Finally! That Axelsson goal I was raving about is in this video -- it's around the 2:20 mark. Check out Chara's slapshot from the blue line, too, and some of Thomas' magnificent saves.
Friday, February 29, 2008
Now that, my friends, is how painted, pasty man-back-fat should look.
Incidentally, as long as we're talking about the Cards, I'd like to point out that they're currently beating Santana and the Mets 4-3. Pujols hit a home run, because that is what he does. Good for them. The Braves are shelling the Dodgers 10-2, and the Orioles and Marlins are deadlocked at 5-5 in another grapple for the title of Marginally Less Crappy Eastern Seaboard Team.
It's Day 3 of the Spring Training games! Here's a look at yesterday's games:
- Braves v. Dodgers: Given the opportunity, would you kick Jason Schmidt in the nuts? In a recent survey, a whopping 85% of Dodgers fans replied that yes, yes they would. The remaining 15% also expressed a desire to kick Jason Schmidt in the nuts, but added that they would like to be screaming "Give us back our money you chubby hack!" while doing so. Well, the answer to that question surely hasn't changed, as Schmidt apparently threw 53 pitches in a workout and spent the rest of the afternoon whining about it. Maybe Alyssa Milano can cheer him up. This game played out just as you would expect a dull game between two mediocre NL teams to. Dodgers won, and Andruw Jones scored even though he is fat. 5-4, Los Angeles.
- Marlins v. Orioles: Which of these two supposed "youth movements" is less likely to result in gross humiliation this season? Uh, I'm going to have to go with Florida on that one, as the Orioles got completely shelled yesterday. Hanley Ramirez stole two bases because he is amazing. Could it be that Tampa Bay might actually NOT finish dead last in the AL East this year? Eh, who cares. At least the Orioles' bullpen only gave up 16 runs, and not 30. 16-3, Florida.
- Astros v. Indians: I mean, I guess we could ask whether or not the Indians look as primed for success as they did last season. But I think the question everyone's REALLY concerned with is this: Are Grady Sizemore's features still as boyishly handsome as ever? The Tribe was mostly concerned with giving their prospects a chance to demonstrate what they can do offensively yesterday, and the up-and-comers delivered in stellar fashion. Grady still looks great, though. Today's game should actually be more exciting, as Paul Byrd and Roy Oswalt square off. 12-2, Cleveland.
- Mets v. Cardinals: Can the underdog Cards rally to hold off the Mets in the wake of the Scott Spiezio scandal? (And does Spiezio really need all those vowels in his name?) Will the Cards actually have someone to put on the mound come opening day? Will Tony LaRussa's plan to bat the pitcher 8th be in any way effective? How many home runs will Rick Ankiel hit and then subsequently dedicate to me? SO MANY QUESTIONS! Well slap me silly, 'cause the Cards' pitching actually looked pretty decent yesterday as they shut out the Mets. David Wright almost ruined the shutout with a run-scoring double in the 2nd, but my darling Rick was there to rob him of the hit and save the day. 7-0, St. Louis. From the Post-Dispatch:
JUPITER, Fla. -- The words Cards outfielder Chris Duncan settled on as the best way to describe it were: "pretty sick."
In the first inning of Thursday's spring opener, Rick Ankiel sprinted to catch a deep fly ball to left-center hit by Mets third baseman David Wright.
Ankiel dove and snared the ball with a shoestring catch. When he thudded on the warning track, the ball popped out of his glove and he snatched it again to secure the out.
"Might have changed the game," manager Tony La Russa said.
- Pirates v. Phillies: Um, how much does it suck being from Pennsylvania? Unless you're Amish, of course. They get away with everything. The Phillies irritate me for reasons I can't quite put my finger on, so I enjoyed reading that the hapless Pirates were able to stomp all over their Eastern Pennsylvania counterparts. Ryan Howard homered, but so did Adam LaRoche (the sleeper pick in every fantasy draft; a truly underrated player). 11-6, Pittsburgh.
- Blue Jays v. Tigers: Roy Halladay: miraculous granter of childhood wishes, or bucket-defouling jerk? Once again, my boy Magglio, along with Curtis Granderson, was the star of the game. Of the Jays' pitchers, Chacin looked the best. I know it's early, but it already seems pretty clear that Detroit is the team to beat in the AL this year. No word on Halladay... yet. 4-1, Detroit.
- White Sox v. Rockies: Do Clint Hurdle and Ozzie Guillen hate one another? I feel like they must. Heh. The Rockies' pitching got shelled last night. Nick Swisher and Jose Contreras both looked great. I actually think the White Sox are going to be a decent team this year -- too bad they're stuck in a division with the Tigers. 12-3, Chicago.
- Cubs v. Giants: If the Giants play a baseball game without Barry Bonds, does the media even bother to show up? Yes, but that sure doesn't guarantee anything else for the Giants. Kosuke got plunked on his first plate appearance of the preseason and reached base on both of his other at-bats as well, so this looks pretty promising for the Cubs. Ryan Dempster was also in decent form last night. I'd say it was a good day to be from Chicago, regardless of who your baseball team is; maybe this will help you forget about your dismal QB situation. 12-6, Chicago.
- Rockies v. Diamondbacks: Why does this sound familiar? Yup, this game was just as dull as its October predecessor, ending in a tie. The Rockies sure aren't looking much like the team everyone was waxing poetic about last fall. Maybe they can whine about how they had too much downtime, and that's affecting their performance or something. 5-5, nobody.
