Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Can you say that again?

Did you see Boston Red Sox owner John Henry with his fingers in his ears during the ninth inning of Game 2 of the World Series? Apparently the Fenway Park faithful were making too much noise for J.H.

What FOX didn’t show was Colorado’s CEO Charlie Monfort. He must have been in another luxury suit with his hands over his eyes.

After his team was swept by the Red Sox in a series they were in for all of about two innings, maybe three, Monfort told reporters in Denver that the Rockies were still the better team.

“You give us 10 games against them, we’ll beat them in six,” he said.
Give the Rockies this: they might have proved Monfort right – if the series were a best-of-11.

Unfortunately, Charlie, after someone loses four times the series is over, and your crew seemed to be in a hurry to go home.

I don’t see how the Rockies would have won the next six if there were a next six, but, hey, you are the owner.

Friday, October 26, 2007

BC, "The Office" and Game 2

Some musings on Game 2 while wondering if the Taco Bell exec who came up with the idea of giving away free tacos across America on Tuesday will have his job on Wednesday …

- Nice promo by Taco Bell, giving away free tacos if a player stole a base during either of the first two games. Think we can get Chevy to get on board with that idea?

- The box FOX uses to track pitches in or out of the strike zone is confusion because there are two boxes. The smaller one, I assume, is the actual strike zone. If so, then why the second box?
Also, is it me or do the real pitch and the ball in the tracker appear to take different paths?

- Can they please have Colorado pitching coach Bob Apodaca miked for the rest of the series? I want to hear more from him and less from Joe and Tim.
He didn’t say this Thursday night, but during an interview with the Denver Post before Game 1 Apodaca summed up the Red Sox lineup this way: “Big, hairy-chested guys, one right after another.”

- Is there anyone who follows baseball and doesn’t know Boston reliever Hideki Okajima doesn’t look at home plate at the end of this delivery? I don’t think so, not with the amount of times the Red Sox have been on national TV.
Time for Tim McCarver to drone on about something else.

-I would rather have Mike Lowell playing third base for my team than Alex Rodriguez, especially in October.

- Where exactly did Matt Holliday think he was going before being picked off first base to end the top of the eighth inning?

- Think the Mets wish they still had second baseman Kaz Matsui? I do.

- What should Boston manager Terry Francona do during Games 3 and 4 with no designated hitters allowed in the National League park?
Easy. Sit David Ortiz.
I would rather put the best defensive team on the field at the sacrifice of some offense.
If the Red Sox start teeing off on Colorado pitching they won’t need Ortiz, and if it's another low-scoring game, they will need Kevin Youkilis’ defense at first base.

- For those who stayed with the game at 9 p.m., you missed a good episode of “The Office.”

- For those who stayed with the baseball game and didn’t see the end of BC-VaTech, you missed a heck of a comeback.

- For those who stayed with the baseball game until the last out, you need to get some sleep.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Thoughts on Game 1

Some thoughts Wednesday while waiting for the Rockies show up for the World Series …

- How do you make a team wait eight days to play Game 1 of the World Series? So that was Colorado’s reward for sweeping the NLCS. Sit at home for a week and cool off before playing the biggest baseball game in franchise history. Bud Selig, you’re doing a heck of a job.

- How tough is Josh Beckett? It think Travis Haffner struck out three more times Wednesday.

- The Red Sox are only dangerous when they have two outs. Until then, if you’re a Rockies pitcher, you’re fine. They scored an incredible 11 of their 13 runs with two outs.

- The Devil Rays must love the fact the AL East standings are listed on the bottom of the Green Monster. Every time a ball hits off the wall or FOX shows a play at second base from the first base camera you see this: Tampa Bay 66-96 30 games out of first place. Great season, boys.

- Why, FOX analyst Tim McCarver wondered, was Beckett still pitching in the seventh inning? Here’s why: Because he was still playing catch with Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek.

Beckett is the best postseason pitcher in baseball right now. He’s 4-0 this October and his ERA actually rose to 1.20 after allowing one run Wednesday.

For his career, Beckett has three postseason shutouts and is 2-0 with a shutout when pitching in Game 5s and his team trailing 3-1.

-Would it have been too much to ask the Rockies to wear their traditional road jerseys? I mean, it was only Game 1 of the World Series. They may have felt lucky wearing their purple tops, but come on, how about a little respect for the event.

- I think Manny Ramirez is the best player in baseball, and I think he always knows what he is doing, and I wish to heck he played left field for my team.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Heard a rumor today that the Colorado Rockies are going to the World Series.
“Can’t be,” I said. “When did that happen?”

While we were sleeping.

Got to hand it to Major League Baseball, no one can bury the best baseball story in years like Bud Selig and his crew.

You think this would happen in the NFL? No, because every playoff game is on TV — either in the afternoon or in primetime.

But in baseball, they bow to the networks, farm the National League out to TBS and set first pitch sometime between Leno and the time your newspaper hits the doorstep.

So, unless you are a transplanted Rockies fan, are a fan of late-night TV, work the 4 p.m. to 12 a.m. shift or wanted to stay up to the wee hours of the morning to see Yorvit Torrealba and the lads become the first team since the 1976 Reds to win seven straight postseason games, then you were out of luck.

