Monday, March 31, 2008

An Announcement and a Bit on Fantasy

What up world, this is Sway. Just kidding. Do you remember that guy though? I wonder what he is doing now. Probably still talking really deliberately. And what about Gideon Yago? Remember him? Is he still in Iraq?

Anyway, that segues into my next bit which is to announce that sometime in the near future I am going to start a companion unit to this blog where I only talk about TV shows. The TV Shows could be serious like The Wire or they could be awesome and ridiculous like The Hills. You'll just need to check it out to find out. I watch some pretty sweet things on TV and love to talk about them so I figured I'd get rolling with that to provide some alternate content while keeping it seperate from the sports stuff here.

With that being said, now the sports related part of my post.

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned how proud I was of my fantasy basketball team. Even further back, I mentioned that I liked fantasy baseball and basketball far more than football on account of how much more strategy those two entail - stockpiling various statistics instead of just two. Anyway, fresh off the two baseball drafts I had over the past week I wanted to of course talk about my basketball team.

Don't worry, I'm not going to give you war stories from "matchups" or anything like that. Instead I would just like to present you with the starting lineup I have used for most of the year for my fantasy hoops team to illustrate exactly why I love fantasy baseball and basketball so much. I've already told you the first reason.

The second reason is along those lines and it is my belief that you don't win fantasy baseball and basketball leagues in the first few rounds of the drafts, you win them in the middle and late rounds. Granted a busted early round pick can sink you, but if you nail a few mid and late round picks, you are probably sailing to victory. Granted you could maybe make a similar argument in football, but I'm not buying it because there is such a star system in place in standard scoring there that you can easily win on the back of one or two players if you get them in the right years. Has anybody with Tomlinson not finished in the top 3 in their football leagues the last three or four years? Of course there is no way to prove it, but I doubt it. On the flip side, the guy who had A-Rod's monster season in my fantasy baseball league last year finished 6th out of 10 teams. That is probably because he employed fantasy team killer Juan Pierre in his outfield which goes to further my point because baseball and basketball are all about checks and balances. If you have one beast in your lineup but you have a blackhole too, the beast can often be almost marginalized. Hence the need to make a well balanced team and hence the reason to nail the middle and late rounds of your draft - as well as the late, early ones like in the 3rd - 5th round range. OK, I'm rambling. To illustrate my point I am going to rank in my mind the order of importance each player on my fantasy basketball team had to my overall success this year and you will notice that a) my best guys were all my mid-round guys and b) that it is hardly a star-studded team on paper but was so well balanced that I finished one game off having the best record in the league. Of course the not so great thing about fantasy is that one key injury and nine times out of ten your team is cooked. Yes there is skill in winning fantasy, but honestly the luck factor is just as big a key. You can't protect against injuries or seemingly inexplicable awful years from key players.

Chauncey Billups (Drafted 3rd Round, 3rd Most Important Player on My Team)
Kirk Heinrich (Drafted 4th Round, 8th Most Important Player on My Team)
Steve Nash (Drafted 1st Round, 2nd Most Important Player on My Team)
Stephen Jackson (Drafted 9th Round, 6th Most Important Player on My Team)

Antawn Jamison (Drafted 6th Round, 4th Most Important Player on My Team)
Danny Granger (Drafted 8th Round, 7th Most Important Player on My Team)
Tayshaun Prince (Drafted 7th Round, 9th Most Important Player on My Team)
Udonis Haslem/Andrea Bargnani/Ryan Gomes (drafted Bargnani, picked the other two off of waivers and rotated them all year and they were the 10th most important players but all contributed solidly when playing - especially Gomes who I am going with now in the playoffs)

Marcus Camby (Drafted 5th Round, THE Most Important Player on My Team)
Pau Gasol (Drafted 2nd Round, 5th Most Important Player on My Team)

OK, so you see my point kind of. All of my top picks were my best players - granted not in that order - but if you look at my actual lineup I only have three All Stars out of ten. I think that says something right?

Well, that's it for me. I tried to prove my point. Maybe I did, maybe I didn't. Either way, the fact that I got to Stat Track my baseball team today for the first time of the season today really gets me going in awkward and indecent ways.

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Notes from the weekend...

I think this will become a weekly thing for me. With my wedding approaching in November I find that my weekends have been filled with wedding planning and other wedding related activities. For example this weekend I spent my Saturday morning registering at Crate and Barrel seeing how many different kitchen gadgets I could scan when my fiancé wasn't looking. Anyway with the wedding planning and my general laziness have led to me not posting on the weekends and instead posting on Monday mornings with everything I noticed from this weekend.

- The Celtics managed to win two more games this weekend, but they were completely off my radar. After the Texas triangle triumph a couple of weeks ago I am just on auto pilot until the playoffs at this point. They have also almost clinched home court for the whole playoffs so there isn't much left to play for until we meet the Atlanta Hawks in the first round.

- I went to the Baseball card shop on Saturday, and had a fairly successful trip. I pulled a Freddie Sanchez autograph card, and some low numbered serial cards. It was also National Baseball Card Day so I got a free pack of cards. I read online that some stores had big parties and giveaways. Slapshot sportscards in Saugus had a sign and the same degenerates that are normally there.

- My Bracket was busted when my sleeper USC lost in the first round but it imploded this weekend as I only have UCLA left. I still enjoyed watching the games, I was particularly frustrated last night during the Davidson vs. Kansas game when Steph Curry was not able to get off the last shot.

- The Bruins played and no one cares

- I stayed up and watched the Sox play on the little league on Saturday night. The beginning to this season is annoying the crap out of me. Between the 6am starts, the exhibition games in between the real games and the fact that the sox aren't going to have a normal game time until next Friday. It doesn't seem like the season has really begun until I can come home from work and sit through the entire game.

- 11 days until the Red Sox game, still waiting for Ben to confirm that he will be joining us in the mayhem.

That is all for now.span>
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Thursday, March 27, 2008

NL Preview & Sox Opening Series

So I'm a couple of days late on my promised NL preview. Sorry, don't hate me. I want to touch on a few other things to so here is the breakdown of this blog entry:

Part 1 - Quick take-away from the Sox two opening games
Part 2 - NL Preview

Part 1 - The Sox Opener

It is waaaaaay too early to draw any real definitive conclusions on the season, but I do think these two points bear mentioning:

1) Manny is clearly dialed in. Given his propensity for slow starts and all his offseason talk about contentment, wanting to play forever, etc, etc you cannot take this to be anything but a truly awesome sign. Will we see him and Papi combine for 85/280? Sure looks possible don't it.

2) The biggest elephant in the room for the Sox that nobody wants to talk about is the fact that two of their top 3 pitchers (Dice-K and Lester) require acts of god to make it through 5 innings in under 100 pitches. Look, I know pitch count is not the be-all-and-end-all but Lester since Day One in the bigs has been a 20-25 pitch an inning guy and Dice-K still seems to have the maddening habit of either dominating innings or letting five or so guys reach base while throwing 35 pitches. Because of these traits, the likelihood of these guys pitching deep into game consistently is not good. Therefore the tax on the bullpen which will be applied from the second and third starters will be significant which puts even greater pressure on the four and five guys to pitch six or seven each night and quite frankly that is kind of scary. Most teams - Red Sox included - are built to get seven out of the top guys on the staff and hope for six out of the bottom guys. A staff built around one consistent deep in the game threat (Beckett) and four other five to six inning guys is asking for trouble down the road because by August the bullpen will be shot. I'm not saying that this is a shoo-in to happen, but it certainly has to be considered the number one concern for Boston, especially when starting pitching is supposed to be a strength.

(And is there really anything more boring/frustrating than watching these guys pitch into deep count after deep count? You can take the twenty minute half innings to an extent in the playoffs but during a game in April...painful.)

Part 2 - NL Preview

NL MVP (Bandwagon Pick) - David Wright, NYM

Pretty tough to argue here right? The Mets will be the team everybody is watching in the NL this year thanks to last year's historic collapse and the Johan Santana addition. If they do win their division then the main reason why - offensively at least - will be David Wright. Plus he's a great defensive third baseman and a 30/30 guy to boot. Honestly, I would be absolutely shocked if the Mets win the NL East and David Wright does not win the MVP.

NL MVP (Neil's Pick) - Hanley Ramirez, Florida

Honestly, it's tough to pick against Wright. Part of me wanted to go with Chase Utley because if the Phillies are in it this year, he'll be a major reason why, and because over the last two years the other two main cogs in Philly's Big Three - Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins - have each won MVPs so maybe now it is Utley's turn. In the end I went with Hanley mainly because if the Marlins can somehow manage to win 75-80 games and Hanley has 35 homers and 50 steals from the shortstop position, he'd kind of have to be an MVP candidate right? MVPs from third or fourth place teams are tough, but I could see Hanley putting together one of those years that are SO good, you can't help but give them their props.

NL MVP (Sleeper Pick) - Aramis Ramirez, Chicago Cubs

Right now the Cubs are the presumptive favorites to win the NL Central. Last year they won the NL Central without big seasons from Derrek Lee or Alfonso Soriano. This year I think one if not both of them will rebound. Plus they have that Japanese Guy who they brought over who is supposed to be good and there are the daily rumors that Neil Williams Fantasy Man Crush of 2007, Brian Roberts is en route as well. Looks like a pretty good lineup to me and I think the main benefactor will be Aramis Ramirez. Honestly, there is an outside shot that he could drive in 140 this year and if he does that and the Cubs win the NL Central, I can all but promise you that he wins the MVP.