- Athletics v. Brewers: Will Billy Beane's offseason fire sale pay off despite the fact that the A's are officially 65% less entertaining without Nick Swisher? I mean... you can't really expect a gutted AL West team to look too good against the likes of Prince Fielder and Ryan Braun. For the record, I like the Brewers to win the NL Central this year. Maybe Eric Gagne will even help a little. 7-1, Brewers.
- Rangers v. Angels: Seriously, how nasty is Vlad? Torii Hunter and Gary Matthews Jr. were actually the offensive leaders yesterday, but I'm pretty sure Vlad is still nasty. Kason Gabbard struck out 3 over 2 innings for Texas. The game ended in a tie. 3-3, nobody.
Note: I inadvertently left off the Reds-Twins game yesterday. Two crappy central-division teams. Eh. Cincinnati won, 6-1. I have at least one reader whom this will make happy.
RED SOX SPRING TRAINING OPENER VS. THE TWINS TODAY. I'm not sure I'll have time to do my little preview of all the games today, but Johan Santana is pitching for the Mets for the first time today. That should be exciting. As for me, I'll be glued to my TV from 7 pm onwards. GO SOX!
Thursday, February 28, 2008
Here's the Milan Lucic vs. Jarkko Ruutu (my goodness there are a great deal of superfluous letters there) fight from the Bruins-Penguins game tonight. What a great game. Bruins won 5-1 behind the stellar goaltending of Tim Thomas; this is the B's 5th straight win. What I really want to post, actually, is a video of this incredible goal P.J. Axelsson scored in the 2nd, but I can't find it anywhere. So we have fighting instead. Man I love hockey.
Also, it bears mentioning that Marian Hossa injured his knee last night and sat out the entire third period. No word on what his condition will be after today. It's been a rough season for the Penguins injury-wise, no question. At least the Pirates thrashed the Phillies 11-6 in the preseason game yesterday. This will undoubtedly be the only time this year that Pittsburgh types can actually look to the Pirates as a source of cheer and optimism, so I'd say go ahead and cherish this moment.
A full day of preseason action today. Hooray! Here's a rundown of the burning questions today's games will hopefully answer:
- Braves v. Dodgers: Given the opportunity, would you kick Jason Schmidt in the nuts? In a recent survey, a whopping 85% of Dodgers fans replied that yes, yes they would. The remaining 15% also expressed a desire to kick Jason Schmidt in the nuts, but added that they would like to be screaming "Give us back our money you chubby hack!" while doing so.
- Marlins v. Orioles: Which of these two supposed "youth movements" is less likely to result in gross humiliation this season?
- Astros v. Indians: I mean, I guess we could ask whether or not the Indians look as primed for success as they did last season. But I think the question everyone's REALLY concerned with is this: Are Grady Sizemore's features still as boyishly handsome as ever?
- Mets v. Cardinals: Can the underdog Cards rally to hold off the Mets in the wake of the Scott Spiezio scandal? (And does Spiezio really need all those vowels in his name?) Will the Cards actually have someone to put on the mound come opening day? Will Tony LaRussa's plan to bat the pitcher 8th be in any way effective? How many home runs will Rick Ankiel hit and then subsequently dedicate to me? SO MANY QUESTIONS!
- Pirates v. Phillies: Um, how much does it suck being from Pennsylvania? Unless you're Amish, of course. They get away with everything.
- Blue Jays v. Tigers: Roy Halladay: miraculous granter of childhood wishes, or bucket-defouling jerk?
- White Sox v. Rockies: Do Clint Hurdle and Ozzie Guillen hate one another? I feel like they must.
- Cubs v. Giants: If the Giants play a baseball game without Barry Bonds, does the media even bother to show up?
- Rockies v. Diamondbacks: Why does this sound familiar?
- Athletics v. Brewers: Will Billy Beane's offseason fire sale pay off despite the fact that the A's are officially 65% less entertaining without Nick Swisher?
- Rangers v. Angels: Seriously, how nasty is Vlad?
Note: The Red Sox are also playing two exhibition games against BC and Northeastern today, but I've been sticking to the major-league matchups.
Happy watching/listening today!
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
The first day of exhibition games is officially under our belt. This morning, the air was filled with questions. Let us assess what we have learned since then:
- Reds v. Phillies: Will Dusty Baker actually be a decent manager now that he doesn't have phenomenal pitching talent to run into the ground through overuse? Heh. Nope. The Phillies stomped all over the hapless Reds, as Jamie Moyer hurled 3 scoreless innings and Ryan Howard emphatically demonstrated just how much he deserves his new raise. Any Lou Piniella detractors in the Chicago area should be silent as they ponder just how much worse it could be. The lone ray of light for Cincinnati was that Jeremy Affeldt pitched a fairly decent couple of innings. 8-1, Philadelphia.
- Mets v. Tigers: Will Detroit now be ridiculously, mindblowingly good, or just really really good? Cabrera and Willis didn't factor into Detroit's win, but you can bet your sweet ass Magglio Ordóñez did. With Miggy hitting behind Magglio (holy cow that's a lot of G's in one sentence), I'm going to go ahead and say that yeah, Detroit looks scary this year. Neither team appears to have plans to start its new ace any time soon, however, so we'll have to wait and see on that one. 4-2, Detroit.
