Sunday, October 15, 2006

Late night menu

How about a Reyes-quick Nine Innings on the MLB playoffs . . .

1. Prompted by the rejuvenated, follically blessed Magglio Ordonez's ALCS-winning walkoff tonight, I offer you this Great What-If Question: How would Red Sox history be different had the Manny, Nomar and Jon Lester for A-Rod and Ordonez swap not been (mercifully?) derailed by Donald Fehr's minions in the winter of '03? I'm assuming it's safe to suggest there'd be no Faith Rewarded video, but how else might have history changed? Discuss.

2. Talk about your unsung heroes. Tigers shortstop Carlos Guillen batted .320 with a .919 OPS, clubbed 19 homers, drove in 85 runs and scored 100, swiped 20 bases, and selflessly moved to an unfamiliar position, first base, after Sean Casey was injured in the ALDS. Unfortunately, he does not play in the Bronx and has not mastered the fist pump, the calm-eyed stare, or the Throw A-Rod Under The Bus Maneuver, and so his great success remains largely anonymous, particularly to Tim McCarver and the Fox nitwits still lamenting the Yankees' early exit.

3. I don't have my copy of "Moneyball" in front of me, but if I recall the anecdote correctly, A's GM Billy Beane shattered a chair in a fury when, against his wishes and philosophy at the time, Oakland selected high school pitcher named Jeremy Bonderman in the first round of the 2001 draft. That considered, you have to wonder what piece of furniture he punished last night.

4. Quite a few columns coming out of the NLCS suggest Albert Pujols is becoming as surly as he is talented. Take it for what it's worth - this particular column reads like a scorned reporter getting his revenge - but I think I might understand why Pujols would be in a sour mood. I was grumpy when I was approaching my 35th birthday, too.

5. I simply cannot believe Darren Oliver is still in the major leagues, let alone as a mildly effective long reliever. He looked cooked when the Sox had to take him and his rich contract from the Rangers as "compensation" for making Carl Everett extinct in Boston. I'll consider it one more hint that I should tie my two-month old son's right arm behind his back immediately. Oliver is one more example of the Jesse Orosco Rule: Lefties will live a long and lucrative life in baseball just as long as they are occasionally effective.

6. Judging by his stellar guest stint on Baseball Tonight this week, when Vernon Wells's baseball career concludes in a dozen years or so, he should have a seat waiting for him as a studio analyst. He was excellent - polished, insightful (particularly in discussing pitchers' stuff), articulate, and quick-witted. Of course, ESPN being ESPN, they'll probably instead hire Eric Byrnes, who in the same gig looked and talked like he just rolled out of Spicoli's van.

7. I ran that last theory by one of my work buddies. His well-considered reply: "If Byrnes is Spicoli, does that make Gammons Mr. Hand?" Well, yeah, I say that's reasonable if we're remaking "Fast Times" with "Baseball Tonight" personalities . . . though I must draw the line at John Kruk re-enacting the Phoebe Cates pool scene.

8. I've always thought Tony La Russa's managerial reputation vastly exceeded his accomplishments (how did he not win more than one title with the Juicin' A's of the late-'80s?). But if he commands enough respect from Bill Belichick that the Patriots coach swaps his trusty hoodie for a dorky La Russa gamer, well, maybe I'll give "3 Nights In August" a read after all.

9. Two takes on today's news that Steve Lyons was fired by Fox for making racially insensitive comments to Lou Piniella on the air the other night: It must have been a last straw type of thing for Psycho, because while his comments may have been offensive to some people, Fox isn't exactly known for holding itself to a classy standard. I bet he kept "accidentally" pulling down his pants at company picnics or something. 2) Please tell a racist joke on the air, McCarver. Please. And if it's not too much to ask, maybe that smug nepotism case Thom Brennaman could repeat it . . .

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