Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A few things I've been meaning to say

• Four factoids/observations on the Sox's phenom of a fourth starter, Jon Lester: 1) He was the prospect the Sox were going to ship to Texas in the A-Rod deal. 2) If the comparisons to a young Bruce Hurst are going to be completely valid, he needs to grow a kick-ass mustache, pronto. 3) He could walk the first 27 hitters he faces in his next start, and I'd still enjoy watching him pitch more than Matt Clement. 4) Before the season, the consensus among scouts is that he is a superior prospect to Jonathan Papelbon, and though Papelbon's newly devastating splitter has enhanced his repertoire, Lester might actually have better stuff. And that poise . . . I'm not sure many 10-year veterans would have the stones to throw David Wright a 3-2 curveball with the bases loaded. Hey, have I mentioned that I'm giddy about this kid?

• I know it's going to happen, and I'm trying to prepare myself accordingly, but damn, I am going to be pissed when Captain Jetes fist-pumps his way to another undeserved Gold Glove. If only Gonzo had calm eyes, McCarver-melting intangibles, and most importantly, 1 1/2-step range, he might have a chance.

• Betcha Matt Clement is being paid by the Sox to pitch for a National League team by August. Theo isn't afraid to cut his losses, and Gammons wrote a few weeks ago that the Sox GM admits he regrets the signing. Maybe he can go join fellow Class of 2005 washout Edgar Renteria in Atlanta.

• Coco Crisp's catch the other night was one of the best I have ever seen, but man, sometimes he takes such curious routes to the ball that I wonder if he bought the map from Dwayne Hosey. He's good, but my early impressions are that Johnny Judas was a step better.

• I get the same sinking feeling when I realize Scott Kazmir is pitching against the Sox that Mets fans get when they realize Kazmir is pitching against . . . well, anyone.

This Week's (Okay, Last Week's) Reason Jerry Trupiano Is As Funny As A Hemorrhoid, Chapter 2, Vol. 28,987:

This arrived in my in-box courtesy of my friend Hans, a colleague from my Monitor days, after Papi's walkoff single against the Phillies a week or so ago:

chad -- wondering if you caught this classic trupiano moment yesterday, which was accurately recounted in this morning's BSMW:

"Many people were probably in their cars driving home from work listening to the end of the game, and heard the over-the-top call from Jerry Trupiano which contained Superman references and screaming about how the Phillies did not have the kryptonite to stop Ortiz. It was impossible to know what actually happened, as all we knew was the the hit was to left center and than "Ortiz has done it again!" Listeners were left to wonder what exactly did Ortiz do? Hit a home run? It took almost a full minute for them to tell us how Ortiz won the game for the Sox."

that's exactly what happened to me. i was in the car and had no idea what ortiz had done. it was so obvious that trup had his lame superman riff rehearsed and ready to go that he forgot to actually explain what had happened. i didn't know until they got around to mentioning the final score (let's see, 8-7, guess it wasn't a dinger). also, he practically peed himself -- "Didn't I tell you?!!!" -- because he had correctly predicted that ortiz would try to stroke something to left or left-center. (let me get this straight: you're saying ortiz WON'T attempt to ground out into the overshift? you sure about that?)

on saturday, during the ortiz at bat, he kept his mouth busy by recounting all the stops in flash gordon's career instead of just shutting up and letting the drama build. his way back call was several beats behind the crowd reaction because he had to cut himself off. i'm still waiting to find out what happened to flash after he left the cubs.

Oh, I heard the fool - I was driving to work, and had the same reaction as my friend did: What the bleep was it? A single? Coke bottles? What happened!? I'm surprised he didn't call the Phillies pitcher "Lex Luthor." Just a horrible, contrived call. Sometimes I think Troop gets so geeked up during these extra-inning games - when he gets to do the play-by-play rather than Joe - that he can't help but go completely over the top trying to get his little soundbite. Too bad he has absolutely no sense of drama, tone, pace, the flight of the ball, anything. There are rumors that Troop is out after this season. God, I hope so. They could put Rosie O'Donnell in the booth next to Uncle Joe and I'd consider it an upgrade at this point. My hand is getting really tired of punching the steering wheel.

• Last year, I found Ozzie Guillen refreshing. This year, I find myself looking forward to the day he makes that one unforgivably stupid comment that will cost him both his job and his forum.

• I'm okay with Curt Schilling getting left off the All-Star team - four Sox is enough for me, and I suspect for the rest of the country as well, and while he's been good, he hasn't been nearly as good others who were snubbed, particularly the Twins' dazzling Francisco Liriano. Consider these stats, plucked from my heroes at Fire Joe Morgan.