- Rockies v. White Sox: Will Orlando Cabrera's production at the top of the lineup make up for the loss of Jon Garland and his pretty-boy facial hair? Actually, I think it will, but the Other Sox didn't look so hot this afternoon. The Rockies came out swinging (sorry) and put together a strong offensive showing behind Holliday and Tulowitzki. 7-3, Colorado.
- Royals v. Rangers: Can two teams with no pitching staff to speak of actually complete a full-length major league baseball game? Apparently so. I've literally never heard of any of the people who pitched for either team today. I've heard of Gil Meche and Kason Gabbard (wahhhhhh Kason I take it all back), who are both pitching in the next games for their respective teams, so I'll be more informed for those. I feel like the only way for a game between two crappy teams to end is with one beating the other significantly, and such was the case here. 6-1, Texas.
- Nationals v. Marlins: No questions here: Either way, Jeffrey Loria is delighted at the misery he leaves in his wake. And, as it turns out, there was no actual winner in this game (exhibition games can end in ties), so he's happy. That's one of the great truisms of our times, in fact: when nobody wins, only Jeffrey Loria is happy. And hot damn is he happy. On the plus side for the Marlins, Scott Olsen managed to make it through 2 whole innings without getting tased for anything. 3-3, the rest of the NL East.
Tomorrow's games to come, well, tomorrow.
Does anyone else find those Cheetos "Underground" commercials really creepy? They make me kind of uncomfortable.
In case you hadn't heard, Spring Training games officially got under way today. At long last, the questions you've been losing sleep over during the offseason will finally be answered:
Reds v. Phillies: Will Dusty Baker actually be a decent manager now that he doesn't have phenomenal pitching talent to run into the ground through overuse?
Mets v. Tigers: Will Detroit now be ridiculously, mindblowingly good, or just really really good?
Rockies v. White Sox: Will Orlando Cabrera's production at the top of the lineup make up for the loss of Jon Garland and his pretty-boy facial hair?
Royals v. Rangers: Can two teams with no pitching staff to speak of actually complete a full-length major league baseball game?
Nationals v. Marlins: No questions here: Either way, Jeffrey Loria is delighted at the misery he leaves in his wake.
Update: One of the guys at Walk Off Walk actually had the mental fortitude to live-blog an XM radio broadcast of the Reds' loss to the Phillies. Apparently Jamie Moyer can still pitch in between getting surgery and making weird old-man noises every time he gets up from the bench. Who knew?
Why this photo and not another, you might ask? Because catchers are hot, that's why. Joe Mauer, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, and now Dusty Brown. Maybe it's all that padding. Who knows. I dig it.
The Boston media is giving an undue amount of attention to the Bartolo Colon deal. This makes no sense to me. I fully expect Colon to get shelled for 8 or 9 runs in 12 2/3 innings over 3 games down in Pawtucket and then ultimately be released when he messily devours Jed Lowrie after mistaking him for a Twinkie with hair. Yes, it's tempting to think that everything Theo Epstein touches turns to gold, but my goodness have we ALREADY forgotten the lesson of Eric Gagne? I get hives just thinking about that trade. Anyhoo, the bottom line is that I'm not going to waste time browsing pictures of Bartolo when I can be drooling over our farm system instead.
Please note how well I'm resisting the urge to make a tasteless joke involving Colon's last name.
On a non-Red Sox note, can I just say how much I love the AP stories that make it into the ESPN.com headlines? They're always reports of someone saying something controversial with no source, location, or byline. Like this little tidbit about Cubs CEO Sam Zell apparently telling someone, somewhere (his barber? his dog? an uninterested Alfonso Soriano?) that he wouldn't care about changing the name of Wrigley Field. Which he shouldn't, because Wrigley is already named after a corporate sponsor, so what on earth difference does it make? In fact, I'd be excited to see a name change at Wrigley, if only because I have to imagine that the ensuing Jay Mariotti columns would be hilarious. I'm not going to lie: I kind of love reading Mariotti, if only because I get a kick out of the obvious seething contempt he has for his media colleagues, Chicago fans, and generally speaking everyone who is not him. He's like the Dick Cheney of sports reporting. Do I think Mariotti would "accidentally" shoot someone in the face on a hunting trip? Absolutely I do. I sincerely hope to see a "Let's Change the Name of Wrigley Field to We Are Purposely Allowing the Brewers to Win the Division Every Year for the Next Ten Years Field, and Chicago Fans Are Stupid Homers For Disagreeing With Me" column in the Sun-Times sometime within the next week.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
So it's less than a week until the first preseason games, and the excitement is palpable. At least, it is in my half of the apartment. By which I mean I'm really excited. Noteworthy items this week:
- Roger Clemens to work out with Astros' minor leaguers after promising not to throw at his son's head
- Miguel Cabrera now 15 pounds lighter, still pretty fat
- Hanley Ramirez adorable and media-friendly; will likely be out for the season after attempt to metaphorically saw off his leg to escape the contract that has him chained to Pro Player Stadium until 2012 results in real, non-metaphorical injury
- Fans, baseball writers once again expressing excitement over Rickie Weeks even though any fantasy owner can tell you he did them NO FUCKING GOOD last year
- Mark DeRosa suffering from irregular heartbeat brought on from entire season of waking up in the middle of the night to see Lou Piniella standing over his bed and breathing heavily
- Cardinals still desperately searching to round out their starting rotation; Rick Ankiel (xoxo) backing quietly out of the room whenever the discussion comes up
- Kosuke Fukudome still a source of hope, filthy jokes for Cubs fans
- Nomar Garciaparra claims this is his "comeback year" for fourth year in a row as Dodgers fans remain jaded, emotionally numb
- Red Sox sign Bartolo Colon to minor league deal; McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket to add small grazing pasture behind right field wall
Also: do the Clippers have those weird jugglers at EVERY halftime?
