SG links to a Globe piece on hunting with Mike Timlin and Tim Wakefield (are they BFFs now or what?). Said Globe piece also contains a photo gallery. Said photo gallery contains the following masterpiece:
''I enjoy being out among God's creations," [Timlin] says.
Just when I thought I could not possibly love the Red Sox or each and every individual player (with the exception of David Wells--you watch your back, Wells) even a smidgen more, something like this comes along.
As Red put it, "Thank God he's on our side." (Although I also want to point out that my daily SG-related coffee-spraying occurred on this sentence: "[Curtis Leskanic] just looks like if he wasn't playing pro ball, he'd be taunting the FBI with photos of his victims.")
Anyway, Happy Friday.
P.S. If it's real journalism you're looking for in the blogosphere today, you can't go wrong with Evan Brunell's two-partpiece entitled "How Do We Stop Injuries to Young Pitchers?" Brilliant piece, contains actual quotes from actual experts...awesome stuff. Eat your heart out, SI.
It could be argued that Red Sox vs. Yankees has no off-season, but I think I'm going to take the high road on this one regardless of who wins, since it is, after all, March 22, and either way the Sox have the upper hand since their B squad started off vs. the Yankees A team. Also let it be noted that it is currently the bottom of the seventh and the score is tied at three, so I'm not just covering my ass with that statement either.
Anyway. Regardless of the outcome of the exhibition game, I was proud of Jonathan tonight. It was noted from early on by Remy and Orsillo (themselves in mid-season form already with the giggles) that Papelbon didn't seem to have his best stuff, and any other rookie starter without his best stuff against the Yankees' full-fledged starting lineup, March 22 or no, probably would have soiled himself. But Jonathan stuck it out, gutting out five innings that weren't exactly sterling, but also quite respectable. And hey--that's more than I can say for Timlin's inning of work, which saw the return of "Whiplash".
As always, I enjoyed Jonathan immensely. Which probably means he'll get traded tomorrow, not that I'm bitter or anything.
Another highlight: Manny showing up as Number 95.
P.S. WOTS just earned a warning with a deliberate and completely unnecessary beaning. Klassy!
I was trying to explain things to Iain today, being that he's a strict baseball fan. He didn't even know who Mike Vanderjagt is, God bless him (and I almost didn't want to spoil his innocence).
So I explained. "It would be like...if the Sox won three of the last five World Series, and it had all come down to saves by Keith Foulke every time, and then all of a sudden the Red Sox wouldn't pay him and he went to the Yankees.
"And then everyone was talking about who was going to be our closer now, and people were like...well...Kyle Farnsworth is available."
Except even that analogy isn't very apt, since there are some people in the world, anywhere, who actually like Kyle Farnsworth. This cannot be said about Mike Vanderjagt, whose name nonetheless comes up frighteningly often in talk about who will replace Vinatieri. Whenever it does, though I am not religious, I make the sign of the cross.
What a nightmare this is. I mean, it's obvious Belichick knows what he's doing. And it has been pointed out that Vinatieri has slipped a little, that he's had back problems and may be on the downside. Another theory is, yes, Adam's been key for us but maybe we want to redo the team so that it doesn't always come down to a field goal--we get a touchdown instead and never miss him. The bottom line, in the end, is that if there was ever a FO that had the unquestioning faith of its fans, it's the Patriots of this era. And so forth.
So while you'd think I'd been inured to pain by being a Red Sox fan, I find that this is entirely different, trickier territory. At least when something awful happens with the Red Sox, you can have a good whinge--you've earned it. With the Patriots, even if there is reason to caterwaul, it's still looking three of five in the mouth. You're stuck--and so far, the general response from Patriots Nation has been a kind of stifled "Huurk."
After I'd explained it all to him, Iain's response was: "This feels like the valley of the shadow of death - too much all at once.
"I think this is one of the unconscious reasons why I only now follow one sport," he added. "I don't think I could take this kind of grief on several fronts at the same time."
It's not so bad as all that. As I will continue to stress here, Patriots fans have been obscenely lucky so far this decade. In all, what I really find most unsettling is that, for so long, us dual sporters have been relying on the Patriots for consistency, as a balm for pain from the Sox. You could always kind of take them for granted. Not so much now--and with a lot of things still up in the air in Sox Nation, it's not hard to imagine being in a sports-fan lake of fire by this summer, with noplace to turn.
"Maybe the Sox will now be a balm to Patriots pain," Iain pointed out hopefully.
But that's just...that would be like I'd have to get used to the idea that up was down and black was white.
And if this douchebag shows up in a Patriots uniform next season...well...then it might be time to deploy the emergency cyanide capsule.