[Liriano is] 9-1, 1.99 ERA. in 81.1 IP, he's allowed 59 H, and has a 94/20 K/BB ratio. His WHIP is .97. The league is slugging .292 against him, with a .256 OBA. His DIPS is 2.44. He might be the best pitcher in the AL right now.

The kid is having the season Felix Hernandez was supposed to have. There's no player I'd rather see at this point, and it's a shame he won't have a chance to announce his arrival as superstar on the All-Star stage. Hopefully he'll get added by final player vote. He deserves to be there, and fans deserve to see him.

• From a Dan Shaughnessy column on the Red Sox's decision to release Bill Buckner, June 6, 1990:

At least Buckner did not have to wait for an old-timer's day or a 20-year reunion to learn that Sox fans aren't taking it personally anymore. Opening Day 1990 was a cathartic experience for Buckner and the baseball fans of New England. The hobbling warhorse got the loudest and longest ovation when Sherm Feller introduced this year's Red Sox.

My points: All the hairdos and talking-heads who claimed Buckner was "finally" forgiven at Fenway during the recent reunion of the '86 are either a) revising history for the benefit of a stupid-ass storyline, or b) have no friggin' idea what they're talking about. Probably a little of both, actually. Sox fans have NEVER held anything against Buckner, an original Dirt Dog who was admired for his toughness and productivity. I wish Fox Sports and the like would stop perpetrating the myth that Boston drove him away. He's always been welcome here.

• I've learned to give Danny Ainge the benefit of the doubt on draft day, and I think he found some helpful players again this season. Though I thought Randy Foye and Brandon Roy were the two most ready-made pros in this year's class, Sebastian Telfair has the ability to become a legitimate starting point guard, and getting him out of that Portland mess and bringing him here is a risk worth taking. Rajon Rondo, a live wire with lockdown defensive skills, was one of the most intriguing college players I saw last season, though I admit I'm not as intrigued as Billy Packer, who couldn't go two possessions without mentioning the size of Rondo's hands. If he could develop a better jumpshot than say, yours, he could be special. I even like second-rounder Leon Powe, who has the talent and maturity to stick in the Association. But Ainge's B+ grade becomes an immediate F if he trades for Allen Iverson. While I appreciate Iverson's ability and fearlessness, his reckless play (and, perhaps, lifestyle) suggests to me that when he loses it, he's going to lose it fast. Getting him as he heads into his 30s is an ill-advised move, particularly at the expense of the young talent Ainge has stockpiled. Futhermore, it would contradict Ainge's plan for restoring the franchise, raising my suspicions that the motivation for any such deal would be putting fannies in the seats rather than building a legitimate contender.

• You know major-league baseball's steroid investigators have a credibility problem when that walking pharmacy Jose Canseco's conspiracy theories start sounding plausible.

• Tell me again who the Sox were going to get for Manny this time last year? Aubrey (.266-6-23) Huff? Lastings (I got it, I got it . . . whoops, you take it) Milledge? Mike (.255-9-32) Cameron? What's that saying? Sometimes the best deals are the ones . . .

• When I realize I have an email from Peter Gammons - a writer whose words have been a part of my red-seam-wrapped world since I was 8 years old - let me tell you, I can't open the thing fast enough. Sometimes the emails arrive unsolicited. Other times, they are replies to an off-the-wall question ("Did Chico Walker get a fair shot with Boston?") I figure only he can answer, or would care to answer for that matter. Our most recent exchange, a few weeks ago, was regarding the death of an obscure former Phillies outfielder named Ron Jones from a brain aneurysm at age 42. Eerily, not a few days after I last heard from him, the news came that Gammons had been stricken with the same affliction and his life was in danger. While his prognosis sounds encouraging, I feel compelled to take a moment to say thank you to a man I've only met a few times, but whom has had an immense impact not only on my career but on my direction in life. His knowledgeable, passionate writing in the Globe convinced the young me that he had the coolest job in the world. Much to my delight, all these years later he's become a great friend to this silly little site, so generously situated in our corner even when I've been critical of something he's said or written. (You might have noticed I tend to get a little defensive when it comes to Manny.) Which, the way I understand it, makes me somewhere around the 1,000,000th person he's helped along the way. Be well, Peter. Baseball isn't the same without you.

• As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card:

Not sure what is more amazing: That Glavine is again a Cy Young contender at age 40, or that he apparently made the big leagues well before he hit puberty.

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