NL MVP (Super Sleeper Pick) - Matt Kemp, LAD

This sounds like complete lunacy. Consider this though; the Dodgers should be in contention all year in the NL West. Assuming they do this, their young studs need to step up. From all I have read, the one with the most upside is Matt Kemp. Now, if Kemp puts the Dodgers on his back in September and carries them to a division crown in September all while finishing the year with a .320/30/110 line then he certainly could steal the MVP from a more deserving candidate. I'm not saying I'd bet my life on this or anything, but this is a Super Sleeper Pick and as such requires a few leaps of faith.

NL Cy Young (Bandwagon Pick) - Johan Santana, NYM
Kind of a no-brainer right? The AL's best pitcher since 2004 moves to one of the best teams in the weaker league and seems ready to blaze through the competition. If Santana is healthy then there is really no reason why he should not cruise to this. If Santana is not completely healthy and all that talk about his possibly hurt shoulder or elbow and his lackluster last two months of last season is actually legit, then things might not go so swimmingly. Let's also not forget the last time a pitcher of Santana's ilk switched leagues to a New York team. Remember the Randy Johnson experience for the Yankees? Not too sweet right? And remember all the hype of him winning 25 games prior to the 2005 season? Exactly. I'm not saying that the situations are the same - Santana is younger for one and secondly he is downgrading from AL to NL unlike Johnson who upgraded - but I'm just providing a bit of a reality check to all the people who seem to be already handing him the Cy Young.

NL Cy Young (Neil's Pick) - Jake Peavy, San Diego

Jake Peavy is the incumbent "Best Pitcher in the NL" and until Johan Santana actually takes that title from him, I am sticking with Peavy. Plus, let me just reiterate that according to ESPN's Buster Olney there were a bunch of scouts legitimately scared about Santana's performance at the end of last year and feel their could be a hidden injury there. Granted this is all just speculation, but I'm just saying....

NL Cy Young (Sleeper Pick) - Aaron Harang, Cincinnati

The Reds have been getting some buzz as a surprise team and if they make some noise this year, inevitably Harang - second only in K's to Jake Peavy in the NL the last two years - the ace of the staff will get some pub. If you combine that publicity with maybe 18 wins, 215 K, and an ERA in the low 3s then you are absolutely looking at a guy who can win it. And will voters give him bonus points for calling one of the most extreme hitters parks in MLB home? I say they will and they should. So there you go.

NL Cy Young (Super Sleeper Pick) - Ben Sheets, Milwaukee
OK so the guy has not been healthy since 2004, I'll give that to you. BUT, when he was healthy way back when he posted a 2.70 ERA and struck out 264 in 237 innings. The last few years have not been total busts for him either as he has been able to keep his ERA in the mid-threes. Sure his K rate has dropped but he's been hurt. Now, if the guy was a creaky veteran I would be going nowhere near this pick, but the fact is that he turns only 30 in July and he is playing on a team that should score runs. If he regains at least some of his mojo from years past and wins close to 20 - a possibility if he can make 32 starts (big if) - then he is right in the conversation and maybe the nice story puts him over the top.

NL Surprise Team (Positive) - Florida Marlins (82 wins)

In 2006 the Marlins somehow managed to win 80 games when they were supposed to be awful and then last year they reverted to form a bit - thanks in large part to a rash of injuries to their pitching staff - winning just 70 games. This year, Rob Neyer and Buster Olney have been really talking up the Reds as potential sleepers this year. Quite frankly, I love their reasoning - some young pitching that could breakout (Johnny Cueto and maybe Homer Bailey) plus a couple of young offensive A-listers that could be difference makers (Joey Votto, Jay Bruce) to go with an established number one starter in Aaron Harang and offensively Brandon Phillips, Adam Dunn, and maybe even Edwin Encarnacion. But, I don't want to side with ESPN just because that is too easy. Instead, I am choosing the Marlins and here is why:

1) They arguably have the most dynamic offensive player in the NL in Hanley Ramirez.

2) Beyond Hanley they still have plenty of other quality offensive players in Josh Willingham, Dan Uggla, Jeremy Hermida, Mike Jacobs, and they may get a mid-season infusion from former Tigers super prospect, Cameron Maybin who was acquired in the Miguel Cabrera deal. Right there you have five and maybe six if Maybin develops quality offensive players in their lineup. Sure, beyond Hanley there is no star power or superstar potential there, but a good five or six man lineup in the NL is certainly acceptable.

3) Their pitching really does not worry me. Sure it is a bunch of re-treads with the exception of Andrew Miller, another highly regarded prospect gained in the Cabrera deal but as the Nationals proved the last few years playing in RFK, an enormous ballpark can mask bad pitching.

OK so my logic is kind of awful because a team should not conceivably improve a year after getting rid of a player of Miguel Cabrera's caliber while not adding a sufficient replacement, but I have a hunch here and I'm going to go with it. I'm not putting them in the World Series or anything, just saying they'll win 82 games.

NL Surprise Team (Negative) - Colorado Rockies (78 wins)

It was tough for me to find a team in the NL to slap this moniker on just because beyond the Mets and the Cubs there really are not any teams out there with potentially outsized expectations. The Mets could be a big disappointment if they sustain a major injury to Pedro or Johan but it is not really fair to a) assume that or b) count that against them because a major injury to any contender's top of the rotation guys puts them in a massive hole. As for the Cubs, they seem to me like the team with the most potential in the NL - beyond even the Mets - just because they have the makings of one of those staffs that does not look good on paper but somehow manages to compete and win a whole lot just like the staffs of the 2005 White Sox or the 2007 Angels. Plus, I think their offense is going to be great, especially if they can bring Brian Roberts on board. Because of that, those two teams are ruled out in my mind. I think they'll both be pretty to really good.

Without another good fit for this I decided to throw the Rockies in here. Contrary to what would seem to be logic, the Rockies actually rode their pitching to the NL crown last year posting the best second half ERA in the National League and allowing only 17 runs in the 7 games they played - and won - in the playoffs leading up to the World Series. This is all well and good but I just don't buy that their pitching will be that good again. I knew the Sox had the World Series in the bag last year when in Game One they showed a picture of Colorado's "ace" Jeff Francis who looked more like an IT guy than the ace of a World Series team. Meanwhile, you really can't argue that Josh Beckett does not look the part. Once I saw that contrast I knew the Series was done - well maybe not completely because I am still very much a paranoid Red Sox fan. Either way, the bottom line is that I don't think Colorado's starters can duplicate last year's success and if that is the case then they are back to the 75-80 win mediocrity which their franchise has been marred in more or less since Day One.

Playoff Teams
Chicago Cubs (NL Central Winner, Best Record)
NY Mets (NL East Winner)
LA Dodgers (NL West Winner)
Atlanta Braves (Wild Card)

Cubs over Braves
Dodgers over Mets


Dodgers over Cubs

And that is the NL for you. Talk to you soon.
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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Konichiwa Bitches!

Did I watch the game today? No I watched the first two innings, then I listened to half an inning in the car and then the rest of the game I w as regulated to hitting refresh on my Internet browser and IMing my friend Jeff when something happened. I do have some thoughts about the game though. I was happy to see that they won.

-Dice-K looked awful at the start. He wasn't able to throw consecutive strikes, and was missing badly. He must have done something right though after I left my apartment as he ended up lasting 5 innings and only ended up giving up only two runs.

-I hate Kyle Snyder, I couldn't stand his identical twin Bronson "almost as obsessed with Boston as Kevin Millar" Arroyo either.

-In some ways I am glad I missed the game on TV, I don't like Jerry Remy, think he is on an ego trip since he was named the president of Red Sox Nation and I don't think I could have listened to 3.5 hours of him pontificating on his trip to Japan and how different it is from Boston. ITS ANOTHER COUNTRY WE GET IT!

-Brandon Moss tore it up, hopefully he can be the anti Wily Mo and be an effective fourth outfielder. If not he sure showed off for the Japanese scouts who can sign him after he gets cut in a couple of years.

-I was impressed with the national anthem, much better than what we normally see at Fenway.

-Finally can someone explain to me how the Sox are playing two games that count, and then are coming back to the states to play two exhibition, seems a little stupid to me. Spring Training is over GAME ON!!
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Monday, March 24, 2008

Same Better Worse, Take 3

I heard the D&C bit this morning. I heard their answers and I stand by my belief that D&C belong on a non sports related radio station. Anyway, I wanted to offer some more on what to expect from some of the players that will make up the 08 Sox:

Youk: I am going to say he will put out about the same numbers as last year, with on notable exception. I just have to play the odds and say that he will commit an error this year. He has to, the odds are just stacked against him to go another 162 without an error.

Pedroia-Worse, but still awesome for a guy who measures up the same as a second baseman in a Babe Ruth league in terms of height and weight. Keep in mind that in that scenario the Babe Ruth player has not entered puberty yet. Seriously, he had an amazing year after a scary start, and will continue to progress into an amazing second baseman that we own the rights to for the next several years. Defensively he will be fantastic.

Lugo- He will be gone by the all star break. They will say the same thing that they said about Rentaria; "He just couldnt handle the pressure cooker of playing in Boston." Rootbeer & Bacon can't wait to welcome Jed Lowrie to the Bigs. I got to see him play up in Portland, and he is the real least he was into the third inning...Thats when things got a little fuzzy and then after that, there was nothing...

