MLB Regular Season Ends

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Coco Show: Absolutely Spectacular

The Red Sox completed an amazing three game sweep over the Mets at Fenway Park in spectacular style. Curt Schilling pitched seven strong innings for his 10th victory of the season and David Ortiz hit another mammoth home run in the eighth, which was his 200th career home run.

I missed the first inning and a half due to the satellite going at Professor Thom's last night due to a passing storm that knocked them out all over Manhattan. Fortunately, I had my walkman with me, and we hooked it up to the bar's sound system and we listened to the game on the radio before the TV reception came back on. Old Time Baseball!!

Despite getting swept, the Mets remain 11 games in front in the NL East. When the game ended, many of the Red Sox fans in the bar started a chant of "Let's Go Mets, " as the Mets begin a weekend series today against Those Guys From The Bronx. (Everyone at Fenway and Professor Thom's last night is a Mets fan today!)

But last night will be remembered mostly for an absolutely sensational catch that Coco Crisp made off the bat of David Wright with two outs in the eighth. With a man on first and two outs, Wright hit a ball that I thought for sure was going to go all the way to the wall. But Coco dove all out, and caught the ball when it was actually behind him. It kept the game 3-2, and it was definitely one of the catches of the season. The patrons at PT's were abuzz about it the rest of the game.

Coco also got the Sox ahead in the seventh. He bunted for a hit leading off the inning, stole second and was bunted over to third by Alex Gonzalez. Kevin Youkilis hit a long fly to left to send Crisp home with the tie-breaking run.

Jonathan Papelbon pitched a 1-2-3 ninth for his 24th save, tying him with Bobby Jenks for the major league lead. The Red Sox now have won 12 in a row, and have swept the last four series, all from NL East teams. Their lead in the AL East is now at a season-high 4 games.

Burning hot? That's an understatement.

The Red Sox also tied the all-time record for consecutive errorless games at 16, which was held by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1992. The last error they made was by Kevin Youkilis on June 11 against Texas. Right now, they have a good chance at breaking the all-time record for fewest errors by a team which is held by the Seattle Mariners of 2003, who made just 65. With 76 games played, they've made just 23 errors. You have to start talking about the 2006 Red Sox as one of the greatest fielding teams of all-time.

I never thought I'd ever use the words "Red Sox" and "greatest fielding teams" in a same sentence. Ever.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

His Head Wasn't In The Game

It was a genuine lovefest for Pedro Martinez at Fenway Park last night. Over 35,000 Red Sox fans let Pedro know exactly what he meant to them over seven fabulous years he pitched for the Sox. Every time he popped out the dugout before the game the ovations for him were loud, and after the game he appreciated all the love Boston showed for him.

I was proud of the fans at Fenway last night, and the huge crowd that I was a part of at Professor Thom's. It was the biggest crowd of the year at the bar. As the crowd at Fenway stood and cheered, the Sox fans at the bar did exactly the same. It was a great moment to be a part of. Pedro handled the moment with class, and deep down I know he wishes he could thank every Red Sox fan in person for all the affection they showed him.

(I wonder what that guy who refers to him as "Pay-dro," on a web site I will not dignify by naming, thought as Pedro was taking the mound last night. Actually I really don't care, as he and his site have been disgraced and his credibility destroyed by his ugly racist rants.)

But the love ended there. The Red Sox came to play, and the first two Sox hitters singled, before David Ortiz grounded back to Pedro, and it seemed like an easy DP. But he looked at Kevin Youkilis going to third, never looked at second, and threw Big Papi out at first. A brain lock by Pedro. That opened the door for Jason Varitek's two-run single, and then a two base, two-run error by Lastings Milledge in left (why wasn't he playing right last night?) made it 4-0.

It was clear that the emotion of the night took it's toll on Pedro, as he got hammered for four more runs in the third, as he gave up a two-run homer to the hot Alex Gonzalez, and that made it 8-0. The fans in the bar applauded, but at that point I would bet most felt the way I did: uncomfortable. I didn't want to see this happen to Pedro. It was his worst outing of his Mets career, and Willie Randolph pulled him after the inning.

The Red Sox went on to win, 10-2, behind 7 2/3 strong innings by Josh Beckett, who won his 10th game. He got a standing ovation as he left the game. After Pedro's ovations earlier in the game, it was like a symbolic "passing of the torch" to Beckett.

It was also the Sox' 11th straight win, their longest winning streak since 1995. It was also their 15th consecutive errorless game, which ties the AL record set by the Texas Rangers in 1996. They can tie the MLB record tonight, which was set by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1992.

To say they are hot, and clicking on all cylinders, is an understatement.

Once again, thanks for everything Pedro. We're all glad you enjoyed the night last night, even if it turned out badly for you and the Mets on the scoreboard. We won't remember that.

The picture above is what we'll always treasure.

Thanks for always being "One of the 25."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I Should Have Known Better

I knew I would regret this. I put on "Mike and The Mad Dog" on WFAN this afternoon (aka "Fatso and Fruit Loops") and their first topic of conversation was last night's Red Sox-Mets game. As is his usual M.O., Chris Russo says something incredibly stupid and empty-headed. The show was barely five minutes old when he struck. He and Francesa talked about Jose Reyes getting thrown out at the plate by Manny, and then Russo went on about how "Manny Ramirez is just awful in left field."

Yet another jackass who knows almost nothing about the Sox. All he knows is when SportsCenter shows Manny making an outfield faux pas that ESPN will show 10,000 times in the course of a day. So he just assumes Manny is a terrible outfielder. Manny is no Gold Glove outfielder by any means, but he is no butcher either. His outfield work has gotten better with age, and he has made some absolutely fabulous plays in the tough Fenway left field. Manny even led the AL in outfield assists last season. But how could Russo possibly know that?

Russo has only redeeming feature: he's a big time Yankee hater.

It just irks me when I hear so-called "experts" talk about stuff they know so little about. I wouldn't recommend it, but if you listen to Russo for an entire afternoon show, you'll see how many mistakes he makes, and glaring ones. But the suits at WFAN think he is an entertaining listen, with Mike Francesa. Fatso knows more about sports but he is such an obnoxious blowhard, I can't listen to him either.

Next time I get the urge to put them on, I'll put the afternoon soaps on instead. They are far more entertaining.

The World Cup From Here On

The World Cup takes a break today and tomorrow, and the quarterfinals start on Friday. So now it's time to make predictions on how it will go from here. I'm not terribly good with predictions, but here goes:

Quarterfinals
Germany vs. Argentina: Germany takes this in a high scoring game, 3-2.
England vs. Portugal: England wins this in a "battle in the mud": 1-0.
Italy vs. Ukraine: Italy should win this easily: 2-0.
France vs. Brazil: Brazil in a close game, 2-1.

Semifinals
Italy vs. Germany: Tough contest, but the Germans are home and will take it, 2-1.
Brazil vs. England: England pulls a huge upset, 2-1. (Sorry, WelshSoxFan)

Final
Germany vs. England: Germany finally gets revenge for the "phantom" OT goal of 1966: 3-1.

Please don't make any bets on my predictions, as I won't be. And in the immortal words of Dennis Miller, "That's just my opinion, I could be wrong."

Does Kay Even Look At The Standings?

I was watching the Red Sox-Mets game on SportsNet NY last night, and Gary Cohen said to his color analysts Keith Hernandez and Ron Darling that he was watching the Yankees-Braves game on Monday night on the YES network, when Michael Kay, YES' lead announcer and number one whackjob, came out with a real beauty. He said that Mets fans would be rooting for the Yankees to beat the Braves in this series in the Bronx.

What fantasy world is Kay living in? Mets fans NEVER root for the Yankees under ANY circumstances. And does Kay even bother to look at the NL East standings? The Braves are dead last and sinking fast. They are 16 games back, and are absolutely no factor in the division race, and don't appear to be this season. Mets fans are more concerned with how the Phillies are doing, as they seem to have the only shot at catching the Mets. Kay's kooky statement had all three Mets announcers laughing.

But the Braves did the Red Sox a favor by winning in the Bronx last night.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Pedro Martinez: An Appreciation

I wrote this column for Bornintoit.com earlier today. I thought I would share it with all of you here as well.

Pedro Martinez: An Appreciation

On November 18, 1997, I wasn't happy. Even though the Red Sox had just made a trade that would ultimately change the course of the franchise, I wasn't thrilled about it. The Sox had sent pitchers Carl Pavano and Tony Armas Jr. to the Montreal Expos for Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Pedro Martinez. Back in those days, the Red Sox management was known for their stingy ways, and Martinez would be a free agent after the 1998 season. I figured he'd play in Boston for one season and be gone the next.

But the Red Sox proved me wrong, as later that winter, they signed Pedro to a seven-year, $87.5 million contract. It would truly be one, if not, the best signings in club history.

Pedro's Red Sox (and Hall-of-Fame) resume is nothing short of glittering. Consider this:

Two-time Cy Young Award Award winner in 1999 and 2000.
Finished in the top 4 in the Cy Young voting every year except his injury-plagued year of 2001.
ERA under 3.00 every year except 2004.
Won twenty or more game twice.
Winning percentage over .640 all seven seasons.
Never lost more than 9 games in a season.
Struck out over 300 twice.
Had an ERA of 1.74 in 1999, one of the greatest seasons any pitcher has ever had.

1999 was Pedro's glory year. He simply overwhelmed AL hitters that year, and certainly deserved to win the AL MVP that year, had it not been for an idiotic sports writer in New York leaving him completely off his ballot. His 17-strikeout game against the Yankees in New York on September 10 is still the best pitched game I have ever seen. Pedro's six no-hit innings in relief to beat the Indians and put the Sox in the ALCS is now the stuff of legend. Unfortunately that season the Red Sox didn't have the supporting cast to get them to the World Series.