Monday, February 25, 2008
It was a decent weekend for basketball. First off, my Celtics finally managed to figure out how NOT to get stomped all over by the Western Conference last night (the key, apparently, was for Paul Pierce to start hitting 3-pointers again). Second, the Vols' win over previously undefeated Memphis on Saturday made for some pretty exciting watching. Tennessee basketball is pretty much the only sports allegiance I have in common with my lovely but somewhat contrarian roommate (her because of her dad, me because I think Bruce Pearl is awesome), so we enjoyed cheering on the boys together.
On that theme, here is a link to quite possibly the greatest basketball-related post I have ever seen. I just about fell out of my chair laughing.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Where, then, are we to turn for a source of fresh, exciting baseball news?
Oh, Gary Sheffield. What on earth would we do without you?
This time, Sheffield got people's attention by coming out and badmouthing Scott Boras to anyone who would listen.
"Total hell," [Sheffield] said. "I shouldn't have ever introduced myself to him. Period. Bad person."
Sheffield and Boras parted ways in 2003, so there legitimately seems to be no reason on earth why Sheffield would bring this up now other than that he's dying for attention. It's like his brain is actually a random controversial phrase generator that periodically spews out sound bites containing the words "black," "Joe Torre," "blame," "steroids," and "Barry Bonds." I'm surprised he doesn't talk in one of those weird computer voices.
The best part of the ESPN story is that Sheffield openly, gleefully admits that he loves the attention he gets by being such a loudmouth.
"My family has been trying to get me to walk away for a while now because they don't like the negative stuff that comes my way. I love it," Sheffield acknowledged. "I try to explain it to them, but they think that's some psychotic thing."
Points for honesty, anyway. And how great is that picture of Sheffield? He looks like he's in costume to play a substitute teacher on Saved By The Bell. Baseball would be so boring without people like Gary Sheffield. It'd be all Joe Mauers and Khalil Greenes living clean and exhibiting sportsmanship while high-fiving one another after games and saying things like "aw shucks" when they struck out. In other words: the Colorado Rockies. Guhhh.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
Well that's just peachy. Here's a picture of Manny arriving at Fort Myers and looking kind of like a shot of Fergie buying groceries or something in the "Stars: They're Just Like Us!" section of a tabloid.
Seriously, I don't get the pants. But as far as I'm concerned, Manny Ramirez can wear whatever the hell he wants as long as he stays in Boston.
Oh yes, here you go.
Ahh, spring training. Here's fresh-faced shortstop prospect Jed Lowrie. He batted .300 with a .862 OPS in Pawtucket last year while playing decent defense -- he's known for his ability to work pitchers for quality at-bats, and his throwing power from SS. Plus, he was born in 1984, just like me. We have so much in common.
Looking at all those pictures from Fort Myers almost makes me forget that it's approximately 65 degrees below zero outside.
This is clearly going up a day later than it should -- I was actually so busy yesterday that I went the entire day without checking my email. I think the last time I went a full day without checking my email was when I was in Canada this summer. It's a rarity, indeed... anyway, the point is that I do feel it would be remiss of me not to mention that yes, I'm a huge dork, and yes, I went to hear Will Leitch read from his book on Tuesday night. The reading was funny and engaging, and a bunch of us went for pints at Game On afterwards. Leitch was very gracious, and it was loads of fun meeting so many other sports nerds and putting faces to some of the names I'm so used to seeing on Deadspin. (The best part of the night, of course, was having all those other sports geeks on hand to deconstruct KG's less-than-inspired comeback against Denver.)
And how, you might ask, did Leitch sign my book?
"Ankiel Forever," of course.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
My consistent scorn for the Mitchell report and its aftermath notwithstanding, however, I do feel the urge to take issue with Hank Steinbrenner's recent comments that professional football has a far greater steroid problem than MLB. Perhaps (in fact, probably) I'm just hating because he's a Steinbrenner, but I find Hank's assertions to be poorly informed and deliberately, frustratingly shy of the point. Never mind the fact that the NFL has had a steroids policy that is at least consistent, if perhaps not maximally efficient, in place for nearly two decades. The fact is, athletes' bodies are subject to a vastly greater number of x-factors in football than they are in baseball. Taking steroids in the NFL may lead to a few games' worth of inflated performance, and perhaps even an outstanding season that no one will ever know the true cause of. But just as there are plenty of players in the NFL (and in MLB) that accomplish jaw-dropping feats of athleticism without performance enhancers, there are also no doubt dozens of PED abusers whose transgressions never come to light because said abusers are hampered by injury, by being part of a lousy team, or even by the fact that they may play at a position that simply doesn't draw a great deal of attention or scrutiny. The issue in baseball is, and has been for years, that, across the board, it is the truly outstanding players that generally appear to have been guilty of chemically cheating. Mark McGwire. Barry Bonds. Roger Clemens. Sammy Sosa. That's what made the whole Jason Grimsley affair so sad -- that a journeyman pitcher of such modest standing would seemingly deign to place himself in the same category as the other, better players he brought down with him. In football, yes, steroids may make the difference between a Shawn Merriman and an Andre Frazier, but more often than not they are merely going to make the difference between an extra sack or two in a November matchup before the offending player gets injured anyway. In baseball, though, steroid abuse has proven that it can make the difference between the Home Run King and an arrogant, disproportionate mutant topping the charts of our most hallowed records; between people feuding over an asterisk given for a few extra games played in a season and a single-season home run record no one will ever take seriously (and whose owner will never see the inside of Cooperstown as anything other than a visitor). Of course there's steroid abuse in the NFL. There's probably steroid abuse in curling. But sorry, Hank, there's no way you're going to look anybody (other than perhaps your raving, senile father) in the face and tell them that steroids are a bigger problem in football than in baseball.
