Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Devil or the Deep Blue Sea?

Will he end up with the devil or in the deep blue sea











































Mark Bellhorn is a source of genuine disagreement between Red Sox fans - those who despair at his strikeout totals, and those that look at a K as just another out, and concentrated on his overall value.

This year however, his value has declined as his production has fallen dramatically - he was striking out at a rate of once every 2.6 at bats in 2005, a quite incredible rate. When he is getting on base at a .373 clip, I think you live with the strikeouts, but when that falls to .328...

I am on record as saying that I will never forget the contribution Mark made to last year's championship - the Sox won the only World Series game I have ever attended on the back of his late two run home run at Fenway. However, one of the strengths of this Red Sox front office is that the lack of sentiment (for contrary evidence see Millar, Kevin) allows clear headed decisions to be taken on what players add to the team. Mark Bellhorn wasn't helping this team, this year...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Game 128 at Ameriquest Field in Arlington

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Well not much baseball to share today - but I had to share these photos!

If any Texans wondered what the pale skinned Scot was up to, taking pictures of a cow...

During the 7th inning stretch, the Rangers dropped these cows with parachutes from the top deck - it was interesting to watch grown men stampede over kids to get to the soft toys! And forget my complaints about watching games from the air conditioned comfort of the Gold Club seats - given yesterday's heat, it was an enjoyable experience, with free baseball thrown in for additional viewing pleasure.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Game 127 at Ameriquest Field in Arlington

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My tour continues - stadium 19 of 30 is Ameriquest Field in Arlington, home of the AL West Texas Rangers - I have now seen every stadium in the both of the West leagues.

A top of my head ranking - "enjoyable place to watch a game category in the West" - would be;

1. Safeco Field
2. Dodger Stadium
3. Petco Park
4. Bank One Ballpark
5. Angel Stadium
6. Ameriquest Field
7. SBC Park
8. Coors Field
9. McAfee Coliseum

To be honest, there isn't much to choose between the top 3 - I would happily watch as many games as possible in any of them. Between 3 and 4, there is a big, big gap - but again, there probably isn't much of a gap between 4 and 8, before a big drop off to 9. If any of the Athletics fans that were throwing bottles of water from the top deck during the game against the Red Sox last Labor Day are regular readers - hello - man that was a scary night, in a stadium that really isn't designed for baseball.

The one stadium that people seem to disagree with me most on is SBC, or Pac Bell as it was when I was there. I had a great night at Pac Bell - Ken Griffey jr. hit a pinch hit home run, Tony Bennett sang 'I left my heart in San Francisco' during the 7th Inning stretch... but the stadium itself just left me cold. I think part of the problem may have been that I was in the lower deck on the 3B side, and so had no view of the Bay or the bridges - I will hopefully get the chance to change my mind in a repeat trip sometime.

Back to tonight - I used Ticketmaster to get "best available" tickets for today and tomorrow, and the tickets are in the 'Gold Club'. This is a restaurant area behind home plate, completely enclosed, with two rows of very comfortable leather seats - the picture top right, was taken from inside the club. It is a very strange place to watch a game though - absolutely no atmosphere (you cannot hear the outside world at all, and having a running commentary from the Rangers TV coverage which has a slight delay) and the people in the club are interested in the food, the beer and each other, but the game seems to come a very long way down the list of interests.

The Rangers won at a canter - three home runs, and a reasonable start from Kameron Loe. The Twins really never threatened, which gave me a lot of time to watch the Sox game on the out of town scoreboard - which was so far behind as to be frustrating rather than informative.

Friday, August 26, 2005


If it wasn't for a shocker of a 5th inning on Wednesday night, the Yanks sweep the Blue Jays in a four game set at the Stadium. However that inning was quite something, 13 runners up, 13 runners down (including a double play) but then it all collapsed after he didn't get a close call on a 1-1 pitch and the next eight guys would touch home plate.

Here is a nice stat I picked up on though with regards to our starting pitching:

Shawn Chacon improved his record to 3-1 in six starts for the Yankees with Thursday's 6-2 victory over the Blue Jays. Chacon's 1.80 ERA is the fourth best in the American League since his debut for the Yankees on July 30.

