Monthly Archives: October 2008

The I.H. List

There is a list that every sports fan has. It may not be something that we think about, or that we even acknowledge, but we have it. It is the Irrational Hatred List. This is not a list of teams or people that we hate (like the Yankees) for reasons connected to our favorite teams, or even reasons of past slights. They are teams we hate because it just feels right. Often they are in sports or leagues that we don’t even love, like college sports for me, or hockey for 90% of Americans. We don’t go out of our way to buy shirts or express this hatred, but there is a genuine pleasure in watching (or even just hearing about it) when they lose.

"Oh, God. I Just Pooped"

(I want everyone to close their eyes. Now raise your hands if you wait every march for the day that Duke loses in the NCAA tournament. Now open your eyes. See?)

For some it is teams that have players they hate (StartMattCassel loves the Packers all of a sudden). For some it is teams that they hate due to continued success (the Bulls of the 90’s). For some it is because they don’t like the fans, or colors, or stadium, or where they are from. It really doesn’t matter why, we just hate these teams irrationally. They don’t even need to be good. 

This came to a head for me on Saturday night when I found myself actively rooting against the Ohio State Buckeyes in their loss (awesome) against Penn State. Now, I don’t have a particular team in college football that I care about. I don’t watch it on a regular basis (though I do follow the highlights on SportsCenter so that I know what’s up and who to watch for the draft), but I have always hated Ohio State (and only in football; I actually rooted for the Greg Oden team in the Tourney a few years back).I loved watching them get taken to the woodshed in the “National Championship Game” the past two seasons. Watching the game, I could not think of a reason why I should root against them, I am not a Michigan fan, I am not a Penn State fan, I just hate Ohio State Football for some reason.

So without further adieu, here is my IH list (note: I don’t give reasons for why I hate them because it is an Irrational Hatred list):

1. Ohio State Football. (See Above)

2. Texas anything. (Just so you all know, the “hook ’em horns” gesture means “someone is banging your wife” in Italy.) 

3. Duke Basketball.

4. The Kansas City Royals.

5. The Detroit Red Wings. 

That’s it for now, but I’m sure others will pop up as time goes on.

Some quick notes on the World Series:

The Rays added our old friend Eric Hinske (and the only Ray that I root for) to the roster before last nights game, and he homered as a pinch hitter in the loss. It was good to see him have some success, and I will  always welcome him back to Boston because of the catch he made in right where he smashed his face on the right field warning track. It was also cool to see Joe Blanton hit his first career Home Run last night. The Phillies have Cole Hamels ready for tonight and a rested Brad Lidge in the pen for tonight, this could be it for the Rays if they don’t come up with something special. Finally, The Beard That Should Not Be was voted the AL Hank Aaron Award winner as the best offensive player in the league. Congrats Youk. 

113 Days

Done.

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The World Series Gets Interesting.

Last night, while most of us were sleeping, drinking, vomiting or doing some combination of the three, the Phillies took the lead in the World Series, 2 games to 1. It was the latest first pitch in Series history (10:06 pm), it ended at 1:47 am, and it featured a pitcher who had been a pro since before the curly haired boyfriend invented the Curse of the Bambino. By all rights Jaime Moyer should have gotten his first career World Series win, though the Phils bullpen couldn’t hang on to a 4-2 lead. That would have been really cool, but what ended up happening makes me wonder about how Joe Maddon feels about his bullpen (or whether he was asleep when the ninth inning rolled around). 

Going into the bottom of the ninth it was 4 all, and through a series of misadventures (hit by pitch, wild pitch, bad throw by Navarro) Eric Bruntlett was on third with no out and Grant “I’m so crazy that I got kicked out of Australia” Balfour (how bad must it be to be a pitcher whose name is Bal Four)  on the mound. Here’s where Maddon went screwy. He had David Price (who I talked about on Friday) and Dan Wheeler fresh and ready in the pen, both guys who have been known to be able to get a big K when it is needed. So what does he do? He intentionally walks The Flyin’ Hawaiian and Greg Dobbs to load the bases before dealing with Carlos Ruiz. Sure, we get it, he wanted the force at the plate, but he still had a flyball  pitcher on the mound. Ruiz ended up dropping a nubber down the third base line that Longoria couldn’t make the play on, allowing Bruntlett to score and the Phillies to take game 3. 

Joe Maddon is a very good manager. He turned around the attitude of an entire organization and lead them farther than anyone could have ever imagined. But he over thought this one. This was a no win situation, but intentionally walking the bases loaded is over thinking it. Losing this way just screams to me that Joe doesn’t trust his pen, and I wonder if that is leaving the guys out there thinking the same thing. How he handles the pen throughout the rest of this series will be interesting. This leads into the stat of the day: Teams that win game 3 of a World Series after it was tied 1-1 have won 35 out of 50 series. Just something to think about as you watch football before game 4 tonight. (Jackson is out but the Pats still won’t beat the 7 point spread)

Go Pats. 

