Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Nine innings 06.07.05

Playing an interleague nine innings while wondering how many of the "Queer Eye" guys throw harder than Alan Embree . . .

1) When I think of Wade Boggs, I think of three things: 1) Lots of swell individual accomplishments; 2) Margo; 3) Riding that damn horse with the stupid helmet on his head after the Yankees won the '96 series. My point: There is no way the Sox should put Boggs's number on the right-field facade, as Peter Gammons is reporting they will do sometime this summer. Hell, offhand I can think of a number of former Red Sox who deserve the honor more: Dwight Evans, Jim Rice, Luis Tiant, Tony C., Clemens, Pedro, Nomar. . . . The Chicken Man would be pretty damn far down my list. I hope the Sox reconsider this. Putting Boggs - a great hitter, but not such a great Red Sox - in such elite company simply because he is a Hall of Famer cheapens the honor.

2) So who's going to be Steinbrenner's scapegoat for the Yankees' disaster of a road trip? Mel Stottlemyre? Brian Cashman? Joe Torre? The exhumed remains of Billy Martin? He's gotta blame somebody if this keeps up, and you know it certainly won't be the pasty turtlenecked man in the mirror. (Is it me, or does Georgie Porgie sort of remind you of a less masculine Marge Schott?) But if you let common sense be your guide - yes, Yankee fans, you are excused now - you have to assume that pretty much everything that is wrong with the franchise right now is The Boss's fault. He demanded Gary Sheffield over Vlad Guerrero, a move that is a wash for now but will look idiotic in two years. He just had to have Jason Giambi and Kevin Brown. He was obsessed with Randy Johnson, at the expense of Javier Vazquez, Brad Halsey, and indirectly, the player they really needed, Carlos Beltran. It's ironic how, in his quest to field an All-Star team, he really hasn't built much of a team at all. A Sox fan can only imagine - and shudder - at how unstoppable the Yankees might be had they spent the annual $200 million wisely.

3) Kevin Millar is often referred to as "the righthanded Brian Daubach" and the comparison is valid for obvious reasons. But there's another ex-Sox that Millar has been reminding me of lately: John Valentin. I'm surprised I hadn't thought of this before, actually. Like Val, Millar is a dead-pull hitter with a slight uppercut swing. Like Val, he's notorious for going through ridiculous cold spells. And like Val, when you're tempted to tar and feather him and chase him to Pawtucket, he gets so hot that you wonder how anyone ever got him out before. So there you have it, I suppose: the recipe to create a Kevin Millar. A dab of Dauber, a smidge of Val, a dollop of Jack Daniels, and 225 pounds of drumsticks and wings from KFC.

4) Proof that Boston is a better baseball city than St. Louis: Our returning former shortstop got a warmer reception than did their returning former shortstop. Then again, one could suggest the difference in the cheers for Orlando Cabrera in Boston and Edgar Renteria in St. Louis is the difference between winning your first World Series in 86 years and getting blistered in four games.

5) Cabrera's return to Fenway will go down as one of my favorite memories of this season. Rarely are we treated to a player who is as appreciative of the fans as the fans are of him, but that clearly was the case with the energetic, affable shortstop. Cabrera looked like he was going to burst into tears as the cheers cascaded through Fenway during his first at-bat here after departing as a free-agent in the offseason. It dawned on me, as I watched him tap his heart and tip his cap, that a player who was a Red Sox for a mere three months will forever be more beloved at Fenway than his predecessor, a superstar who played here nine years, was the face of the franchise, and gave his all until just before the bitter end. Not saying that's wrong. Just saying I never would have thought Nomah would be surpassed by anyone at this time a year ago.

6) If Edgar Renteria's name were Derek Jeter, that stones-of-steel bunt single he had to set the stage for Big Papi's walkoff homer Thursday would still be getting airtime on "Baseball Tonight," and the nitwit likes of Jeff Brantley and Harold Reynolds threw around big words like "intangibles" and "leadership" and "dreamboat." Instead, we get bloated blowhards on WEEI wondering if it was the "right play" the day after it absolutely proved to be the "right play." I'm never sure if these electronic media-types are really this stupid, or just stirring the pot to lure fans into paying attention to them. I think I'm going with the former for now.

7) Every time I start to feel bad for Jason Giambi and his shambles of a career, I remember this spirit-crushing night, and wonder if the goodies he was taking at the time gave his second home run the extra foot or two it needed to elude Johnny Damon's glove and clear the fence. Funny, but then I don't feel so bad for him anymore.

8) Yours truly, in an email to my wife earlier tonight: "Hey, can you DVR "Queer Eye" for me? The Sox are on."

And there you have a sequence of words I'd never have imagined writing. Now, if you'll pardon me, I'm late for my pedicure.

9) As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card . . .

Future star? Try future pain in the butt. How could I have left the Orioles' B.J. Surhoff off my list of Red Sox tormentors? He should be atop the list . . . and as Pat Summerall would say, He's been doing it for years. This guy is so old, he was a rookie the same year with the Brewers as Dale "The Human Windmill" Sveum. He's so old, he was the No. 1 overall pick in 1985, ahead of such luminaries as Barry Bonds, Will Clark, Randy Johnson, Barry Larkin, David Justice and John Smoltz. He's so old - okay, he's 40, which ain't that old - it seems like he's been pestering the Red Sox with opposite-field doubles and rockets into the gap for 19 years. Which, come to think of it, he pretty much has. Dude . . . just retire already. We here in the Nation will chip in for the gold watch, promise.