But in the final year of his contract, the cast was there. And he went out with a bang.

On October 26, 2004, Pedro Martinez pitched his final game in a Red Sox uniform. He was simply dazzling in shutting down the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals, pitching seven shutout innings and winning Game 3. It was Pedro's swansong, and it was like he was saying to his fans in Boston: Here's one final memory to last a lifetime.

I'm here to say thank you to Pedro Martinez for all he did in his seven years as a Boston Red Sox pitcher. Every game he pitched at Fenway seemed like an event. I saw him pitch live at Fenway twice, both in 1999. I was at Game 3 of the ALCS, when he completely dazzled the Yankees over seven innings, allowing just two hits as the Sox steamrolled Roger Clemens, 13-1. It is still one of my favorite days in any ballpark.

Thank you for that Pedro.

Over the last few weeks there has been a lot of speculation as to how the fans will react to Pedro's return as a Mets pitcher at Fenway Park on June 28th. Pedro himself is concerned about it, as deep down he probably fears hearing Boston fans booing him for departing the city as a free agent in 2004. He's aware of how the fans treated Johnny Damon upon his Fenway return back in May. But I'm here to tell you right now Pedro: you have nothing to worry about.

I will bet everything I own that the Fenway faithful will give him the rousing ovation that he deserves. Just about all of my friends here in New York who are Red Sox fans feel the same way that I do. In some circles there are those who are actively advocating that Pedro be booed upon his return (you know the ones, they call him "Pay-dro"). To me, that is completely asinine (and it is also from people with hidden agendas). I would imagine there will be a few scattered boos on Wednesday, but they will be completely drowned out by those who appreciate everything Pedro did for this storied franchise. He may have gone to New York, but he did NOT put on a Yankee uniform. Pedro once said he never would, and unlike some other "idiot," he was a man of his word.

Pedro leaving for the Mets in December 2004 made all the sense in the world for him. Mets GM Omar Minaya was determined to land him as the face of his franchise, and he knew that by getting Pedro, ticket sales at Shea would zoom (and he was right). He offered Pedro a four-year deal, something the Sox front office would not do. Minaya was roundly criticized in many circles for doing that, but few are bashing him for it today. The Red Sox front office did not want to commit to such a long-term deal with Pedro, as concerns about his shoulder and how much he had left in it, kept them from offering such a deal. The Red Sox went in another direction and brought in Matt Clement as a free agent (less said about that the better).

For Pedro, going to New York has paid off for him handsomely. He is now the number one starter again, something he lost when Curt Schilling got to Boston in 2004, and in the biggest market in America. He also goes to pitcher-friendly National League, and doesn't have to face a DH anymore. It will certainly help his pitching numbers, especially as he gets older. He also is part of an up-and-coming Mets team that is putting together a very good nucleus for the future with the likes of Jose Reyes, David Wright, Carlos Beltran and Lastings Milledge. The Mets can be very good and for a long time.

If for nothing else, Pedro was part of the group that brought the Red Sox their first world championship in 86 years, and they did it in grand style. So far all the Sox players that have returned to Fenway in opposition uniforms have gotten very warm receptions, such as Orlando Cabrera and Kevin Millar. There is, of course, one exception, Johnny Damon. Damon got booed for various reasons, but the two that of course stand out was the fact he was wearing the wrong uniform (the one with the pinstripes), and the fact that the year before he said that he would never wear that uniform. Lying to Red Sox Nation is never a good thing, as Damon found out. If he had returned in any other uniform, his first night back would have been nothing short of a lovefest.

So that's why Pedro has nothing to be concerned about. He has said that he loves the Boston fans, and doesn't want to pitch against his old friends on the Sox (and I believe him). But he's a professional, and will do what he has to do as a Mets pitcher.

I'll be at my favorite watering hole in the East Village watching the Red Sox-Mets game on Wednesday night. And when Pedro comes out to the mound in the bottom of the first, I will be standing and applauding. He deserves it, despite what some know-nothings say. Do I wish he was back in a Red Sox uniform? Sure, but frankly, it's time to move on from that. We should just give him the appreciation he so richly deserves to get. One last time.

And I'm sure that Red Sox Nation, from Fenway Park to wherever Red Sox fans congregate, will be doing just that.

Thanks for the memories Pedro. Thanks for being part of the greatest Red Sox team ever. Continued success in New York.

I'm Running Out Of Superlatives


The Man, The Myth, The Legend. When the chips are down, he comes through big time. And in back-to-back games. All I could do was smile and shake my head at his latest heroics. It happens so often it becomes almost routine.

Thanks, Big Papi. I shudder to think where the Red Sox would be without you.

Monday, June 26, 2006

I Am "The Omnipotent Q"


You may notice under "name" on the left side of my blog you will now find, "The Omnipotent Q." My buddy Chris of Professor Thom's gave me that nickname a while back. "The Omnipotent Q" was actually a character on TV show "Star Trek: The Next Generation." (I actually had no idea who he was until Chris explained it to me, as I never really watched the show.) He was played by actor John deLancie. It's also cool that Q was played by an actor named John.

It's a cool handle so I think I will stick with it.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Nitwits Sound Off

As many of you know, I love those "letters to the editor" columns in the New York papers. It never ceases to amaze me the nitwits who write to them. I'm sure that they print certain letters because the editors know they will garner many responses, no matter how silly they sound. Today I read three beauties in the "Sound Off" column in the Sunday New York Post. They were responses to a letter by a Mets fan who accused some Yankee fans of switching loyalties to the Mets because of their great run lately. They were too good not to share. My comments follow each letter.

Yankee rippers

I must take issue with reader Michael Gorman's comments regarding Yankee fans switching loyalties and becoming Mets fans [Sound Off, The Post and nypost.com, June 18]. Yankees fans are among the most loyal in the league. Sure, we hate losing, but that's because we have gotten so used to winning. Making the playoffs or winning a World Series every twenty years or so might satisfy Mets fans, but it is not enough for Yankees fans. Mr. Gorman's comments are another example of the way Mets fans disparage the Yankees and their fans. Perhaps it's just a way of venting the frustrations from years of losing.
CHUCK ECKSTEIN
Brooklyn

Yankee fans are among the most loyal fans in the league? Who the hell is this guy trying to kid? They have some of the most fair-weather fans in all of baseball. Of course they have loyal fans (and I know a few), but watch Yankee Stadium empty if they go into a downslide like the late 1980s/early 1990s. Too many that I knew wanted nothing to do with them when their fortunes slid back then. Don't even think of comparing them with the loyalty of Red Sox fans. And this "we have gotten used to winning" is exactly why people despise the Yankees, because of the arrogance of their fans.

Real Yankees fans will always despise the lowly Mets. Digest these figures: Mets - two World Series titles in 44 years (one every 22 years); Yankees - 26 titles in 103 years (about one every four years).
TOM CURTIN
Staten Island

Sorry to disappoint to you, Mr. Curtin, but being a fan of one team doesn't necessarily mean having to hate the crosstown rival. I know loyal fans of both the Mets and Yankees who don't hate the other team. And they are REAL fans. Lowly Mets? Have you even peeked at the NL East standings lately pal? This guy is also your typical Yankee fan: no matter how bad things get, always remind non-Yankee fans how many titles we've won. Good grief.

A memo to all Mets fans who have already declared their team better than the Yankees: Going into this weekend, the American League had a 77-49 record against the inferior league the Mets play in. The Mets may be the best team in the National League, but that makes them the fifth or sixth best team in baseball.
JOE NUGENT
Staten Island

Another brain surgeon. It would be nice if this Yankee fan actually paid attention to the actual standings. First of all, the Mets have the THIRD best record in all of baseball, just three games behind the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. And since when does the AL's record in interleague play have anything to do with how good the Mets are? Most Mets fans I know are cautiously optimistic about the Mets' chances right now. A lot can happen in 90 games and they know it.

Ah, those letters to the editor. Makes me wonder what the letters they rejected look like.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

The Real MVP Does It Again

As soon as he stepped up to the plate, I had just one thought. It was a sweet memory from October 18, 2004. It was the eighth inning of Game 5 of the ALCS, which was also at Fenway Park. The pitcher was the same as back then, Tom Gordon. I just knew what was going to happen, the same result as two seasons ago.

Papi's goin' deep...

David Ortiz is absolutely the best player in the majors with the game on the line and a big hit is needed. And sure enough, he took Gordon deep into the center field bleachers to give the Red Sox a thrilling 5-3 win in 10 innings over the Phillies.

Right after the game ended, all I could think of was all those empty-suit sportswriters and jackasses on shows like Baseball Tonight who insisted that Papi couldn't be the 2005 MVP because he plays most of his games as a designated hitter. The "uncrowned" MVP of last season once again proved them wrong, with his second "walkoff" homer this month. Maybe it will finally dawn on these schmucks that the rules of the road were changed back in 1973 and that ANYONE can win the award. (But I seriously doubt it.) I really believe there was some pro-Yankee bias on the part of some of these so-called experts. If Alex Rodriguez were a DH for the Yankees they would be giving every reason why he should be the league MVP.

They can all kiss my ass.

Curt Schilling pitched another tremendous game, giving up 3 earned runs and striking out 10 in six innings, but ran out of gas in the seventh and the Phillies tied it. Jonathan papelbon did a great job pitching out of a jam in the ninth and wound up with the win. The Sox have now won 8 in a row and are the hottest team in baseball right now. Their lead is back up to 2 1/2, as the Yankees and Marlins were rained out in New York. They will play a doubleheader on Sunday.

Friday, June 23, 2006

What in The Wide World of Sports is Going On Here?

