Friday, February 11, 2005

TATB Notebook 02.11.05

Touching all the bases while suddenly wondering if Jose Canseco's old buddy Roger Clemens is a freak of nature or a freak of chemistry . . .

~ I think most Sox fans will agree that the two defining moments of the championship season were: 1) Rallying to beat the Yankees after Jason Varitek gave A-Rod the leatherface treatment, and; 2) Dave Roberts's season-saving steal in Game 4 of the ALCS. I find it interesting that neither situation would be remembered so fondly without the clutch contributions of Bill Mueller. His homer off Mo Rivera won the 'Tek game, as I'm sure you recall, and in Game 4 his single that plated Roberts with the tying run. (Off Rivera again.) It's not that his crucial contributions have been forgotten . . . more like overlooked. Then again, under-the-radar hero role kind of suits him, don't you think?

~ Regarding Rivera: Maybe I'm getting old, but I don't get that Nike commercial, the bizarre/freaky/ridiculous one where he and several other prominent athletes (LaDainian Tomlinson, Brian Urlacher and Albert Pujols, among others) wear "warrior" masks that look like leftover props from "Eyes Wide Shut." That thing on Torii Hunter's head looks like a decomposing clam shell. That's supposed to be . . . intimidating? Ask me, wearing a bivalve mollusk for a hat is just plain goofy.

~ I'll bet you dollars to bloody sweatsocks that Curt Schilling is toeing the Fenway rubber on opening day. The man loves the spotlight almost as much as he loves spinning a good, if slightly exaggerated, yarn. (Admit it: there is a certain amount of b.s. to his personality.) He wouldn't miss this matchup against Big Unit and the Empire if he were an amputee.

~ No one says it because he's a nice guy, but I'll say it because I'm not: Joe Castiglione blew the call.

~ Delonte West made more smart, instinctive plays in the fourth quarter of the Celtics' fun come-from-behind-victory over the Clippers Wednesday night than Marcus Banks has made in two years.

~ I will not miss Waltah, Tommy. And frankly, I don't know how you could justify your love for him while he was hoisting all those hideous threes.

~ I consider myself a basketball junkie, and of course I was aware of Gary Payton's talent - the dude was headed for Springfield long before arriving in Boston. But his play for the Celtics this season has come as a revelation - I had no idea he was such an intelligent player. Sure, he's lost a step or two from his SuperSonics heyday, but he makes up for it by a step or two ahead mentally. It really has been a joy to watch him run the team, keep Paul Pierce and Ricky Davis from brawling over the basketball, and play the point the way it was meant to be played. I hope his stay in Boston is longer than expected.

~ Roberto Petagine (that's him, above) is just the type of low-risk, high-reward signing that flies under the radar in February but could make all the difference in August. (Think: Bellhorn, Mark.) In other words, it's a classic Theo move.

~ The lovely and talented Summer Sanders wore more clothing as a swimmer in the '92 Olympics than she does as the host of FoxSports' "The Sports List." Do not take that as a complaint. Did I mention that she's lovely and talented? Hmmm. I wonder if she needs a stalker.

~ One more reason to respect Tom Brady: He blew off an interview attempt by that obnoxious, cloying fool Tom Arnold of the "Best Damn Sports Show" after the Super Bowl.

~ Then again, if anyone paid a higher price to become famous than Arnold, I don't want to know about it. The man made his name by, uh, "marrying" Roseanne. Yeeesh. That's some paid dues right there.

~ Is anyone else beginning to suspect that we won't see Wade Miller on the Fenway mound 'til June, if at all?

~ Two beliefs that have been reinforced while watching NESN's replay of the 2004 ALCS: 1) Tito Francona did not get enough credit for the shrewd and aggressive way he managed this ballclub in the postseason. 2) Keith Foulke has "guts" the size of baseballs.

~ Hey, didn't there used to be a pro hockey team around these parts? I'm not sure even the Gallery Gods miss the Bruins at this point. If the NHL greedmongers sincerely want to save their game, they'll disband a half-dozen teams (hockey in Nashville is the equivalent of beach volleyball in Anchorage), move another half-dozen back to Canada where the sport's soul resides, and implement a salary cap. Then, the NHL might be relevant, and maybe even entertaining.

~ So Karl Malone has decided to retire from basketball. Guess that'll give him more time to dedicate to his favorite sport: hunting little Mexican girls. (Hey, those are his words, not mine.)

~ I'm looking forward to that glorious day when I can watch "SportsCenter" without being force-fed the latest He Said, She Said between Kobe and Shaq. Can't have a show without a breathless Lakers soap opera update, apparently.