In fact, since that date, Chacon, and three other starters -- Aaron Small, Al Leiter and Jaret Wright -- have combined for a record 8-2 with a 2.57 ERA. Meanwhile, Randy Johnson and Mike Mussina are 2-4 with a 6.31 ERA during that time.

So our #3, 4 and 5 starters are pitching very nicely in recent times, whereas our aces are not performing up to the level that we are expecting. It is Randy, Jaret and Al this weekend against the Royals and they'll be looking to gain revenge for getting swept out of KC earlier in the year.

The Yanks are 2.5 out of first place in the East and are locked in a three-way virtual tie for the Wildcard with the A's and the Indians.

Red Sox Note: The Sox will make up the rained out ChiSox game on Monday September 5, it has yet to be announced whether it'll be a day or a night game.

Game 125 at Kauffman Stadium

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Kauffman is a beautiful place to watch a game - in the middle of nowhere, but still beautiful. For anyone familiar with Dundee, and the relationship between Dens and Tannadice, Kansas comes close. Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs, is an Emil Brown solo shot to right field away from Kauffman - I think closer than the Seahawks to Mariners, but pretty close anyway.

Well at least at this point (picture, bottom right), Schill hadn't done his thing - I had hoped for 5 innings, but I had probably not hoped for 6 runs.

Another night with a very frustrating hitting performance - when Jose Lima feels comfortable throwing 58mph tosses to three consecutive hitters, you know that things aren't going well.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

One more in the L column

Having watched the Yankees lose, the Sox had the chance to put another game in the loss column between themselves and the NY 9.

But having praised the lineup last night, the team set out to prove that given the opportunity, they could fail as many times as you like...

5th inning, bases loaded, one out... ground into double play

6th inning, bases loaded, two outs... ground out

7th inning, bases loaded, one out... strikeout, lineout

5 outs with the bases loaded, and not one single player chased across the plate. And then after Manny had singled to lead off the ninth... nine men up, nine men down... 13 men left on base over the course of 11 frustrating innings, allowing the Royals pitching staff to put up 8 scoreless innings...

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Quite a lineup

The Sox are still hitting in the 4th at KC this evening, but I was just checking out the box score - when your clean-up hitter, has the team's lowest batting average, you really aren't in the worst of shape...



















Theo really does have to do something about those bums in the front end of the order that can't hit .300!

The lineup really does have a nice look with Nixon back in the line-up, particularly against righties.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Sox season so far - the 120 game edition

Well 15-5 in any 20 game set will help - the Sox put together nice 7 and 6 game winning streaks in that stretch. With 40 games to go, the Sox are 4 games up on the Yankees, and with 25 games left at home (if the White Sox game is ever made up), they really have to be considered favorites for the AL East at this point - though I will feel a lot more confident saying that if we are 4 ahead with say... 3 games to go!

The big news this last weekend is that Curt is making his long awaited return to the starting rotation. Curt looked fantastic in our win on Friday, and if that is the Curt we get, even if only for 5 innings on Thursday, we will be fine. If however, we get today's Curt, then it might be a fun outing - and one that I will get to witness, as I will make my first outing to Kansas City, Missouri (and if anyone wants to explain why Kansas City is not in Kansas, the comments section is open and waiting) - look out for photos on Friday.

The thinking seems to be that the Sox will promote Craig Hansen as early as Tuesday - presumably to fill a K-Rod type, set-up, role, with Remlinger or Di Nardo the victim. I would presume that Papelbon will get one more start, as Wells is likely to start his suspension after his start on Tuesday, then move to the pen, and that whoever survives the cut to make room for Hansen will go whenever Foulke returns - Foulke seems confident that he will be in the pen prior to the September 1st date for the expanded rosters.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Back to Back to Back

And one for luck!

Randy faced the minimum ten batters through 3 1/3 innings and the next six hitters would cross the plate, via four long balls. Not being funny but how can Chris Widger turn on a Randy Johnson fastball, unless he has lost his fastball.

Cano has just hit into a 6-6-3 DP when he had a 2-0 count and we needed to get back into the game, pah! What an unbelieveable inning that was though, Randy giving up three on the spin, two very hard hit balls and then the three run bomb, and this guy is getting $18m a year?

Not bad money if you can get that and suck.

Still it's only the 5th inning!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

A lil bit of this...

Neil H is far better at updating this thing than I at the moment and he has a full-time stressful job and I well, erm, don't.

