroia. Real bad. It is never a good sign if Dustin Pedroia has a better offensive stat than you. But Jason might be getting his act together, starting with his 1 for 2 effort Saturday. This was probably the impetus behind Jason's turnaround.

Both teams have long seasons ahead of them ,but I'm hoping for a quick start by each. Preferably .700 ball in April, with at least a 10 game lead over the 2nd place team from New York. Less than 2 days until the games count...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Breaking Sox News

Curt Schilling is not the only Rookie Blogger with the sources necessary to the be the first to break Red Sox News. Here are some of the Sox stories you'll be seeing in the next few days:

Jonathan Papelbon and Terry Francona announce a "strategic partnership" with George Lucas. Jonathan indicates that he is going to make "you know, gazillions of dollars."

Julian Tavarez is jailed after a failed attempt to break Ugueth Urbina out of a Venezuelan prison. Kyle Snyder (formerly of grunge band Alice in Chains) is chosen to replace Tavarez in the Sox rotation.

Mike Timlin denies a rumor that his injury concerns are stemming from an offseason hunting incident involving a rhinoceros. Jonathan Papelbon indicates that the rhino horn he is wearing around his neck was "found by Manny on eBay."

Dustin Pedroia is sent to Pawtucket after the Sox' request to allow Pedroia to hit from a batting tee during his At Bats is denied. Bud Selig labels the request "a travesty of mythic proportions." (He refrains from commenting on steroids or DirecTV.)
Terry Francona indicates that "they couldn't find a short enough batting tee anyways."

The Red Sox announce that, after "considerable internal discussion", it has been determined that Doug Mirabelli will be the catcher for all of knuckleballer Tim Wakefield's starts.

It is revealed that not only does Daisuke Matsuzaka speak English, he has a Masters Degree in the subject, and is the Editor for Schilling's blog. Schilling, through a Japanese interpreter, denies the need for an Editor.

(Next week's game stories and boxscores are now available through PhillyFanaticInsider.)

Burninating Ostriches Announce Roster

Now that the Sox and Phillies have (mostly) finalized their rosters, it is time to announce the roster of my juggernaut fantasy baseball team, The Burninating Ostriches!

SP: Johan Santana, Jake Peavy, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Jason Schmidt, Brad Penny, Anthony Reyes
RP: Mariano Rivera, Salomon Torres, Akinori Otsuka
C: Jorge Posada, Mike Piazza
1B/CI: Lyle Overbay, Richie Sexson
2B: Jeff Kent
SS: Jose Reyes
3B/CI: Garrett Atkins, Chad Tracy
MI: Chris Burke
UTIL: Jim Thome
OF (4 start): Bobby Abreu, Gary Sheffield, Alex Rios, Chris Duncan, Milton Bradley, Garret Anderson

My team is woefully Papelbon-deficient, but efforts are being made to rectify that.
I had Rivera already for saves, so I chose Matsuzaka as a SP, knowing that Closer Boy would likely be gone by my next pick.
My closer situation needs work, especially if Gagne gets most of the saves for Texas.
Chose Johan Santana over Chase Utley with the 6th pick of 1st round.
Didn't want Jose Reyes on my team, what with him being a Met at all, but had to choose him when he fell to me with the 17th pick (I had him rated Top 5.).
Selected 3 Yankees, 2 Garret(t)s, 2 Reyes', 1 Red Sox, 1 Met, 0 Phillies.
Alex Rios, Anthony Reyes, Chris Duncan, and Chris Burke are my sleeper types.

Even Papelbon and Timlin get a little disconcerted when they encounter a Burninating Ostrich out in the wild- I expect a whole roster of Burninating Ostriches should do a good bit of damage of the fantasy baseball realm.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Philly teams are on a roll...

Some good things are going down in Philly these days. The Flyers signed goalie Martin Biron to a 2 year contract today. (Mrs. Biron must have taken a liking to the area.) I was a bit disconcerted when the Flyers traded a 2nd rounder (the 1st pick of the 2nd round) for 19 almost meaningless games worth of Biron in a season long lost. But now that he is signed, I feel much better about that trade. He will, hopefully, continue to bring consistent play to the goal crease. If not, he will at least save the Flyers on equipment costs, as he has been wearing the same skates for the last 11 years. (Apparently, they are still quite comfy.)

The Eagles made a huge move also, acquiring LB Takeo Spikes and 3rd string QB Kelly Holcomb from Buffalo for DT Darwin Walker and a late, conditional draft pick. Besides having an insanely cool name, Spikes is a versatile, impact player who fills a huge hole on the Eagles D. I have been a Spikes fan since having him on one of my fantasy football teams. (I am so hardcore that I play fantasy football IDP style!) Spikes is a little pricey, but they gave up almost nothing for him, as Darwin Walker was projected to be the 5th or 6th man in the 4 man tackle rotation. Excellent move by the Eagles.

The 2nd place Philadelphia Kixx secured a spot in the postseason. Their play has been much improved since I added a Kixx hat to my headwear rotation. I like to think I have a role, albeit small, in their success. There are only 22 KIXX HATS left, so buy now and PLAY IT REAL!

But, with the Phillies season starting in less than a week (!!!), it's time for the rest of the Philly teams to take a back seat. I'm a little concerned about the Phillies' rotation (Garcia, Eaton, and Lieber are having issues), the bullpen (Gordon seems fragile, the rest seem mediocre), and the fact that Howard, Burrell, and Rowand are all hitting around .200. (Yes, I know spring stats don't count/small sample size and whatnot, I am still concerned.) But they have until next Monday to get it together. I still think they are the team to beat in the NL East, though I may not necessarily be objective. I CANNOT WAIT for the season to start.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Return of Closer Boy

Ever since it was reported on ESPN (and the Breaking Sox News Blog) that Jonathan Papelbon would be returning to the closer role, there has been much discourse and speculation about the situation. Wasn't it supposed to be better for JP from a health standpoint to be a starter? Was this decision made because of the current team's lack of a viable closer of the non-Papelbonian variety? Was it because Tito wants JP to keep the 4402 duck carcasses in the bullpen, as opposed to in the dugout?