Lowell- I am going to say Same, here. I think that he had a great year, but its what he should be putting out in my opinion. He has a legit chance of contending for league leader in doubles, and he uses the Monster well. What can I say? I love him and his singular testicle!

Manny- MUCH BETTER, As Nick put it, he is locked and loaded, and very publicly spent the offseason working to improve. I am hoping for a monster year out of him starting right out of the gate. Remember when he went inside the monster to take a piss in a cup? That was awesome...

Ellsbury- He has struggled this spring, but I think that he will be good, although I expect to see Cocoa out there more than the pink and green hats would like to think. Don't get me wrong, I think that Ellsbury is going to be locking down center field for a good long time, but they are going to want to protect his confidence and shop Cocoa.

Drew- My gut is telling me that we are going to see the guy that we paid for. I am cutting him HUGE slack for last season. Hell, his kid was sick and spent the better part of the season in a body cast. If I remember right, his kid is only like 7. As an expectant father, I have spent much time worrying about what MIGHT happen to my daughter, so I can somewhat relate to what ole JD was dealing with, and I fully excuse him if his mind was somewhere else. I am going to say A hell of a lot better, he has already hit two homeruns in as many games in Japan.

Varitek- I want to say better, but I think his bat will be about the same at .251. He is on a down turn, and the Sox should not sign him to another four years at 10 million a year. I think his leadership and intangibles and his game calling are still awesome, but there is not much left in the tank, or the knees for that matter...

Pitching- Better. Matsuzaka will settle in and have a great year. Remember there were about 5 games where he only let up one or two runs last year, but the offense couldn't get anything done. He would have been near 20 games if they had scored for him. Beckett is the man. Lester is looking good this spring, and should be a solid 4 or 5 guy. And we cannot forget, MY MAN Bartolo Colon, who I still think is going to have a solid year for the Sox.

All in all, I think that we have a solid team that will be playing deep into October. I am working on a post outlining the deeply concerning similarities between Wally the Green Monster and Godzilla...There is something we need to keep an eye on there. But for now, I am all out.

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2008 Season MLB Preview: AL

Now is time for my super quick-hitting baseball preview. In the spirit of blogging I will try and keep all the pieces brief.

First though I want to briefly comment on Mike's earlier "Same/Better/Worse" post. I love the idea (thanks D&C) but I'd say that we could expect WORSE from Mike Lowell and BETTER from Julio Lugo.

Here's why.

All last year I was waiting for the proverbial "other shoe to drop" with Lowell. Of course it never did. Maybe I should be more sold on Mike Lowell than I am, but something tells me that for at least one of the last two years of his contract he will be relegated to mascot status on the bench as the token "good guy" from a championship team that they like to keep around.

As for Lugo, well he can't suck any worse than he did last year. Can he???? I'm with Mike though, the Jed Lowrie Era cannot start soon enough.

Oh, and PS, watch out Mike. All the bandwagon hoppers are going to be out for blood on you for daring to say that Kevin Youkilis is not the greatest first baseman in all of baseball. I stand by my Poor Man's Paul O'Neill comment until proven otherwise. If Youk can somehow this year manage to play productively from April - Playoffs without a 2 month suckfest all while dropping the preening and whining act, I will happily start rethinking my stance on him.

And now for my actual preview. We'll do the AL today and the NL tomorrow.

AL MVP (bandwagon pick) - Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

Really the only reason not to think that this pick will come through is the prospect of Miguel Cabrera pulling a reverse Subway Jared and piling back on all that weight he has lost this offseason now that he has a $153M contract in tow. Honestly though, the Tigers will be THE team that will be watched all year and if Miggy goes .330/35/135 like he could then it will be tough to not give him the award.

AL MVP (Neil's Boring Pick) - ARod, NYY
Say what you will about ARod - and I detest him - but he is certainly at the point where he should be the favorite for the MVP at the outset of every season until proven otherwise.

AL MVP (Neil's Sleeper Pick) - Adrian Beltre, Seattle
If the Angels pitching staff remains as injury prone all year as they have been to date, then there is a great chance that Seattle can steal the AL West. If they do that, they'll need Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard to win about 35 games between them and they'll need Beltre to hit like a beast. Let's say that Beltre pulls a Matt Holliday and carries the Mariners down the stretch and leads them to the AL West title. And maybe he even has a few signature moments. Wouldn't that be enough to steal it from somebody with slightly better stats who may be playing in a less exciting race? That is not a rhetorical question, the answer is yes.

AL MVP (Neil's Super Sleeper Pick) - JJ Putz, Seattle
This follows similar logic to the above, except here imagine that Seattle wins the division and there are about five worthy but not overwhelming offensive candidates. And then there is Putz who saves 50 games, wins 7 more, strikes out 100 batters in 75 innings, and posts an ERA in the low 1 range. I think that may do it.

AL Cy Young (Bandwagon Pick) - Justin Verlander, Detroit
This seems about right to me. He should be able to win 20 games assuming Todd Jones does not blow too many wins for him. Plus he should also strike out around 200 and have an ERA in the low threes. Smells like a Cy Young.

AL Cy Young (Neil's Pick) - Erik Bedard, Seattle
If he never got hurt last year, Bedard was cruising to the Cy Young. This year, if he can start 30 games and pitch like he has the past few years he should win 15-20, strikeout 250+, and have an ERA in the low 2s. Pretty nice season.

AL Cy Young (Sleeper Pick) - Scott Kazmir, Tampa Bay
Let's see, after an awful first half last year he lead the AL in strikeouts. Also, he is on a much improved team this year. If he can pitch to his ability from Day One and keep his walks under control he will certainly put himself in the conversation.

AL Cy Young (Super Sleeper Pick) - Francisco Liriano, Minnesota
It would be a nice story right? I don't see this happening, but you never know. I will not expound on the heartache he caused my fantasy team back in 2006 though as it is still too painful to talk about.

AL Surprise Team (Good) - Minnesota Twins, 88 victories
Sure they lost Torii Hunter and Johan Santana. But you know what, they still have 4 starters (Francisco Liriano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Boof Bonser) who can all be above average - think 2005 White Sox - and while they have crap at some positions, they will get strong production from 5 of them 1B (Justin Morneau), the corner OF spots (Delmon Young and Michael Cuddyer), C (Joe Mauer), and DH (Jason Kubel who I can almost promise you a 30 HR season from). Not that bad right? If those guys hit plus one or two more, their pitching is decent, and Joe Nathan does his thing in the 9th, this is a team that could very well surprise.

AL Surprise Team (Bad) - Detroit Tigers, 85 victories and no playoffs
I already discussed this a few weeks ago but I think their lineup is overrated (lots of creaky veterans and guys coming off of career years), their starting pitching after Verlander sucks, and their bullpen is a nightmare waiting to happen so therefore I just can't hop on the bandwagon. I could be wrong, but I smell disappointment from these guys.

AL Playoff Teams (I'm not predicting playoffs because I'm such a homer I'd obviously go with the Sox)
Cleveland (AL Central champs, best record)
Boston (AL East champs, second best record)
NYY (Wild Card)
Seattle (AL West champ)

OK, that be it. Tomorrow I'll get you the NL.
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Same, Better, or Worse

While trying not to yell at my radio this morning (D&C had some how gotten it into there heads that it is easier to manage in Boston than it is in a place like Kansas City because the pay roll is bigger and it is easier to win, completely ignoring the fact that the Sox play in about 100 meaningful games a year where the scrutiny is almost unbearable, whereas the royals only play about ten meaningful games a year, and six of those are against the Sox.) Anyway while I was listening them they announced there next segment which they called "Same, Better or Worse", I did not get to hear the segment though as I got to work so in a blatant rip off I am going to do it here on the Blog.

So here we go....


First Base: Kevin Youkilis - SAME - Youk will always be a fan favorite for his hustle, Boston fans tend to cling to the Blue Collar guy. You can expect the same superior Defense from him and he is good for 80 RBI's and a .285 BA. He will never be a true all star unless the Sox fans find a way to vote him in which is a possibility this year with Ortiz listed as a DH on the Ballot since the All Star Game is in Yankee Stadium an AL Park

Second Base: Dustin Pedroia - WORSE - I love Pedroia but I cannot see him continuing on the pace he was on last year. I can see him continuing the gold glove caliber defense, but I would be surprised to see him hit .317 again. I would be happy if he is more consistent this year and isn't awful for the first two months like he was last season

Shortstop: Julio Lugo - WORSE - I can't stand Julio Lugo, I was pissed when they signed him and I am still pissed now. He is horrible, he is not very good defensively and he is the black hole in the line up. Best case scenario is that they trade him or he gets hurt and Jed Lowrie steps in and hits .300.

Third Base: Mike Lowell - SAME - Many people are saying that he will decline this year, now that he is another year older and just signed a new deal. I think we are looking at another solid year from Lowell, his defense is always solid and in this line up he is never going to the be THE GUY so I predict another all star campaign from Lowell.

Left Field: Manny Ramirez - BETTER - My first better, you can say whatever you want about him, and he is normally clueless but with a new agent in Scott Boras he is going to be ready to rip it up this year and make up for a down year last year. Plus his dreds are longer which can only help right??

Center Field: Jacoby Ellsbury - BETTER - Now you must remember I am rating the position not the player, this of course the only position that we are having a change. Do I think Jacoby will keep up his play from last fall, NO, he played out of his mind. He will however be a much better option than Coco Crisp was.