First up Mussina was great last night in what was a very good win for the Yanks. Grinding out a couple of runs against a tough opposition starter, and then getting a great outing from the Moose all equals a very encouraging night. I had to watch on WGN and as Neil put it 'I'm happy to have Kay instead of those guys' and that's saying something, talk about crap play-by-play and horrific bias.

Next I'll talk about Schilling. Neil changes his mind on Schilling as often as I get texted by my stalker. I'll be more certain though on my thoughts, Schilling is a fine pitcher, however he'll only ever be an average 5+ ERA closer. If he can't establish the fastball he'll get spanked, if he can it'll be 1, 2, 3 and a W for the Sox.

If Roger Clemens is the guy whose failed a drugs test then he quite possibly is the stupidest athlete around. Why not retire without having to ever take a test and protect the legacy instead of risking it if he was on something? I love the Rocket and firmly believe in his innocence, if I'm proved wrong, I'll be extremely hurt by the man who is reponsible for bringing me into this fine game.

I'll end for now as my dinner is being served up with thoughts about the run-in. The Yankees most important hitter is, wait for this, Bernie Williams. If Bernie can keep his stroke and go on yet another hot streak towards the end of the season as he has the past two, then maybe, just maybe we'll be playing come October.

A win a 1.03am would have been nicer

If I could be commissioner for a day, or maybe Presidential power would be better, I would abolish all time zones except ET... sorry everyone living west of say... Cleveland, but us right coasters don't need to watch our teams blow leads at 1.03am.

An excellent performance tonight from Matt Clement, who, as Fox Sports LAAAAAA were keen to repeat, has the highest ERA of any starter in the AL post the All Star Break (8+ ERA - ouch). While he didn't get the result, he looked far more controlled on the mound tonight, with a more deliberate and slower approach than I can remember in his previous starts.

And as I have consistently said, this Curt Schilling as closer experiment is working a treat... well tonight anyway. The FSN guys are now talking about the reputation calls that Schilling got tonight, particularly in the bottom of the 10th, and if that is the case, at least his pitches were around the zone. The home plate umpire was too inconsistent for everyone's taste tonight - there were a large number of hitters that walked away shaking their heads at some of the calls - culminating in Ortiz being thrown out in the 8th for arguing the called strike 3 that looked to these eyes, off the plate.

Manny's at bat in the top of the 10th was a good example - the actual pitch sequence looked like ball, ball, ball, ball, rbi groundout, but was called, ball, strike, strike, ball, rbi groundout - if someone could provide GPS co-ordinates of the first two pitches, I would love to know how the ump distinguished the difference in location...

A quiet Friday

Well thankfully no announcements today.

As I have said previously on this site, I am a bit ambivalent about the choices adults make, particularly when the game itself did nothing to check what player's were and weren't using, but as I read Howard Bryant's excellent book Juicing The Game I do subscribe to the view that a clean game would be a better game.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Urgh...damn baseball

I can't even read the site at the moment, I wonder if it's a problem with my computer or if blogspot is down. However let me tell you about last night...

I was having one of those evenings and was very tired. Flash had shut down the Rays in the 8th and I saw the Red Sox were behind, fantastic. I think proceeded to fall asleep and woke up being 4.5 games back instead of 2.5, what the hell happened?

Well Ortiz had once again helped my fantasy team and the Yanks had blown it. Annoying thing to wake up to but in response to Neil H wondering what I thought of Mo, he always has this one or two weeks hittable stretch every year so I'm not that worried at the moment. The worst part was we had the bases juiced with nobody out in the 2nd and failed to plate what would've been the winning run. Also Tino got a stinker of a call at the plate but *shrug* it happens both ways.

Will these Yanks make the play-offs? I'd say it's 60/40 against as it stands.

Always blog happy

Well at 9.30pm, it looked like the lead was down to 2.5 games, with the Sox managing only 2 hits and 2 runs over 8 innings, and only 90 pitches, from Nate Robertson, while down in Tampa, Mo was getting warmed up to save a 3-2 victory for the Yankees.

Well 2 solo shots later, and both teams were heading for extra innings.