It wasn’t enough that they denied a generation of kids from watching postseason baseball. Now they’re coming after us.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

A dip into the past

Dave Martinez made enough of an impression during his two months as a coach in spring training and the first three weeks of the season when he filled in for injured first base coach George Hendrick that Tampa Bay Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon hired him Thursday to be the next bench coach.

Martinez spent 13 years in the game as an above-average right fielder who hit .276.
His major league resume will be a plus with the current Rays players, as will Martinez’s approachable manner.

But don’t overlook Martinez’s roots with the organization.

He was the right fielder in the Rays very first game and delivered the very first hit in team history to start a three-year stint with the organization.

Maddon asked Martinez and Fred McGriff to work with the team last spring, hoping that having a couple of former Rays around would influence the current crop of Rays.

Don’t laugh. Martinez was never part of the problem during the early years.

In fact, he was one of the few players you could point to an actually say, ‘This guy is legit.”
Playing hard every night for a last-place team is no easy trick, but Martinez was one of the few who actually did just that.

That type of attitude can only help the 2008 Rays, who will be young and inexperienced and who will struggle to negotiate their way through a 162-game schedule.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Blame Joe? Don't think so.

And so we say goodbye to Joe Torre, a good man who deserved better.

At least that’s if you believe George Steinbrenner’s latest edict: Beat the Cleveland Indians in the American League Division Series or Torre goes.

The New York Yankees lost.


That’s three straight first-round flameouts for those counting.

In 12 seasons, Torre went from being thought of as one of the greatest managers in baseball history — four World Series titles in five years — to the next Bobby Cox, a manager good enough to get his team to the postseason but no farther.

Maybe the Yankees need a change at the top. Maybe Torre’s message has grown stale in the clubhouse.

Or maybe he’s been saddled with old pitchers who break down in October and talented players who are lousy when it counts.

The Yankees won in the late 1990s not because they had the best players but because they had the right players.

They didn’t start falling short in the postseason until they started fielding a team full of All-Stars.

Now, whose fault is that?

Sunday, October 7, 2007

September rest equals October blasts

For those of you who think wins in April have very little meaning I offer you these two words: Manny Ramirez.

The Boston Red Sox’s strong start to the season built enough of a lead that manager Terry Francona was able to rest his star left fielder for 24 games in September while Ramirez recovered from a strained left oblique.

Even with the division lead dwindling by the day and the New York Yankees coming on strong, Francona was able to resist the temptation of playing a less-than-100 percent Ramirez.

Yes, the play of rookie Jacoby Ellsbury allowed Francona the luxury of resting Ramirez. Still, you had to wonder what would have happened the Yankees actually caught the Red Sox. Would Francona have continued to keep Ramirez out of the lineup or would the pressure to win outweighed common sense?

Didn’t matter, because the Red Sox lead never dipped below 1.5 games, thanks to all those early season wins.

And look at how well Ramirez played against the Angels in the ALDS.

Looks healthy.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Curses, Chicago style

Cub fans must be comforted in knowing Carlos Zambrano is well rested for Game 4. Now, the trick is getting to a Game 4.

If the Cubs don’t beat Arizona Saturday, Zambrano will be well rested for the spring training opener in March.

Such is the downside to manager Lou Piniella’s decision to pull Zambrano after six innings in a 1-1 game Tuesday after his workhorse of an ace threw only 85 pitches. Zambrano averages 109 pitches per start, so you figure he had plenty left in the tank.

Piniella’s reasoning: He wanted Zambrano fresh for Game 4. Sound thinking, maybe, if the Cubs had a big league Tuesday or if they won Wednesday to split the first two with Arizona.

They didn’t.

Carlos Marmol replaced Zambrano and allowed a home run to the first batter he faced for the winning hit in Arizona’s 3-1 victory. The Diamondbacks then pounded the Cubs 8-4 on Wednesday.

Now the Cubs' season is on the line Saturday, and Zambrano has yet to be a factor.
Cub fans expected something absurd would derail their dreams of ending a 99-year World Series championship drought. They just didn’t expect it to happen seven innings into the postseason.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Farewell to a foot soldier

The Tampa Bay Devil Rays unceremoniously said goodbye to one of the best guys in all of baseball Monday when manager Joe Maddon informed bench coach Bill Evers that his services weren’t needed next season.

Evers had been with the team since October 1995, serving the first 10 years as a minor league manager then the last two as Maddon’s bench coach.

The white-haired grandfatherly Evers had as much respect among the players as a coach could get, especially from those who played for him at Triple-A Durham.

Former Ray Aubrey Huff always called Evers “Skip,” and Huff was deeply moved when his walk-off home run to beat the Marlins in 2006 came with Evers as the acting manager that night. The win went on Maddon’s record, but the players knew it belonged to Evers.

He is a baseball lifer, a foot soldier in the game.

You would see him in spring training after a game talking to some player destined for another year in the minor leagues. Their conversation would end with Evers asking the player if he learned something that day, and when the player nodded yes, Evers would say, “See? You’re a better ballplayer today than you were yesterday. Let’s see if we can make you a better ballplayer tomorrow than you are today.”

Then he’d give the player a wink, pat him on the back and move on, leaving the kid feeling better about himself.

Baseball thrives on coaches like that.

It’s hard to think the Rays can possibly be better off without Evers in their organization.