A few rather "embarrassing" things in the world of sports happened this week, and I thought I'd give my two cents about them:

The New York Knicks fire head coach Larry Brown. This is simply unbelievable. The Knicks canned Brown after one miserable season. They will eat $40 million, which is the last four years of his contract. It was well-known that Brown didn't get on with GM Isiah Thomas and star player Stephon Marbury. But would they really eat THAT much money to be rid of him? I heard this morning that the Knicks will try to recoup that money by claiming that Brown undermined Thomas by trying to swing deals with other clubs without his knowledge, so they can void his contract. Good luck finding any other NBA GM willing to admit they tried to swing deals with Brown under the table.

Thomas named himself head coach. The Knicks are a bloody mess, a franchise that has absolutely fallen off the rails. They are an embarassment to the NBA, and it will take a long time for them to be a quality team again. It's a shame, and I think of my late friend Joe, a diehard Knicks fan, and he must be saddened wherever he is to see his beloved team in such disrepair. Speaking of embarrassments....

The Miami Heat win their first NBA title. Congrats to the Heat for winning the title in 6 games. I was glad to see them win, for one reason. The Dallas Mavericks DIDN'T win. They have the worst owner in sports, Mark Cuban. He's an embarrassment not only to the NBA, but to professional sports owners. I know some people like him because he's like the ordinary fan, but yelling "Bleep You!" at the NBA commissioner not once, but twice, is way over the line. He went nuts over some calls that led to the Mavs losing Game 5, and he was heavily fined for it, and for the 13th time since he's owned the team. As much as I dislike George Steinbrenner and Jerry Jones, they never pulled crap like this. I hope Cuban never wins an NBA championship, and stews over this one for a long time to come. And more embarrassments........

Ozzie Guillen fined and suspended. Everyone knows that manager Ozzie Guillen is a loose cannon, and not one of your diplomatic types. He's had well-known blowups with players like Magglio Ordonez and Frank Thomas. But this week was something else. A rookie pitcher on the White Sox did not retaliate against the other team for a White Sox player getting plunked, so Guillen had him shipped to the minors. Then in the blowout win over the Cardinals on Monday, ex-Red Sox pitcher David Riske did just that, plunked a Cardinals hitter, and he and Guillen were tossed. And if that wasn't enough, Guillen went off on a rant about reporter Jay Mariotti, who he's feuded with in the past. He called Mariotti a "bleepin' fag," among other colorful things. It's not the first time Guillen has used such language, and he's been fined by Bud Selig and ordered to undergo sensitivity training for his remarks.

I have to believe that if the White Sox weren't the defending champions, and a team in the position of say, the Royals, Guillen would be on the unemployment line by now. They'll stay with Guillen because the White Sox are winning. But when and if it stops under him, his tired act will be done and he'll be looking for work elsewhere.

Junk Emails

Anyone who owns a computer has this problem. Every morning when I go online, one of the first things I do is clean out the junk email that accumulates. I have two emails addresses I use, and in my Hotmail I get the usual porno web sites crap. But on both, I get the ones that make the rounds often, and too many people fall for.

You know the ones, from "Ebay," "Wells Fargo," or "AOL." "There's a problem with your account and we need you to enter your personal information or your account will be terminated. " I especially love the ones from Wells Fargo, as I don't have any kind of account with them. I have AOL, but I was suspicious when I first got one from them, as I got it on my hotmail address, and AOL doesn't have that address. This morning I got two of those emails, back-to-back.

I'm getting at least two or three of these emails a day, pretty regularly. I also noticed that they never use your name in the email, and if you look on who they also have sent the email to, you are usually grouped with people alphabetically who have a similar screen name as you! There are so many red flags that go up when you get these, I am amazed people actually fall for it. These emails are designed to get your personal info from an email that looks like it might have come from a reputable company.

And I know that everyone gets those "Nigerian" emails about sending them money so you can cash on a bigger payoff, whatever that crap is. (I've also 'won" at least 500 international lotteries in my life, too!!)

I know there's nothing much you can do to stop this garbage, except hit the delete button when they show up. But I've always wondered exactly who are these people who infect other people's email boxes?

I hope those people who are sending out the Nigerian emails have accounts that are getting hammered with the Ebay notices.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Dream Is Over

The U.S. World Cup dream came to a crashing end today in Hamburg when Ghana defeated the U.S., 2-1. Italy had defeated the Czech Republic, 2-0, to set up the possibility of the United States advancing with a win.

So much for the FIFA ranking system. The Czechs were ranked number 2 and the U.S. was ranked number 5 overall in the world at the start of the World Cup. Now both teams are going home, not having made it out of the first round.

Ghana scored first in the 22nd minute, and the U.S. tied it up on a goal by Clint Dempsey. But in added time before the end of the first half, a penalty kick was awarded to Ghana on a foul allegedly committed by Oguchi Onyewu. The replays looked as if the referee acted to hastily in awarding it, and Ghana converted it to put them up, 2-1.

The U.S. offense appeared to be non-existant throughout the World Cup, as Dempsey's goal was the first one they scored in three games (the other was an own goal by Italy). Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley were no factors in the entire World Cup. Today the U.S. didn't appear to be in any state of urgency when they fell behind 1-0 and 2-1.

Ghana deserved today's win, and they are the giant killers so far in this World Cup. Congratulations to them for advancing to the second round, probably against Brazil. As for the United States, they made great strides in 2002 in Japan by making it to the quarterfinals. Now it's back to the drawing board for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Let the finger pointing begin.

The Kid Is Alright

Jon Lester pitched a fabulous game at Fenway last night against the Washington Nationals, allowing just three hits and striking out 10 in six innings. He walked two, but was never in any serious trouble. His fastball was consistently in the low-to-mid 90s range, and threw a tremendous curve ball, that struck out at least two hitters looking.

David Ortiz added a second inning grand slam, and Mark Loretta and trot Nixon each had three hits to pace the attack as the Red Sox won, 9-3. The Red Sox also played their 10th straight errorless game, as they won their sixth straight game and remained two games ahead of the Yankees, who won last night in Philadelphia.

I think it's safe to assume that Lester is here to stay. He struggled in spring training and at the start of the Pawtucket season, but found his groove in May, and has now pitched back-to-back fine starts against Atlanta and Washington.

With the injuries to David Wells and Matt Clement, Lester has picked up the slack terrifically. Now you have to wonder about the severity of Clement's injury. Yesterday the Sox picked up Jason Johnson from Cleveland for a player to named later. Johnson is a pretty good pickup, as he's an innings eater. He was 3-8 with a 6.00 ERA for the Indians this season. He's a ground ball pitcher, who could be helped out greatly by the Red Sox great defense. Kyle Snyder was also optioned to Pawtucket. With the Red Sox having a number of off days this month, Johnson will make his first start on July 1 at Florida.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Possible WTC Memorial Changes

Yesterday it was announced that some changes to the World Trade Center Memorial were recommended by building consultant Frank Sciame, who was asked by Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to find ways to bring the Memorial in line with a $500 million budget.

The key revision is that the WTC victims' names will be displayed above ground now instead of below, as the family groups had wanted. Sciame also hoped that the names not be listed in random order, and that a way be found to accommodate those who want the names listed together.

Other changes recommended by The Sciame Report are:

Shrinking the size of the memorial museum (on one level instead of multi-leveled).

Removing portions of the galleries around the pools where the names were to be listed.

Consolidating all entrances into a visitors’ center.

Recalculating previous cost estimates and slashing $11 million from the estimated $61 million in annual operating expenses.

Of course these are just recommendations. Exactly what the Port Authority and the LMDC do is still to be determined. They have their own agendas, and have been known to say one thing and do something completely different. It is now hoped that the building of the Memorial's foundation will finally get under way next month.

Last Night In Coney Island

Last night was an historic night at the Brooklyn Cyclones home opener at KeySpan Park. There was a lot of pomp to the Opening Day ceremonies and it was fun. My father and I sat about ten rows from the field behind home plate, just off to the third base side. They were tremendous seats. (Although we had this woman sitting in the same row as us who insisted on blasting a whistle throughout the game. They call her "Monkey Lady." If you saw her, you'd know why.)

But it may have been the single worst baseball game I have ever seen a team I support play.

The Staten Island Yankees scored early and often. They scored 3 in the first, 7 in the second, and 3 more in the third to go up, 13-0. It just got worse, as Staten Island kept adding runs every inning. Everything the Cyclones pitched was getting hit hard, and they gave up 4 home runs. (In the entire five years I've been going to KeySpan previously, I've seen maybe 4 home runs hit into the stands in right field, as it's a deep outfield, and many of these players are new professionals. The Yankees hit three last night.)

The Cyclones made five errors, and looked bad doing it. They left 13 men on base and couldn't score. In the bottom of the fifth, the home plate umpire got hurt when a pitch bounced up and hit him on the right arm. It stopped the game for nearly 20 minutes. (The NYPL only has two umps, so there was a delay.)

My dad and I lasted five innings. We called it a night when it was 15-0.

I'm sure there were a lot of opening night jitters, but the Cyclones looked really bad. I hope this is not a portend of things to come. Like all bad games, throw this one in the garbage. The Cyclones play the Yankees again tonight in Staten Island and Thursday back in Coney Island.

Throughout the game I listened to the Mets game and got the updates on the Red Sox game as well. (When the ump went down, they showed the ninth inning of the game from Shea on the scoreboard.) Both teams won big, and the Sox continued their two-game lead over the Yankees.

At least the night wasn't a total loss.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cyclones Open Tonight

Tonight at KeySpan Park in Coney Island, the Brooklyn Cyclones open their 6th season as the Mets' single A affiliate in the New York-Penn League. It is a short season, with just 76 games played. The season concludes in the first week in September. Most of the players have just turned professional, and it is their first taste of pro ball. I will be in attendance, sitting a few rows up behind home plate.