The Sox bats came alive in the 10th - and you would have to think that the Detroit press, and Detroit bloggers, are going to use a lot of words second guessing Trammell's decision to take Robertson out after 8IP. I am a great believer in a pitcher who clearly isn't toast getting the chance to finish off his game - if the manager is nervous about the situation, then get the closer warmed up, and let the starter know that he only has one out to play with - one man on, the closer comes in. As a starter, there can be no worse feeling than coming out of the game in that situation and watching a ball leave the park to spoil your night's work.

As the Sox were piling up runs, I was having an IM chat with a Yankee friend that included the line - "how many runs do the Sox need to make this safe to bring in Schill?" - I am the nice forgiving type you see. Thankfully we didn't have a "how many runs do the Sox need to make this safe to bring in Remlinger?" conversation - as the Sox had only scored 2 runs at the time of the conversation, I doubt I would have suggested 5+.

So having completed the Sox innings, it was over to YES to watch the climax of the Yankee game. Neil M can respond with whether Yankee fans should be mildly concerned about Mo's week long struggle - I guess my own view is that it would be nice if there is something wrong, but I am just putting it down to one of those weeks that were inevitable given how incredible Mo's run has been since the first week of April. Alan Embree continues to help the Sox more in pinstripes than he did in red hose this year, but having gotten enough practice at throwing balls in walking Perez and Huff, Scott Proctor proceeding to bring in the winning run on an awful, awful pitch... and 30 minutes later... back to 4.5 games.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Never blog angry

That Curt Schilling as closer experiment is going well... clearly part of this is the immediate response to a visual stimuli, but... c'mon this isn't working - we would be bitching about a starter giving up runs and hits at this pace, let alone a "closer".

Johnny Damon sure knows how to chase down a ball hit over his head...

Terry Francona sure knows how to manage by the book...

That game sure looked won - but a number of disappointing performances, including some very poor at bats from Petagine (first pitch outs, with the bases loaded are a personal favorite), saw this game gradually slip into the loss column.


Sunday, August 14, 2005

Game 116 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards

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Key moment of a true pitching duel... Dave Newhan at bat in the bottom of the 8th, Dave Bush on the Mound, first pitch... Newhan swings and pops the ball up foul... it bounces off the row of seats in front of me and pops up nicely for me to make the grab... my first foul ball... and what do I do... I give the ball away - check out the heart warming scene on MLB.tv (about 2hr 45min into the complete game coverage if you are asking) as I catch the ball then give it to a young kid that had chased the ball. I know I did the right thing - the look on the guy's face was worth it alone, but... my first foul ball... ever...

The biggest thing about today's game was the heat - game time temperature was an even 100 degrees, but believe me it felt a lot, lot hotter - and with the high humidity, the heat index must have been quite a bit higher. When a baseball team makes public service announcements telling you they are giving away free ice chips you know it is hot!

Friday, August 12, 2005

The A-Rod update

Well after reading Neil's piece on A-Rod, I had to stick up for the Yankee 3b so here are my thoughts on the matter in hand.

A-Rod had no defense for last years actions in the ALCS so I won't even go there.

This week's first incident was on Monday against the Sox. Hitting a deep fly ball but allowing the throw to hit him to stop Sheffield being doubled up at 1st, if you believe Neil's version. Now A-Rod's back was to the ball when it hit him, but he certainly did know the direction of where the ball was going, i.e. towards first base. However after the ball is caught A-Rod has to go back to the dugout and he was walking straight back to the dugout, so I believe the ump got it right by not calling Sheffield out on A-Rod's interference.

As for the second play, A-Rod sliding into 2nd and reaching out and touching Michael Young's knee, you see that play all the time, as long as you can touch the bag you can stretch out and try and break up a double play as hard as you like. There is no problem with this play, the other one was debatable, this one I fear any debate would be short lived.

A-Rod isn't the most honest player, that slap last year proves this. He does seem to do silly things at times but in this instance I don't think he was at fault. I'd never expect to see say Bernie, Derek or Jorge make those plays, but they are a different caliber of baseball player. A-Rod likes to stretch the rules whereas others play comfortably within them.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

It's the little things

I give you this player's stats -


















and then I tell you the guy is only 30 years old... you have to admire this guy right? Fantastic career numbers, and a pretty special year so far in 2005.

And when we talk about star players doing the little things... we mean hustle, we mean running down to 1b on a towering pop-up, we mean playing every day when your team needs you regardless of the niggles...

