Tag Archives: Big Papi

You can almost taste it; Opening ‘Day’ nearly upon us

I'm also really excited.

Like a distant tide, you can almost smell baseball season. And no,  not in the haven’t-washed-my-jock-since-last-spring kind of smell. It’s like an invisible energy that fills the city every early April. The texts start going out and coming in: “meet up b4 game?”… “bball tavern @ 5” … “I’ll perform any favor you can think of for your ticket” … buddies start making plans to come home, and beer sales go through the effing roof. Whatever the signs are for you, because it is unique and personal to each of us, one thing is as certain as taxes: Father Fenway comes out of his winter hibernation this Sunday.

As I have always maintained, Boston is a better place when the Sox are playing, and better even still when they’re winning. The cold, white, sissy-repellent that litter the streets during the cold months has melted away, and for those brave enough to bear it (or for those simply forced to) we have earned ourselves the right to another season of Red Sox baseball.

"Right here... Right now... I'm peeing."

With so many new faces this year, there is an unfamiliar air of uncertainty… kind of like the beginning of in 2004 and 2007 seasons. Like everything else in New England, there is no gray area, you either can’t wait to see the boys of summer hit the diamond, or you are already calling for Theo’s head on a blunt spit.

Let me settle all for everyone: We have the best 1,2,3 in all of baseball, the best number 4 pitcher in the game (Dice K) and our fifth starter is either a member of last year’s all-star team or a young stud with top-of-the-rotation stuff.

Our lineup is a mixture of solid doubles hitters with power and speed sprinkled in for garnish.

Our fielding consist of about a zillion combined gold gloves, a new left side of the infield that seems to be meshing with the right side, our new catcher behind the plate looks great and we’ve tacked on three (what will prove to be) terrific new starters in Cam, Scutaro and Beltre.

Cameron kinda looks like Willie Mays Hayes. Hopefully Big Papi swings better than Serano this year and even though the Papelmoose/Wildthing comparison is an easy one... Buccholz is definitely Ricky Vaughn.

Clay Buccholz

The Red Sox will win 98 games this year (like they always do) and narrowly lose the division to the Yankees, which is OK because the Yanks are a team built like winning the regular season is their goal. It’s an exciting season we’re on the doorstep of… And all I want for October is a World Series.

Go Red Sox.

StartMattCassel

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Big Papi did Steroids, But it’s Cool. Seriously.

Not exactly roid rage.

Not exactly roid rage.

So out it came. Juicin. ’04, ’07, Manny, Papi. Without question, if they aren’t in Boston those years, we get no hardware.

It’s really important to begin with that statement so that people know I’m still sane… but honestly, Papi did steroids, and I’m cool with it. We all knew it already, kinda, when it took him a zillion plus games to hit his first dinger this year, and even if that wasn’t a direct result of him stopping when ever he did, it was enough to introduce the suspicion and condemn him subconsciously… the irony of course being that we were all right.

But I’m not givin’ back squat. I’m keeping my World Series trophies and I’m still rooting for Big Papi. Sure, if he was a Yankee, or Manny, or a pre-existing a-hole (or Rod), then ya, I’d freakin’ hate him… but he isn’t. He’s a guy that has been universally loved by every member of the Nation and he and his wife Tiffany have been model community citizens. Big Papi is good for Boston and for baseball. Barry Bonds was a pre-existing a-hole and A-Rod is so despicable that the best thing we could say about him was “at least he isn’t Bonds.” (Now we can just hate them both regardless… which is nice.)

It's Cool.

I’m cool with Papi because his equation still checks out. Whether or not you are one of the greats is a formula. Clemens was an a-hole (negative), but he was a dominating pitcher who mastered the mound (double positive). Clemens’ equation before steroids checked out because even though he was an a-hole, he was also The Rocket. Introduce steroids and he’s just some a-hole on drugs, his equation got thrown all out of wack.

Papi is a model citizen, involved with philanthropy and community, has a local business and a charming smile, helped bring 2 World Series trophies to Boston, blasted countless bombs on to Landsdowne Street and beyond, put smiles on the faces of MILLIONS of people and… ya, he juiced some. In an era when almost everyone was doin’ it (please not you, Griffey… please), pitchers and hitters alike, Papi Juiced. And when I look at everything he’s meant to the Sox, I’m square with it.

So go screw, Yankees fans; when you do it it’s cheating, when we do it, it’s just tryin’ harder. And ya, I actually feel that way.