Right Field: JD Drew - BETTER - He has had an amazing spring training, when I saw him he looked a lot more comfortable both on the field and with his team mates. I don't think he will ever be worth what they paid him but I do think he will be better this year.

Catcher: Jason Varitek - SAME - It is time to admit that Varitek is on the back nine of his career but I see him having another marginal season. We all need to be honest about Tek though, we are not expecting MVP type numbers from him, he is here to be the Captain and to manage the pitching staff which overshadows his .255 batting average.

Pitching Staff - BETTER - The bullpen is just as strong as it was last year, and I would rate that as same but as the rotation matures this year I can see them be Better than last year. Beckett will end up starting the season once they are back in the states and has a good chance of winning the Cy Young. Dice-K will be just as strong if not stronger. Bucholz and Lester will finally get there chances and I would rather have one of them than Curt the blowhard.

So overall I do think the Sox will be better than they were last year, at some point they are going to have to get younger, luckily they have the prospects coming through the system that will be able to replenish them when the time comes. Well I am off to get some work done and I will write tomorrow when I get up at 6 to watch the opening game.
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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Thoughts on Fantasy Baseball

I've got the first of my two fantasy drafts coming up on Monday night. First and foremost, I admit that I am a total obsessive in regards to fantasy baseball. I cannot get enough. Secondly, well there is no secondly. My annual fantasy baseball draft for my daily, roto league is consistently one of my favorite moments of each year. My Monday draft is for a weekly H2H league that I am doing this year and my first time doing it with that group of guys. It will be good, but has nothing on my "real" draft which happens on Saturday, 3/29. (And BTW, next Saturday after my draft I have a bachelor party to attend. Is there a better possible Man-Day than that?)

So why am I telling you all this? To talk endlessly about my team? No, I wouldn't do that to you. Instead, I want to give you a list of a few players that I really like this year. Nope, I won't pull a Brandon Funston and tell you that A-Rod should have a big year. Instead I'm going to give out a few guys who I thik will outperform their common "rankings" by preseason fantasy sites.

1) Bobby Abreu
This is my big one here. From most rankings I have seen, Abreu is placed in the mid 40s-late 50s range. This seems about right upon face value. However, when considering that he will hit between 15-20 homers, steal about 25 bases, score 120+ runs, and probably drive in 100+ all while hitting in the .280 range with a high OBP (if that counts in your league like it does in mine) it seems to me like he is an absolute steal in the 5th or 6th round. Believe me, I understand how maddening the guy can be with his streaks - a proud owner of him from last year - but his skill set is so relatively unique that he can carry your team for long stretches when he is going well. Believe you me when I say that if he is still on the board when I'm making my 5th round pick I will absolutely be drafting him.

2) Nick Swisher
Swisher has been popping up in the 100-115 range from what I can see which seems about right on face value. However, he will be hitting in the heart of what could be a very good Chicago offense along with Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, and Jermaine Dye and he is moving from an extreme pitcher's park to an extreme hitter's park.

Last year was supposed to be his big breakout but it did not happen. This year, I think is his time. If he goes for 35/120 this year I really would not be shocked. Sign me up for him in the 10/11 round range.

3) Chone Figgins/Brian Roberts
Well these guys are not really sleepers and both are ranked about where they should be - in the 40s per most sites. However, these two guys are two guys that I am absolutely going to go after because these are guys that can get you 40-50 steals and help out in other categories that you will be able to draft after the first two or three rounds. Once Ichiro is off the board, these guys are really it as far as I am concerned for high steals guys that won't kill you in other categories. That's also my cardinal rule for drafting offensive players - adopted after a few months of suffering through Juan Pierre - do not draft a steals only guy on offense; instead draft a number of guys that will get you 15-25 steals along with other categories, not one that will get you 60+ but nothing else. And that is why I love Figgins and Roberts so much. They'll get you the huge steals numbers but also help you in other categories. And they'll give you the steals from an infield position! What's not to love?! Oh, and PS,I hate drafting outfielders without power.

4) Aaron Harang/Javier Vazquez
I love starting pitchers that strike out a high amount of players while keeping their WHIP down. Both of these guys fit the bill. As long as they make 30 starts, they are each a shoo-in to K 200+. Once all the big name pitchers are off the board, these guys are the next great get.

5) Lastings Milledge
Here is a guy I am probably going to "reach" for in the 20th round or so. My thought process here is that just a few years ago, this guy was to be the centerpiece of the Manny Ramirez trade. Then, he does a few stupid things on the Mets, cuts a rap album, and all of a sudden he's getting traded to the Nats for a fourth outfieler and a crappy catcher. Um, okay. It's not like he had a precipitous skill decline, murdered a prostitute, or started soliciting sex at the Boys Club in Queens, it's just that he somehow fell out of favor with his team for being kind of an idiot. Whatever. He could easily be a 25/25 guy if he gets his act together this year. Or he could be a lot worse. Who cares though. after the 17th or 18th round you've got to roll the dice on people. There's always good waiver wire fodder anyway if the guy is a bust. For some reason I don't think he will be though. Count me as the captain of the Lastings Milledge Bandwagon.

Two Big Name Players That You'll Need to Draft Relatively Early but Should Bounce-back Big Time:

1) Manny Ramirez
It's really tough to call Manny a sleeper, but I can certainly see the circumstance where everybody is scared off of him after his mediocre - for him - campaign last year. Sure, it could be a harbinger of things to come. Or it could be that like he said he never felt comfortable last year until the postseason when you may recall him crushing the ball for the month of October. Whatever the risk, I'm rolling the dice with Manny. I just love the guy too much to let him pass if he is on the board in the late third or early fourth round. Plus, he seems legitimately happy this year to be playing baseball and playing baseball in Boston. Shouldn't that count for something good? I'd like to think yes.

2) Lance Berkman
I should hate Lance Berkman with every fiber of my being. You see, last year at my draft I ended up making a last second switch and took Lance Berkman over the guy I wanted to draft with my pick in the round all along, Matt Holiday. Berkman of course has a down year, Holliday wins the MVP, and that decision most likely cost me first place in my league. It still haunts me. No matter though. I think Berkman is bouncing back this year with a 40/130 year, and if you get that out of a third round pick then you are doing really well for yourself. I know it's not like he's a "steal" going that early but you should be getting an early to mid second round player at the end of the third round, and early in the draft getting that extra push from your third round pick is always a nice plus.

OK, so there you have it. I'll give you the lowdown, post draft on Tuesday. You probably don't care that much but I'll want to do it so you may not have a choice. Sorry. If you're lucky you may even hear about my fantasy basketball team which has made my eyes tear up and swell with pride all winter long.
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Saturday, March 22, 2008

Manny....Locked and Loaded

I love this. Manny is ready to go. I'm not sure what happened exactly, but I'm thinking Manny was rejuvinated after his walkoff homerun against the Angels last October......

"[It's] just another milestone that I'm going to accomplish," Ramirez said, of reaching 500 home runs. "But my train doesn't stop there. Six hundred. I want to play because I love the game. If I play six more years, why not? I'm pretty sure I'm going to reach it."

"They're not stupid," Ramirez said, of the Red Sox. "They know. They know I can play and I'm ready. That's it. I'm going to get the two options, then I'm going to get a four-year deal. I'm just going to go and get it."


And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Past Few Days

It has been a busy couple of weeks here at Rootbeer and Bacon and some of the contributors have been slacking myself included. I am not even sure if Nick still writes on the Blog, he seems to think he can't write while he is at work. Let me assure you this is not true, I now work two floor above Nick but there was a time when both Ben and I were on the floor. We some how managed to talk sports, build spaghetti monsters, discuss if zombie attacks are insured against in the basic homeowners policy or do we need a special endorsement, and Ben even found time to torture our senior rep by only telling stories from his real life. Now I managed to somehow get promoted so it makes me wonder if I could do that and still excel why Nick cannot do the same. Enough about Nick though on to some thoughts from the sports world.

- I am going to second Ben's post and say that I am truly proud that the Red Sox decided to stand up for there non player personnel. While I think it is ridiculous that they are paying the players money in addition to their regular salaries to go to Japan, if they are going to do it they needed to do it for everyone going. And while they are at it they need to pay each fan ten dollars cause it is going to suck watching the game at 6am.

- When spring rolls around there are usually two things that I am looking forward to to March Madness and Fantasy Baseball. For some reason I don't find myself nearly as excited, I do have my brackets filled out and my ten dollars lost in a pool, and I do have my fantasy draft coming up for a league I have been in for the past three years but the excitement is just not there.

- This past Sunday I almost watched a Colts game on NFL network that's how much I miss the NFL, they were playing Tennessee and it was kind of nice to see Peyton getting his ass kicked by Haynesworth for a couple of minutes.

- Instead of the Colts game I watched two sports I usually loathe. First was Golf, I seem to only be interested when Tiger is playing and he is dominating. It's one thing to watch the Patriots dismantle teams week after week, but Tiger is playing an individual sport which seems to be based almost entirely on Luck so even I am pretty impressed. I also watched Nascar, the end was kind of exciting but I am not about to drive to Loudon anytime soon.

- The Celtics are on a roll, they looked bad against Utah and I think part of that was them looking ahead to a tough road trip. They dismantled the Rockets on Tuesday and proved that they are tough, they didn't take any of the Rockets crap. Luis Scola is a dirty player if I have ever seen one, when he threw down Tony Allen who up to that point had shut down McGrady for the quarter I thought he should have been booted from the game.