114 Days.

Done

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NFL Picks for Degenerate Gamblers

Against the spread this week. As always, if you cant figure it out you are dumb and 10% of all winnings derived from these picks go to us. 

                                          Game                                               Done       SMC      ABA

San Diego Chargers (-3) at New Orleans Saints            NO         SD      SD       

Oakland Raiders at Baltimore Ravens (-7)                    BAL        OAK     OAK

Buffalo Bills (-1.5) at Miami Dolphins                           MIA        BUF      BUF

Kansas City Chiefs at New York Jets (-14)                    KC          KC       KC

Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-4)                  AZ          CAR      CAR

Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Dallas Cowboys (-2)             TB           DAL     TB

Washington Redskins (-8) at Detroit Lions                    WAS        WAS     WAS

St. Louis Rams at New England Patriots (-7.5)               STL         STL     NE

Atlanta Falcons at Philadelphia Eagles (-9)                    ATL         ATL    ATL

Cleveland Browns at Jacksonville Jaguars (-7)               JAX          CLE      CLE

New York Giants at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3)                  PIT           PIT     NYG

Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers (-5)               SF             SF       SF

Cincinnati Bengals at Houston Texans (-9.5)               HOU          CIN     CIN

Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans (-4)                 TEN           IND     IND 

Last week                                                                                   8-6     10-4     10-4

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Random Thoughts While Biting Through My Own Leg to Escape The Boredom

Nothing is really going on these days. The NBA hasn’t started yet. The Bruins lost to a team that is worse than them, who hadn’t won in a week, and who they need to beat if they are going to make people around here watch them. The Patriots refuse to listen to my idea that they should play every day if they are real men and won’t be on again until Sunday. This World Series is severely boring (nobody gets hits with runners in scoring position, the Rays scored three times on outs last night and the Phillies haven’t even really shown up yet) and the big headline is that there are 21 years of age difference between the starters (Moyer, 45 vs Matt “I am always spitting because I can’t get the taste of Longoria’s balls out of my mouth” Garza, 24) in game three tomorrow. Seriously, can’t anyone do anything to entertain me?  

I will say that just like in 2002 there is one interesting story to watch (other than the whole world championship thing). A rookie relief pitcher has become one of the great stories of these playoffs. Back then it was K-Rod (or F-Rod) who has gone on to become a good but vastly overrated closer with the most misleading record in MLB history (62 Saves, none more than 3 outs, rarely entering a game with runners on base). Now it is David Price. This kid was the top pick in the draft last year out of Vanderbilt and is now dominating on the biggest stage possible after not even a whole season in the Minors. Last night he was in for 2-1/3 innings and other than one first pitch fastball (rookie mistake), he was nasty. That is not to mention the fact that in three appearances against the Sox he had an ERA of exactly Zero. While it’s not the splash that K-Rod made in 2002 (winning 5 games) it is mighty impressive and does make me fear him like i once feared Phil Hughes (Ha!). It will be interesting to see what this kid does in a full Major League season as a starter. 

In other news, Joba Chamberlain was arrested for DUI after a Sox fan heckled him at a strip club in Nebraska. Derek Lowe wants to come back to Boston (which is not a bad idea. He’ll come back for short money, short years and has thrown 200 innings every season since he stopped being a closer, in addition to winning 14 games last year) and the Herald’s Inside Track is openly lobbying for this boozehound to return. But the Best news of all is that Bud Selig is clearly reading Get Out of My Ballpark. He has spoken of intentions to shorten the post season by having fewer off days. Sweet. 

Done

         


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Why You Should Root For the Phillies.

The 2008 World series is upon us and (barring anybody developing time travel, going back in time and handcuffing Matt Garza to a radiator) the Boston Red Sox will not be participants. This leaves the average baseball fan with a decision to make, whether they are going to watch the games or not. Phillies or Rays?

I am here to tell you that the Phillies are the right choice (and not just because they won game 1 last night). They are a better team with better baseball pedigree. They have a better bullpen. They have better nicknames (the Flyin’ Hawaiian is better than anything the Rays could ever come up with). Most importantly, their home is on dry land. 

“What does that mean?” You ask. Where exactly is Tampa Bay? It’s not the city of Tampa. It’s not where the ballpark (or artificial universe created to look like a ballpark but isn’t quite right) is. That is St. Petersburg (Communists). Tampa Bay is a body of water on which no baseball (or football, or hockey) game will ever be played. Philadelphia is a city, on land, which had an important part in the founding of our country. Tampa is known as Trampa. ‘Nuff Ced.

