Monday, June 05, 2006

Word to ya mutha

Doon-doon-doon doo-doo-doon-doon
Doon-doon-doon doo-doo-doon-doon
All right stop!
Collaborate and listen!
TATB's back with a brand-new edition . . .

(See, this is what happens when I can't think of an intro to a notes column - I go and get all Robbie Van Winkle on you and completely blow my street cred. I suppose Suge Knight will be dangling me over a balcony at any moment. What say we pretend this incident never happened and get on with the column, huh? Oh, right . . . and enjoy having that atrocity of a "song" in your head for the rest of the day. You're welcome! Doon-doon-doon-doo-doo-doon-doon . . .)

• If there's been an under-reported story during this Sox season, it's regarding Jonathan Papelbon's complete and total dominance as a closer. Watching him make the ninth inning his own with his unhittable rising fastball and suddenly nasty splitter reminds me of watching Goose Gossage in his prime. I mean, Papelbon's given up one earned run. One. He's 20 for 20 in save chances, with a 0.33 ERA. And he's technically still a rookie. Simply amazing. ESPN will catch on one of these days.

• Has anyone seen Stan Van Gundy since Pat Riley realized he had a potential championship team on his hands and decided to slime the coach out of a job? Is Van Gundy still working for the Heat, or for some other NBA team, or did he return to his previous gig as Ron Jeremy's stunt double? No matter what his fate or how bummed he must be at the moment, at least he knows that he'll always be referred to as "the better-looking Van Gundy brother." Hey, it's something.

• I'm not saying I agree with him, but Cornbread Maxwell's oft-repeated assertion that he'd take Dirk Nowitzki over Larry Bird doesn't sound quite so blasphemous now, does it? (I suspect Larry still holds his alcohol better, however.)

• My pal Mike over at TLBR is a walking iPod, and he had a great list of song recommendations today that included a tune by one of TATB's favorites, Ben Folds. Mike writes of Folds's "Landed": Another song that usually I need to stop what I'm doing and collect myself. That's a hell of an honest admission right there, but I know where he's coming from. I've had Folds's "Still Fighting It" rattling around in the music studio of my mind for the past few days, and of this I am convinced: If there's a line that captures the heartbreaking aspect of a parent/child relationship better than "You're just like me/I'm sorry" I haven't heard it.

• All right, I surrender. The Arroyo-for-Pena deal is a bust, at least for this year. There? Happy? Can we move on to another topic now? We can? Okay, good. I've got one: Why Moves That Don't Take The Future Into Some Consideration Are As Short-Sighted And Stupid As Glenn Ordway. (Subtitle: Doug Mirabelli Was Washed Up A Year Ago While Josh Bard Is Currently Hitting .360 With As Many Homers As Varitek). Discuss.

• The Rocket re-signed with the Astros. He's not coming to Boston, even at the trade deadline, okay? Time to let it go, fellas.

• If you're wondering why the Sox would throw David Pauley to the mustached, occasionally employed, wife-beater-wearing bleacher wolverines at Yankee Stadium this week rather than bringing up Jon Lester, all I can say is this: The knock on the prized lefty when he was at Portland last season was that he wasn't as mature as some of the other prospects, particularly Jonathan Papelbon and to a lesser extent, Pauley. While Lester obviously is blessed with a big-league arm - he was pitcher of the year in the Eastern League last season, beating out Justin Verlander and Francisco Liriano, among others - the suspicion here is that he's still not quite equipped to deal with the pressure (and probable failure) that a Bronx debut would bring. To put it another way, the Sox don't want to turn the kid into Bobby Sprowl. I'd say that's prudent wouldn't you?

• Does Joe Dumars's boss realize his GM really drafted Darko Milicic over Dwyane Wade (and Carmelo Anthony, and Chris Bosh) three years ago? It was stupid then; it's historically idiotic now. Shouldn't Dumars have to return his Executive of the Year trophy and rescind any other accolades he's collected over the years, out of pure principle? This might be the worst personnel blunder ever committed by a member of the Bad Boy Pistons backcourt, and as Raptors, Pacers, Knicks and Continental Basketball Association fans know, that's saying something.

• I'm assuming that the poor sap of an umpire who was accosted at close range by Jim Leyland during the Tigers/Sox game today is still trying to get the nicotine smell out of his nostrils.

• Long ago and for better or worse, I accepted membership into the Antoine Walker Employee No. 8 Appreciation Society. My take on him was that he cared deeply about basketball and winning and being a respected member of the Boston Celtics, and even though his maddening actions sometimes left you wondering what the hell kind of screwed up impulses were going through his brain, he always meant well. So I have to say I was more bemused than surprised to see Shaq and Dwyane Wade playing it cool while ol' Toine partying like it was 1999 during the postgame celebration after the Heat finished off the Pistons the other night. 'Toine, who to his credit seems to have gracefully accepted life as a role player, should have taken a cue from his superstar teammates and acted like he'd been there before, even though, of course, he hadn't. Then again, that wouldn't have been like the 'Toine we knew and, warts, bricked 3s and all, enjoyed, now would it?

• Surprised to learn while banging out some agate at work tonight that Freddy Sanchez is second in the National League in batting at .345. While I thought Sanchez was a bit overhyped coming up through the Sox system - I considered him the Top Prospect By Default since there were so few to choose from in those days - he struck me as a player who could do a lot of little things well, had a good baseball IQ, and might make a nice living as a valuable utility player on a good team. Sort of an Alex Cora with a slightly better stick. But if the agate is to be believed, maybe the hype was justified after all.

• The whole MySpace phenomenon creeps me out. Yet as this pile of restraining orders on my desk suggests, I think I've made it apparent that I pretty much adore Jenna Fischer, the actress who plays Pam on "The Office." (Hey, at least I'm not stalking Uecker. Actually, truth be told, it's because she and her character remind me in many ways of my wife, and I'm not just saying that because I know my wife will read this. Hi dear! Love ya! Can we get pizza tonight?) Anyway, my conflict. As a shrewd way to increase the younger demographic's awareness of the acclaimed but ratings-challenged show, several cast members, including Jenna/Pam, blog on . . . yup, MySpace. I do hate the site - it strikes me as seedy, a place where Gary Glitter would spend a lot of time surfing. But her blog is actually becoming a must-read at TATB headquarters, not only for the insider info about our favorite show, but because she writes about everyday life - her favorite music, hanging out with friends and her husband, travel - and her status and unaffected style put an interesting twist on what might otherwise seem mundane. She comes across as grateful, occasionally overwhelmed, and just a little bit naive about her accelerating popularity. To put it another way, I can't quite imagine, say, Jennifer Aniston cheerfully soliciting autograph requests on a self-maintained internet site back in "Friends" fledgling days. I'm not sure she's doing it deliberately, but she's offering an insightful peek at what life is really like for the newly famous in Hollywood. I hope she keeps it up as her career ascends.

• Finally, thanks to all of you who sent me a note regarding my review of Rob Neyer's latest in The Globe the other day. I've been pretty atrocious at responding to email recently, so I just want to let all of you know that the kind words and correspondence are always much appreciated. For those of you who asked, no, writing isn't part of my job description now, and yes, I'm perfectly content with my gig on the desk. It's a blast, actually, and while the occasional review is fun, I mostly do it because I get to keep the book. I'm always geeked to add a new book to my sports library. Hey, have I mentioned that I'm an incurable sports nerd yet today? Probably figured it out, huh?

• As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

Hmm, wonder if he could catch Wakefield.

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