You know who DIDN'T take steroids? The Devil Toad. He didn't NEED steroids, dammit. You don't mess with the Devil Toad.
In other news: the Patriots sign yet another very old linebacker in Zach Thomas; Dallas gets even better as the crappy-Eastern-conference-team-to-already-ridiculously-good-
Western-conference-team exodus continues with Jason Kidd's trade; tomorrow is the official deadline for position players to report to Spring Training so there are sure to be plenty of Rick pictures for me to post. Yay!
Monday, February 18, 2008
The Dwight Howard "It's a dunk if I say it is, bitches" performance was also pretty cool, but for sheer deliciousness it was Gerald Green's slam dunk in the dunk contest on Saturday night that... wait for it... TOOK THE CAKE. Ha!
Big ups to the East for representing and pulling out the win thanks to the superhuman (as always) efforts of LeBron James. I, along with most people, was expecting the West to carry the day, soooo yeah that's exciting.
You know what's NOT exciting? NASCAR on TV. Every year I tell myself I'm going to try and get into watching NASCAR on TV, and every year I am utterly unsuccessful because it is just so freaking boring. There's so much advertising and sponsorship talk and other hoopla that I completely forget that there's any kind of actual sporting competition going on. It's like watching pop-up ads battle to the death or something. "Let's go, free trial month of Netflix! You can take down that wussy Find Your High School Classmates!" It's too bad, too, because the excitement of being at a NASCAR race live is such a freaking rush. It's so LOUD, man. Sadly, no TV coverage ever does it justice... although at least the FOX coverage, unlike ESPN's disastrous attempt at it last year, is actually somewhat watchable.
Friday, February 15, 2008
OH MY GOD
SPRING TRAINING IS FINALLY HERE!
Mmmm. Let's look at some of the pictures Boston.com had to offer up this morning:
As always, Papelbon's expression says so much more than my words every could. YAY BASEBALL! Also reporting yesterday was Kevin Youkilis:
Youk looks more like he's gearing up to tailgate the Pocono 500 (most fun sporting event I've ever been to, by the way) than to play baseball, but hey. As long as I'm in giddy, blathering baseball mode, I'm sharing my favorite Youkilis moment of this past season: One of the business school profs I worked for over the summer gave me absolute DREAM seats to a Sox/Blue Jays game: 10 rows up from home plate, smack in the center. That's VIP shit, baby. Schilling was pitching, so I decided to take Mommy dearest since I know she loves him. Bottom of the 1st, Youk steps up to bat and all of Fenway immediately chimes in with "YOOOOOOOOOOOUK!" as he gets ready to hit. My mom turns to me, deeply concerned: "Raquel, why are they booing him?!" Hee hee.
Moving on. Let us all take a moment to bask in the glow of up-and-coming talent and youthful good looks that emanates at all times from Clay Buchholz:
I can't WAIT to see Buchholz pitch this season. Joba Chamberlain, my ass. It would be tragically shortsighted, though, to let Clay distract me from the other fine young pitching prospects gracing the field yesterday:
Yowza. That's Michael Bowden, who has a distinctly Matt Damon-esque quality -- not to mention a 95-mph four-seam fastball that's supposed to be killer. And let's not forget Hunter Jones (hot name, so-so face) and Justin Masterson (sighhhhhh):
Forgive the blatant objectification of this post. Boys, you got the SI Swimsuit Issue this week, so let me indulge.
First spring training game is 2 FREAKING WEEKS AWAY, people.
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!
Dateless though I may be, it's been a pretty great V-day so far in that I finally managed to wake up and get myself to work after 3 days holed up on my sofa killing brain cells with a heady combination of Theraflu and daytime television. The world on the whole looks sunny and sparkly, and I'm sending lots of loverly wishes to everyone out there. In honor of the day, I encourage you to read Jean Teasdale's magnificent Valentine's column from a few years ago and have a nice, cynical laugh. As for my holiday plans, they include eating oranges and going to bed early. Woohoo.
One advantage to being home yesterday was that I got to watch the Roger Clemens hearing almost in its entirety. Honestly, I thought Roger came off pretty well until the end when Senator Ratface had to gavel him down. McNamee looked like a squirmy little liar to me. And yes, dammit, I'm biased. I've made no bones about the fact that I love Roger, and I am perfectly willing to take his claims of innocence at face value until I am presented with more conclusive evidence to the contrary. To call this whole steroids thing a witchhunt is to label it perfectly, as it seems the accused are left utterly without recourse to clear their names once they've been fingered. I detest a system so lacking in merit, and I refuse to buy into it. At the same time, I respect Andy Pettitte for his candor; the idea, though, that no response other than a full-on admittance of guilt is an acceptable one makes a mockery of our justice system. The purpose of the steroids investigation should be to foster a more honest major league baseball environment in which individuals are held accountable for their actions going forward, not to muddy and disgrace the great games and players of the past without sufficient evidentiary cause for doing so.