And yet this star player continues to do "little things" that drive me crazy, and I think reveal the character flaw that stops us truly admiring his talent.

In a game earlier this week, our 'star' hit a ball to RF which required the RF to make up quite a bit of ground. The guy on 1b thought it was likely a hit, and broke hard, reaching 2b before realizing that the RF would make a catch and that he needed to retreat. But no worry, our star player saw what was developing, and as the ball was fired in by the RF he quite deliberately (he had two looks to make sure he had his angle right for goodness sake) got between the ball and the bag, letting the ball hit him, and killed the double play - all an accident clearly, as demonstrated by our star player putting his arms out wide in a "how did that happen" shrug...

And tonight, our star player goes in hard to 2b to make sure that he broke up the double play - personally I am not that big a fan of the clearout at 2b - but the opposition SS knew what was coming, so having made the force at 2nd, he stepped wide to the 1b side and prepared to throw to 1st. Again, our star player had thought about this - he reached out with his arm and tried to pull the SS's leg - this wasn't a trailing arm, he physically reached out and stretched to get him...

This is a genuine superstar of baseball, someone that in these troubled times we should be able to look at as a beacon of quality. But these little things that Alex Rodriguez continues to do in his effort to be a team player just continue to detract from his undoubted talent.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Now playing 2B - Tony Graffanino

Anyone missing MarK Bellhorn and his record breaking striKe totals?

Well I do, I will never forget that 8th inning home run, not that many months ago, but Tony G is doing his best to help wipe our memories.

Picked up from the Royals in exchange for Chip Ambres, Graffanino was hitting .298 for the Royals, and after a fantastic night, has raised that to .306. He went 3 for 3, scored 3 runs and drove in 4, hitting his first HR for the Sox over the Monster - he had such an effective night that the Rangers were reduced to intentionally walking him in the 7th inning, although that didn't work out the way the Rangers hoped.

Graffanino had already shown incredible alertness on the basepaths scoring with a well timed slide across home plate on a wild pitch in the 4th. In the 7th, after that intentional walk, he stole second. After Alex Cora had worked a walk, Tony G scored from second on an infield single, again showing incredible alertness to take advantage of the awkward play at the front end. With Bellhorn struggling in his rehab assignment, is he our next DFA?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Ugly Losses, Ugly Win

Well coming in to the Metrodome, the Sox had put together a rather nice 8 game winning streak, even if 5 of those wins came against the two weakest teams in the AL - 6 of the wins were earned by the starter, 6 of the games saw the offense contribute at least 6 runs.

And then this weekend... I really don't remember the Sox playing great baseball in recent years at the 'Dome, and a look back at the record shows that you have to go back to 2000 to find the Sox winning a series in the Twin Cities (and just to show American readers that things are tough for us UK baseball fans, it took me a long time to work out why the Twins wore that TC logo), and that was a four game sweep in the last season before the unbalanced schedule was introduced.

Friday night's game started with Sox falling behind on some ugly defensive plays - the team was only 'awarded' two errors (there was some pretty generous scoring by the official scorer all weekend), but Damon misplayed the first hit by the Twins into a triple, then Bronson Arroyo inexplicably through to second to start an inning ending double play, when the easy throw was to home... and that doesn't account for the fact that his throw never went within reachable distance of second base... and allowed three runs to score. In the 4th inning Bill Mueller was charged with a throwing error that started another big inning for a Twins team that has been struggling for runs all season - at least we now know the cure, they don't need an extra bat in the lineup, they just need a few extra outs!

Saturday's game was a real laugher... if you are a Twins fan or, based on the IM's I received, Yankee fan. In the bottom of the 9th, having wasted a 3 run lead against the current Cy Young holder, another 2 errors, although Michael Cuddyer was generously awarded a base hit on his lead-off single, before reaching second on Mueller's throwing error (there is a theme - generous scoring decision, Mueller throwing error). And then the winning run trotted home on Mike Timlin's error - fielding Nick Punto's sacrifice bunt and throwing it wildly past 1st - the good old walk-off throwing error.