I've been going to KeySpan ever since the park opened, and it is just a terrific place to watch baseball. The park holds just over 8,000. It is right on the water at Coney Island, with the famous Parachute Jump (see photo) in the background. The Cyclone is visible from the park beyond left field.

The atmosphere at the park is great, as it is very family-oriented, and the ticket prices are very reasonable. There is always something going on in-between innings, such as water-balloon tossing and the Great Hot Dog Race. The quality of the games is generally quite good, and the players are at the beginnings of their careers and looking to make an impression. In my years seeing the Cyclones, I've seen Lenny DiNardo, Scott Kazmir, and Bobby Keppel (now pitching for the Royals) play for them over the years.

Tonight the Cyclones play the hated crosstown Staten Island Yankees. It is a sellout. I have a seven-game plan with my father for this season. The Red Sox have an affiliate in the NYPL, the Lowell Spinners. They come to KeySpan during Labor Day weekend.

The Cyclones website is: www.brooklyncyclones.com. It is definitely worth a night out to come and check them out.

Monday, June 19, 2006

A New Comparison

I'm not much of a golf fan, but I was checking out a little bit of the U.S. Open from Winged Foot yesterday, and I saw that Phil Mickelson was leading for most of yesterday's final round. I was pulling for him to win. I've always liked Phil, as he was always an underdog for years, having never won a major tournament until winning the Masters in 2004 (pictured on the left winning the green jacket at the Masters from Tiger Woods).

He and the 2004 Red Sox seemed to be linked for what they finally accomplished that year. But yesterday on the 18th hole, Mickelson needed a four to win and five to tie and send the tournament into a tie-breaker. But he shot a six, and Australian Geoff Ogilvy won the U.S. Open by one stroke.

Now if you pick up the papers this morning, a very different kind of comparison is being made. From Hank Gola of the New York Daily News:

A four to win, a five to tie. Phil Mickelson made a six, and not since the Red Sox beat the Yankees in seven in 2004 has New York felt such a sickening punch to the solar plexis.

The New York Post mentioned the "c" word in regard to Phil's loss (choke), but failed to mention the last team that word has been linked with.

I remember when Greg Norman had that enormous lead at the 1996 Masters and ended up losing. Right after that happened, I saw comparisons to the 1986 Red Sox World Series loss everywhere. (You know those sidebar articles about "Other Famous Flops.") It made me sick seeing such nonsense.

Funny how what happened 20 years ago isn't mentioned much anymore.

First he was being compared the 2004 Red Sox, and after yesterday, Mickelson's being connected with the 2004 Yankees.

Sorry to see that happen. Go get 'em next time, Phil.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Happy Birthday Paul McCartney


Back when he was 16, Paul McCartney wrote a song for his dad, which he revived some eight years later for the Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Well, today, Paul can truly sing "When I'm 64," as this is is his 64th birthday.

Happy Birthday Paul, and may you have many more than 64.

Also, Happy Father's Day to all the dads of the world.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A Nice Hat Trick

I spent the afternoon at Professor Thom's with a few friends watching the USA-Italy World Cup matchup. The day however, turned into a special afternoon due to three events:

The United States played to a 1-1 draw with Italy: The US played a very heroic match, and earned the single point that kept their World Cup hopes alive. The US went right at the Italians, and despite a 22nd minute goal, hung in there with them. An Italian player was ejected for elbowing Brian McBride in the face, and it was a mess. But McBride was a warrior and stayed in. Italian defender Cristian Zaccardo accidently headed a ball into his own net to tie the match. But just before halftime, Pablo Mastroeni was sent off for rough play, negating the US advantage. In the second half, Eddie Pope was also sent off, and it put the US down a man for the rest of the match.

Here's where the Americans dug in and held their ground. Kasey Keller was terrific in goal, and made two world-class saves. The Italians had three forwards, but couldn't penetrate the US goal. The US had a goal called back midway in the second half when McBride was offsides.

After the disaster against the Czech Republic, the US showed grit and courage in getting their first ever point in a European World Cup match. The US can now advance with a win over Ghana and an Italy win over the Czechs on Thursday.

This game reminded me of Game 4 of the 2004 ALCS. Like the Red Sox back then, the US was thoroughly embarrassed in their previous game, and went out and got some dignity back. And like the Sox, it's time for the US to go out a "slay the dragon." Speaking of the Red Sox.....

Red Sox win their second straight over Atlanta: Fox, in their infinite wisdom, made this game their main Saturday game, and the Yankees-Nationals game the backup. Guess which one we saw in New York? I followed the game by updates in the bar, and Josh Beckett pitched 6 strong innings, allowing just two runs, and Jonathan Papelbon picked up his world-leading 22nd save to give the Sox a 5-3 win. Kevin Youkilis led off with a homer, and David Ortiz, who was originally supposed to be off, also hit one. Manny Ramirez was pulled from the lineup due to a sore knee, and Youk played left field.

Julian Tavarez gave up his usual run in the eighth, but other than him, the pen did another fine job. Alex Gonzalez tied a team record with his 48th straight errorless game at shortstop. The win put the Red Sox back in a first place tie, as......

The Yankees blew a seven-run lead and lost to the Nationals, 11-9: In the fifth inning, the Yankees hit three home runs, including a Judas grand slam to give them a 9-2 lead. But Shawn Chacon gave the Nats four runs back to put them back into it. If the Yankees are counting on this guy, they are making a serious mistake. He sums up their pitching woes perfectly. The Nats chipped away until they were down 9-8 in the eighth. Alfonso Soriano walked, stole second and third, and scored on Jorge Posada's throwing error. Mariano Rivera blew the save, and then the game when he gave up a triple to Jose Guillen and a single to Ryan Zimmerman. It was the first time in 9 years the Yankees blew a seven run lead and lost.

The pitching and defense let the Yankees down again. Joe Torre is burning out his bullpen again, as he doesn't have reliable starters to get him to the bullpen late in the game.

Not a bad afternoon. I need to have more days like this.

A Glimpse At The Future

Friday started off on a sour note for the Red Sox, as they were forced to put the struggling Matt Clement on the disabled list with shoulder problems. He clearly needs the time off. But it ended on a high note as talented lefthanded rookie Jon Lester (pictured on the right in his AA Portland Sea Dogs days) pitched six solid innings and got his first major league win in defeating the Atlanta Braves, 4-1 at Turner Field.

Lester showed some incredible poise, especially when he got into a jam in the fifth. The Braves loaded the bases with one out, and he allowed just a Chipper Jones sacrifice fly before Jeff Francoeur grounded out. It was the only real trouble Lester was in the whole night. His final line was: 6 innings, 5 hits, 1 earned run, 3 walks and 5 strikeouts. He was consistently hitting the radar gun in the low 90s, and his high for the night was 94 MPH. I watched the game on FSN South, the Braves station, and even their announcers were very impressed with command and poise.

They were also shocked at the number of Red Sox fans at Turner Field last night. It sounded like it was 40-50% Sox fans in the stands. No shock to me. Red Sox Nation is everywhere, and made their presence known last night.

Lester got all the offense he needed when, with the score 1-0 Red Sox in the third, Jason Varitek doubled in three runs off Tim Hudson. Tek seems to be out of his early season batting woes, as he had three hits last night and raised his batting average above .250.

With Clement heading for the DL, Lester figures to be around for a while. His next start will be Wednesday night at Fenway Park against the Washington Nationals. I have such faith in him that I picked him up for one of my fantasy teams last night.

Welcome back Kapler! Gabe Kapler was activated last night from the DL, and takes Clement's spot on the roster. He's made an amazingly quick return to Boston from his achilles injury he suffered in Toronto last September. Kapler figured to be out until after the All-Star break. He will probably see limited action in his return, but could be a valuable addition for the remainder of the year.

But the Sox have a major quandry in that they have not slated anyone to start on Monday against Washington. When they do, they'll also have to move someone off the roster as well. They could bring up Abe Alvarez or even David Pauley from Pawtucket for a spot start. Stay tuned.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Changes To The Memorial

It appears that the World Trade Center Memorial will be downsized considerably to get it within a $500 million budget. The NY Post reports today that the underground gallery would be scaled back, the two waterfalls would be eliminated, the Port Authority would take over the building of the memorial, and the World Trade Center victims names would be moved to an above-ground plaza. (Hopefully they will rethink that idiotic idea of randomly listing the victims' names as well.) The details of the changes were supposed to be available on the Internet yesterday, but that appears to have been pushed back until next week.

This is good news for us that have been fighting to bring the memorial above ground. I received a nice email from Rosaleen Tallon, who was at the forefront of the fight:

Dear Fellow Family Members, Friends, and Supporters of the "Put It Above Ground" Campaign,

It looks like the names of the precious souls lost on 9-11 may finally be coming up into the light of the day. From all reports, one of the major changes to the design will be to put the names above ground at street level at the Ground Zero 9-11 memorial, instead of underground as previously planned. Thank God and thanks to all of you. Together, we raised public awareness of the underground nature of the memorial and we made sure the politicians and the public knew what we wanted changed, we wanted the names brought to street level for a dignified and safe memorial experience in the light of the day.

With their names moving up "into the light of day", the world and the future will now "Never Forget". Thanks to all of you who played a part in this from sleeping out in front of the firehouse, to organizing press conferences and rallies, to working on the website, to gathering signatures at Ground Zero, to signing the petition!

Let's hope this is the beginning of something positive happening at Ground Zero.

Blow Up The Metrodome

I guess David Ortiz' at-bat in sixth inning sums up last night. He hit a bomb that some estimated might have gone 450 feet. But it hit one of those speakers at the top of the Metrodome, and Papi ended up with a single. Totally ridiculous. Manny Ramirez then hit into a double play to end the inning. The Sox scored three late runs, but it was not enough to catch the Twins, 5-3.

