Saturday, August 18, 2007

Show a little faith/there's magic in the night

Because sometimes, a Springsteen lyric just feels right.

Anyway, lots to get to, so let's go . . .

I know I'm a few days late on this one . . . but man, Papi just destroyed that Jered Weaver-Spicoli meatball, didn't he? Given the frustrations and injuries he's endured this season, I don't blame him at all for admiring it; it must have been cathartic. While that home run has been cited as an encouraging sign that he's about to get his mojo back in time for the stretch run, it was actually one he hit earlier in the Angels series, on a low and inside fastball against John Lackey, that made me think he's either feeling better (the cortisone might have kicked in) or fixed a flaw in his swing or something, because that was a pitch that he'd feasted on the past couple of seasons but had trouble with this year. And there's nothing that would give me more optimism about the Sox's postseason chances than the knowledge that Papi has found his fearsome form.

It's becoming more and more apparent that the Red Sox should have walked away from that J.D. Drew contract the moment they began to have concerns about the condition of his shoulder. I mean, I know he says he's healthy, but c'mon - that has to be the problem, right? He has no power - his slugging percentage is .391, or 18 points lower than Alex Freakin' Cora's - and this is a guy, who, for all of the knocks against him, has always been a consistently outstanding offensive player. And now he's the second coming of Rick Miller, a grounder-to-second-hitting machine who never seems to drive the ball with any authority? It doesn't make any sense . . . at least until you consider the one thing that gave the Sox pause about signing him in the first place. It's gotta be the shoulder. It has to be. So this is how we solve this: Either he admits he's hurt, or the Sox have to take him hostage and stuff him in a MRI tube, pronto, because this has gone on long enough.

Or, to put it another way. He has as many RBIs since July 21 - ten - as Garret Anderson had tonight. That's just pathetic.

I've got no problem with Bud Selig declining to punish Jason Giambi for admitting he used steroids. The Yankees' DH/Walking Sweat Gland is the closest thing to an honest man in this entire fraudulent, see-no-needle era, the commissioner included.

The stat line wasn't spectacular, but ultimately Clay Buchholz accomplished two impressive feats in his big league debut: He won the ball game against a very good Angels team, and he left a fickle fan base wanting to see more. I thought Tito Francona came up with the perfect comparison for Buchholz during his postgame press conference that day: a young Tim Hudson. I'd take that, wouldn't you?

The more I see of Kevin Youkilis, the more I hope the Sox sell on him in the offseason. It's not so much that I'm distressed by his second straight second half fade, because I still appreciate the contributions he makes in terms of on-base percentage and working the pitcher and so on. He's still a useful offensive player even when he's not hitting. It's just that his chronic complaining whenever an umpire dares to call a close strike on him has become relentlessly annoying, and watching him do the Bitter Beer Face thing whenever he disagrees with a call has made me realize that he carries himself on the field like a player who's accomplished a whole hell of a lot more than he actually has.

I'm not saying Phil Rizzuto does not belong in the Hall of Fame, but it is curious and maybe a bit eerie that the player most similar to him statistically in baseball history was in the headlines himself the same day Scooter passed away. And let's just say I'm fairly confident that Jose Offerman won't be going to Cooperstown unless there's an "Incorrigible Jerks of the 2001 Red Sox" exhibit at some point.

Wily Mo Pena's classy departure from the Red Sox? Sadly, it was the most graceful thing he did here. He's off to a decent start with the Nationals, though, and you can't help but wish him well. A friend who's around the Sox on a regular basis says Wily Mo was easily the friendliest person in the clubhouse, his teammates adored him and seemed to genuinely believe he'd someday harness his raw talent . . . don't you think it would be fun to see what kind of power numbers he'd put up if he could only figure how to recognize pitches before they bend and break? It didn't happen for him here. But I hope it does somewhere.

Well, now it all makes sense. In case you missed it, Drew Bledsoe confirmed what Patriots fans (and Bills fans . . . and Cowboys fans . . .) often suspected: football never was particularly important to him. Which is how a quarterback with an arm that's a gift from the great Lombardi in the sky ends up fumbling away his three NFL quarterbacking jobs to a skinny sixth-round pick with half of his raw talent, an undrafted free agent from East Podunk Illinois Agricultural And Nursing College For Women, and Opera Man lookalike J.P. Losman. Bledsoe thought his talent was enough. And it was, to get by. But while he's passing his days fishing on Lake Patpatpatsack up there in the Montana hills, that skinny sixth-rounder who wanted it more is putting the finishing touches on a Hall of Fame career. Ask me, there's justice in that.

By the way, I did not know until a moment ago that Bledsoe's middle name is McQueen. There's a good Jeff Garcia joke in there somewhere, but I'm not going to look for it.