We've had various Sox players, various media types, bloggers, and other randoms weigh in on the situation. Surprisingly, even the typically laconic Curt Schilling had some comments on the matter. My favorite contributor, besides Papelbon himself, would have to be PapelMOM.

But there is one side to the decision that I don't believe has yet been satisfactorily examined.
The ramifications of the move of Julian Tavarez to the starting rotation. When I think of what kind of contributions I expect from each player, I think of what each player symbolizes to me. Varitek=Leadership.
When I think of what I want from Tavarez, one thought jumps out at me. I want the SHENANIGANS. The Batshit Craziness. The Sox need a major contribution from Tavarez if they expect to do well in the Random Acts of Senseless Standings. I'm just not sure that the Sox are putting Julian in the best position to help in the area where he can best contribute.

First off, Julian is more comfortable as a starter. If there's anything we don't want it's for Julian to be comfortable. Then there's less of a chance he'll randomly bodyslam an umpire. Or throw empty buckets of sunflower seeds into the stands in New York. As a starter, he'll probably appear in 30 different games, as opposed to maybe 80 different games as a reliever. Baseball Prospectus has proven that there is a higher incidence of Tavarez Craziness in games that he is actively involved in. It doesn't take a SABRmetrician to figure out that 30 is less than 80. While Tavarez' total IP will probably double, and it is possible that he will respond to batters that got a hit off him in their 1st AB by plunking them with a fastball (or a bat) in their 2nd AB, the probability of Batshit Craziness has decreased dramatically with Julian's insertion into the rotation. That is a tough pill for any Sox fan to swallow. Perhaps even tougher than that "Pedroia is a major-league 2B" pill.

During today's Sox-Reds game on ESPN, a Papelbon anecdote was related by the announcing team. Jonathan forgot to bring his baseball glove to the game. So he asked Varitek if he could borrow one of his.

In 10 years, I hope to still be hearing random Tales of Papelbon. Tales about ducks. Tales of money-making opportunities. Tales of awesome vehicles and crappy-tasting chicken. I hope that the Red Sox always act with Closer Boy's best interests at heart. Because he is the future. Not just of the Sox, or of baseball. The Future of HUMANITY. But I've already said too much...


When I am zipping around the internets, voraciously devouring all of the sports, I don't typically notice the authors of the articles. After reading a really good (or bad) article/column, I'll make note of the author, but usually I just keep zipping along on a random internet walk.

Today, I clicked to read a column on, that seemed to be about Schilling. By the time I was a few paragraphs in, I was sick to my stomach. At that point it was obvious that the author of that putrid piece of "writing" could be none other than CHB. Sickening. Hopefully, Curtis Montague Schilling won't respond to it in any way, or even acknowledge it.

Going forward, I pledge to check the author of each piece before reading, just as I wouldn't open up an unknown e-mail attachment. (Well, unless the attachment appeared to be Papelbonian in nature, of course.) Now, if only I could find some kind of CHB-ware to keep me and my computer free of future threats. Perhaps McAfee can help.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Living in a Fantasy World

With the MLB regular season starting in less than 2 weeks, and spring starting in less than 2 days, it's time to prepare for another of the highlights of March. (No, I am not speaking of National Agriculture Day on Wednesday the 21st. Though I can't blame you for thinking that. What with the picture of Pat Burrell and all. Please note that he will be using a cheat sheet (in left hand, printed on recyclable paper) on the bases this year, so expect more runs scored from the hobbled slugger. Or maybe that's his wedding vows. Either way, a lot of scoring is ahead for Patrick Brian.)

I am, of course, speaking of the drafting of the players for fantasy baseball purposes. I was on a fantasy baseball hiatus for the last 2 seasons, but the lure of easy money has brought me back. $20 buy-in, $100 for 1st place. So, basically, to me at least, a cost of NEGATIVE 80 bills. This is a much better investment than the Sox instant tickets.

Now my self-determined hiatus was for a couple of reasons. One reason was the New York factor. Now, obviously, I would never have a Met or a Yankee or my roster. That is just redonculous. I probably would have used Seth McClung as my closer, if my other option was Mariano. But, though I hate to admit it, there were times in which I took solace in the success of a Yankee or Met, as it had a beneficial effect on my fantasy team. For example, while I wouldn't exactly celebrate a Carlos Delgado game-winning HR, I would have felt a little less pissed about it if was against one of my opponent's pitchers. That, my reader(s), is a different kind of redonculous.

Additionally, I exhibited another concern as a result of fantasy baseball participation. I am not sure of the technical term. Wait, actually, I am sure of the term. Psychotic. A wee bit. I typically had more transactions that the rest of the league. And by "rest of the league", I mean add up all of the transactions made by all of the other teams in the league. Then triple it. Now many of those transactions did take place in September, when I was add/dropping five pitchers daily, while the rest of the league tweaked their fantasy football rosters. But it was still a lot. I was like Theo on overdrive, just without the minions.

