Thursday, April 21, 2005

TATB Notebook 04.20.05

Touching all the bases while waiting for Sam Malone to write a rap song about Nomar . . .

. . . Dated myself there with that Sam Malone wisecrack in the intro, didn't I? It's a "Cheers" reference, kiddies. No, not the bar. The TV show. Yeah, back in the '80s. Right, last century. No, the TVs were not black and white then. Enough already, children. Respect your elders, and listen to my TV Land-style explanation: Sam, an ex-Sox-pitcher-turned-bar-owner played by Ted Danson, attempted in one memorable episode to become a sportscaster. Like all sportscasters other than Fred Hickman, Sam decided he needed an idiotic gimmick, and so, in a horrific turn of events that eerily foreshadows the rise to prominence of Stuart Scott, he rapped his sportscast, including a particularly painful lyric about a "GR-GR-GROIN INJURY GR-GR-GROIN!" Nomar, of course, injured a groin muscle last night, hence my clever lead-in. And there's your explanation. Now if you don't mind, this old man is going to go O.D. on Metamucil.

- Regarding Nomar: It's going to be interesting to see Red Sox fans' reaction to this injury, which looked very severe. I imagine there will be more than a little schadenfreude in play, a "screw you, Nomahh, that's what you get" attitude since he departed on such bad terms and the Sox have enjoyed such sweet success since he left. Personally, I was as furious as anyone toward the end of his Sox career - he lost me as a fan that midsummer night in New York, when Captain Jetes and Pokey hustled all over the field (and in Jeter's case, off the field - INTANGIBLES!) while Nomar sat on the bench looking like a teenager pissed off at his parents. He was gone not long after, and the case can be made that his departure turned out to be the catalyst for the championship run. All in all, "Good riddance" seemed the appropriate remembrance of his time here. But in the joyous aftermath of last fall, I occasionally caught myself thinking about Nomar, and how he was the Red Sox for so long, and how beloved he was by so many kids in New England, and how he left it all on the field up until those miserable last few months, and how terrible he must feel to realize that it might have been him that was holding the Sox back all this time. And I decided I'd take the high road, and remember him for the icon he was and not the miserable grump he became. I was hoping he'd find happiness and good health with the Cubs, the fresh start he so desperately needed. Instead, it's more of the same, and now it's looking like he's the second coming of Ken Griffey Jr. Remembering what he was, it's so sad to see what he's become.

- The David Terrell signing is a typical low-risk, high-reward move by Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick, one that I think is going to pay off in a big way. Consider the pros, of which there are many: Terrell thrived as Tom Brady's favorite receiver at Michigan, and Brady vouched for Terrell and wholeheartedly endorsed the move; Terrell was a high first-round pick by the Bears in 2001, and there was much clamoring by fans and media for the Patriots to take him at No. 6 overall that year, so he does not lack for talent; he is 6-foot-4, which is roughly as tall as all the other Patriots receivers stacked on top of each other; he has played with six quarterbacks in the NFL, one named Rex, one named Kordell, and none named to the Pro Bowl; he's in the ideal situation for a reclamation, for the expectations are low yet he will not lack for opportunities, and at age 26, playing with Brady in a system that will utilize him properly, he'll never have a better opportunity to showcase his dormant-but-still-considerable skills. The cons? He's a dancing fool when he makes a big play, a braying jackass in shoulder pads. Bottom line: If he turns out to be the second coming of Donald Hayes, the Patriots will simply say "nothing ventured, nothing gained" and send him on his way. But I expect he'll have more reasons to dance than he ever did in Chicago.

- I know Tony Delk and Rodney Rogers helped the Celtics get to the Eastern Conference final three seasons ago, but man, the decision to trade Joe Johnson in that deal instead of Kedrick Brown is looking more and more like the Sox's decision to keep Scott Cooper instead of Jeff Bagwell. Johnson, just 23, had another fantastic all-around season for the Suns, the top-seed in the Western Conference playoffs, averaging 17 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. He's second in the league in 3-point field goal percentage (47.7), and his value to the Suns is reflected in the fact that he's fourth in the league in minutes played. If Bob Lobel still followed sports, I think I know what he'd say here. "Why can't we . . ."

- You know "Saturday Night Live" is on its last legs when Tom Brady is funnier than any cast member.

- The last few days have been the epitome of the Manny Experience: Five home runs, including one the most majestic blast I can recall seeing, two Greenwellesque errors in left field, and a mysteriously tweaked leg muscle that caused him to depart two innings early from a 3-1 game that eventually turned into a loss. What's that line we use in these situations? Oh, right. Just Manny being Manny.

- Speaking of Manny, after seeing his Olympia Sports ad for the 2,004th time - you know, the updated version of the one where he "dreams" of being the World Series MVP, and yeah, it is neat how that played out - I think I would describe his acting style as this: The Dominican Keanu Reeves. Whoa.

- Seems my goal of writing something about every game this season is panning out about as well as Rick Ankiel's pitching career. I'm still going to try to write the GameDay pieces for the more newsworthy games, but it started becoming obvious that writing 400 words of wiseguy comments and play by play about an 8-5 loss to the Blue Jays was not as fulfilling or time-efficient as writing, say, this drivel. So those of you who had Game 11 in the When Will That Doofus Finn Abandon His Plan To Write About Every Stinkin' Game pool, step up and collect your prize, a genuine 1978 Topps football card of Cincinnati Bengals legend Boobie Clark . . .

Yes, that's right. It's a Boobie prize. Now stifle those groans, punks.

- I still can't believe Dominique Wilkins didn't get into the Basketball Hall of Fame. What more did he need to accomplish individually? He was voted one of the 50 Greatest Players of all-time, went shot-for-shot with Larry Legend and lived to tell, might have been the most gifted, electric, acrobatic dunker of all-time, mastered the lost art of the bank shot, earned a spot on the original Dream Team, and played a hell of a lot harder than he got credit for. I know, there's a catch - I said individually there, the word that haunts him to this day. He was an unconscionable (if damned accomplished) gunner, and he never won a championship, in large part because that he had the misfortune to play in the era of the great Celtics, Lakers and Pistons. And he did not go out gracefully - I'd just as soon pretend his season in Boston never happened. But his overall body of work cannot be denied, and until the Hall calls for 'Nique, I say there's a void on their roster.

- My cousin Kris The White Sox Fan stopped polishing his Ron Kittle figurine long enough to send along this Completely Random Baseball Card submission, one which is almost as comically hideous as the Buckethead Craig card from a few days ago:

Turns out Manny has a long way to go to earn the title of All-Time Goofiest Player Named Ramirez. Who knew?