And then today - a win, no complaints here - but an ugly win at that. More throwing errors, more generous scoring decisions, walking in runs in the ninth when you have a 5 run lead... not pretty. My favorite play of the afternoon though was David Ortiz's home run to center-right - you mean you don't see that home run in the box score or your fantasy totals? Well it hit off the "baggie", or advert as you and I might know it, about a foot to the right and below the edge that would have signified a real home run - crazy field configuration - maybe that is why the Twins released David all those years ago - they missed his home run power by failing to account for doubles to the "baggie" that would be HR's in any other park! (Can you believe that a Sox fan has the gall to complain about the "baggie" when his team plays 81 games in a park that has the ultimate baggie?)

And now that I have typed all that I have to confess, I lied... I am sorry... my favorite play of the afternoon actually involved Shannon Stewart, just another example of people jumping on the Manny bandwagon - that was just Shannon being Manny!

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Sox v Yankees - a different look

I do a daily tour of a silly number of blogs - some Red Sox, at least one for every other team in the majors (blogs really are a great way to find out what fans of other teams are thinking, particularly interesting when they are playing your team) and some general blogs that do a great job of giving an overall perspective of the game.

I read this story in the paper version of the NY Times this morning (I think the link may require you to fill in a free registration), and then saw a link here to a different take on the story here. Which got me thinking...

Clearly the interpretation of the numbers is subjective, and as any opponent or supporter of a statistical approach to baseball will tell you, numbers can tell you anything...

I thought I would take a look at the Sox and Yankees road draws within the American League - the interleague splits are heavily influenced by the fact that the Yankees play three road games in New York every season. My way of looking at the numbers was to look at each teams home average in all games except those for games against the Sox (looking at Sox numbers) , and all games except those against the Yankees (looking at the Yankee numbers). I then looked at the difference between these two numbers and you end up with the following tables...

Average ex. BOS

v. BOS








Chicago WS















Kansas City


LA Angels




NY Yankees















Tampa Bay




















So what stands out here? Well the good folks of Detroit sure don't like the Sox... or it could just be that it was a week-day series, and that the Tampa Bay Devil Rays should be campaigning for an even more 'unbalanced' schedule than we have at the moment.

Average ex. NYY















Chicago WS












Kansas City





LA Angels




















Tampa Bay




















So if the good folks of Detroit don't like the Sox, they sure as heck do like the Yankees! The small dip in the Red Sox / Yankee numbers at Fenway is down to a low number on the Sox opening day - my guess is that this is simply the combination of the limitations of Fenway in day games (fact) and the additional press compliment in RF at the opening day game (guess - but this had an effect on capacity for the WS games at Fenway, so at least it is a slightly educated guess!).

So in looking at the two tables, the Sox are the massive, run-away on the road draw... well no, there are 400 ticket buyers in it, which without getting in to it, could be something as simple as a weekend series in a good town.

So now that I have produced a table that shows this outcome, simply add in the Mets and the Yankees are again the clear runaway winner - the Mets regular average (for games excluding the Yankees) is 33,000+ (approximately, I have stupidly deleted the base data that I used for teams that I didn't include in the final table), rising to 55,000+ for the three game series against the Yankees.

I guess my conclusion is... fans of other teams may be tired of 24/7 coverage of the Yanks and Sox and the "Greatest Rivalry in All of Sports" (TM. ESPN), but it doesn't stop them (and members of Red Sox Nation and Yankeeland) turning up in big numbers to watch them when they are in town.

(Season numbers were taken from ESPN.com, individual game numbers from Box Scores on MLB.com)

Just can't stop writing about Saint Sheffield

Well it appears that Gary took exception to my comments on him in yesterday's blog - I should really apologize, I really didn't mean to criticize!

In response to my slight, Gary has decided that he has to set the story straight - only a couple of weeks after declaring that E-Rod was "the man" and that Sheffield would defend him with all his might should anything happen to him, he decides to throw A-Fraud, and Captain Intangibles, under the bus. As reported here but also here, there and everywhere, (Sports Illustrated also does a nice job of highlighting the best of Saint Sheff) Gary has decided that he isn't getting enough respect for his performance, and has decided, without being so bold as to actually name himself - that would just be boorish - to let the world know that he is the true leader of this team - just incredible.

In an expected twist, Gary denies that he has said any of the things reported, at least within the context reported - that the New York magazine had made stuff up to "juice" the story (nice choice of words there Gary) ahead of publication - only one problem there, the journalist has it all on tape and seems eager to take on Gary if it should come down to it.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Sheff? MVP? 2005? WTF?