The stats also got to me. All of those wonderful numbers! So many, and they changed every day! Now I have been a bit of a Stat Geek since way back when Darren Daulton was (relatively) sane, and Jonathan was a young Padawan. But I got wicked carried away as a Fantasy Baseball GM. I knew the starting pitchers for every game. I knew which catcher-eligible player had the most RBI over the past 30 days. I was an interactive version of, only no pop-up ads. Unfortunately, this knowledge had limited applications, outside of fantasy baseball and the barroom. Even though YouTube had not yet entered the public consciousness, I still probably had better uses for my disposable leisure time.

This season will be different. For reals. I will not draft Starter Boy in the 1st round, because I realize that SDs (slaughtered ducks) are not a fantasy stat. (Yet.) I will draft a purple-lipped princess, if it is best for my team. If you read on News of the Weird about a guy wearing a gorilla suit and a Phillies hat wandering about MA yelling about trade collusion and the evils of the waiver wire, it will be someone else. (But you probably shouldn't expect any coherent thoughts on this blog for awhile...)

P.S. I'm totally taking Papelbon in the 1st round. He's a Jedi, for crissakes!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Highlights of the Internets

The internets are a strange place. By "strange", I mean "chock full of totally bizarre shit." Stuff that doesn't really make a lot of sense. Naturally, I have spent quite a bit of time analyzing this stuff. I have come to some conclusions, but I am still just cracking the surface in most areas.

Spinning leeks. I'm pretty sure the vocals are in Finnish. I think Kiprusoff has a clip on YouTube singing this song. Everybody's sung while spinning a leek before, so no need to explain that. After 20 minutes, it starts to get better, but at the 35 minute mark, I start feeling the effects. But, if given the choice between 3 hours of the spinning leeks, or 5 minutes of play-by-play by new Phillies announcer Gary Matthews, Sr., I'm taking the leeks.

Pirate. Yar-Har-Fiddle-Dee-Dee, indeed. But I still prefer the ninjas.

Random dancing animals. Choreography needs work. The alligator dances like his tail just grew in.

Brilliant musical genius. Strongest performances are covers of Opeth and Guns 'n Roses (Sweet Child). I think it's the French accent that makes the vocalist such a standout. Also has plus vocal range and above average guitar skills.

Best half-time show ever. I am shocked we haven't seen this group at the Super Bowl yet.
A truly remarkable finish to a truly remarkable performance.

?????? I have no clue what is going on here. I just click and click and go to increasingly strange places, none of which make any sense to me.

Botswana. I like to have this on in the background at all times. Very relaxing and calming. The elephant seals just don't have the same appeal to me.

SB. This post was a little Papelbon-deficient. Until now.

Brilliant. And very painful. Both of these things, in heaping helpings. The Sox need Marty Barrett back. At 55, he could still out-hit Pedroia.

There you go my reader(s), a selection of my finest bookmarks. Maybe one of you can figure out Superbad.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Win one-of-a-kind ticket and merchandise prizes!

The new Red Sox $10 scratch ticket will go on sale Tuesday, March 20th at the Lottery's 7500 licensed retailers in MA. It was unclear at press time whether either of my suggested names for the ticket- "Lucky Dice-K" and "Papelbones"- was selected. In addition to cash prizes, there is also the possibility of winning (Roof Deck, Monster seats, Pavilion, Grandstand, Suites) tickets for individual games. There is even the top prize of an entire DECADE of Red Sox-Yankees tickets!

There is also the chance you could win "official team merchandise that is unique to the $10 Red Sox Instant Ticket and cannot be purchased or found elsewhere." This merchandise includes David Ortiz' 1st base glove, Dustin Pedroia's bat, Theo Epstein's gorilla suit, and Manny Ramirez' "dread bag." You can also send in losing $10 Red Sox Instant Tickets for the opportunity to win 1 of 4402 duck carcasses, made available by Starter Boy himself!

So, on the plus side there is the chance to win fabulous and exciting Red Sox prizes and/or cash money. On the minus side, the lottery is a voluntary regressive tax on the poor and the mathematically inept. Probabilistically speaking, if you play the lottery, you are, in fact, a
bonehead. Which reminds me, I guess I didn't win that Rudy Seanez autographed baseball for sending in those losing $10 Red Sox Instant Tickets last year. Curses.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Won't you come and save me, save me...

When examining the Phillies and Sox rosters in January, it looked like they had the makings of a good bullpen. And by "good" I meant "good relative to the Devil Rays bullpen." And by "a" I meant they could probably cobble together one passable bullpen crew between the two teams.

Now, being the good and/or innovative fan that I am, I immediately began formulating an intricate plan whereby the two teams could share one single, workable bullpen crew. The easy part was figuring out a loophole in the waiver rules to allow the teams to transfer pitchers to each other at their convenience. I won't give it away in this space, but the Great Waiver Draft (5 day) Trade of Pete Peeters and Keith Acton from the Philadelphia Flyers to (and from) the Winnipeg Jets was my inspiration.

I figured Charlie Manuel might not be able to mentally handle this situation, but I thought we could sate him by offering Curt Schilling's services as a pinch-hitter, on Curt's days off from pitching for the Sox. The Loquacious Blond Blogger would definitely be a better option off the bench than the Sausage Beater. The most difficult part was figuring out the logistics of moving relievers back and forth between teams playing in games, simultaneously, in different cities, while also considering fluid game situations. But Jonathan solved that problem by graciously offering the use of his Flash Speeder. Problem solved. Merci beaucoup, Starter Boy!

But, after watching so far this spring, I'm not certain that the 2 teams could find enough satisfactory major league relievers for one 7 man bullpen. I mean, look at these guys:

Tom Gordon- This guy has been around forever. I am fairly certain he pitched for the Royals against the Phillies in the 1980 World Series. He just flew 2000 miles from FLA to PHI to get his arm checked out. I'm not so sure we can count on him.