So does this mean Marcus Vick is now considered the good son? And . . . that's all I've got to say about that. I realize this is a massive story with far-reaching implications, but to be honest, I'm more outraged that Leonard Little (kills a woman drunk driving, serves time, gets busted for drunk driving again) is still in the league than I am at the thought of Vick resurrecting his career with the Raiders a few years from now. You'll have to get your Vick fix elsewhere. I hear Ordway's into it, since, you know, there's nothing compelling going on with the Sox or Pats.

The Official Muse of TATB (Non-Wife Division) starring in a video for Wisely's "Through Any Window," one of those introspective sissy rock songs I'm an incurable sucker for? Well, of course I knew about this. Still, I do thank the half-dozen of you who sent along the clip above, as well as those of you who sent along the (probably not NSFW) trailer to Jenna Fischer's new movie "Walk Hard." It's a spoof of the musical biopic genre and looks fairly funny even though you get the sense Chest Rockwell got the lead only after Will Ferrell said no thanks. I do find it amusing that you guys think to send me this stuff though; I'm starting to think you picture me as Jenna's personal Woogie from "There's Something About Mary," obsessed to the point of a hideous facial rash. Well, I'll have you know I'm not obsessed at all, and the rash? It's just a little bit of a dry patch. Stress, you know. Sheesh. (Scratch, scratch . . .)

* * *

As for today's Completely Random Baseball Card

You know you've led a fulfilling existence when begin a hero of the Impossible Dream Red Sox does not even come close to approaching your life's greatest accomplishment. We here at TATB tip our Sox cap to you, Mike Andrews. The franchise's genuine relationship with Dana Farber and the Jimmy Fund makes me proud to be a fan.

* * *

Finally, while I'm not going to pull a Posnanski and shut down the blog (Say it ain't so, Joe!), it became apparent the past few days that my work here is done. Why? Because I got an email from Chad Finn. No, not from myself, though I was a bit confused when I saw own my name show up in my inbox. It was from . . . (suspenseful pause) . . . the Blueberry Guy!

Yes! Him! For real!

Now, I'm sure some of you have no idea what I'm talking about (you're probably used to that). Let me explain: Back when I started this blog about 2 1/2 years ago, I griped in my introductory missive that I wasn't even the most notable Chad Finn on Google. Turned out there was some fruit-breeding wizard in Oregon who was making the name way more famous than I was as a sportswriting/newspaper grunt here in New England. Here's what I blubbered then:

Thanks for finding me. I figure if you navigated the vast expanse of the World Wide Web and somehow ended up right here, right now, you're either a former reader of my Concord Monitor column, someone recommended my site, you gave birth to me (hi mom - I'll call!), or you saw my half-page color ad in "Cat Fancy."

Heck, you must have sought me out, because the bleepin' Internet sure isn't going to help you find me without some digging. Search for "Chad Finn" and first thing that pops up is some hippie-looking cat who apparently has found far greater success breeding freakin' berries than I have as a sports journalist for two of New England's finest newspapers. Much to my ego's detriment, Chad Finn, Blueberry Guy comes in second on the search list, too. And third. Fourth, also. Dude's berries must be a sight to see. Whatever that means.

So, yeah, in case you wondering, there's your confirmation that I was actually this bitter when I started this thing. But a couple of cool things have happened since then. The site has been more fun and successful than I dared imagine in December, '04, and as the readership has grown, Google has given me the appropriate respect.

And now there's this, from my berry-lovin' namesake:

Note from another scientist in my lab who seemed to find as much humor in your column as you did in searching for me (Yeah I know he sent me this 3-year old article just last week):


Did you happen to see this article (paragraph 4 and last paragraph) - It’s hilarious! Did you ever think that you’d end up in a blog with Paris Hilton”?! Did you ever think you’d be referred to as a “hippy looking cat”?! You’re famous!”

Not many of us out there… you and I, I think... so definitely aware of your writing and pleased as hell to share the name with someone who has so much passion. While I grew up in Indiana and DC area, my Dad was from Central Village CT. my Mom from Pawtucket and all my relatives from Boston area (Medfield, Newton, Foxboro, Wellesley), with a second cousin who had a Bosox blog, and an uncle whose business had a skybox at the old garden made me a big Sox and Celtics fan. So have a bit of common thread.

Living in Corvallis Oregon means my baseball passion has turned to the college ranks and boy has it been a helluva lot of fun watching the OSU team win the last two NCAA championships.

Keep up the good work and irreverence. I’ll keep smiling and working with my “freakin berries” … you’re probably eating them when you down a berry product at your local bakery… Take care.


So, in sum: Chad Finn has got serious Boston ties, he follows the baseball program that gave us Jacoby Ellsbury, he instinctively knows this Chad Finn likes to go to the bakery, he's okay with me whuppin' him on Google much in the way the Boo Berry cereal monster would whup Strawberry Shortcake (gotta speak the berry pusher's language there), and he's a good sport about this whole ridiculous thing (which I can't believe you just spent three minutes reading, by the way).

In other words, we Chad Finns - the both of us - are pretty damn good dudes. Represent!

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