- Glen Ordway is back.

- Finally I will reveal my final four selection. UCLA, UNC, USC, and Texas. The business world will lose 2 billion in production of the next three weeks I look forward to contributing.
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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Red Sox UNITED!!

So I have been absent from the site for a while, save for my post regarding my ability to beat up five year olds. I won't get into detail, but the last week and a half has been, without a doubt, the strangest and most unsettling of my life. Then, with disaster averted, I went on a 48 hour drunk and am back.

I had a bunch of little things I was going to touch on this morning, such as an amazing win by the Celtics, an amazing night for Leon Powe, Troy Brown, and my ongoing search for a minivan. However, when I got in the car this morning to continue my search for said minivan I heard Dale and Holly talking about the Red Sox staging some sort of revolt, and I was overwhelmed with pride and admiration for the hometown team. I was so pumped that I forgot for just a moment that I was going to test drive a minivan, and thus turn in at least one of my balls.

The story goes that the players found out quite by accident that the assistant coaches and support staff would not be paid the 40,000.00 that the players would be getting for the trip to Japan. This seemed to be a surprise to them as that, according to the players, was a major sticking point in them agreeing to make the trip. They would not go unless everyone was compensated. From what I heard, MLB was rather underhanded and attempted to just not pay the support staff and not tell anyone that things had changed. So what did the Red Sox players do? They voted to go on strike. They informed the media and MLB that not only would they not play in a grapefruit league game today, but they also would not board the plane to Japan tonight unless MLB ponied up the cash for everyone.

I love this for a couple of reasons. First, I like that Boston has been leading the charge in hiring quality people instead of just talented players. The Patriots, and the Sox have built winners by investing in, for the most part, good people who put team first. There is no A-rod or Bonds here, just hard working guys who have some ethics. This alone makes me proud to be a fan. Now, I fully realize that they are all millionaires, and we had to pay to keep some of them, so I won't need the hatemail on that. But, it seems to me that we have very few, if any, millionaire assholes.
Second, I like that the players also agreed that they were going to pay these guys their 40 grand one way or the other. They were willing to pay out of pocket. Let's face it, there is about an 87% chance that Manny will never even cash the check, hell he will probably forget it in Japan. He doesn't need 40 grand. However, the bullpen catcher for the Sox makes 30, 000 a year. This 40 grand bonus will literally change his life. Many of the trainers and such make less than 100,000 a year, so 40,000 to them is a lot of money and will change their lives. To many of the players themselves, this money would be there spending cash over there, but they were willing to throw it in the pot to make sure that everyone got treated fairly.

What I mean by fairly is this: the brass at MLB could care less of the strength coach, or clubhouse attendant, or bullpen catcher make the trip to Japan. They could also care less if those people are upset. They are the little people in baseball. What they want is their superstars performing on the world's stage. The 40 grand was little more than a way to ensure that their stars made the trip. What they did not count on that the 40 grand was not what got many of the Sox to make the trip. It was the 40 grand that their support people were getting that enticed them to go.

Lastly, I guess I just like when people stand up for the little people. I can't help it. I love that our beloved Red Sox used their position of power to make MLB do what was right. They had the resolve too, the game was scheduled to start and 12:01, and the only thing the Sox were doing at that point was giving out autographs...for free. The game eventually started at 1:10, but only after the Red Sox demands were met in full.

Make no mistake about it, this is a feel good story, especially if you are a Red Sox fan.
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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Are You There Doc? It's Me, Neil...

I am not delusional. I am not a basketball coach. I don't pretend to be a basketball coach and I will not say that I could do any better than any coaches out there.

With that being said...

Doc Rivers, will you please insert Sam Cassell into the starting lineup at the 2 until Ray Allen comes back from his little injury. Seriously. Tony Allen has absolutely no place starting for a team with aspirations - legit ones too - of winning a championship. He just doesn't okay.

Did you see in that game against Chicago a few weeks ago when he committed three turnovers in the span of three possessions over about 35 seconds? Did you see that? That guy shouldn't be starting against teams like San Antonio and Houston on the road, even if it is as an injury replacement right?

Listen, I know Tony Allen has a role on this team. I know he is the token athletic and quick 2/3 type that comes off the bench. I get that okay. While part of me does not understand why his minutes cannot be split amongst Leon Powe/Big Baby/James Posey with some creative lineup mixes, the other part of me understands that you know how to coach an NBA team better than I do. I am sure there is a method to your madness. Still though, I've been trying to figure out the difference between Tony Allen and Kedrick Brown since Tony entered the league and those efforts have been unsuccessful since day one.

Look, I don't want to pile on Tony too much because I have never met him and I am sure he is nice enough guy so I'll ask one more time.

Doc, can you please start Sam Cassell in Ray Allen's place instead of Tony Allen until Ray Allen's return. Pretty please. What, you are afraid that you'd be giving up too much size with that move? No problem. Just put James Posey in there at the 3 and slide Pierce to the 2. That would work right? Sure you might lose some speed with Posey or some size with Cassell, but you have to give some to get some right? Come on Doc, throw us a bone because I really cannot take much more of Tony Allen's errant and mostly pointless dribbling, running, and jumping.


Concerned Blogger X
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Monday, March 17, 2008

1992-1996: When College Sports In Boston Actually Mattered

It's bracket time and of course there are no Boston area schools represented in the field this year. There is really no need to delve into why Boston is not a major college sports town, but I would like to look back a bit. If you recall, for a brief time period in the early to mid 1990's, Boston and Massachusetts really did matter on the college scene. Of course it is no coincidence that that time just happen to coincide with the time when Tom Coughlin was coaching BC's football team, Jim O'Brien was coaching their hoops team and John Calipari was the man on the sidelines for UMASS' basketball squad. And then all of those guys left for better jobs, greener pastures, more cash, whatever and things have never really been the same. Let's look back though because I still have vivid memories of the marquis games and teams from that era.

You all remember the Christian Laetner game right? Well that almost never happened as Kentucky almost blew a monster first half lead to UMass. I remember going into that game thinking there was no way that UMass could hang with Kentucky because they were "Kentucky" after all and UMass was UMass. That was pretty much dead-on for the entire first half. And then Michael Williams drilled a desperation heave heading into the lockerroom and I remember telling my dad that that was going to be a momentum changer for the second half. Well it was and UMass made a game of it, but ultimately Kentucky won. Still though, this was the game that put UMass and John Calipari on the map.

The Notre Dam upset. 'Nuff said. This was a defining game of my childhood. Not only did BC go on the road to beat Notre Dame (back when ND was relevant), but they beat Notre Dame as Notre Dame was coming off a stunning upset victory of their own. (At Florida State in the peak of the Charlie Ward Era who for my money is still the most dominant college football player I have ever seen system QB or not.) And not only did BC pull out this victory, but they pulled out the victory by nailing a field goal as time expired after blowing a massive halftime lead. There was even a fortuitious dropped interception by Notre Dame on the game winning drive which would have sealed victory for the Irish - kind of like what happened with Asante...nevermind, I don't want to rehash. This was a huge deal at the time because back then, Boston teams did not win. Back then Boston teams blew huge halftime leads as road underdogs to rip the hearts out of their fans. That is how it worked then. The Red Sox had been to the playoffs twice and got swept both times since the Buckner Game, the Pats were in Year One of Bledsoe/Parcells and just learning how to not be a 1-4 win team each year, the Celtics were reeling from the death of Reggie Lewis and en route to becoming more or less irrelevant for the next almost 15 years, and while the Bruins still had my main man Cam Neely and were consistently good they still were not winning anything and seemed to get upset in the playoffs every single year. Bottom line, this was not a good time for Boston sports and a road victory at the number 1 ranked team in the country which just so happened to be Notre Dame was a huge, huge, huge deal. I can't describe it any better than I just have so if you weren't there you'll just need to trust me.

The postscript to this story is that in typical BC fashion they went out the next week and lost to West Virginia. Granted WVU was a top team that year, but they were on the doorstep of being a title contender and botched it. After the season, Tom Coughlin left to coach the Jaguars and since then BC has pretty consistently been an avergage to slightly above average team that could never win the big game or beat the name school. (And for the record I don't count the scrub Bowl Games they play in every year as "Big Games".)

This year was all about the tournament. After Joe Smith destroyed UMass to lead Maryland to a second round upset over them on a Saturday I felt that my local enjoyment of the tournament was shot as BC was certain to get slaughtered on Sunday by defending champs UNC. I was so distraught and flying off the handle so horrifically during the UMass game that my parents were legitimately worried. Scared too I think. And then BC with greats like Billy Curley, Howard Eisley, and the plus sized Danye Abrams pulled off the stunner the next day and went all the way to the Elite 8 where they got bounced by Florida and the loathesome Andrew Declerq but the lovable Dmitri Hill. You may remember him as Da Meathook. My rage towards Andrew Declerq never subsided from that game and I seethed every time Tommy Heinson lauded him for one of his hustle plays during his stint a few years later with the Celtics.

The other marquis college hoops game of this calendar year came during the next season when UMass played top ranked Arkansas at the start of the season in a primetime, Friday night ESPN game and absolutely destroyed them. It was all about TV Lou Roe.