Joel Pineiro- 6.36 ERA. 1.65 WHIP. Not what you would call "good numbers" last season.

Antonio Alfonseca- 12 fingers. 43 ineffective innings over the last 2 seasons. Anything could happen here.

Julian Tavarez- Is he more effective as a starter? As a reliever? When he "knows his role?" All I know is that he should be traded. ASAP. Because when he is suspended for life for beating a Devil Rays fan and/or mascot with a shillelagh, his trade value will decrease. Significantly. Are you listening, Theo? Get one of the minions on this.

Fabio Castro- He has a 7.11 spring ERA. The Texas Rangers didn't want him. His 1st name is "Fabio." 3 strikes, buddy.

Kyle Snyder- Now, I like this guy. Maybe because his middle name is "Ehren." Perhaps because I fondly remember the 1st time I saw him perform. But he hasn't had a season ERA better than 5.17 yet. He's pretty much been the dog that gets beat so far.

Matt Smith - Phillies fans consider this guy a given. We are probably just trying to make ourselves feel better about the Abreu trade. But he only has 20 IP in the bigs. Also I'm pretty sure his longest and best performance was here.

Basically, the only reliever on either team that I feel reasonably confident about is Brendan Donnelly. And he is 35, with a WHIP that has increased in each of the past 5 seasons.
Pat and Theo need to do some serious bullpen upgrading.

I saw this simply outstanding commercial on YouTube. I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't seen it, but the cameos get increasingly amazing. Check it out.

Finally, this guy, apparently, forgot a very important rule.
No matter how drunk you are, NEVER LET THE UNICORN DRIVE!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Red Sox Instructional DVD Series

I read on today about the release of a DVD geared to the Youth of the (Red Sox) Nation. Narrated by Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, the DVD "combines all the great things you love about the team with all the things you want your young fans to learn- numbers, letters, shapes, colors, and more." Now, first off, major points for including Jennifer Garner in this project. I am a big fan of Jennifer Garner's, um, "body of work." But major points are deducted from "Team Baby Entertainment" for also producing a Yankees version (narrated by Yankees owner George Steinbrenner). The last thing we need is more Yankee fans. Even worse, however, is the fact that NO OTHER MAJOR LEAGUE TEAM has their own version. Just the Sox and Yankees. The other teams need not apply, apparently. They all get a generic version, narrated by Al Michaels. So, if you're waiting for the Phillies version, narrated by Harry Kalas (of course), I guess you'll be waiting for awhile. (Well, at least until after they win the 2007 Series, at which point everybody's going be jumping on the bandwagon.)

But, back to the Sox DVD, I see MASSIVE POTENTIAL for profit here. The key is to look at the big picture. I am talking LONG-TERM REVENUE STREAMS. Sure, some bucks are to be made off this particular DVD. But the big bucks are to be made by indoctrinating as many young'ins into RSN as possible. Today's infants will be the ones with the memberships in Kids' Red Sox Nation in a few years. In a few decades, they'll be the ones paying for $100 seats (face value) in the bleachers of W.B. Mason Stadium (the Sox' 90,000 capacity stadium, to be located in Somerville, MA). The keys right now are low cost and accessibility.

My suggestion would be to produce a whole bunch of Sox DVDs, covering a wide variety of Soxian parenting topics, and retail them for $10 each. Now, initially, I thought this series would have different DVDs for each age. But, I've considered the fact that, if the Soxy Mamas and Papas are progressive enough to purchase these DVDs, they can determine at which age level they want to communicate these Soxian principles and ideals to their children. So my vision of this series simply includes different players teaching different topics. So far, I've got:

JULIAN TAVAREZ - The Golden Rule (Do Unto others...)
MANNY RAMIREZ- Playing well with others/Teamwork
KEVIN YOUKILIS- "A walk is as good as a hit."
CRAIG BRESLOW - Probability and Statistics
J.D. DREW - Staying Healthy
JULIO LUGO - Maintaining a Healthy Marriage
JASON VARITEK - Leadership and Motivating Others
KATHRYN TAPPEN* - Why Pink Red Sox Apparel is Wrong

(*Note: Kathryn Tappen will be included in any Soxian projects I am affiliated with. You do not need Craig Breslow here to do the Math...)

Now, you may have noticed the conspicuous absence of a DVD featuring Jonathan Papelbon. Well, I am deferring to realism here. Obviously, someone with the business acumen of JP, will see the incredible opportunity here, and market his own set of DVDs. His set will likely include titles such as, "Building your own Lightsaber", and "Killing 4402 Ducks With the Lightsaber You Built Yourself." I know I'll be buying his complete set, and I'll be far from the only one. I'm cool with that. JP and I will each make a gajillion dollars. Which is more than sufficient for me. I'm not greedy.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Papelbon pitches simulated game

Jonathan Papelbon was scheduled to throw a 50 pitch simulated game today. I haven't yet seen any reports on it yet, but I am pretty sure it went something like this:

Jonathan Papelbon enters the Sox clubhouse at 12:30pm. He is wearing a t-shirt, shorts, sneakers, and a fishing hat that appears to have several fishing hooks stuck in it. His lightsaber hangs loosely from his waist. He is gripping a tennis ball in his right hand.

Manager Terry Francona is sitting on a bench near Papelbon's locker. He is focused on the screen of his laptop computer.

JP: We doin' the usual simulated game thing, skip?
TF: Yes. We have much to do.

JP sits down on the bench. He hurls the tennis ball at a concrete wall 30 feet away. He does this 3 times, catching the ball in his left hand as it returns.

JP: One down. Couldn't, you know, get around on my heater.
TF: (hasn't looked up, he is watching a clip of Padres SP Clay Hensley) You had good movement on that 2nd fastball.