Another big piece of the New England Patriots' dynasty appears to have left the team.
Kicker Adam Vinatieri — who kicked two game-winning field goals in Patriots Super Bowl wins, as well as another game-winning kick in an epic divisional playoff game against the Raiders — has signed with the Colts, Boston radio station WEEI is reporting.
The Patriots declined to protect their kicker, who had been named the team's franchise player twice, with the franchise-player tag.
I don't have much to add to this that isn't profanity, except to say, if I was going to have a clairvoyant dream, why couldn't it help me save a life or something?
Bronson's comments as related in the Extra Bases blog are every bit as stinging as you'd expect:
What do you know about Cincinnati?:
“Nothing. Dave Williams. I played with him in Pittsburgh. I played with Jason LaRue in the fall league, too. I know a few of their guys ... but basically no experience.”
You would have been underutilized here – does that make the trade any more palatable?:
“I said all along I'd rather pitch out of the pen here than start somewhere else. I still feel that way right now. But it's good knowing that I'll get 33-35 starts and not have to worry about being left out of the rotation. Still doesn't change the fact that I want to play in this uniform.”
Although, this excellent piece in the Union Leader (I'm beginning to like them more and more for sports coverage) details the potential upside of the trade nicely:
While Arroyo once arrived to fill a need, his departure serves another. The team’s farm system was thin on mashers until larger-than-life Wily Mo Pena was acquired for Arroyo yesterday.
“It’s nice to have someone in the organization now,” noted Epstein, “who has a chance to really develop that kind of middle-of-the-order power.”
Whether Pena (career .248 average and .303 OBP) will fulfill that potential is anyone’s guess. He is perhaps the most free-swinging player in baseball, and has struck out more than once out of every three at-bats in his career. Yet when he makes contact, the ball disintegrates, evidenced by 51 homers in 830 at-bats. At the age of 24, there is time to grow.
“Pena is right about the age where he’ll either improve his plate discipline enough to be productive,” noted one baseball executive, “or we can write off any shot of him being a useful regular.”
The Sox offer the example of Jesse Barfield to suggest that a player can make the leap. The former Jays star hit .247 with a .303 OBP in three years before turning 24, then amassed a .288 average, .366 OBP and .530 slugging average (third best in baseball) over the next three years.
That promise made yesterday’s risk/reward proposition palatable to the Sox. So, too, did the likelihood that the team gave up a pitcher who once performed an indispensable function but now seemed redundant.
I don't know about "larger than life", but I can at least see the logic.
Although if we're looking for someone with "middle of the order power" you now have to look at the guys currently in the middle of our order as on the chopping block. It's been popularly theorized that Trot Nixon won't be back at least next year, if he's not gone sooner. The other two, I'd rather not think about.
It has also been widely pointed out that we now have more OF and backup OF than you can shake a stick at. Most shamans of the baseball world are interpreting smoke signals, gauging the direction of the wind and the behavior of the flora and fauna nearby and saying: more big trade come soon.
Perhaps I picked a time too early in the spring to get attached to any members of the 2006 squad.
Also, in not entirely related news, I had this nightmare last night that Adam Vinatieri signed with the Colts. You know things aren't good in Patriotsland when I'm dreaming about football in March.
To paraphrase the discussion on the NEET, Bronson Arroyo takes a hometown discount and gives up millions to stay here--and is more than cooperative with going to the bullpen to help the team out--and the thanks he gets is to be shipped to a crap team in a crap town? Meanwhile David Wells pisses and moans, demands a trade and then takes it back, calls Francona an idiot in the press, is 54 goddamn years old with a bad back and bad knees, and he sits pretty in the rotation?
Of course, the counter-argument is that with all that working against Wells, no team in their right mind would want him in trade. Call it the Manny factor. And the fact that Pena is rumored to be a lefty-killer is a nice addition, making it obvious why he'd be a good OF bench guy to back up Nixon on days, say, Randy Johnson is pitching. And it is, as they say, just business.
But on a human level...it's awful. My heart goes out to Bronson, one of The Twenty-Five, a hometown guy who gave it all to Boston. I'll miss him, and I think he got a raw deal.
"I was kind of staggering yesterday, I was a fish out of water," Pesky said. "That's the first time anything like that ever happened to me."
All those years Pesky has spent on a baseball field, you'd think he must have experienced something like this before. As it turns out, this was indeed a first.
"I've been in the game for 60 years, that's the first time I've ever been hit by a line drive," said Pesky. "I used to dodge and duck pretty good. I got hit in the coconut twice in the Minor Leagues. And I got hit in Boston, too. Sid Hudson [from the Washington Senators] hit me in Boston. It was a slider. I was hanging over the plate. We were in a situation, [and] I didn't want to strike out. I got the big Williams coming up [next]. He threw me a slider. It hit me [in the back of my head] and the ball went right into the stands. So, I must have a hard head."