After Oklahoma State and Big Country Bryant Reeves upset Tim Duncan and Wake Forest (the 1 seed in their bracket) it looked like UMass had a cakewalk to the Final Four. In fact, I even remember using that exact term when discussing this with my friends around that time. I mean Big Country couldn't handle Marcus Camby right? We couldn't have an awkward and ugly white big man undercut our local team's trip to the Final Four for a second year in a row right? Wrong of course. Bryant Freakin' Reeves.

Three funny things about Bryant Reeves though...
1) He was the Vancouver, now Memphis Grizzlies first ever draft pick in 1995.
2) He briefly held the scoring record for a pro game at the Fleet Center for a 41 spot he put on the C's in 1998. I say this mainly because I remember vividly watching the game where Iverson eclipsed him out of the record book as Tommy Heinson cackled in delight. I think his exact words were something like, "I'm so glad that this record finally belongs to a real player". Gotta love T.
3) Obviously his NBA career was a bust - item 2 not included - but you really can't crush Vancouver for the pick too much because check out the results from that draft. KG and Rasheed excluded, that was an awful draft. I mean Cherokee Parks was the 12th overall pick for chrissakes.

OK, next basketball season now. You remember the game. UMass vs. Kentucky. Primetime on ESPN. Kentucky jumps out to a 15-0 lead or something like that. UMass turns the tables and blitzes them the rest of the game. That starts their brief flirtation with an undefeated season which ends at the hands of Alexander Kuhl and GW.

Now here are some things that I bet most people who remember that team can tell you about them at the drop of a hat:

1) Marcus Camby won every major college POY award that year.
2) Edgar Padilla and Carmelo Travieso, the starting gaurds were both born on the same day in Puerto Rico.
3) Dante Bright was the second best player on the team.
4) Dana Dingle was loved by Dick Vitale because he would riff incoherently off of "Dingle" whenever he did something of remote substance on the court.

Same UMass team. I've already mentioned the GW loss. Now I want to mention their loss to Kentucky in the national semifinals AKA the Final Four. A few thoughts:

1) The great travesty of the tournament that year was that UMass and Kentucky were wire-to-wire the two best teams in the country and the brackets were set up so that they could not meet in the finals. Instead they were on a crash-course to meet in the semi-finals so everybody knew in their heart of hearts that the winner of that game was going to be the National Champ and the loser was the de facto runner up. In other words, it was exactly how people felt about the NFC Championship Game during the early and mid 1990s because whomever emerged from the Dallas/Green Bay/San Fran troika was inevitably going to trounce Buffalo in the Super Bowl.

2) Despite the early season victory over Kentucky I don't know a single person that actually felt confident with UMass' chances. UMass was one of those teams that would just squeak by their opponents while that loaded UK team (Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Derek Anderson, Walter McCarty, Ron Mercer) would absolutely steamroll them.

3) At the time, this was probably the biggest Boston sporting event of that decade to date and overall would probably only be eclipsed by the Patriots Super Bowl appearance in 1997 and Game 3 of the 1999 ALCS (Pedro v. Clemens).

In short, the game was a huge deal. UMass lost and it was never really that close despite a brief run by UMass in the second half. And with that the college sports scene in the area pretty much died. Marcus Camby skipped his senior year to enter the NBA draft and John Calipari left UMass for the Nets. I guess you could say that this was more a Mortal Kombat style fatality move to college sports in the area than an actual death. Not only did Calipari's exit bring about an abrupt end to UMass' brief run as a college basketball powerhouse, but Rick Pitino also walked through that door to run the Celtics into the ground. I'd say that had as much of a negative effect on killing the college sports scene in the area as anything else. We all bought into the hype of the slick talking, used car salesman uber-college coach and thought that he could turn the Celtics around. Of course he did not and left in disgrace after three and a half years.

These days you need the Rick Pitinos and John Caliparis of the world to bring your college programs to the next level and I really don't see the sporting community of Boston putting up with another one of their type even if it means making college sports in the area relevant again. It was great while it lasted and it's great to look back on but right now I think I'll take things the way that they are.

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring Training Report

So I had the chance to attend spring training for the first time ever this past week. It was an interesting experience, one that I would have written about earlier when I was actually in Florida if it wasn't for the fact that I could not find more than two bars of wireless Internet at my future in laws house and dial up is not an option for me. But I digress of course, so on to the story of my trip to Spring training.

So first off, there is nothing better than the parking on City of Palms park. When I go to a game in Boston a lot of times I end up taking the T which is just tiring or I end up parking under the Best Buy for $25 which I always seem to pay for especially when Ben is with me. In Florida it was only 7 dollars and it was in a field directly across from the stadium. Within a two minute walk I was in the stadium standing the in the pro shop spending $25 dollars for my very own official unused baseball which would come in handy later.

Our seats were $36 dollars a piece in the dugout box. These maybe the best seats that you can get in the place. First of all, whenever I sit in a seat at Fenway I immediately feel claustrophobic, these seats were padded folding chairs that gave me my own arm rests, it was great. Throughout the whole game the players as they ran out on the field were a mere 5 feet away from me as the picture shows. Our seats were actually better than Johnny Pesky's whose autograph I now have. And as Jed Lowrie the Sox future shortstop once they get rid of piece of crap that is Julio Lugo came off the field in the third inning he threw me a game used ball.

Now onto the game itself. I got to see Wakefield pitch four innings. He was his typical himself, not dominant just ok, gave up a couple runs, allowed people on base almost every inning. Paps came in for the next two and was truly dominent, granted the Mets didnt exactly bring there A lineup but he was still pitching well. Manny Delcarman came in next, I realized as I watched him that he will be an excellent compliment to Okajima this year and will allow them to have two true setup options. Finally Dan Kolb came into finish up the game, he was awful but will probably make the bullpen as like the last options.
As for the position players. Lowell, Manny, Youk, JD Drew, and the Dearly departed Doug all played for the regulars. We also got to see Brandon Moss, Jed Lowrie, and Joe Thurston start the game. Manny actually hit for the first time all Spring, Lowell went deep, Drew looked good as well. I am excited for the season to begin more than I have in previous years and I think the sun of Florida helped fuel that excitement.
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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Welcome Back South Park

Wow, I'm really happy that new episodes of South Park are back and here is why:

Cartman: I have AIDS.
Airline Employee: Wow, that's so retro.

God I missed South Park. And for the record, if you asked me who I would meet out of any Hollywood types if I could meet anybody, Trey Parker and Matt Stone would be at about the top of my list. Read more!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Some quick hitters for you!

At least "Client 9" had good taste? Go figure that all the info came from MySpace right? Honestly, she looks more to me like one of the trampy girls they'd put on The Real World as opposed to an actual hooker. Is there a really a difference though?

Would steroids have made Mike Greenwell the greatest baseball player ever? I don't know. He kind of thinks so. Seriously though, I really liked his candor on the whole issue. And man has he put on some weight!

It's not the start of a new baseball season unless Rocco Baldelli is kicking off the year on the DL.

Remember yesterday when I said that there would be a stampede in fantasy baseball leagues across the country to grab the names "Client 9" or "Emperors Club"? Well, a guy in my league today announced that he just switched another one of his teams to be called "Emperors Club". I'm telling you, this stuff is just too predictable. Read more!

50 Wins, Hurt Backs, and The Law

It has been a busy couple of weeks in my non Rootbeer & Bacon world, so my input has been a bit lacking. So sorry. However, here we are with some big time sports topics, so let' s dive right in, shall we?

The Boston Celtics have surpassed the 50 win mark for the season, and look poised for a great playoff run. In my humble opinion, the playoffs are an afterthought on what has been an amazing revival of basketball in Boston. While watching a Celts game over at Nick's place, we got into a discussion about the Garnett trade being one of those things that we will reminisce about and tell our teenage children about someday. It will be one of those things that we talk about in the same way that our fathers talk about Bird stealing the ball, or the fans rushing the court after that big playoff win. So, I am saying here and now that Kevin Garnett has done exactly what he was brought here to do: make the Celtics fun to watch again, and win game by playing exciting basketball. Thanks KG.

Oh no!! Did you hear that Beckett hurt his back? Did you hear that he won't be able to open the season? I just don't think that we will be any good without Beckett...I heard this from about 4 green sox hat wearing idiots this week. First, of course I heard, don't be an ass. Second, he pulled a muscle, thats it. Third, and this is the most important thing, IT IS ONLY MARCH!!! Relax he will be fine, and if he is not, guess what, maybe you can learn the name of someone in minors, whose shirt they don't sell at a stand in the mall. That's right there are more players on the team and in the system than the ones you see on shirts at Modell's...I know, I mind blower, but don't stress, Rootbeer & Bacon is here for you.

There are rumors flying about that Ty Law is talking with the Patriots about coming home. I personally love the idea. Sure he is getting up there in age, but he can still play, and at this point Ellis Hobbs is our premier corner. I doubt that we will see the Ty Law that left here three years ago, but we certainly see someone who can still play the game at a high level. He also will provide a stopgap while we orient whateve corner we take at #7. Can you think about a better mentor for a rookie than Ty Law? I can't.

The other night, Neil and I were engaged in a moderately heated discussion about whether or not Reggie Lewis' number should have been retired. More on this later..... Read more!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Don't Be a Sinner or Don't Be a Dick?

Busy news day. I really want to tackle the "new" sins that the Vatican just released but first I have to give a shout out to Eliot Spitzer who as my old roommate Ben pointed out is causing a riot in fantasy baseball leagues around the country as people scramble to the be the first to change their team name to "Client 9". You could also go "Emperor VIP" if you so desire.