StartMattCassel

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Sweet Release: Red Sox Take Second Straight from the Blue Jays as Ortiz Finally Homers

Papi watching it flyYou know that feeling, when you haven’t gotten laid in a while, and so it’s all you can think about every time you talk to a girl, no matter how ugly she is (if you don’t know it talk to ABA)? Each failure makes you feel like it will never happen again that you are doomed to spend your life in the dark, crying as you jerk off and using your tears as lube. It’s a fear that can’t really be explained. Well, that’s how David Ortiz, a man whose whole self was defined by his ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark, felt as he stepped into the batters box for his 150th at bat since his last regular season Home Run (lest we forget, as it seems everyone else has, the bomb he hit to really get things started in the 7th inning of game five of the ALCS last year). And then he made the fear pay.

We still love you, as long as you start doing that more often.

We still love you, as long as you start doing that more often.

I guess, at least for one night, Tito was right, again. After a weekend off, and one game where he might as well have been off, David Ortiz has finally (after 150 at bats) earned the right to be called Big Papi again, if only until 7:10 PM tonight. Papi went two for five with two Ks (that will have to stop, at least if you aren’t going to get on, you need productive outs), a double (a strong one off the left center wall, going the other way) and, finally, a Home Run. The good signs were that he went the other way for both of his hits, hit both balls really hard, and the bomb was off a lefty. There is room to grow, but the first step is often the hardest and it looked in post game interviews like Ortiz had puled the monkey off his back, thrown it to the ground and bludgeoned it to death with his Nokona.

I f#$%ing love summer in Boston.

I f#$%ing love summer in Boston.

Along with that, and the win, everything else is gravy.The Sox put a hurting on those Jays, gaining another game on them and thoroughly (with an assist from Cito Gaston)crushing the spirits of some guy named Cecil, one of the rookie pitchers upon which Toronto fans have hung their season. Penny went out and gave the Sox another quality start, throwing 6-2/3 of two run ball, lowering his ERA again close to 6 and bringing him back into the position where he might actually be an impediment to the newly married John Smoltz stepping directly into the rotation once he is healthy. The Beard, after not getting a hit at Pawtucket in two games, went 3-5 and raised his league leading average to .404 (look at that again and remember the might of The Beard that Should Not Be). Pedroia is still the man. Jason Bay is yet another swing closer to me wanting to be just a little bit Canadian, after he his his 12th last night (still on pace for 48 homers). Tek and Lowell also had bombs, two for Tek. And, best of all, Lugo managed to not f#$% it all up.

Go Sox.

Done.

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It’s Not Here Yet… But It’s Coming

The 4 Hole.

The 4 Hole.

I just took a little ride in my car which means that I was probably just listening to sports talk radio. The dial is pretty much glued to WEEI (unless I have hot chicks in my car in which case I switch to hip hop as to not seem like a full time blogger) and in this morning’s case, Dennis & Callahan were talking baseball. It’s a great show, by the way, right wing politics and baseball at the same time, what could be better? -Yes, I am serious, and yes, you can go screw, hippie-

They were talking about Youk in the 4 hole and John Dennis made the point that with the game on the line, he’s the one you want with the stick. Unless you’re only option is home run, in which case Ortiz has a better chance of just running into one.

Kevin Youkilis, dominater of the WBC who put 29 big flys over the fence last season, is our cleanup hitter. The third place vote getter for AL MVP last season, formerly a utility infielder and master of the walk, “God of” in fact, has worked himself into one of the absolute core Red Sox, whom the game depends upon and so do us fans. He’s charitable, has got a hot wife, a great OBP and he has one of the biggest jobs on the team, make pitchers throw to Papi.

Spring ain’t here yet, but that sucker’s comin!

ThePlayerToBeNamedLater (Formerly known as StartMattCassel)

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What? Baseball Season is Only 33 Days Away? Awesome

Yeah, thats right. We may have missed some things while spending this week talking about how much Tebow sucks. But, as we close in on a month left to go until spring (yes, it will be spring on February 12. You can’t have spring training without it being spring), there are a few pieces to pick up.

  Rocco!The Sox added two more pieces to the puzzle that is the 2009 team. Rocco Baldelli is the fourth outfielder that I have hoped the Sox would pick up since he showed what he can still do at the end of the season with the Rays. He hit .263 with 4 home runs, 5 doubles and 13 RBI in just 80 at bats last season, after coming back from a mitochondrial disorder which caused him to fatigue easily and lose his legs. Those numbers translated over 400 at bats equal a pretty damn good season, and the mitochondrial disorder has been rediagnosed as Channelopathy, which is apparently much more treatable (I have no idea what any of this means. Perhaps Dr. Douchetits can explain?). He will also be a welcome departure from the recent slate of noodle armed Red Sox outfielders (he has a cannon). Won’t we miss the days of runners walking into third while Johnny “throws like Mary” Damon watches with the ball in his hand in center field? I guess not. The fact that he has reclaimed the number five (my favorite number) from the imagined greatness of Nomar, allowing plenty of people to pull their old home jerseys out of the closet, and is a local kid who grew up in a family of Red Sox fans just puts icing on the cake of a very good signing.  