JP throws the ball 3 more times.

JP: Another out. Did you see that curve I just threw?
TF: (focused on American Idol clip) It was a hanger. It was extra bases if (Simulated) Coco doesn't get such a good jump.
JP: I was, you know, trying to use my fielders.

Manny Ramirez enters the room. He is wearing a bathrobe and flipflops. Red dreadlocks protrude from the back of his 10 gallon hat. He is carrying a plate of baklava, and appears to be dancing ever so slightly, though no music, or musical apparatus, is apparent.

MR: How are you, Jonathan?
JP: Good, man, real good.
TF: (checking stocks) Manny, we need to do some fielding drills today.
MR: Yes, sir. (ambles away, ducking under the path of a JP heater)

JP throws 4 more pitches, retiring the side.

Doug Mirabelli enters the room. He is wearing a My Little Pony apron and a pink chef's hat.

DM: (to all) Lunch is now served. (to TF) Can I take off this damn hat yet?
TF: (watching a clip of The Simple Life) Not until the meal is complete.

JP starts the 2nd inning, getting the 1st out on a weakly hit ground ball.

Dustin Pedroia enters the room. He is in his full uniform, including spikes. Official game time is now 6 hours away.

DP: (to TF) I'm ready, skip.
TF: (watching batting clip of Indians OF Jason Michaels) Excellent.
Mike Lowell (to DP, from across room): Come over here, double play grounder.
DP: (to TF and JP) He calls me that because I catch a lot of double play grounders.
JP: (to DP) Yes, that's exactly why.

DP walks away, he does not need to duck to avoid JP's 2nd offering.

TF: (watching clip of Ozzie Smith doing flips) Way to work the lower part of the strike zone there.

JP continues to throw, retiring the side in order.

TF continues to surf the net- he is now reading Curt Schilling's blog. He furrows his brow and shakes his head gently. Suddenly, he becomes alert, scanning the room.

TF: I sense a disturbance in the Force.

Pitching coach John Farrell approaches.

JF: (to JP and TF) I've been waiting for you guys on the field- when are we getting this thing started?
JP: (to JF) These are not the Sox you are looking for.
JF: I wonder what Dougie made for lunch today. (walks away)

TF sends a MySpace bulletin.

JP starts the 3rd inning by plunking the simulated batter in the right shoulder.

JP: I was, you know, sending a message. I also want to practice doing that pitching thing that you do, you know, when you got guys on base. You know, just in case.
TF: (watching Beanpot highlights) Good thinking.

JP fires an errant pickoff throw. The ball ricochets off J.D Drew's foot. He clutches his left arm and falls in a heap.

TF glances at J.D. J.D. gets up immediately, rubbing the front of his neck.
TF continues filling in his NCAA bracket.

JP gets the 1st out on a force out. Simulated Dustin Pedroia has trouble getting the ball out of his glove and can't complete the twin killing. He glances at TF, gripping the front of his neck and grimacing.

(Simulated runner on 2nd, 1 out.)

Mike Timlin enters the room. He is dressed for hunting.

MT: (to JP) SB, let's get out of here. Eli and Peyton are waiting for us.
JP: (to TF) Can I go, skip, can I?
TF: (scanning the waiver wire of his Yahoo fantasy hockey league) Yes. That is enough for now.
JP: (jumps to his feet, walks towards exit with MT) Those football guys are coming again? They have no aim at all.
MT: Yep. More ducks for us...

An addiction revealed...

I have an addiction. It's not something I feel particularly proud about. It's not a topic I ever speak about. Just too damn uncomfortable.

On some level, I'm just beginning to realize the extent of the effects of my addiction. I'm not even really sure when my problem reached addiction status. But it's affected my productivity level in the workplace. It's affected me outside of the workplace in ways I cannot even quantify. I'm still grappling with the question of just how much control I still have. And how much I have lost that can never be recovered.

I guess that's the important question. What can still be salvaged? I've committed to making some changes in my life. I realize I have a problem. I guess that's a small triumph. I need many more W's, though. I'm battling an insidious enemy. But I know I can win. Well, I'm pretty sure I can at least tie, and win in the shootout.

I'm not even sure why I am writing of this struggle, rather than internalizing it, which is my typical modus operandi. Maybe writing about it is therapeutic, in a way. Perhaps I'm looking for others with the same problem to join me in my battle. OUR battle. Perhaps I just want others to be aware of the potential dangers. I'm really only sure of one thing right now.

My name is Mike and I am a YouTube addict.

In the middle of the desert, in the center of the sky...

I have a song stuck in my head. At least it's a lively tune. Not a bad song to have stuck in your head on a busy afternoon, actually. The vocals fall within the limited parameters of my vocal range- I think I do a pretty good job with it. This would totally be my jam if I ever karaoked. There was some mocking of my vocal stylings, but when I am alone in my car, I'm fairly certain I hit every note perfectly.

Here's a video of the song being performed by the original artist(s). (No video available of my performances. Yet.) You-Tube

Friday, March 9, 2007

Sox (allegedly) beat Phillies, 11-10

The Red Sox, allegedly, defeated the Phillies by an 11-10 score on Friday. I didn't get to watch, or listen, to the game as the 1pm start time conflicted with my employment responsibilities. But I did monitor the matchup on However, in Spring Training, often lies about inconsequential minutiae, such as "the score", and "who's pitching." was definitely incorrect about the performance on Phillies ace southpaw Cole Hamels in the 1st inning. Four runs allowed in an INNING! Cole doesn't give up 4 runs in a MONTH! I can only see two possible scenarios. Either Cole was doing his Joe Cowley (1987 Phillies version) imitation- in which case he was dead on. Alternatively, the Phillies might have gotten a right-handed dishwasher from Denny's and had him pitch left-handed for the 1st inning. It is inconceivable the Cy Cole himself would pitch this poorly, under any circumstances.