Roger Clemens, you get to be my valentine this year. You're my favorite athlete of all time, and even if no one else supports you, I do. I've always loved you, pinstripes or no, and I don't intend to quit now. Last month I stayed up until midnight one night to watch your 20-strikeout game against Seattle on NESN Classic. I knew what was going to happen on every pitch before you threw it, and I still clapped my hands and shrieked like a giddy schoolgirl for every fastball that went whiffing over the plate. You sure as hell weren't on steroids then; you were running on youthful adrenaline and blinding natural talent. You are an asshole, that's for sure, but history will attest to the fact that "men I love" and "assholes" are practically* concentric circles in the Venn diagram of my life. So there you have it, Roger. I choo-choo-choose you. Happy Valentine's Day.
* The exceptions, of course, being my dad and brother. Happy Valentine's Day, boys, and a big one to Mom and the little bug too!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
Some people complain that baseball isn't as exciting as football. To which I say: please note the above SportsCenter reel of baseball fights. In football, violence is expected; in baseball, it's more fun because it takes you by surprise. Some highlights in this clip include Mo Vaughn getting dropped like a high school sweetheart over freshman Thanksgiving and Chan Ho Park karate-kicking someone in the gut. To be honest, I'm surprised Nolan Ryan wasn't in more of these. Check him out on the #1 clip. He doesn't even try to avoid the fight. He can't wait for it.
In other news, I'm pretty sure I have the plague. It sucks. I did get to watch like 4 consecutive hours of Maury and Springer today, though.
I really don't have anything insightful, illuminating, or entertaining to put up. I've been in bed with a fever of about 102 for the last 36 hours and all I've had the energy to do is eat crackers and dab at my face with a cold washcloth (and I'm not really doing a good job on either of those, since there are cracker crumbs everywhere and I just dropped my washcloth). Here's some video of the controversial last-second foul call from last night's Georgetown-Villanova game. Personally, I think the call was crap. You can go find some people to argue about it with. Feel free to send soup my way.
Saturday, February 9, 2008
Tomorrow night at 11 pm on IFC is the season premiere of The Whitest Kids U' Know. I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you tune in and get addicted to their bizarre, dorky, oddly hypnotic sketch comedy. There are plenty more clips on YouTube (yes, YouTube and I are temporarily friends again) if the above isn't enough to sway you. I don't know these guys -- you can be assured I would be a full-time groupie if I did -- but they are amazing and hilarious and you should watch them!
I already called shenanigans on Stephon Marbury for taking 2 weeks off earlier this year when his father SUPPOSEDLY died. I guess I feel kind of bad now, since his father really did die. Still, Marbury has gone to great lengths to ensure that any credibility he may have earned would be speedily negated, as he conveniently steps out of the season to have surgery on his ankle. The crux of this little ESPN tidbit lies in the following:
The Knicks -- who have made it clear the surgery was Marbury's choice -- said it was successful.
Wow, even this guy's own hopelessly mismanaged team doesn't buy his garbage any more. This season, Marbury has been averaging a career low of 13.6 points per game (I'm pretty sure that's what I averaged my junior year of high school)... am I really to believe that he genuinely needs this surgery? No way. Opting to have season-ending surgery? No athlete does that. He's just mad because Coach doesn't like him and he doesn't get to score enough, and now he's running away like the whiny brat he is. What a loser. He's one step above the nerdy, asthmatic kid who fakes injuries to get out of gym class. Actually, make that one step below, because we all know that that "nerdy" kid is the one who holds the key to the hot-but-secretly-deep popular girl's heart and will ultimately win her away from her arrogant jock boyfriend (who will most likely end up with tomato sauce or something spilled on him at some point). Advantage: nerd.
I swear I wrote this post because I thought it would be of general interest, and NOT because I feel the need to hate on teams from New York.
Thursday, February 7, 2008
Ha! It seems that Topps, maker of baseball cards since back when people actually collected baseball cards, has decided to include a little extra incentive for collectors in the new packs they're releasing next week. 1 in every 70 packs will include a card with former NYC mayor/failed presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani celebrating the Red Sox' 2007 World Series win with the team. (Sorry, that picture quality is kind of crappy, but it's the best I could find.)
Apparently, the card was designed in response to a comment Giuliani made earlier this year: when asked who he was pulling for in the World Series, Giuliani answered that he was supporting the Red Sox because he's "an American League fan." Needless to say, this alienated many Yankees fans (and possibly Mets fans)... and quite frankly confuses the hell out of me. Who gets chauvinistic about their league or conference? I think it's pretty standard practice to root AGAINST whatever team from your conference/league/division/intergalactic space alliance makes it to the playoffs, since their winning a playoffs berth would presumably have excluded your team from doing so at some point along the way. Sure, I pull for the AL during the All-Star game, but only because it may eventually benefit my team for the AL to have won (and because Magglio Ordonez fills me with indescribable joy).