With that out of the way, let's look at these new sins which to me look less like sins and more like ways to be a complete asshole. Let's check out the list.

1) "Genetic Experimentation"
I'm not really sure what this means. I guess we should not clone people. Honestly, if I want to make a carbon copy of a person I dislike just so that I can bring that person around with me everywhere I go to belittle and humiliate them I think I should have that right.

2) "Drugs"
Um, let's keep the Vatican away from as many American colleges and universities as humanly possible.

3) "Abortion"
So NOW what are people going to do in back-allies with coat hangers?

4) "Pedophilia"
Well I can't really argue this one. Don't touch kids. Seems pretty simple to me.

5) "Pollution"
This falls more under the "don't be a dick" category than anything else doesn't it? I would not call a litter bug (wow, the first time "litter bug has been used since 1987) a sinner, I'd call them an asshole.

6) "Being Obscenely Rich"
Again, this seems more like a "don't be a dick" situation than a sin. If you have loads, and loads, and loads of money and you spend all day pissing it away and using it to gas up your super-sized hummer and to heat your McMansion while not even remotely giving back then I'd call you a dick before I'd call you a sinner.

7) "Social Injustice"
This one is too heavy and I can't discuss it without getting serious. Therefore no jokes attached to this one. Sorry. "But don't you hate pants?!" (come on, Simpsons anyone??)

That's it for me. I'm off to take some bong hits while looking at some kid pornography and throwing trash out of my window. Then it's time for me to count my money, commit tax evasion so as to ensure minimal funding for schools and such, and then study up on becoming an abortion doctor. Obviously a busy night on tap for me.

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Monday, March 10, 2008

The Wire Series Finale

Sorry folks, but I have to do just one more The Wire post and then I think I'll be done. If you want to know my thoughts on the series finale, the series in general, or anything else re: The Wire that comes to my mind, read below. If not, well I'll see you later on in the week with some different content, I promise. And FYI there will be plenty of SPOILERS after the jump so be warned. And, if you are planning on maybe getting into the show from the beginning, feel free to read this. Sure you'll know the very end but there is plenty of great stuff in between. What's more you might even see something that makes you want to devote some time to the show. I hope so at least. Enough of the foreplay...

Part 1: How My Predictions Look? (they look good, girl)

If you recall, in one of my past Wire posts a while back I made a bunch of predictions. Check 'em out. Not too bad I think.

Cheese is going down hard right? scene of the finale by far. I literally got up off my couch cheering when Slim Charles straight up popped him. "That's for Joe." Awesome.

Somehow, some way I think Brother Mouzzone shows up and helps Omar bring down Marlo...part of me is surprised that we heard nothing of Mouzzone after Stringer but the other part of me realizes that he was ultimately Avon's guy in New York AND that once Avon, the only remaining West Baltimore player loyal to New York got locked up and the package started coming exclusively from Prop Joe and The Greeks therefore shutting out completely New York and Mouzzone that there would really be no reason for him to come back unless he wanted to consummate his relationship with Omar. Holy crap that was a long sentence. Sorry.

I think Slim Charles will ultimately play a part in Marlo's downfall. You can definitely see dissension in the ranks maybe it did not go down exactly like this, but Slim still did make himself the de facto new boss by offing Cheese, Marlo's "chosen" successor. Of course this is ironic because Slim never really seemed to want to be a part of the upper crust of the trade. He seemed happiest driving Stringer and acting as muscle. Do you remember how goofy he was at the beginning of Season 3?

Are Lester's actions this season supposed to answer the question from the first season of what he did to get himself stuck in the pawn shop unit for nine years...this was not really a prediction but I think the answer to that question is most definitely "yes".

Daniels "past" which has been brought up off and on since season 1 finally comes back to nail yep, that's pretty much what happened. Honestly when his wife came into his office to tell him to keep his mouth shut to save HER career I was tempted to send a text message to other RBB The Wire enthusiast, Matt Burke reading, "Daniels' wife is a CUNT!".

McNulty and Lester both get royally fucked..not really honestly. Both got about as light a punishment as they could. The ironic thing being of course that everything they did was a result of their desire to get Marlo (and Chris too I guess) behind bars but it is now positioned that if Marlo goes to jail, so do they because of all the illegal methods they employed to ultimately take down Marlo.

Bunk catches Chris via the DNA evidence from the beat down on Michael's daddy...100% correct here bitches. You had to see the writing on the wall though and I hardly call this a prediction. It was nice to see in the closing montage Chris and his kindred spirit and soul mate Wee Bey chatting in the prison yard. Between those two I think they are serving about 187 consecutive life sentences. Chris actually grew on me a bit this season, but for whatever reason I always liked Wee Bay (killing the hooker excluded). He had to be the most charismatic muscle-man that any of the crews ever had. Oh, and that scene from Season 1 with him bringing D'Angelo to his house to teach him how to feed the fish when D thinks he is going to kill him is absolutely classic.

Snoop gets lit up hard by Omar or Omar fucks her thinking that she is a he...well it was Michael and not Omar that got Snoop but I am proud that I predicted her demise. Plenty has already been written about the brilliance of the "You look good girl" scene so I won't add to it. I will say though that even if it was foreshadowed in that episode that Michael would become the next Omar (the part where he stakes her out from afar for a few hours on the corner) I still don't buy it. Michael always seemed much more Stringer Bell to me than Omar. Michael always seemed smarter than the people around him much like Stringer and when Omar was not out exacting revenge he was robbing people for the fun of it and because he could. Michael seemed to me more like the type that would kill Marlo and then seek out Slim Charles or another more level-headed boss and align with them for the challenge and demands of running the show. I saw the Stringer Bell CEO gene in him - and that is why Marlo and Chris initially tapped him - not the Omar Little stick-up boy gene.

Slim Charles reaches out to Omar...didn't happen and it turns out it was not needed. I still think it would have been awesome though.

Cheese gets ruthlessly murdered...already been covered. Damn Method Man, you really must be a pretty good actor because you made me HATE your character like nobody else on that show.

Michael gets killed in crossfire leaving Dukie to care for Bug...almost. I am still not prepared to talk about Dukie injecting himself in the stables with the junkman. That just sucked. You kind of knew that it was going to end up like that but I wish they could have thrown us a bone and had things work out OK for the kid. Dukie was definitely the character I - and I think a lot of other people - had the most emotionally invested in.

Prez reappears and does something clutch...unfortunately not. Unless you consider giving Dukie $200 to buy drugs as "clutch". Still, I don't fault Prez. He had to take the chance even if he knew in his heart of hearts exactly where that cash was going. I'm getting upset just writing this so time to move on to the next item.

Marlo employs the Greeks' muscle to attack Omar...I don't think Kenard was under the employ of Spiros and friends. I could be wrong.

Chris rolls on both Marlo and the Greeks and they are both taken down before Omar can get to Marlo...Chris stood tall and took the years and heat for Marlo. And obviously the last part never really came close to fruition.

Still, I think I did pretty well.

OK, moving on...

Part 2: Straggling Thoughts...

I buy Kima as the new McNulty. They've been insinuating that all season. The tell-tale sign was Bunk giving her a hard time for taking a call when it was not her turn in the rotation at the end of the episode.

Or is Sydnor the new McNulty? After all, this whole thing started with McNulty going to the judge to complain about the city's apathetic attitude towards the drug trade.
Of all the characters, I love that two of the great supporting ones - Bunk and Landsman - stayed more or less the same from beginning to end. Landsman's comic relief was always much appreciated.

I don't know about you but when Cedric was in the court and gave JUDGE Ronnie Pearlman the, "I'm going to go home and fuck you with my massive cock" look I felt both dirty and uncomfortable.

Up until this season I was a huge Lester guy. Honestly, when he tried to turn all the shit that he was in onto City Hall and the DA's office I wanted to slap him. I'm really surprised how relatively composed Pearlman stayed. At least with McNulty he knew the score the whole time and that he was deep into some shady business of which some consequences may arise from.

In Season 1 Bill Rawls was as much of a bad guy as anybody but at the end you almost felt bad for the guy because he was such a pushover and would do anything to keep floating and keep getting paid. Somehow they made him into a pathetic character. Is that why they showed him in the gay bar in Season 3? Did they want us thinking that all of his insecurities about his sexuality were the reason why he was afraid to ever take a real stand against anything? Did he think that somebody might out him or did he just feel that his macho cop facade was the best cover he could give for his homosexuality?

Was Valchek becoming commissioner supposed to be comic relief or a not so subtle way of saying that the system is so messed up that a joker like that could become commissioner because he is such a stooly. I know the answer to that as they answered it in the episode, but you still had to chuckle seeing him take over the reigns.

Finally, I thought the scene where Marlo took to the street in his suit and tie and fought off the two corner boys who tried to pop him was just brilliant. It was like for all that time he felt as if he was ruling from afar - which he basically was - and he took that one moment as vindication that he really was street and really was tough. Again, I thought it was brilliant. The most ruthless drug kingpin in Baltimore finally felt vindicated and like a man of the streets after power had been wrested from him because he fought off a couple of corner boys and got cut by a knife.