The only good thing about this series is that the Red Sox won't have to play in Minnesota the rest of this season. The Twins are getting a new open air stadium in suburban Minneapolis, and it can't come any sooner. That place is the Sox' House of Horrors, and I look forward to the day they set the dynamite charges to the place.

The Red Sox traded David Riske to the White Sox for minor league lefty reliever Javier Lopez (not to be confused with the right handed catcher for the Orioles). Lopez saw time with Arizona and Colorado, and his numbers weren't terribly impressive. He was pitching lights-out at AAA, and the Sox went for it due to a need for a lefty in the pen. Is this guy the answer? I have no idea. Theo Epstein's track record on acquiring relief pitchers is spotty at best. We'll see.

The bats need a jump start, after the three day horror show in Minnesota. They scored just 6 runs in 30 innings this week. Manny and Papi went 3-for-24 in Minnesota. Jon Lester goes tonight in Atlanta. He'll be facing a fading Braves team that just got swept in Miami.

The Mets continued their torrid pace yesterday, beating the Phillies, 5-4. They won 9 of 10 on their just-concluded road trip. Their NL East lead is now 9 1/2. Interleague resumes again today and they take on the Orioles at Shea.

11 days until the big three-game showdown at Fenway.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

50 Things About Me

Many of you out there who may have stumbled into my site may have been wondering, "Exactly who is this guy, Mighty Quinn?" or, "I'd sure love to know more about him." Well, I'm here now to answer those questions. The following is 50 things about me, on a whole long range of subjects: some of my likes, dislikes and just some odd and not-so-odd things about me. Don't worry, you won't have to study this list, as there's no pop quiz following it. (Update 2012: This list has been tweaked a bit since I originally wrote it in 2006.)

Without further ado and in no order whatsoever, here it is:

1. The first time I ever left the United States was in January 1983, on a car trip to Montreal with three friends.
2. I like most types of music, but I have never gotten into rap. Not my thing.
3. I've never seen the film, "E.T."
4. The first baseball game I ever went to was the Mets vs. Giants in 1968 at Shea Stadium, and it featured future Hall Of Famers Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. And the Mets won.
5. I've been to 22 of the 50 United States in my life.
6. I've only been to one NFL game in my life, an exhibition game in Minnesota in August 1999.
7. Two songs, "She's Got A Way" by Billy Joel, and "I'll Always Love You" by Taylor Dayne, always bring a tear to my eye. They both remind me of very special friend.
8. A short list of people I have absolutely no use for: Michael Moore, Spike Lee, Bill Maher, Ann Coulter, Ward Churchill, Hillary Clinton, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Al Sharpton, Donald Trump, Paris Hilton, and just about everyone who has ever appeared on any TV reality show.
9. I've been to Fenway Park 21 times, and the Red Sox have won 15 of those games.
10. My favorite kind of ice cream is mint chocolate chip.
11. I'm a very spiritual person, and I pray or meditate at least once a day.
12. I've been to England 12 times in my life.
13. My favorite baseball players growing up were Tom Seaver and Carl Yastrzemski.
14. I'd like to have two songs played at my funeral: "Let It Be" and "Dirty Water."
15. Writing is my life's passion, and outside of my blog, I like to write something new every day.
16. I was recently asked my favorite Red Sox moment of all-time. It is every pitch of Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
17. I've never grown a decent beard in my life, and I fear I never will.
18. I've been to four soccer matches in England, and had a great time at all of them.
19. One of my goals is to fit into a 32 waist again.
20. I'm a big fan of both Dr. Wayne Dyer and psychic Sylvia Browne, and I'll read any book they write.
21. I was an altar boy for four years. All the priests I knew were generally good men.
22. I love playing fantasy baseball, and have been in the same "keeper" league since 2007.
23. I am a card-carrying member of the Poetry Society of America.
24. There are three countries I'd like to visit before I die: Ireland, Australia and Japan.
25. I was at the very first game the Montreal Expos ever played, on April 8, 1969, and the very last game the Expos ever played, on October 3, 2004. Both were at Shea Stadium against the Mets. Expos won the very first, and lost the very last.
26. My favorite baseball team west of the Mississippi is the San Diego Padres.
27. I am actually a dual citizen. I hold passports from both the United States and Ireland. (Yes, I am a citizen of a country I have never been to. It's a long story.)
28. I am generally a very private person, and I do have some insecurities.
29. My favorite sitcoms of all-time are (in no particular order): "M*A*S*H", "The Odd Couple," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," "Married With Children," "Seinfeld," "Cheers," "I Dream Of Jeannie," "The Munsters," "Taxi," "The Bob Newhart Show," and "All In The Family."
30. Keith Hernandez is the best first baseman I've ever seen.
31. I'm no longer pulling for Pete Rose to get into the Hall of Fame.
32. I've seen two no-hitters live in my life: the first by Bob Moose at Shea against the Mets in 1969 (the last one thrown there) and the other by Derek Lowe against Tampa Bay at Fenway in 2002. (33 years in between no-hitters. Amazing.)
33. Hank Aaron remains the all-time home run champion in my opinion, no matter what the record book says.
34. The first concert I ever saw was Billy Joel at Madison Square Garden in 1980.
35. I absolutely love Snapple iced tea.
36. Movies I have watched over and over (and can just about repeat all words): "Monty Python and The Holy Grail," "The Usual Suspects," "Predator," "The Blues Brothers," "Animal House," and "The French Connection."
37. First base is my best position when playing baseball.
38. The nicest celebrity I've ever met is Glenn Close. Michael Palin and Elton John are both a close second.
39. When I played soccer, I loved playing goalkeeper.
40. The three people I'd love to have dinner with are: Babe Ruth, Pope John Paul II and Joyce Carpeneto. (Two big time celebrities and a dear old friend. Unfortunately none are still with us.)
41. I've worn glasses since I was 11. I tried to wear contacts when I was 18, but gave up on them when I had nothing but trouble with them.
42. The most beautiful city I have ever seen is San Francisco.
43. My all-time favorite album is The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."
44. I love reading and writing poetry.
45. Christmas is my favorite holiday.
46. Every September 11th until the day I die I will be at World Trade Center site to honor my friend Joyce's memory and remember all the September 11 victims. And I thank God they built a fitting and beautiful memorial there.
47. My favorite and lucky number is 4.
48. I hope one day to be a published writer.
49. My favorite doctor is my dentist. I've been going to him for 19 years. I've always thought finding a great dentist is like hitting the lottery. You should consider yourself very lucky to have one.
50. And I AM a very lucky man, as I have so many wonderful friends and a great family: five sisters (no brothers) and eight nieces and nephews. I love them all very much.

I'll have 50 more coming soon, to make it an even 100!!

Kicking Ass and Taking Names

Seems like every time I put the Mets on TV these days they have a lead, or are coming from behind to win. I'm seeing a lot of "1986" in this club. (And I mean that as a compliment of course.) Last night they jumped out 2-0 in the first inning, and never looked back as the Phillies played sloppily and handed the Mets a 9-3 win. The Mets are making it look easy these days, and they are 8-1 on the current road trip they are on.

They've scored 75 runs on this trip, and 20 in the first inning. Even Mets analyst Keith Hernandez said last night he can't remember the Mets ever playing this well on the road. Their first place lead is up to 8 1/2 games. The current road trip ends today in Philadelphia, and they resume the interleague schedule tomorrow at Shea against the Orioles.

By the way, what does "taking names" in the term "Kicking ass and taking names" mean anyway? I've always like it for some reason (it just sounds cool), so I used it for today's article title.

The Red Sox? Another dispiriting loss in Minnesota, 8-1, and they are now officially in second place again.

Is it my imagination or does Matt Clement now leave EVERY start with an injury?

He's been worth every penny the Sox brass are paying him, hasn't he?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Useless, Useless

The two words in the title of this article are actually the dying words of John Wilkes Booth, right after he was shot by Federal troops in a Virginia barn on April 26, 1865. The words can now also apply now to the worst reliever in the Red Sox bullpen: Julian Tavarez.

I think we can officially state that Theo Epstein made a serious mistake signing this guy. Last night's performance was inexusable. Giving up a grand slam to Jason Kubel in the 12th inning, a guy who was just brought up a few weeks ago, just shows how thin the Red Sox bullpen is now. There are only two reliable men in the pen now: Jonathan Papelbon and Mike Timlin (Keith Foulke just went on the DL yesterday). Rudy Seanez and David Riske have been better lately, and Jermaine Van Buren and Manny Delcarmen don't have Terry Francona's confidence in such a big situation just yet. Now, Tavarez has probably lost Tito's confidence now, and he will probably be used more in garbage time now.

Theo signed him to a two-year deal, for $6.75 million this past winter. I was in Professor Thom's last night, and the whole bar groaned when he was shown warming up in the bullpen. One of my friends said, "I don't trust any Red Sox reliever who's last name ends with the letter z!" You KNEW disaster was on the horizon. He struck out the first hitter, then hit the next batter. I knew the game was lost when that happened. A double, and intentional walk and then Kubel's grand slam. I don't know if the Sox will eat his contract and DFA him (I seriously doubt it), but we'll see. More than one person said that if the Sox let him go, the Yankees would snap him up. (Don't they always do that these days with Red Sox players designated for assignment?)

I say to that: Good. Let him be their problem.

Tavarez spoiled what was a terrific performance by Curt Schilling, Papelbon and Timlin. You can't ask much more from them. Johan Santana was even better over eight innings, striking out 13. And at PT's last night, we once again did "Kayreoke," letting Red Sox fans call a half-inning of the action in the bar. My pal Matt and I did two innings, and it was once again so much fun. And New York Magazine did a feature story on the promotion and the bar, and we were interviewed. It comes out in a few weeks. They took some pictures of me in the old get-up again: cheesy shirt, wig and black glasses. We'll see if that makes it into the story.