~ I'm also looking forward to the day when Linda Cohn (looking old-school matronly a few years ago, above) doesn't feel obligated to dress like Britney (or at least Britney's mom) and quote Jay-Z. I mean, she name-dropped Cash Money Millionaires last night. It's kinda pathetic; she's not even fooling Suburban Stu Scott, and contrary to what Captain Boo-Yeah tries to sell us, that buffoon doesn't have street cred on Sesame Street.

~ With every championship Bill Belichick wins, Bill Parcells's resume becomes a little less impressive. The truth is, Tunaphiles, he hasn't won anything of historical importance without Belichick at his side. And remember, it's Belichick's game-plan from the Giants' Super Bowl victory over the Bills that's on display in Canton, not the head coach's. I'm just sayin'.

~ Someone else said this first (mighta been Peter King, coulda been Ken Powers) but it bears repeating. When Rodney Harrison says we get no respect and everyone wrote us off, he means I get no respect and everyone wrote me off. The guy was cut by the Chargers, for cripes sake. No wonder he's so vengeful.

~ Words to mark: Freddie Mitchell will be out of the NFL next season.

~ It takes a true idiot to make Dan Marino look like an unbiased football analyst, but Cris Carter managed to accomplish the improbable feat on HBO's "Inside the NFL" this week. Carter was praising the performances of Harrison, Matt Light, Deion Branch and Richard Seymour in the Super Bowl, which was all fine and good until he finished his statement by referring to them, with a straight (albeit monster-browed) face, as "average players." Even Marino, whom I've long suspected wears his Dolphins jersey under the three-piece, had to come to the Pats' defense on that one. "Average?" Marino said, incredulously. "Yeah, they're so average, they have three Super Bowl rings." And with that, he beat Carter down like he'd just dropped one of his passes. I think I'll lay off Danny Boy for a while.

~ After hearing the rumors about pitchman Donovan McNabb's tummy issues in the waning moments of the Super Bowl, Chunky Soup takes on a whole new meaning, doesn't it?

~ Jason Giambi has always seemed like a good guy, and I give him credit for facing the music, as controlled as yesterday's dog-and-pony show was. Unfortunately, now that he's wearing the scarlet S on his jersey, every other player who gets caught in a steroid controversy is going to lie and deny until his dying day, because the pathetic "flaxseed oil" defense causes you a lot less grief in the long run.

And that's our steroid-pumped segue to . . .

~ Not that Barry Bonds has changed in appearance over the years, but while I was watching a 1993 episode of "This Week in Baseball" this afternoon - a personal TiVo favorite, because I am a nerd - my wife catches a glimpse of the skinny Bonds and says, a little too hopefully: "Hey, is that Bobby Brown?"

But the best part was watching Bonds being interviewed alongside fellow Players' Choice award winner Dennis Eckersley. Of course the Eck looked exactly the same then as he does now, god bless his flowing mane. Hell, he looks the same chillin' with Tom Caron as he did in the summer of '78, when the look was actually in fashion:

~ Every time the WEEI blowhards start patting themselves on their plump backs for their high ratings - meaning every 30 seconds or so - I find myself having this recurring daydream. It goes something like this:

Stephen King, noted novelist and Sox fan extraordinaire, throws some of his millions at a Boston radio station with a strong signal and switches it to an all-sports format. (He did that exact thing in Bangor, Me., with sterling results.) Then, he hires Michael Holley, Ryen Russillo, Michael Smith, Jackie MacMullan, Bob Ryan, Gordon Edes, Dave Jageler, Gene Lavanchy, Wendi Nix, Kevin Dupont, Fluto Shinzawa, Chris Snow, and any other local media talent that is either banned from 'EEI or can't crack their B-list-level roster. (Hell, he'll even hire me, since we're both UMaine alums and it is my daydream and all.) Then, with such a talented, knowledgeable crew, he'll demand that his station's shows feature intellegent discourse rather than shouted insults and junior high-level jokes; he'll realize that fans listen because they love sports, not because they love the hosts. Later, he'll refuse to be outbid when the Sox and Pats current radio deals expire, adding them to his empire. And then, say, two or three years down the road, his master plan will bear fruit, and he'll sit back and laugh as maniacally as one of his villainous fictional creations as 'EEI's ratings gradually sink like Pete Sheppard in the deep end. And Boston sports fans, thrilled to have another alternative, will laugh right along with him.

Unlikely? Unfortunately. Then again, he does know something about fulfilled dreams . . .