Phillies LH relief specialist Matt Smith faced 8 batters (7 more than he faces in a typical appearance) and, allegedly, allowed 6 ER, while getting only 2 outs. Also quite unbelievable.
Maybe they played this game on Strat-O-Matic? Or perhaps it was just a simulated game played in Tito's mind. Two shutout innings by Manny Delcarmen? Impossible. (One shutout batter seems far-fetched.) The only part of that box score that seems viable to me is Runelyvs Hernandez' 3 runs allowed in 1.1 innings, raising his ERA to a staggering 18.69. Yikes. As questionable as the Sox bullpen is, I just don't see him being a part of it. Unless they keep him to fight with opponents and/or teammates. But it seems they already have Julian Tavarez for that.

Craig Hansen pitched an inning, allowing 3 H, 1 BB, and 2 ER. (It is not clear at this time whether it was really him, or Mike Burns again.) With Mike Timlin shut down for a week due to soreness in his oblique, and the Sox uninjured bullpenners turning in one poor performance after another, I am getting increasingly concerned. The opening of the season is less than a month away, and the Sox bullpen is in disarray. Hopefully, they'll be in better shape once the games start. Theo may need to make a deal or two.

On Saturday, the Sox and Josh Beckett face the Tigers and Justin Verlander. The Phillies will split their squad, with Freddy Garcia starting against the Devil Rays, and Jon Lieber against the Astros. All games are at 1:05pm. The Flyers also play the Bruins at 1:05pm, in a matchup of my 2 favorite teams, and the 2 worst defensive teams, in the NHL. Should be a good day for the sports...

Finally, there is an insanely funny blog posting over on They are already in postseason form over there. Check it out!

A Brief Musical Interlude

I'm very excited to see how the Phillies and Sox do this season. And whether Manny plays more games than J.D. Drew. The Bruins' playoff run and the Flyers' battle to escape last place in the NHL are also worthy of note.

But I'm also looking forward to hearing new albums by Threshold (pic on left) and Redemption (pic above). In my years as a music fan, I've transitioned from disco of the Sesame variety to metal of the Progressive variety.
However, I have consistently enjoyed Cookie Monster vocals.

has released a video for the 1st single, "Pilot in the Sky of Dreams" and advanced scouting reports indicate that Redemption's April 3rd release, "The Origins of Ruin" will be every bit as good as their 2005 masterpiece, "The Fullness of Time." I think I'll be listening to these CDs when I fly down to Philly for the World Series Champs parade this October.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Phils Win!

The Cleveland Indians demonstrated the kind of innovative maneuver that will be required to defeat the Phillies this season when their 1B hit a foul ball off a pipe in the Phillies dugout. The pipe burst, showering the Phillies with water, and forcing an evacuation of the dugout for a short period.

However, this was insufficient to get the Phillies off their game, as they rode HRs by Ryan Howard and Abraham Nunez to a 6-5 victory. Hopefully, Nunez' .417 Spring avg. has increased his trade value to 2 dozen baseballs. I would make the deal for 1 dozen.
(Note: The "official" box score may indicate that Cleveland won 7-6 with 2 runs in the bottom of the 9th, but I have decided not to count blown saves and/or miscellaneous badness by Phillies who I do not project to make the major league club. By my calculation, the Phillies are now 8-0 in the Spring.)

The Sox split their squad, beating Toronto 3-2, and losing to Minnesota 1-0. The win over the Blue Jays featured a game-winning single in the bottom of the 9th by Jeff Bailey, and Joel Pineiro reducing his ERA to 8.31 with a scoreless 5th inning. Julian Tavarez also pitched well, allowing 1 H and 0 ER over 1.2 IP. In the loss to Toronto, Schilling pitched well, allowing 2 H and 1 ER over 4 IP. The Sox, with Kason Gabbard and Craig Hansen slated to pitch, face King Cole Hamels and the Phillies on Friday, in another 2007 World Series preview.

In Curt Schilling news, the laconic veteran is finally beginning to escape his extreme introversion with a foray into the blogosphere. He has started a blog, and while his 1st post was only 1858 words, it was a good 1st step in coming out of his shell. I look forward to learning his views, and finding out about his business interests outside of baseball.
(TREMENDOUS tribute to John Vukovich by Curt today. Well done, Curt!)

Tom Brady may have another kid on the way. But that's his own damn business. I'm all about the stats. Hopefully, this won't dominate Pats news because I'd rather read about Wes Welker.

On Dateline last night, NBC Security Consultant Bill Stanton managed to steal cars (by breaking windows with big rocks!) and rob houses in broad daylight, as people (mostly) watched. Yikes. Next time I see somebody smashing a car window with a big rock, I'm definitely calling the cops. Then I'll be looking for hidden cameras.

Finally, Obi-Wan's cloak sold for $104,000 in an auction on Tuesday. If Kenobi's cloak can go for that much, I'm guessing Papelbon's cloak would sell for upwards of a gazillion dollars.
The Force is strong in young Starter Boy...

A Philly Great passes...

RIP, Vuk.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Walk Off Sox

The Phillies AND Red Sox both won their games today with walk-off HRs by minor league infielders. I suspect that we will see more walk-off HRs this season from both of the 2007 World Series participants. (I also suspect not too many will be hit by Phillies farmhand 3B Brennan King and Sox minor league SS Ed Rogers, however. At least not at the Major League level.)