Kayreoke is now planned for every Tuesday night. It's a blast, and even Julian Tavarez couldn't ruin what was a great night at PT.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Kiss Of Death?

Since the Mets and Yankees were both off yesterday, the New York tabloids have to find something to write about and put on their back pages (US soccer team's loss obviously doesn't qualify). So they both wrote about the same thing: how the Mets have won back the baseball fans of New York City. The News' back page shouted loudly: "Kings of New York."

I love the route the Mets are going, and they are putting together a terrific team for the future. The left side of the Mets infield, Jose Reyes and David Wright, is downright scary. I've always hoped for the day the Mets take back New York from the Yankees. It always goes in cycles here. The Mets last had the run of the city back in the mid-to-late 1980s. But they were poorly run in the latter half of the 1980s, and the franchise paid for it for a number of years. By the time the Mets got better and competitive in the late 1990s, the Yankees had won two World Series and would win two more.

Right now, the Yankees remind of those teams they had back in the early 1980s. Aging homegrown talent and relying on too many free agents who are beyond their best years. Signing guys like Johnny Damon is like putting a band-aid on a gaping wound. They've gotten away from what made them champions, and they need an overhaul of their farm system.

Things are starting to look the Mets way, and that's a good thing. They are on the way to a division title, but they are not there yet. I've always said that I don't count the Yankees out until they are mathematically eliminated.

I hope the Mets become "The Kings of New York" again. But I'm not ready to crown them just yet.

A New Career?

Last night was my debut as MC for Professor Thom's Trivia Night, and it went extremely well. I had a blast doing it. One of my friends in the bar was looking to take me on in trivia last night, and was very disappointed to learn that I had been kicked upstairs.

We did five categories: Current Events, General Knowledge, Music, Movies and Sports. There were ten questions per category. Six teams vied for the coveted crown of Professor Thom Trivia Champion. About midway through the competition, some loudmouth yelled out an answer (he wasn't playing), and my good friend and bartender Jim McGuire exited him and his two friends off the premises. (I did warn people not to yell any answers out.) Jim may not be a very big guy, but he's someone you don't want to mess with.

After the competition ended, I received a nice hand from the competitors, and I really appreciated that. (I did receive one or two minor complaints about the qustions being a little too difficult, so I will add some easier ones next week.) I will be back again next Monday night to MC once again.

Tonight, the announcing by the bar patrons returns to PT, and my buddy Matt and I will have another go at calling a Red Sox inning of baseball. Should be more fun, even if the Sox aren't playing the Yankees.

A USA Bomb Out

A really lousy effort from the U.S. national team in the World Cup yesterday. They were whacked by the Czech Republic, 3-0. The Czechs scored early, and basically put the game in their back pocket. They even lost their best player, Jan Koller, at halftime, but that didn't matter. The U.S. had few good chances, the best when captain Claudio Reyna hit the post with a cracking shot that would have put the Americans back in the match. They looked really sluggish most of the match, as the Czechs dominated midfield. So much for the old guys of the Czech Republic being outlasted by the young Americans.

Saturday's match against Italy maybe one of the most important matches in the history of USA soccer. The Americans need at least a draw, or the World Cup will be over for them. Then the final first round match against Ghana will be almost irrelevant. I don't want to sound too panicky, but the future of U.S. soccer may be riding on Saturday's match. This was a team that many were calling a dark horse to go deep in the tournament.

Another lackluster effort against Italy and the U.S. might be back to where they were in 1998, when the U.S. was swept out of World Cup in France in three matches: little world respect, and trying to figure out where a bright future all went wrong.

Monday, June 12, 2006

The Real MVP Strikes Again

A 2-and-2 count. His team was down 4-2 in the bottom of the ninth. Two men on and two men out. He barely fouls off the previous pitch to stay alive. The next pitch is a fastball right in his wheelhouse.

David Ortiz parks it over the bullpen and into the bleachers in right field to give the Red Sox a 5-4 win over the Texas Rangers in the first game of a doubleheader yesterday at Fenway Park.

Yes, there was a second game yesterday. The best I can say about that was that David Pauley was optioned to Pawtucket after the game to make room for Mike Timlin, who was activated off the DL.

Big Papi continues to be the biggest money player in baseball today.

And PLEASE do not insult my intelligence by saying he was not the 2005 AL MVP. And don't use that BS argument that because he's a DH he can't win the award. The DH has been part of the law of the land in the AL for 33 years.

Honestly, do you think Slappy would have come through in similar fashion yesterday? I rest my case.

David Ortiz. The 2005 American League MVP.

Uncrowned.

I've Been Promoted to M.C.

Tonight at Professor Thom's, I will be the Master of Ceremonies for the weekly Monday night trivia contest. It will be similar to the ones that the bar used to run. There will be 50 questions, 10 in five categories. I was asked to run it because I won it so often I guess.

The five categories will be: general knowledge, current events, sports, movies and music. It should be a lot of fun.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Justice Served

Talk about sticking your foot in your mouth. Defender on the Paraguay World Cup team Carlos Gamarra basically called out the English team before their clash today in Germany when he earlier this week said that England was "the number three team in this group" (behind Paraguay and Sweden).

England didn't play the best game today against Paraguay, and looked rather listless during most of it. But they scored an early goal off a free kick from David Beckham. But it wasn't an English player who scored the goal. It was headed in by a Paraguay defender.....Carlos Gamarra.

It was the first time in World Cup history that an own goal decided a 1-0 game. Gamarra better be careful as well. I remember back in 1994 when a Colombian defender (who's name I can't remember) scored an own goal against the U.S. that cost Colombia the game and eliminated them from the Cup. A short time after the tournament ended, he was killed back in Colombia by some crazy "fan" seeking revenge.

They really take their soccer VERY seriously in South America.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Still Obsessed With Bonds

This is maybe a very little thing, but as I was watching the World Cup matches this afternoon (Germany-Costa Rica was a terrific match), I noticed something on ESPN2, and later the same thing over at ESPNews. On their Bottom Line that shows all the games and scores, they always list the games in the time order they are going to be played. (In other words, the games starting at 7PM are listed first, and the games beginning at 10 PM out West are listed last.) But today I noticed that they are listing the Pirates-Giants game first (which begins at 10:15 PM ET), even though there are games beginning in the East in the NL at 7 PM tonight.

Oh, I wonder why?

Why would the Giants game come before all the others? ESPN is still under the thinking that we as baseball fans care what Barry Bonds does every night. So now in all their updates the Giants come first. Only if I were a Giants fan would it matter to me. Pathetic.

When ESPN canned that Barry Bonds reality show a couple of weeks ago, I thought maybe they were coming to their senses.

Silly me.

More Fun And Frolic At PT

The Red Sox bounced back nicely from the two losses earlier this week at Yankee Stadium with a 9-3 win to conclude their long road trip. Jason Varitek had three hits including a three-run homer that iced the game for the Sox in the seventh inning. Curt Schilling won his league-leading ninth game of the year and seventh career game against the Yankees with a solid eight-inning performance. He allowed three solo homers and double, and that was all.

The trivia contest didn't happen at Professor Thom's last night, but the Tune Out YES promotion did, and my buddy Matt and I did two half-innings last night, including the sixth inning where the Sox got three runs to put them ahead to stay. The bar was packed last night, and it was the biggest crowd at PT's this week, and perhaps all season. The bar just rocked from the sixth inning on. It was fun going back behind the mic again last night, and Matt and I had a blast.

I want to thank all those people who came up to me and congratulated me on my performance. People said Matt and I make a great team! Everyone seemed to enjoy all of the Sox fans who participated in it from the 3rd to the 7th innings. They all did a great job, and Professor Thom's is going to make it a more regular feature.

I'm so glad to see so many people supporting Professor Thom's, as my friends do a great job making the bar a great place to hang out. It's reputation is growing, and I'm seeing more Red Sox fans in the bar who I've never seen before, which is great to see.

A Real World Championship

Today in Germany, the entire world will be focused on the start of the 2006 FIFA World Cup. It is by far the most popular individual sports tournament in the world. Millions and millions of people will be watching the Germany-Costa Rica match, which will start the World Cup.

This is a REAL world championship. Let's face it, the World Series, the Super Bowl and the NBA Finals aren't world championships. This is one the entire world watches. In most nations of the world, soccer is an incredible passion, on a par with being a member of Red Sox Nation!!

Brazil are the defending champions, and are the odds-on favorites to repeat. Germany, England and Italy are other strong contenders to take the cup. The United States' first match will be Monday afternoon against the Czech Republic. They are also paired with Italy and Ghana. It's a tough group, but the U.S. has a good chance to make it to the second round.

I've been following the World Cup since 1978, and it's always an exciting time. Here in the U.S. you always get the usual group of wiseasses in the media who'll give you a thousand good reasons why you shouldn't bother watching, as they consider soccer "boring"and "foreign," the usual elitist crap you hear from these cretins.

For example, palaver from a dubious "writer" named Hondo, in today's New York Post:

"The World Cup kicks off today, the beginning of one month of monotony. Now would be the time to start catching up on all that sleep you've missed in your life."


Soccer will never reach the popularity of baseball, American football, hockey or basketball in the United States, but that doesn't matter. Soccer has a definite following here, and I'll bet the ratings numbers won't be bad, especially if the U.S. goes a long way in the tournament.

The official World Cup site is: http://www.fifaworldcup.com.
Other good sites are at ESPN Soccernet: http://www.soccernet.com and Fox Sports soccer site: http://www.foxsoccer.com.

And did any of you happen to see those Nike commercials about the U.S. World Cup team? (And let's get one thing straight. They are not "Team USA." People who know nothing about soccer call them that. They are "The U.S. National Team.") In the background an instrumental version of "Take Me Out To The Ballgame" is played. Isn't that a baseball song? I'd like to have an explanation on that one.