THOUGHTS??? I'd love to get a discussion rolling.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Joe Lundardi Has a Life Worth Living This Week

First off, apologies for the lack of action last week. It was like the perfect storm for inaction due to everybody's conflicting schedules. Now, back to posting. Here are some things to watch out for over the next week:

1) ESPN's Joe Lunardi should be walking around with a massive erection all week. After all, it is FINALLY tournament time and his year's worth of work will finally come to a head next Sunday evening. Of course he will be on watch after the selection next Sunday and will not be allowed near any sharp objects, rope, or even a belt.

2) Ben will find Oscar Lua, create some tension with his wife as he debates running off somewhere beautiful with him, but eventually settle on just meeting him every two weeks for ice cream and skee ball at Salem Willows.

3) We will learn that Beckett will not go to Japan to start the year, but will be good to go for the real Opening Day in April. Honestly, that situation really would not be that bad at all in the big scheme of things/

4) The MLB season predictions should start circulating online and in print, and let me go on record right now as saying that the Tigers will not make the playoffs and will not win 90 games. Their offense should be pretty good and maybe great, but forgive me for not buying into their starting pitching which is very iffy after Justin Verlander (look at these stats from last regulars with an ERA under 4.5 and that includes Dontrelle's 5.17 in the NL) and their bullpen is still anchored by Todd "Accident Waiting to Happen" Jones. I guess I'm just not as bullish as everybody else and I will never count on a team prominently featuring Edgar Renteria to win anything of significance. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know he was on the '97 Marlins. Nice .668 OPS he put up for them that year.

5) My boy Rajon Rondo is going to continue to prove why he is absolutely the man. Granted, he really does not need to continue to keep on doing this but if the only benefit the C's get from the addition of Sam Cassell is the pushing of Rajon Rondo to the absolute next level then the deal was well, well worth it.

6) I will revel for a few days in what hopefully is an absolutely awesome last episode of The Wire. If you have never gone for The Wire, do yourself a favor and Netflix it up starting with Season 1. It takes a few episodes to really get into the flow, but once you get there, believe me it is about as rewarding an experience as you can have with a TV show.

7) I will continue to hate myself for shopping regularly at Whole Foods which just so happens to be right across the street from my house. Guess what, I know it's expensive there! Guess what else, I wanted to go to the easiest grocery store possible after getting back from out of town so I went there. Now leave me alone! (Sorry, I just had to vent after riding up in an elevator with a guy who felt the need to look at my Whole Foods bags and say, "those are some expensive groceries you got there". Mind your own business dude. I should have just been a dick and said, "I'm rich, and I don't give a f***. Now excuse me while I go check my fantasy polo team".)

8) OK, not really a prediction but receiving my Rolling Stone with Barack Obama on the cover as the RS endorsed candidate for president is the least surprising thing that I have received in the mail in quite some time. I'm not going to dive into politics here but the more I think about it, the more I am finding myself an Obama guy. Granted there is something about him that I genuinely do not like but I think most of that stems from fawning media attention, Oprah, and him attracting the interest and fandom of the liberal college hippies. I could say more, but I don't want to dive any further into politics in these spaces.

I think that is about it. Now I only have an hour to kill until The Wire. SWEET!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A Pre-emptive Warning To The Red Sox

I would describe myself as full of girth and good nature. I might also describe myself as a portly fellow, or as Jonny Patience refers to me, Tons of Fun. But let's be real for a moment if we can: I am a fat guy. Hell, my mom used to take me shopping in the "husky" section of Sears. For all you skinny assholes out there (Franco) husky is just a nice word for fat kid. Now, I don't beat myself up. I have good self esteem, and enjoy wearing a Hawaiian shirt, so for the most part things are fine. However, as a sports fan, us "large and in charge" guys are left with little in the way of shirts or jersey's to wear. I have never been able to purchase a t-shirt at Fenway park or the Boston Garden. Occasionally I can find something online, or at the fat guy clothing store, but for the most part, there is not a whole lot out there for us. This does not apply to the NFL or the Patriots. Some genius realized that in a league full of giants, they should provide clothing big enough for everybody. So I have my 4XL custom Patriots jersey, and up until a few days ago I was content with that.

Then the Red Sox signed Bartolo Colon. Now we all know how I feel about the signing, and there have been some jokes made about the whole weight thing and thats fine. But the the other day Colon went out and had one hell of a bullpen session all while he is on the wrong side of 300 pounds. So, there stands a pretty good chance that he will be doing time in the majors with the Sox, the team that cannot be bothered to make anything bigger than 2XL....

So now, whoever makes the jerseys for the Sox is working tirelessly to make enough 3 or 4XL jerseys just so Bartolo has something to wear on the field. All I am saying is that if you are going to make them for him, then you better damn well make a couple for us fans. I get it, before there was no reason to make anything that big in your clubhouse, but now you have to make shirts, jersey's, fleeces, jackets ect all for Colon. Just fun some of them across the street to the proshop and I will take care of the rest.

So here it is Red Sox: You now have a bonafide "hungry man" on your roster. You can no longer ignore the clothing needs of your more jovial and yes, more round, fans. So fire up the extra wide screen press and start pumping out the goods. I am warning you now, if you do not, the fat guys of Red Sox nation will unite under a common goal and we will boycott Remdawgs, spelling disaster for him and the food line item in your budget...You have 48 hours...
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Thanks Beautiful.....

Nationally, the LA Dodgers have a dedicated fanbase. From their Brooklyn days, their LA Tommy Lasorda days and their days at their spring trianing location in Vero Beach, FL. They have been training there in the spring for more than a half century. They have dedicated old timers that have retired to Vero Beach from Brooklyn just to be close to their team. There is no denying that the Dodgers fanbase, no matter how late they show up to a game and how early they leave from the game, are VERY dedicated and diverse. Unfortunately, some players don't respect that and that's why I have lost ALL respect for him. Fuck you Nomar... This year will be the last year Dodgertown will be in Vero Beach for spring training. They will be following almost all other west coast teams to Arizona for their spring festivities. There is no doubt that they will be leaving a huge fanbase in Florida. This story has been followed by the national media because of the bredth of the Dodgers fanbase. The Dodger organization has been trying to be a PR friendly as they can to help the fans through this change. The following is from ESPN's Jeff Pearman:

If there is one way to slightly numb the pain, it is via player kindness. More so than their peers in Los Angeles, the fans here view the Dodgers as family members. They present the young men with cookies and pies and, in the case of a 67-year-old uberfanatic known as "Dodger Bob" (aka Bob Scholl), homemade figurines. In return, all they ask for is a smile here, a "hello" there. Really, all they ask for is Autograph Day.
Most players seem to understand this. With the sun shining and a soft breeze coming in from the north, reliever Mike Koplove gladly took a 5-year-old girl's baseball and signed it with a smile. Catcher Russell Martin stood and affixed his name to seemingly hundreds of objects.

Derek Lowe, Scott Proctor, Matt Kemp, Juan Pierre -- they all got the drill.

But not Nomar.

In one of the least fan-friendly displays I've ever witnessed as a baseball writer, Garciaparra spent the absolute minimum amount of time signing. He never looked up. He never said a word. When fans offered a hearty "Good luck!" or said "You've always been my favorite!" he either grunted or pretended the sentiment was never expressed. If someone made the "mistake" of requesting that he sign a ball on the sweet spot, Garciaparra actually went out of his way not to. Though the rope between Garciaparra and the fans was no more than half-an-inch thick, it felt like the Great Wall of China. All attempts at small talk began with a Dodger loyalist's enthusiasm and ended with the Dodger third baseman's body language, which screamed "I'm Nomar, you're not -- please don't touch me.”
I loved Nomar. I remember my father telling me at my grandmother's in 1995 about a shortstop that would allow a baseball team to play without a 3rd baseman. I kept that memory because of the way Nomar broke into the Boston baseball scene. He was rookie of the year in 1997. He was top 11 in AL MVP voting from 1997-2000 and in 2002 & 2003. He was the heart and soul of the Boston Red Sox. His ability and dedication were to be envied. He was the favorite Red Sox player to every white suburban Boston kid under 15 years old. He could do no wrong.

We forgave him for posing on the cover of Sports Illustrated before the 2001 season. We forgave him for not apologizing that he took steroids. We forgave him for not signing that 4 yr/ $60 million contract before 2004. We all went to bat for him in the Nomar vs. Jeter debate (and for the record, Jeter has always been better, Nomar was just OUR guy.)

No more my friends. I should have realized this on July 31st 2004 when he was traded to the Cubs for, essentially, Orlando Cabrera. I wasn't mad. Not a little upset that one of my favorite Red Sox was leaving our town in the middle of an historic run for it's first World Series title in 86 years. I think the turning point for my not caring about this prima donna anymore was July 1st 2004. While Nomar sat on the bench pouting about a minor injury, Derek Jeter made one of the most sensational plays July baseball has ever seen. In the 12th inning of a tied game (3-3), runners on second and third, Jeter sprinted for a ball that appeared headed to the third base grandstands. Jeter dove into the stands and busted up his face to get the third out. The Yankees shortstop was adding to his highlight reel while the Red Sox shortstop was sitting on the bench, unable to play hurt.

Nomar, obviously, we never really knew ya. We brought you into our lives. We cheered for you when you were at your best. We sympathized for you when you were down. Now, you're too good for a young kid looking to get his baseball signed by a "legend".....People in Boston refer to Edgar Renteria more than they refer to you these days.....If all of Boston's pink hats haven't forgotten about you, the diehards certainly have. Have fun passing through waivers at the end of March.

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