Looks just as good aged 20 years.

Looks just as good aged 20 years.

The addition of John Smoltz, who may not be available to pitch until late May or early June, is a good signing in that he provides the depth to the pitching rotation, much like Bartolo Colon did last year. He is coming off of shoulder surgery, and is 41 years old, but also happens to be the only man in Major League Baseball history who has 150 saves and 200 wins. He is a battle tested, playoff hardened success who is 15-4 with a 2.65 ERA in the postseason. This signing is good because should he come back strong he will provide a less blowhardly (I invented that word) version of Curt Schilling’s presence in the clubhouse and on the mound during the playoffs, and also allow the Sox to be more flexible with their young starters like Masterson, Bowden and Buccholz. I like it, supposing he does make the comeback as scheduled.   

The Show

With these aquisitions, and the earlier signings of Bard and Penny, the Sox seem to be building up quietly to being a very good team this spring. The question marks, such as Lowell’s hip, Ortiz’ wrist, and Beckett’s, well, Beckett, are too many to ignore, but we’ve got to keep reminding ourselves that this is still the professional core of a team that won the freaking World Series two years ago, and was two runs short of an AL pennant last year. Yeah, the Old Left Fielder is gone, but we still have excellent pitching, a third season in the States will yield a more comfortable Matsuzaka, and the American League Most Valuable Player is still hitting in the two spot and playing second base (Dusty Pete will be gracing the cover of MLB 2009 and this is a good thing. Unlike the Madden curse, when Ortiz was on the cover in 2006, he had his best statistical season, with 54 HR, 137 RBi and 1 stolen base. Pedroia will do fine). Gold Gloves are heavy, thats why he's bending down.I also want to pay a little respect to Youkilis, who came in third in the MVP voting, is a guy who can put up 30/100/.300 and plays gold glove first base. If he continues to improve on pace with how he has done in his three full Major League seasons, he will become the power hitter that can back up Big Papi in the lineup. The possible return of Mark Kotsay as a backup first baseman/fifth outfielder is just one more reason to be optimistic about the depth of this team, as he is a guy who could be playing everyday somewhere else if the circumstances were different.  

But there are question marks every where, New York, Tampa Bay and Boston. Will almost half a billion dollars get the Yanks back into the World Series fold? Will the Ray’s young starting pitching and questionable bullpen be able to repeat the season that they had last year? Will CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira be able to thrive in the pressure filled environment of New York when they have never had this kind of expectations on them in the past? Will Josh Bard punch A-Rod in the face just to prove that he is the right guy for the job? Peter Gammons (the man) helped to process some of these issues last week when he spoke to WEEI (Thanks to Extra Bases for the transcript). 

just as big a tool as Mattingley

I'm a Tool.

His thoughts on the Teixeira situation: “He wanted to go to the Yankees, his wife doesn’t like Boston — apparently she doesn’t like the stores on Newbury Street or something — and in the end that’s the way it goes…. As you probably remember, there was a lot of testiness between Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira when they played in Texas together . . . and I don’t think Alex really cares about communicating with other players, we know [that] from Derek Jeter. Also, we haven’t really seen Teixeira in a situation where the expectations are really that high, and he’s going to have to deal with them in New York. It will be very interesting to see how it goes with the Yankees.”

(A Big F@#$ you to Leigh Teixeira for that one. Now Boston doesn’t like you either.)

On the free agent market this winter and Scott Boras’ evil control: “This is one of the worst winters I can ever remember. What happened this winter is that, as the internet has expanded to become the media power, the flow of information is quickly controlled by agents. A lot of general managers and those of us in the business kid about a couple of sites referred to as ScottBoras.com, and Scott will float things out there and throw it out there and people will report it, you know, ‘The Brewers are jumping in on Derek Lowe.’ They’re not jumping in on Derek Lowe. I mean, please. ‘The Red Sox are really hot for Derek Lowe at $16 [million] . . . ‘ No, they’re not. But Scott floats this stuff out, and he’s able to get people to report it.”