I watched the Sox game on NESN HD - the 1st Sox game I have watched in its entirety this year. They did not disappoint.
As a bonus, the Sox were facing the Mets, who are tied with the Yankees for the top spot on my "MLB Teams I Love to Hate" list. (The Braves are 3rd on the list.) The Mets lineup was missing Delgado, Beltran, LoDuca, and Green from their top 8, and Chan Ho Park, competing for a spot at the back of the rotation, was the starting pitcher, followed by Aaron Sele, also competing for a rotation spot. The Sox had, probably, their top 8 starting, with the (possible) exception of Cora starting over Lil' Dustin at 2B. Knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and Jedi Warrior Jonathan Papelbon were the 1st 2 pitchers for the Sox.

Wakefield looked pretty damn good, allowing 0 R, on 4 hits and 1 BB, over 3 innings. One of those hits was a looper to left that Lugo probably should have gotten to. The Sox scored a run on an inning-ending DP in the 1st, and led 1-0 after 3 innings.
Bob Ryan stopped by to chat with Remy and Orsillo for awhile, mostly about the 1967 Sox. He mentioned going to the ticket office to buy tickets a month before the end of that season, and picking up $3 box seats behind the plate for the season finale. Yikes. You can't get a Fenway Frank for $3 these days. But we do get to experience the wonders of the Virtual Waiting Room, while hoping for SRO tickets. Of course, we also have NESN HD. So it's all good. Somewhat good, at least.

W.B. Mason had more irritating commercials touting their same day delivery service in, quite possibly, the most irritating possible way. I do not like W.B. Mason commercials. Their blue pens also kind of suck. And their same day service is only available in "Metro Boston."
But Jordan's Furniture had an intriguing commercial where they promise that any furniture purchased in the next month is free, if the Sox win the World Series. Now the Sox will not be beating the Phillies in the World Series. That's just crazy talk. But maybe Jordan's could offer half off for a Sox Series APPEARANCE. I would be down with that. My couch is looking a lil' shoddy. (Not as shoddy as Tavarez' ERA, though.) Jordan's has really good stuff. I would totally endorse them if an appropriate offer was put on the table. Or if they gave me a new table. Are you listening, Jordan's?

Papelbon came in and was awesome, as usual. 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 K. His fastballs were in the 92-94 MPH range. Only threw a few non-fastballs, though. As a regular starter, he's going to need to use his curve and his Jedi Mind Tricks more than he did as a closer. Might be good to use them a little more now. When he left after the 6th, the Sox led 5-0.
Starter Boy gave an interview after his appearance- the part most memorable to me was the fact that he said "you know" 78 times when answering about 8 questions. (Yes. I counted the "you knows." I have a responsibility to my reader(s).) He did NOT mention any more ways to make a gajillion dollars.

The Sox took a page from the Phillies' Spring playbook, and utilized a bunch of players with numbers mostly greater than 70 to systematically blow their lead. Brendan Donnelly pitched poorly for the 1st time this spring, despite the fact that his #53 is lower than #70. He got 2 outs, and allowed 4 baserunners (2 H, 2 BB). Hideki Okajima came in with the bases loaded and 2 outs to face Damion Easley. Okaji got 2 strikes on Easley, and then threw a hanging curve that was popped for a game-tying grand slam. Donnelly was charged with 3 of those ER. With an assist from Okajima, Donnelly's ERA is now an unsightly 12.27.

The next 1 and a half innings were fairly uneventful. Don Orsillo, Jerry Remy, and Tina Cervasio mostly talked about the zoo. (For the record, Jerry Remy has transitioned past the time in his life that the zoo was exciting to him, but he is intrigued by the thought of seeing an albino raccoon.) I will cut them some slack, however, seeing as this is Spring Training. Besides their "zoo talk" was somewhat amusing. I really enjoy the Orsillo-Remy team. They are very knowledgeable and have a good rapport. Great to listen to. The only duo I can think of right now that I have enjoyed more than them was the Harry Kalas-Richie Ashburn Phillies combo. I look forward to another season of the Sox on NESN.

Back to the game, the Sox loaded the bases in the 9th off Mets reliever Ambiorix Burgos, best known for blowing saves for Kansas City last season. With one out, Ed Rogers hit the game-winning slam to left. An exciting win for the Sox. I figure that they have another 125 or so ahead of them this year. Go Sox!

Monday, March 5, 2007

The teams are alright...

Both the Phillies and the Red Sox lost today. But it doesn't matter. I am feeling mighty optimistic about both squads. A rematch of the 1915 World Series seems very possible. Or at least a Phillies playoff appearance for the 1st time since 1993. It might just be the Aquafina talking, but I really like the Phillies' and Sox' chances this season.

The Phillies lost to the Reds 9-8 today, but the final score was a result of Phillies' minor leaguers blowing the big lead the Phillies' major leaguers put up. Jon Lieber pitched shutout ball, and may have bumped up his trade value a little. The Phillies have 6 good starters for 5 rotation spots- they could (should) trade Lieber for a young OF with some pop in his bat. (Hmm. That last sentence really seems familiar somehow...) With Brett Myers, Freddy Garcia, and wunderkind Cole Hamels fronting the rotation, and Chase Utley and Ryan Howard powering the offense, Philly should be a force in the NL. The Mets have a strong offense, but a very shaky rotation. The Braves have a strong bullpen, but issues elsewhere. The Phils could very well win the NL East.

The Sox lost today to the Dodgers, 2-1, in a game in which they only had 5 hits. But Josh Beckett (3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) pitched extremely well. He is a key component of what should be a very strong rotation. Jon Lester also pitched a hitless inning in a "B" game in the morning.
Kei Igawa, a P the Yankees are counting on for their rotation, got roughed up (1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB) by Detroit today. While the Yankees likely have a superior offense, the Sox could win the division on the strength of their superior rotation. Which features Papelbon. Ace starter. Ace closer. Duck hunter. And Jedi.