GO EASTERN CONFERENCE! BEAT THOSE WESTERN CONFERENCE SUCKERS!
Nah, it just doesn't get me all that fired up.
I think Rudy is mixing baseball up with politics. In a presidential election, of course, it makes sense that even if the candidate you vote for in the primaries doesn't win the party nomination, you'll still probably vote where your party loyalties lie. Somehow, though, I don't see myself ever cheering the Yankees on in the postseason just because my Red Sox didn't make it there.
First game of the preseason against a Santana-less Minnesota in less than a month. I cannot wait to see Dice-K pitch this year... I'm predicting that this is the year he comes into his own and OWNS the AL. You read it here first.
Tuesday, February 5, 2008
Well, it's been 48 hours, and I've officially passed through the 5 stages of grief in dealing with the New England loss on Sunday.
First, we had denial, which Belichick did a splendid job of embodying for me when he ran out on to the field and demanded that :01 be put back on the clock. Whatever. Anger followed quickly, as I stormed home and locked myself in my room while my Manning-loving roommate watched the post-game celebrations in our living room. I ranted. I raved. I wept angry tears. Anger sucks, but it sure feels good.
Bargaining came next. Please, lord, I promise I'll never say another bad word about Tom Coughlin if you promise that I'll never have to see Frank Caliendo's face on television again. Yeah, ok, there's not much to bargain with when the game's already over. Whatever. Depression was the real bitch. I couldn't turn on ESPN or even the local news. I hurt. It hurts to see your team lose. Blech. Now I'm at the good part. Acceptance. This stage was made easier by how doofy and happy Eli Manning looked in the parade photos... and by the fact that I've come to the realization that
this is better.
[Disclaimer: Extreme histrionics from here on out. If you don't like it, then for pete's sake go read something else.]
Yup. It's better this way. I didn't want to see my team lose, that's for damn sure, but I think this was what needed to happen. The Boston fan base has become so bloated, so full of itself, so entitled, so Jabba-the-Hutt-like in its own crapulence and demand for adulation that SOMETHING had to give in order to bring things around here back to something approximating normality. It's been a spectacular year to be a Boston fan: the Red Sox parlaying an inspired season into a dominant post-season performance and a world title, the rebirth of the Celtics as a team to be feared, the arrival of Randy Moss, and, of course, the Patriots' perfect season. (The Bruins are boasting some pretty damn impressive goaltending right now, too.) When I think back on it, though, there's one era in memory that this one simply can't compare to. Ready?
The fall of 2001.
Oh god. The Red Sox had spent yet another season squandering the brilliance of Pedro Martinez and then-It Boy Nomar Garciaparra. Our beloved quarterback -- he who had fought through so many injuries in seasons past -- was sidelined for what looked likely to be the entire season. Many loyal Bostonians had spent the hockey season prior secretly cheering for the Avalanche because we wanted so badly to see Ray Bourque win a Stanley Cup before he retired. The Celtics hadn't been to the playoffs for the better part of a decade, and no one was sure if Paul Pierce was ever going to recover fully after his near-fatal stabbing the year before. That year, we had to bring in current events stories that interested us for my world history class every Friday. I got in trouble for always bringing in sports articles. (My response? "But you said to bring an article that we CARED about!") That was the year that I, like many other born-and-raised Boston teens surely did, wrote my college essays about how proud I was to be a Boston fan. Loyalty. Optimism. Faith. Perseverance. As ridiculous and over-the-top as it may sound (cut me some slack, it was a college essay and I was 17), I believed then, as I believe now, that there was something special about choosing to wear my love for my teams on my sleeve. I lived to see Pedro throw strikes. I cheered myself hoarse when I went to games at the Garden (I NEVER called it the Fleet Center).
I'm not proud to be a Boston fan any more.
Things changed when we won that Superbowl in 2002. It was a phenomenal feeling, to be sure, but it heralded the arrival of a whole new culture of Pats fandom. Almost 3 years later, when we won the Series, I distinctly remember what it felt like to wake up the next day. I felt different. I knew there was something different about being a Boston fan. It didn't feel like I was carrying my hope inside me like a sputtering little flame it was my job never to let die. I didn't need to hope any more. I had what I'd been waiting for my whole life. I was thrilled, but something was gone.
Sometime amid the orgy of this year -- of a giddying second World Series win followed immediately by the arrival of the greatest regular season in the history of football -- it started sucking to be a Pats fan. When I used to tell people that I was a Boston fan, it was accompanied by a shrug, a "what are you gonna do" roll of the eyes, a little flicker of pride inside me that I was asserting my love for a big bunch of losers despite their loserdom. This year, it was always immediately followed by some sort of apologia: I'm not one of THOSE fans. I liked them BEFORE they started winning. I actually KNOW sports. I can NAME a player other than Papelbon. Oh, you don't want to hear me talk about my team? Well, that sucks, because I freaking LOVE talking Boston sports, but honestly, buddy, I don't blame you. Hey, uh, how about that crazy Britney Spears, huh?
It's a natural part of the life of a fan base to swell and decline with victories, losses, exciting trades, idiotic front office decisions, and all of the other things that professional sports franchises undergo. But it's not natural for a fan base to keep building and growing, tumor-like, fueled by victory after exhilarating victory until it forgets what it's like to experience sports for the sake of sports rather than for the sake of winning. The shouting hooligans that turned a truck over on the street outside my apartment the night the Red Sox won the Series this year were not the fans I grew up with. As it turned out, they were the same fans who erupted in terrifying violence against the few Giants fans in the bar I was out this past Sunday -- cursing, screaming, smashing bottles, and throwing punches while they chanted "YANKEES SUCK!" at the top of their drunken lungs. I don't LIKE having to be escorted out by policemen in riot gear. That's not football. That's BULLSHIT.