Tek ThrowOn whether Varitek will return to Boston: “Well, if he calls and says, ‘I’ll sign at $2 million,’ they might do it. If someone would just sign Varitek, the Red Sox would say, ‘Thank you, we’ll take the draft choices.’ Now, I’m not sure anybody is going to sign him. One player said to me, ‘Well, the Marlins might sign Varitek for $5 million.’ No, they won’t . . . they Marlins aren’t giving up a first-round draft pick for Jason Varitek. Can’t happen. I don’t know what’s going to happen . . . I still think the Red Sox will trade for a catcher, whether it’s now or the 15th of March, and I don’t know what’s going to happen with Jason. It’s too bad. How Scott Boras looked him in the eye and said, ‘By the way, I turned down $10 million [in arbitration],’ is beyond me.”

How he thinks the AL East will turn out: “They actually asked me to do this last night on “SportsCenter.” I took Tampa third, and I really like Tampa. Buster Olney disagreed — he thinks Tampa is the team to beat with all of their young pitching . . . I don’t see their bullpen coming close to doing what they did last year. I picked the Red Sox second, just because we don’t know about the health of David Ortiz and Mike Lowell, and I think Josh Beckett will be fine. You never know about J.D. Drew’s health. And the Yankees, with the innings that [CC] Sabathia and [Chien-Ming] Wang can give them and all the offense they should have, they clearly have to be the favorites.”

June 10, 2010Now, I don’t know if I agree with the great one on the last point. The pressure is going to balloon Sabathia until he looks more like Cartman on Weight Gain 4000, A-Rod and Teixeira will get into a purse fight at the mound and Wang broke down last season and is as big a question mark as anyone on the Sox. He does, however, give some interesting insight into the Varitek situation, and how Boras is seen by teams, his clients and the media.

Gammons also had this happy thought to share about the Red Sox pitching staff in his chat yesterday on EB:

Jon Lester says, "Get Out Of My Ballpark."

Jon Lester says, "Get Out Of My Ballpark."

“I think it could be the best. Obviously Josh Beckett has to be healthy and I think they really improved the setup crew in front of Papelbon with the addition of Ramirez, and Masterson and Okajima. Obviously   they should have three really good starters, the alternatives with Wake, Smoltz, Penny, Buchholz, and Bowden could be potentially the deepest staff in the league. I love the Smoltz signing. Both John Farrell and Ben Cherington went to Atlanta to watch him throw and were very impressed.   And Smoltz is one of those rare players who thrives on pressure and crowds. What’s interesting about Penny, is that if he had gone out on the market last winter, he would have gotten an A.J. Burnett contract b/c he was coming off finishing third in Cy Young race. He did break down the last three months, but Burnett has broken down 2-3 times himself. Over the last three years, Burnett and Penny have each won 38 games, and Burnett has only averaged 10 more innings a season. One of the reasons Penny wanted Boston was b/c of the way that Terry Francona and John Farrell handle pitchers, so there’s a good chance he can turn out to be a major contributor.”

Takashi SaitoAs I was writing this the Sox announced that they have signed Takashi Saito to a one year deal so hold down the seventh and eighth innings along with Delcarmen, Masterson, Okajima, Ramirez and Masterson (yeah, our bullpen is awesome). It’s a good deal for a guy who was the Dodgers closer for three years, and can definitely do the job in the late innings for the Sox, and of course, gives them more flexibility with the pitching staff. 

Hit like and All-Star, Party like a Rock Star, F#$% like a Pornstar.Also Jason Giambi has signed a contract to take his mustache, gold thong and steroid carrying trainer back to the Oakland A’s, where he made his name, before going to New York for $115 Million and seven Ringless years. Hey, at least he will fit in at many Bay Area events with the mustache and thong. 

Tonight is the annual Hot Stove Cool Music Concert at the Paradise Rock Club. I was fortunate enough to be at the summer version of this concert a few years ago (where SMC and I bought a Jon Lester autographed cap) and it was amazing (even though SMC’s girlfriend has been threatening to leave him for John Legend ever since). I highly recommend getting to one of these shows in the future to see Theo, Gammons and all manner of local rockers display their wares. If you have tickets, enjoy tonight’s show. 

33 Days. 

Done.  

 

From the ” I’m sorry and I take it all back” Department: I here by publicly recant all i said in my predictions for 2009. The Celtics clearly did not get the memo that it was a joke and a reverse cheer. I now know that they will go on another monumental winning streak, and there will be another June parade in Boston where SMC, ABA and I can get high fives for smoking cigars on a crowded city street. Thanks.

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