The Bruins are also looking good as of late. Two wins over the weekend have put them 4 points behind 8th place Carolina, with 3 fewer games played than the 'Canes. Tim Thomas has been remarkable in goal (18 consecutive games!), and the B's even won against Brodeur IN N.J. without Thomas in goal. They used Joey MacDonald, last seen being bombed by the Flyers for 6 goals and released by the Red Wings, in goal, and he responded with a 26 save, 1st star performance. In his red and white Red Wings mask. It looks like the 8th seed in the Conference will face a tough Buffalo team in the 1st round, but it would be great just for the Bruins to make the playoffs. And I think they will.

Even the Flyers, with the fewest points in the league, 9 less than the horrendous L.A. Kings, seem to be moving in the right direction. They have made some good trades in recent weeks, picking up a gaggle of draft picks, and some good young players like Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, Braydon Coburn, and Lasse Kukkonen. They should have the max number of ping pong balls in the draft lottery, so they should pick up another good prospect with their 1st round pick. (Though no Crosby or Ovechkin or Malkin seems to be available in this draft.) The acquisition of G Martin Biron from the Sabres was an expensive one- the cost being the (likely) 1st selection in the 2nd round of the draft- but, if they can convince him to sign a contract before he becomes a free agent, it could be worth the price. I still think Antero Niittymaki can be a #1 goalie and an NHL star, but it won't hurt to have a #1 goalie in place until Antero gains more experience and consistency at the NHL level. The Flyers have some salary cap room going into the offseason, and with possible free agents like Daniel Briere and Kimmo Timonen available, the Flyers won't be propping up the NHL standings next season.

The Rivalry begins...

The Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox fought a titanic battle of the preseason variety on Saturday. A battle between the whole of both organizations, beginning with MLB starters, and ending with a bunch of minor league dudes with really high numbers on their backs. The Phillie-uniformed peeps outlasted their Sox counterparts 12-9, in 10 frames laden with determination and ferocity.

A century from now, some baseball historians will point to this game as the one that launched the Phillies-Red Sox rivalry that dominated the 21st century sports landscape. (Others will point to the 2007 World Series, the Clearwater beanbrawls of 2008, or Schilling's return to Philly, as the point at which Phillies-Red Sox replaced Yankees-Red Sox as THE baseball rivalry.)

But, regardless of your point of view, we are about to embark on a wild ride. No, not "wild" like the Phillies' ride to 10,000 franchise losses. A good Papelbonian "wild."

Now that the Sox and Phillies have each played a handful of Spring games, you can pretty much tell what's going to happen this season. Now, some people will speak of things like "small sample size", "inconsistent levels of competition", and "the MLB starters are playing the Par 5 7th hole by the 5th inning." (Watch out for that sand trap to the left of the green, starters!)
But those people are farther off base than Julio Lugo. A bunch of fallacious hooey, actually.
Here are of few things I've figured out so far: (SPOILER ALERT!)

Starter Boy (Spring ERA: 0.00): Jonathan will have 12 wins and a 2.12 ERA by midseason. After the ASG, he will have 22 saves and a 3.04 ERA*. (Note: 2nd half ERA inflated in bombing by the Twins in a non-save situation.) JP will be replaced in the rotation by a former Red Sox P named Roger.

Wannabe Closer (Spring ERA: 15.43): Joel will be Octavio Dotel's setup man in KC by August.

Manny's voicebox (Spring ERA: 13.50): Julian will be Rich Garces' setup man in NH by August.

Redlocks (Spring BA: .000): Manny will hit his 500th career HR in July, miss an extended period of time in August with left (and/or right) knee problems, and return to hit 5 HR in the playoffs. Trade requests will outnumber requests to finish his career as a Sox by 6 to 4.

Coco (Spring BA: .200): Coco's inability to hit will open up more ABs for Wily Mo.

J.D. (Spring BA: .333): J. D. will play in every inning of every game and finish 2nd to Joe Mauer in MVP voting. He will be lauded for his consistency and leadership skills.

New, possibly Evil, SS (Spring BA: .333): Julio will continue to struggle with that whole throwing thing- his .287 BA will not be enough to make up for his 32 E-6's. 32 Errors by JUNE. His season will end in July, due to an "undisclosed off-field concern." The Sox will acquire a new 2B and SS before the trading deadline. The SS will be crucial in the Sox playoff run, but will cost them prospect Jacoby Ellsbury.

Lil' Dustin (Spring BA: .111): DP will be part of Pawtucket's DP combo by May. His dream to be the 1st Hobbit to hit .300 in MLB is dashed by his inability to be the 1st Hobbit to hit .200 in MLB.

$.9 Million MVP (who still gets an allowance from Mama Howard) (Spring SLG: .875): Ryan Howard will hit 67 HR in another MVP season.

Cole (Spring ERA: 0.00): Cole Hamels' 1st (of many) 23 win Cy Young seasons. The young SP will also team with Chase Utley to defeat Global Warming.

Abe (Spring BA: .429): After failing to trade the .143 hitting late inning defensive replacement, the Phillies will release him in June and eat his salary. Danny Sandoval, will replace him on the roster and have 23 ABs the rest of the season (0 of those ABs will be in the postseason).

Roy Hobbs (Spring SLG: 1.500): Will lead AAA Ottawa with a .323 BA.

Blister and Donut Eater will both be making their Spring debuts today. It should be a great season. So, pick up your Special Limited Edition license plate, and enjoy the ride!