Baseball will always be my main passion, but I'll be watching a good number of World Cup matches over the next month. The final will be played in Berlin on July 9th.

Let's Go USA!!!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Anything For A Buck

Some people will do ANYTHING for publicity. Ann Coulter, the shrill Conservative author, really took some unbelievable cheap shots at four 9/11 widows when she labeled "The Jersey Girls" as self-obsessed opportunists who enjoy their role as widows of 9/11 victims.

I find Coulter's act rather tired, as she seems to scream bloody murder at anyone who isn't a Republican or a Conservative. (For the record, I am a very much an Independent.) But to label these women they way she has is absolutely reprehensible. The Jersey Girls, four married women from New Jersey who lost their husbands in the World Trade Center, were the ones mostly responsible for the independent commission that looked into the 9/11 disasters. They have criticized President Bush, supported John Kerry for president in 2004 and continue to argue that America still has gaping holes in its security measures.

Now you can see why Coulter has gone after them. But after her appearances on TV yesterday, where she still labeled the 9/11 widows, "witches and harpies," impress me as being more for her own publicity and selling her new book, which recently just came out. Coulter also appears to me to be from that Spike Lee/Michael Moore/Bill Maher school of saying anything to get the public's attention, no matter how stupid or outrageous. She craves publicity, and she's got a ton of it now.

Coulter has a lot of supporters, but going after women who suffered a heartbreaking loss on 9/11, and have dedicated their lives to the memories of their lost loved ones might even turn some of her most avid admirers against her.

Then again, some people will do anything for publicity. And the almighty dollar.

This Rotten Weather

The weather in New York City lately has been incredibly depressing lately. Lots of rain, and the temperatures have dipped below normal. We've gotten more rain in the first week in June than in a normal month of June already.

Now it plays havoc with the Red Sox' schedule. They will now play a four-game series with the Yankees during the weekend of September 15. Last night's rainout also means that Jon Lester's major league debut on Saturday is probably off for now. It also gives Curt Schilling an extra day of rest, and he faces Jaret Wright in the series finale at Yankee Stadium tonight. The rainout also hurts my fantasy league teams, as I have a number of Red Sox players on all three teams. Bummer.

Hopefully at Professor Thom's tonight, the Red Sox vs. Yankees fans trivia contest will go off as scheduled. It was called off last night due to the rainout. If we have the contest, we won't be doing the Tune Out YES announcing tonight. The weather will have the final say on that.

Big news in baseball yesterday was former Diamondbacks pitcher Jason Grimsley's admission he took steroids for years, and the feds raided his home in Arizona looking for evidence. He also rolled over on many ballplayers. He named many names, but they were redacted out of the affidavit. Grimsley looks like baseball's version of Henry Hill, and a lot of baseball players probably lost a lot of sleep last night. Baseball could be facing its Armageddon. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Where Is The Memorial?

This is a tremendous article written by Debra Burlingame, whose brother Charles was the pilot of Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, about the WTC Memorial debacle. Debra was the first to expose "The Great Ground Zero Heist,"about the plans to put in that ill-conceived International Freedom Center at the WTC site. Her article led to the successful fight to get rid of it. I've had the pleasure of meeting her on a couple of occasions, and she's quite a lady. This article is a bit long, but worth reading. (Many thanks to the good people at http://www.takebackthememorial.org for sending it along.)

Where Is The Memorial?
By Debra Burlingame

I am an ironworker. I held you in my hands. I did not know who you were and now I am showered clean . . . yet I still feel dirty. I don't know why, but I feel ashamed. WHO WERE YOU? --Anonymous message, left at Ground Zero.

They came and would not leave, an army of ironworkers and heavy-equipment operators, stopping only when the scent-trained dogs barked out a signal. They cut and moved twisted steel and steaming concrete, clearing an astonishing 1.8 million tons in a continuous convoy of trucks and a 20,000-barge armada. The last steel beam, covered from top to bottom with handwritten prayers and messages of hope from those who worked the site, was hauled away in a solemn site-closing ceremony that left grown men weeping quietly. "The Pile" was cleared in eight-and-a-half months. Only then did they go home, different men. Who will tell their story?

The answer depends on whether we believe we have a stake in a future we will not live to see. Today, a handful of people are considering how the history of 9/11 will be preserved for future generations. Will it be scattered all over the globe, eroded by small museums, cannibalized by private collectors, or simply lost forever?

From the giant steel facades that broke but did not fall to the thousands of "Missing" flyers that speak of humanity as no granite monument can; from the harrowing digital footage to the oral histories that provide a mosaic of facts as detailed and compelling as a thousand handmade quilts; these are the pieces that make up our generation's "Day of Infamy." Preserving that history is both the mission and the moral imperative of the World Trade Center Memorial Museum--if we build it.

The decision lies in one man's hands: New York Gov. George E. Pataki. It is that simple. Advisory councils, stakeholder meetings and a public comment period not withstanding, if Gov. Pataki agrees with 87% of the respondents in last year's Zogby poll, stating that 9/11 was "the most historic event of their lifetime" that "changed the way Americans live and view the world," then he will step up and mark that history--or answer to those same people. And he will have one tough time doing it.

The American people, watching the horrific scenes in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania, voiced nary a peep of dissent when the federal government handed over $21 billion in disaster relief--$18 billion in rebuilding bonds and tax credits, and $2.8 billion in immediate cash grants--to the state and city of New York. The desire to raise buildings and bring back neighborhoods and businesses far from their own communities is powerful proof of the generosity of a people whose hearts were broken but whose resolve was not.

The public has heard plenty about the "empty pit of Ground Zero," but most do not know that the$2.8 billion allocated to Lower Manhattan in cash grants has virtually all been spent. It is difficult to trace where all the money went while being routed through the Department of Housing and Urban Development and six different city and state entities. Now, after four-and-a-half years of press conferences, ribbon-cuttings and groundbreakings (the Freedom Tower has had two), at which the lost 343 firefighters were invoked and the memorial and museum was touted as the "centerpiece"around which hundreds of millions of dollars in spending projects would turn, Gov. Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have teamed up to tell the public that it's time to "rethink" the project where the history of those valiant firefighters will be secured. Not only does this undermine Daniel Libeskind's master plan, which always included a museum of "memory and hope," it also manifests a standard of fiscal responsibility that the governor and the mayor have refrained from imposing anywhere else at Ground Zero.

The Port Authority's massive new transportation hub, designed by superstar architect Santiago Calatrava, will cost an estimated $2.2 billion. Some $2 billion of that is federal money, which means that the entire country is supporting the "awe-inspiring" makeover of a terminal that willserve a mere 40,000 commuters (a number so embarrassing the Port Authority upped it to 80,000 byincluding round trips). The chief executive of a construction firm involved in the building illustrates the absurdity of what insiders call a "vanity project" by pointing out that $2.2 billion is enough to build a metropolitan airport.

The governor has also handed out hundreds of millions in relief money to corporate powerhouses, ostensibly to get them to relocate to Lower Manhattan or to prevent them from leaving. He signed off on $25 million worth of recovery funds for American Express, which expressly announced it hadn't intended to leave Lower Manhattan and posted doubled profits less than a year after 9/11.Goldman Sachs, which made $4.55 billion dollars in net profits in 2004, received a $2 billion"assistance" package consisting of triple-tax-free Liberty Bonds, tax credits and cash the following year.

Mr. Bloomberg talks about a "sensible" approach to Ground Zero rebuilding, but has declined to fully explain his allocation of $650 million dollars worth of Liberty Bonds to construct the Bank of America tower in midtown, an allocation that competes with downtown redevelopment; or why he awarded $114 million in Liberty Bonds to the Ratner office tower--in Brooklyn.

The mayor has suggested locating the World Trade Center Museum in the controversial Freedom Tower, declaring it "a good use of that lobby." To put the story of that day in another commercial office tower is an insult to the memory of the 3,000 who died and to the thousands who barely escaped. Would the Holocaust Museum be treated as an afterthought and crammed into such a space? Moreover,why would any commercial tenant be attracted to a building that will be the destination of as many as 20,000 to 30,000 tourists per day?

The mayor's proposal was promptly embraced by New York's cultural elite--the same folks who were despondent over the loss, last fall, of the International Freedom Center and its slavery exhibits. The New York Times editorial page went so far as to suggest that the 9/11 museum is not really necessary since "most of us remember that day very clearly." The same paper, in contrast, published six hyperventilating editorials last year, telling us that the Freedom Center must be built on sacred ground to provide the memorial with "historical context," albeit one that didn't include a word about terrorism.

Interestingly, the no-museum proponents have uniformly invoked the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington as an example of a simple and appropriate remembrance. While it eventually became accepted as a locus of healing, "The Wall" was controversial when it opened in 1982 in no small part because of its failure to tell the story of the war. Jan Scruggs, founder of the VietnamVeterans Memorial Foundation, recognizes that when the contemporaries of that war are gone, the 58,000 names carved in granite will not resonate with future generations. To remedy this, he sought and won congressional approval to build a museum that will tell the story of the war and those who fought it.

Ironically, the designer of the Vietnam memorial, Maya Lin, was a member of the World Trade Center Memorial jury and the most vocal advocate of the design that was eventually chosen, Michael Arad's"Reflecting Absence." Like Ms. Lin's Wall, Mr. Arad's design, consisting of reflecting pools and waterfalls with a random listing of 3,000 victims' names, says nothing about how they died or the historic event it is memorializing. Without the museum there will be nothing on the plaza, not even the iconic artifacts, to tell future visitors what actually happened on 9/11.

But let us not get too carried away with comparisons to other memorials. The Vietnam War did not take place on that grassy mall in Washington. Ground Zero is a historic battleground; and of the 2,755 who died there, 1,157 were vaporized without a trace.