A big wet one on the lips from Curt Schilling, though, and he should be right as rain.
Update: A more detailed description of the events that occurred by Gordon Edes:
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- They didn't know who the old man was, these college kids from Denison University, a Division 3 school in Ohio that has sent its baseball team down here the last three springs to play some games because they have an inside connection to the Red Sox. David Lucchino, a Denison grad, is the nephew of Sox CEO Larry Lucchino.
''We thought it was just some crazy old guy sitting down the left-field line," said Justin Dedman, the Denison assistant coach.
But that all changed when Todd Pitt, a senior and Denison's star center fielder, hit a line drive that struck Johnny Pesky, who was sitting in a folding chair no more than 50 feet beyond the infield.
''The catcher said to me, 'Nice going,' " said Pitt, who yesterday recounted his conversation with Marc Exarhopoulos, who was behind the plate for Suffolk University in Saturday's game.
''I said, 'Why, who is it -- I had an idea it might be somebody important -- and he said, 'Johnny Pesky.' I thought, 'Oh, great, I hit a legend.' I felt terrible."
"Nice going." That makes me laugh.
Unfortunately, however, Mr. Red Sox has been sent back to Boston for the remainder of the spring.
A half-hour before Pesky was hit, Sox manager Terry Francona had told reporters he feared something like that would happen, since Pesky often sat on the field during batting practice and didn't always keep an eye on the action. That, and the fact that at his age, Pesky wouldn't be able to get out of harm's way.
But Francona, who has Pesky deliver the lineup card before the Sox' games here, said he never would be the one to ask Pesky to turn in his uniform. Especially not after the team's greatest living ambassador lost his wife of more than 60 years, Ruthie, last year.
''You can't take the game away from him, it would kill him," Francona said yesterday. ''I don't want to be any part of that. I love the guy."
Brandon [sic] pulls out guitar and strums: (singing) My love is like a cherry, that has no stone.....
Tek takes guitar and smashes it to bits; (singing) Start throwing fucking strikes or you're fucking traded to Montreal.
**After David Wells let loose with his latest string of expletives, Trot Nixon looked him right in the eye and told him that they were just waiting for Big Papi to get back, "and then we'll deal with you."
**Kevin Millar was turned away from the Red Sox clubhouse three times by Red Sox team security.
**Mike Timlin and Tim Wakefield played a spirited game of Connect Four. When Wakefield won (again), Timlin flipped the table and walked away, calling it a "goddamn Mexican, communist game." Wake tried to go after him, but Timlin just wanted to be alone for a while. Inexplicably, Wake found himself sobbing on the shoulder of Mike Lowell, who he'd never really talked to before--but now he found himself spilling his guts about how Timlin had started palling around with him but "had just been closed off behind a wall ever since Embree left."
**Manny made a bong out of Legos.
**Mike Lowell, Trot Nixon and Mike Timlin hung Rudy Seanez up by his monster wedgie in the clubhouse for giving up the only Baltimore run. Mike Lowell didn't want to do it, on account of he's friends with Rudy, but he didn't want the other guys to think he was a sissy. Walking away, Nixon told Seanez, "You're lucky it wasn't to Millar. Then it would've been the old linament trick."
**Coco Crisp got done with his postgame interviews, laughing and gladhanding his teammates, and then sat down and leaned far into his locker, where he removed a fifth of Johnny Walker from the inner recesses of his duffel bag and proceeded to take three deep draughts.
**Alex Cora was congratulated for his against-the-grain dig for a putout at short, but unfortunately several of his teammates called him "Gonzalez."
**Bronson wanted everyone to go out drinking with him to celebrate a decent start, but everyone either blew him off or ditched him. Bronson would spend the rest of the night in his hotel room, crying and watching scrambled porn.
**Kevin Millar was turned away from the Red Sox clubhouse another three times by security. Back on the Orioles bus (which had to wait for him) he talked so much about his days with the Red Sox and "all those good guys over there" that Miguel Tejada finally had to turn around and tell him to "callete, cabron." Kevin tried to hold it together, but he wound up looking out the bus window as they traversed Florida back to his exile at Baltimore camp and letting out a sniffle or two while listening to Tim McGraw ballads on his iPod.
**After a lengthy discussion via cell phone with David Ortiz about why he wasn't there, in which David had to explain to him four times that he had not been traded permanently to the Dominican team, Manny Ramirez also wept, because he missed Papi (and still didn't understand where he was). And also because his Lego bong was so beautiful.
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