That alone is not why you should root for the Phillies, though it is a reason to hate any team from Tampa Bay (even though the Lightning have the world’s greatest hockey mullet coaching them). You should root for the Phillies because you know how their fans feel. Think back if you can to the fall of 2001. The City of Boston (and all of New England) hadn’t celebrated a championship in 15 years. Many of us (myself included) couldn’t remember the ’86 Celtics, who had given us our last championship, or what being the best felt like. Oh, I remember game 6 of the World Series that year, but not the feeling of being wholly invested in a team and seeing them win and celebrating like I had actually done something to help (The 2004 Sox won because I refused to change for four days during the ALCS, don’t argue, you’re welcome). Now think of how the fans of Philadelphia feel. It’s been 25 years. They have not won anything since 1983 (Sixers) and the Phightin Phils have only ever won one world series in their long (since 1890) and often painful (over 10,000 losses) history. That was in 1980. I have many friends who have never seen Philadelphia celebrate. So root for the Phillies if not so that you can see another city made happy and whole by a title, then so they will stop bitching and calling us jerks for winning all the time.

Times 1000

Times 1000

(Also, as a side note, think of the riots. These are the fans that have become famous for throwing batteries during regular season games, booing Santa, and rioting when their teams lose. The over/under on flipped cars is 82, arrests is 138, and deaths is 19. Seriously, people will be celebrating for weeks. It’s gonna be like two people who haven’t gotten laid in a long time getting together. Screw constantly for a while but once it is over and they look around, everything has gone to shit. Think European soccer riots, but with the cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”)

So do this for the fans of Philadelphia, who have stuck around for 25 years of heartbreak. 

Go Phillies. 

Done.

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The Captain Question.

As we begin to come down from the euphoria that is all six (seven for us) months of baseball season we need to take a long hard look at the cold reality of the offseason. There are decisions to be made on players that we all know and love such as Alex Cora, The Mayor, and most importantly The Captain. He has been a fixture in the line up and a rock for the pitching staff for the last 11 years. He came to us in the most one sided trade in baseball history (Heathcliff Slocumb for Jason Varitek and Derek Lowe, who we’ll discuss another time) and has mad people love him for all that he does. He has won a Gold Glove, a Silver Slugger and been widely known as a pitching coach on the field and in the locker room. Hell, he is the Captain of the Boston Red Sox.

But this season was his worst at the plate, so bad that he earned himself the nickname Cap’n Rallykill for his ability to, well, kill rallies. He hit .220 for the year and his amazing string of unproductive outs (Ks, Popups, grounders to the pitcher) in the playoffs (yes, we all know he hit a clutch bomb in game 6) has made his glaring lack of productivity even more remarkable. In both games three and four he had chances where a fly out or even a grounder to the right side would have scored a run, but he struck out, and killed a chance for the Sox to maybe start a comeback like in game 5. 

The Flip Side of all that is the fact that he is invaluable to a pitching staff, especially a young one like ours (Lester 24, Beckett 27, Wiggler 28, Etc. How awesome is that?). He calls a game so well that pitchers don’t question him. Remember when Schilling had 2 outs in the ninth of a no hitter a couple of years ago? He thought he was smarter than Varitek, shook him off, and the next pitch was hit into center for a hit. Good-Bye No-No. His pitchers know that when he calls a pitch it isn’t based on a hunch, or on some type of predetermined pattern in his mind, but on the strengths and weaknesses of his pitcher and the hitter. Varitek is a machine, he scouts everyone, knows what tendencies they have and how to get them out. When he throws down a sign, his pitchers know that that is the right pitch.

Which leads us to the real problem. Captian Jason Varitek is a free agent. His agent is the soul sucking scum of the earth (Scott Boras), who had a good relationship with Theo & Co. until he convinced the old left fielder to bitch his way out of town. He will want more money  and more years for Tek than is prudent on the part of the Sox right now. Adding to the problem is the dearth (vocab word) of good catching available. This year a guy who was a late first round/early second round pick at any other position went 5th in the draft simply because he was a catcher (Buster Posey). It’s getting so bad that Brandon Inge might go back behind the plate (possibly) for Detroit and Craig Biggio might come out of retirement to catch for the Marlins (that one was a lie, but Biggio was originally a catcher. Betcha didn’t remember that one). The Assholes in Pinstripes even traded for an aging and far less effective (without roids) Pudge Rodriguez when Posada (who they had already over paid) went down. It used to be that you had to have a quality catcher before you could do anything, and there were enough good catchers out there that a fill in wouldn’t completely debilitate your club. (Hey, Puerto Rico. got any more Molina Brothers down there?) Now, there aren’t enough catchers to go around, and one who has the defensive and pitch calling ability of our Captain, let alone a younger one.