Remember what it was like a few years ago when the Yankees won all those titles? God, Yankees fans were obnoxious. They cropped up everywhere -- half of them probably wouldn't know a ground-rule double if it bit them in the ass -- chanting "1918" and annoying the everloving hell out of everyone around them. The Yankees were an incredible team under the leadership of an incredible skipper, and it was simply impossible to respect them because their fans acted so gloatingly ENTITLED to every victory their team earned them. Like they, not Aaron Boone, had hit that damn home run. And, as much as I hate a) any comparison with New York and b) pointless comparisons between different teams *cough BILL SIMMONS cough*, it's pretty obvious what the parallel (it's a slim one, but bear with me) is here: Yes, my beloved Patriots were one Superbowl victory away from cementing their status as the Yankees of the NFL. The team everyone loves to hate. The team that simply became too synonymous with its leering fans. A fate I never want to befall one of MY teams.
And I'm glad we're not there. I'm not glad we lost the Superbowl. But I hope this means the end of this particular epoch in Boston fandom, and a return to an atmosphere in which I can talk sports with anyone and not have to apologize for my loyalties. Because dammit, I love sports, and I love my teams, and I don't like assholes.
I don't want to have to go another 86 years without a World Series, though.
Monday, February 4, 2008
Mmm. There we go. All better now.
Here's my beloved signing autographs and flashing his sexiest smile at the Cardinals' Winter Warm-up... and reminding me not to despair, because (as the lovely Smurphette also pointed out) pitchers and catchers report for spring training in exactly 10 days, 13 hours, 18 minutes, and 34 seconds. (33... 32... 31...) The long, bleak stretch between the NFL and MLB seasons is upon us, but at least sexy Rick's smile will help pull me through.
Also, the Beanpot is on. BC and BU are tied 3-3 with 2:28 left in the third period... what a game! (Harvard beat Northeastern earlier, but both of those teams are significantly less dominant, so whoever wins this BC/BU game will most likely take the tournament in the finals next Monday.) Not gonna lie, I love me some BU hockey, so go Terriers! True story: my brother and I went to the first game at the new Agannis Arena when it opened (BU/UNH), and Mike FREAKING Eruzione was in front of me in line to get food. Pretty sweet.
Thank god for good, local college hockey right now, because I absolutely can't flip to any national sports channels. NESN pretty much makes a business of ignoring the football season entirely, so I'm safe as long as I stay here (and keep browsing the MLB.com photo galleries. Chris Carpenter's new facial hair? Dig it).
Update: BC wound up winning 4-3 in overtime. This is the first time in 14 years that BU hasn't appeared in the Beanpot finals, and will also be the first time this BC senior class has been to the Beanpot, so that's fun for them.
Friday, February 1, 2008
I've been reading the unbelievably sordid tale of the 2000 Washington Huskies (I've noted elsewhere that I hate the Huskies, but that has nothing to do with this) from the Seattle Times. It's a great piece of journalism: comprehensive, thorough, well-researched, and an absolutely devastating indictment of the way NCAA sports delirium can subvert all common notions of decency.
One of the more brutal tales is that of Jerramy Stevens (who, let's not lie, everyone already knew was a complete piece of garbage). In the article, we are given the story of Marie, a 19-year-old who was drugged, raped, and sodomized by Stevens in the dirt outside a frat house. Stevens later assured her he had only walked her home and kissed her goodnight... it took a trip to the emergency room for Marie to learn the truth.
It was deeply gratifying, after reading this, to click my way over to Stevens' Wikipedia entry and find that some clever wiki guerilla had amended Stevens' bio thus:
Jerramy Stevens (born November 13, 1979 in Boise, Idaho) is a National Football League tight end playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was signed April 29th as a free agent with the Buccaneers. Stevens played college football at the University of Washington. He currently lives in Bellevue, Washington and loves receiving anal sex.
I'm sure that will be taken down soon, but, thankfully, it now has a permanent home here. Read it. Savor it. And to you, Anonymous Wreaker of Poetic Wikipedia Justice: I salute you.
And here you thought you had to wait until Sunday.
This series of videos portrays the Vikings/Patriots Superbowl that might have been. It was put together by two little kids (big Vikes fans, clearly), and I've got to hand it to them: this is a nicely-done piece of cinematography. They have a coin toss, sponsorship (in the form of an Aquafina bottle and a Starbucks mug flanking the stadium), commentary that is surely more riveting than any of the drivel Fox Sports will serve up, and, of course, a game-winning TD by the one and only Adrian Peterson. There are eight clips, but they aren't labeled very clearly, so I took the liberty of neatly hyperlinking them in order (clip #1 is above). Enjoy.
and the thrilling conclusion...
While you're enjoying that, I'm curled up on my couch eating organic cookies and watching D2 on demand. God, I'm a sucker for that scene when Joshua Jackson goes out on his rollerblades with the duck whistle and rounds up all the Ducks. Chills up the spine. Every damn time. THE QUACK ATTACK IS BACK, JACK!