I have just read Neil's update saying that someone on the YES network was claiming Sheff was an MVP candidate. Well I have to say I fully agree with Neil's stance that Sheff is never the MVP, as it stands Jason Giambi is arguably a better candidate from the Yankees but we have no real stand out.

So far it is Manny's to lose, but Sheffield is definitely not 'above suspicion' as it was claimed. I know I'm a Yankee fan and I have some bias but not even I could say categorically that Gary Sheffield is not on any type of drugs, the only person that could say that is Sheffield himself...

Edit: I mis-read what Neil wrote, but I think I'll leave the story up there as it shows my stupidity. As for Sheffield in the Hall, well, my boy Michael Wilbon still thinks Jason Giambi has a shot so who knows? (for me Sheff and Giambi are both long shots)

all hail...Saint Sheffield

According to YES... Gary Sheffield is creeping into HOF discussions, partly because his HR's are 'above suspicion, unlike certain other numbers that have been posted recently' - I do love subtle jabs at Raffy. I could get the actual quote, the joys of Tivo, but bear with my crude parahrasing!

Sheffield... above suspicion? So now if your name is Sheffield, and you patrol right field in NY, stating that you didn't know you were using "the cream" and "the clear" (while you actually were using the cream and the clear), you are above suspicion...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Oakland wins again

I am just watching the A's finish off the Twins - the A's sixth win in a row, and the Twins sixth loss in a row. Six seems to be the streak of choice at the moment - the Sox win over the Royals tonight was their sixth, while the Orioles are sitting on a six game losing streak of their own.

Prior to this weekend, this looked like it would be an important series for two teams that would be chasing the wild card spot in the play-offs. Now with the A's only a half game back of the Angels, it is difficult to tell whether they care much about the wild card race - they must surely have their eyes firmly set on winning the AL West. After the last weekend collapse in 2004 that took the A's out of the play-offs, that must seem quite a sweet prospect.

As an admirer of Billy Beane's persuit of excellence on a budget - although the disappointment that I felt when he first accepted, then declined the Red Sox GM position has declined somewhat given how his suggested GM has worked out - I have a soft spot for the A's. I also believe that Beane has used the confusion (and the at times deliberate misinterpretation) that surrounds Moneyball to change the A's goalposts in the draft and FA market to continue to find value ahead of others in a marketplace that quickly tried to replicate his "OBP" model.

Given that, it was galling to see the traditionalists pile on to Beane and the A's following the awful start that they made in 2005 - I made the point here that there was an unseemly haste from certain quarters to write off all of the A's past success as the product of three talented arms that would not be replicated again. After a 12-12 April, and a grisly 7-20 May, the A's have gone 19-8 in June, 20-6 in July, and now a 2-0 start in August - it has been nice to watch some of these guys owning up to an early jump!

Monday, August 01, 2005

Trade deadline verdict

I should just really leave this space blank... ... ... thereby generating as much excitement as yesterday's trade deadline.

You have to think that ESPN, with the two hour "Trade Deadline Special" edition of Baseball Tonight, were more than a little miffed that Kyle Farnsworth was the big name trade on the day.

The Sox big move was keeping Manny Ramirez, and the verdict from both the traditional press and the blogging world is that this a good thing. One or two people are of the view that this is a temporary arrangement, and that he will most certainly be gone in the winter - I have to admit that the thought crossed my mind that the Sox and Ramirez came to informal agreement that if Manny stayed now, they would move him to an 'acceptable' club in the winter.

If this is the case, let's enjoy the ride for the next few months.

None of the trade proposals that made the press made an ounce of sense for the Sox - I appreciate that the Sox perhaps had to accept some trade off between talent and dollars in any agreement, but the drop off from Manny to any single player mentioned was unbridgeable. A decent arguement can be made that Huff plus Cameron is almost equal to Ramirez and Olerud, but I think that introduces risks that the Sox didn't want to accept at this stage of the season.

As an aside, how mad must it make certain GM's that other GM's cannot keep their mouths shut? If I am a GM and I find out that the press know the exact details of a trade that I am discussing, how do I have honest discussions with that GM again in the future? I may not want Player X to know that I am thinking of trading him, as the likliehood of me completing a deal is so low, but there it is all over the media...