That leaves us with a few options. (there are many more but these are my favorites)

1. Russell Martin. The Sox are in the very enviable position of having an enormous amount of young talent in their control for a long time. Players like Buccholz, Michael Bowden and Lowrie (yup) are all pieces that can be moved and are valuable to clubs like the Dodgers with holes to fill. As are people like Coco, Lugo (whose contract the sox would need to swallow. More on the curse of Nomar coming soon), and even Mike Lowell (should the Sox land Teixiera) are proven MLB commodities that can give production to an NL team. This said, the Dodgers are seeing what they can get for the young, talented and coachable Martin, and Buster Olney says the Sox are interested. Why not? He was a Gold Glove winner last year (this year’s winners have not been announced) and handles the bat well (.285 avg, .373 obp, .806 ops). He is the kind of guy who could replace Tek for years to come but will cost the Sox in prospects and current players. In this scenario, Tek ends up finishing his career somewhere else, which is unfortunate. 

2. Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The owner of the Longest Name in MLB history, a wife who used to be a teacher at his High School (14 years older but not his teacher) and every my little pony ever (I made that part up). He has the ability to hit as an every day catcher, but has not made the leap. He spent most of this season in the minors, so that he could get the chance to catch every day, after Gerald Laird won the Rangers starting job out of spring training. He would be the every day guy for the Braves but Brian McCann was ahead of him and is nasty (no chance).This is a guy who I have been watching for a few years and if her were to come here and apprentice (that should actually be his title, Apprentice Catcher) under Tek for a couple of years (he’s 24) and learn the defensive side of the game as well as he projects with the bat then he could also be a long term answer. (This is my choice, and it means we can bring Tek back.)

3. Keep Tek and figure it out later. Look, we all know that Kevin Cash is not the answer. Tek is the key to our pitching staff (if you don’t think we’d be screwed without him, see 2002, 2006) and if the Sox can get him to come back at, say, 2 yrs, $8 Mil per, they’d be stupid not to. (Yes, this is more than he is worth in dollars, but there is an asshole tax when dealing with Boras) he could be a mentor to someone young like Salty (or anyone else the Sox find) and also finish his career in an honorable way with the team that made him it’s captain and that he helped win two rings. 

Never Forget

Never Forget

I truly have no idea what will happen with this one, but I trust in Theo and know that he will do the best with a bad (read: really f@#$ing bad) situation. It’s their top priority and it’ll become clearer in the next few weeks but for right now we are left in limbo. tonight, I’m gonna lay back, watch Pushing Daises (really good, if creepy, show) and the new South Park as I wish that Kazmir’s arm falls off and Maddon’s stupid mohawk gets stuck in something. Go Phillies.

118 Days

Done.

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Colors.

It’s Fall again in Boston friends, and the leaves are a changin’. In Boston talk that means that our sports colors are changing as well, primarily from red to green. With an all-too-early exit from the World Series Race our attention shifts to my personal favorite sport of basketball. In case you’ve been in another country for the past 8 months or so your Boston Celtics are the reigning NBA champions, and defend they shall. 

With a cast of salty veterans right down to the young upstarts we are reloaded for the 08-09 season. Of course my personal favorite “Towny” Tommy Heinsen with his made up gimmicks (Tommy points) and sometimes off-color commentery. Seriously though, how could you not be shit-your-pants excited about the “Big Three” back for more with their first year together reaping a title?! There’s nothing sweeter than KG’s intensity combined with P-Doubles solid All-Star caliber play year in and year out. To top it off Mr. He Got Game Allen with the silkiest and fastest trigger pull in the business.

 

2010 Starting 5? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

2010 Starting 5? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

But every team’s going to hone in those guys, so what about the unsung heroes who fly mostly under the radar? Well worry not, Leon “The Truck” Powe is back with more confidence and attitude to put in some unsuspecting vics face. Big Perk aka “The Enforcer” deserves a mention because this will be his most important year. Getting the ball out of his hands quickly will be the name of his game, not to mention muscling some opposing players around every once in a while. Running the show is one of the smoothest young point gaurds in Celticdome, you know the guy with the Roles Royce tatt on his back Mr. Rondo. The guy comes with more secret moves every game. Barring a slight pre-season ankle injury he’ll be ready to roll. A quick mention has to go to a healthy Tony Allen who can be very exciting to watch at times and other times you might want to put a hand over your face and just peek (horror show). That said we certainly will miss the do-it-all James Posey, but between the new rooks and Big Baby back in the mix looking trim (for him) we should have depth to throw at most any team. Our second team offense in a glass has to be Eddie House who does a decent enough job running the plays when RR’s on the bench but is a tremendous team and crowd motivator who can single-handedly start a run with a three ball threat second only to Ray Allen once he’s on a roll.

 

Excited Boston? You better be because this sequel’s not going to be a slouch. Defensive intensity combined with a dynamic offense and strong transition offense are going to provide Sports Center Top 10 Plays all season. The leaves may not be green in color anymore, but fortunately every true Bostonian bleeds it this time of year.

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