The American people intuitively understand what the New York intelligentsia does not. They already stream to Ground Zero in the tens of thousands, signing up for tours to stand and look at the iron fence of St. Paul's Church across the street, now stripped of the faded flags, the personal tokens of remembrance and the hand-lettered messages of sympathy that poured in from all over the world. They shell out countless thousands of dollars for picture books and postcards bearing the images ofthe twin towers from the ragtag vendors who line the site's perimeter.

It is this humble assortment of Ground Zero entrepreneurs who have shown City Hall's economic development experts that it is possible to blend commerce and commemoration. And the Memorial Museum will help restore a standard of dignity, which will be more about providing a lasting remembrance than making a quick buck.

Yes, the $500 million price tag for the memorial and museum is steep, but the reality is that it was the terrorists who chose the most expensive building site in all the world for the location of their attack. That is where our people died and that is where we must build it--especially as the cost of not doing so is even higher. This is an investment in the future that will allow visitors from all over the world the opportunity to see the contrast between those who died to take the lives of strangers, and those who gave their lives to save them. The millions who will make a pilgrimage to Ground Zero will surely enjoy the fine boulevards and piers that their own generosity provided, but the experience they most anticipate is not a frozen latte in Hudson River Park. They want to confront the reality of the day that changed their lives, and the world they once knew.

The World Trade Center Memorial and Museum will commemorate, educate and inspire. It will convey to future generations that we as a people are more than sleek neighborhoods and buildings. That is something our enemies did not understand and should be reflected in everything we do on that much-hallowed ground.

Governor, we're ready.

Incredibly Lame Shirts

Anyone who has watched a Yankees game on the YES Network couldn't have missed those commercials advertising some lame t-shirt with the words "YANKEES UNIVERSE" on it. Now where in the world did they come up with that?? Could it be that those Yankee folks have some sort of "inferiority complex" and have to find a way to compete with "Red Sox Nation?" The commercials show Yankee players smiling and posing wearing the shirts. I find them more laughable than anything else. And I have yet to see even one Yankee fan on the street wearing one.

I really love those "answering back" shirts I see Yankee fans wearing. Right after their team's titanic choke in the 2004 ALCS, those "got rings?" shirts started popping up. (I've also seen another one called "Do The Math." Basically the same thing.) You know the ones that have 26 Yankee rings next to the 6 Red Sox rings. And I laugh out loud when I read part of the back of the shirt one day:

"We won't go 86 years before winning our next ring" or some palaver to that effect. I love these Yankee fans. First they are history professors ("1918") and now they are fortune tellers! I'd love to know how ANYONE could know that!! The recent past is too painful to remember, so it's time to predict the future!!

I also saw a girl wearing a "2090" hat down by Ground Zero last year. (I said nothing to her, as it wasn't the time or place to get into it about such nonsense.) That's another silly "answering back" thing from those lame fans. Right, the Red Sox won't win another title until 2090. Once again, these pathetic fans think of themselves as fortune tellers!!

Pity those poor Yankee fans. They had to burn all that 1918 and Curse of the Bambino crap they all wore, so now it's time for what I call "The Old Yankee Fan Standby": When all else fails, annoy the hell out of everyone by mentioning ad nauseum that our team has won more championships than anyone else.

To quote another t-shirt that made the rounds a few years ago:

Take your 26 rings and shove them......well, you know where.

Working The Bugs Out

I finally was able to make my broadcasting debut at Professor Thom's last night. This time the mics were working and everything was fine, and in the fourth inning, my friend Matt and I each did play-by-play and color for a half-inning. It was a lot of fun. For four innings, different people took turns calling the action while the YES Propaganda Network was put on mute. This time I was fortunate not to have to wear the wig and funny glasses. But I was told that one of the pictures taken of me on Monday night in full costume will be put up on the bar wall soon, for patrons to see for all eternity.

There will be a Red Sox Fans Vs. Yankees Fans trivia contest at PT's tonight (which I will be part of), and the Tune Out YES promotion will return on Thursday night. Matt and I are gearing up for another inning. I think the trivia contest will go on even if the game at Yankee Stadium gets rained out (a definite possibility as I write this).

Professor Thom's continues to be a really fun place to hang out and watch the Red Sox games with other devoted Sox maniacs. Trivia, bingo, the muted YES network, you can't go wrong checking it out. Will you find such fun at the Riviera Cafe? I wouldn't bet on it.

Great performance by David Pauley last night against the Yankees, going 6 2/3 innings and allowing just 2 runs. It's a shame he couldn't get the win. Who knew that Tuesday night's game would be a better game than Monday night's? Pauley's earned another start, on Sunday afternoon against the Texas Rangers.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Professor Thomfoolery

A big crowd gathered at Professor Thom's last night in Greenwich Village for the opening game of the Red Sox-Yankees series. The Yankees games always brings out a big crowd, but last night there was a special promotion for all of us Red Sox fans: have the patrons do some announcing of the game in the bar.

It was a great idea to combat the inane announcing of Michael Kay and the gang from YES, aka Al-Yankzeera. We are forced to have to listen to their blather every time the Sox play the Evil Empire. (Although last night for some reason, ESPN was NOT blacked out in New York and Boston, so ESPN was on the screens. It was still a trial having to suffer through the babbling of Rick Sutcliffe. But at least he's not Kay.)

A number of people had signed up to do an inning, including myself and my pal Matt. We were going to start in the top of the third, with myself handling "play-by-play" in the top, and Matt doing it in the bottom of the inning. Mics were set up at the back of the bar, and we were good to go in the third.

The game had started to spiral out of control (I won't go into the sordid details), so it was our job to keep up the morale of the troops. I was "forced" to wear a black wig, fake glasses (which I had to wear over my own) and a cheesy shirt. A couple of friends took pictures of me and Matt at the mics, and I just know one day someone will use them to blackmail me! Behind us was a genuine bunting from Game 4 of the 2004 World Series in St. Louis to add to the festivities.

Matt and I were rolling along in the top of the inning when we realized that Matt's mic wasn't working, and then mine went out. There was all kinds of trouble with feedback, and PT's owners did their best to rectify it, but without success. So my broadcasting debut was cut short, in many ways much to my relief. I did have fun, but I was really glad to get that wig off.

A short time later, our friend Michael got up and did his best to entertain the Red Sox faithful with another mic that was working. He certainly got everyone's attention when he put on that goofy wig I was wearing!

Please check out Professor Thom's blog (http://www.professorthoms.blogspot.com) for more on last night's gala festivities.

I may give it another whirl tonight, as Professor Thom's is doing the Tune Out YES promotion throughout the series. Hopefully all the bugs will be worked out. And even more, I hope I have a better game to call.

Forget This Mess

The less said about Monday night in the Bronx, the better.

Throw this game in the garbage, get a stiff drink, some shut eye, and come out slugging on Tuesday night.

And pray David Pauley goes at least five innings.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Lighten Up, Would You Please?

It's amazing the way the media can take a "non-story" and turn it into something. During yesterday's Mets-Giants game, rookie Lastings Milledge hit a game-tying homer in the bottom of the tenth to send it into the eleventh (the Mets eventually lost). As Milledge was running to his position in right field before the eleventh, he saw the Mets fans giving him a standing ovation for his heroics. He suddenly turned towards the fans and high-fived them down the right field side. It was a really cool thing to do, as the fans had given Lastings a warm welcome since his call-up earlier last week. It was spontaneous, and it was his way of saying "thank you" to the fans for their support.

But yet, there are knuckleheads who just don't get it. They are led by that moronic nitwit of a "sportswriter," Bill Madden of the NY Daily News, who basically called out Milledge as unprofessional. Steve Kline and Felipe Alou of the Giants basically said the same thing. Unbelievable.

At Fenway Park, Red Sox players who've hit homers or scored runs at times will high-five the fans as they go back to the dugout, and no one says a word about that. (And it's always cool to see the players mingle with fans like that.) None other than Mike and The Mad Dog, aka "Fatso and Fruit Loops,"on their WFAN radio show today both defended Milledge, citing his youthful exuberance and nice way of thanking the fans. Even Francesa said, "Can you find me ANY fan who doesn't like that?" Damn right.

The players have to find ways of thanking the fans for their support. They do some nice things, like toss balls to the crowd after an inning. Lastings Milledge was thanking the fans for all they did for him to get his major league career off to a good start. It was cool and the fans appreciated it.

Imbeciles like Madden and Kline should basically lighten up and get a life.

Disappearing Links

One of the things I've been complimented about on my blog is my extensive length of links I have on the left hand side of my page. I enjoy putting them up, especially the ones for my friends. It's always good to share the love.

Those of you who check out my blog regularly may have noticed that a few links may have disappeared in the last few weeks. There is a simple reason for that.

I have emailed a few people whose sites I've liked and put up here if they would also put up a link for me on their site. I'm doing my best to try and spread the word about my blog. I have received some nice replies and my blog has been linked to those sites.

But some others I never heard back from. I find that rather rude and because they basically blew me off, I pulled the link from my site. (I won't name them, as I'm not out to embarrass them or start a war over it.)

I will continue to add links, and if anyone wants me to put one up for them, I would certainly be happy to do so.

Just as long as they are willing to do the same for me.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Questions I'd Like Answered

There are a number of questions I'd love to have an answer to, just based on a number of observations I make regarding not just baseball, but just life in general. Nothing earthshaking here, and they are all rhetorical in nature.

1. Why are the new stadiums that are being built in baseball putting up brick walls behind home plate? Jason Varitek slid into one back in April in Baltimore trying to catch a foul pop but was not hurt. Is this for esthetic reasons? It is a stupid idea, and some catcher will get hurt running into one someday.

2. Why do players talk into their gloves when they have a meeting on the mound with the pitcher? Do they really think there are lip readers in the opposing dugout? If so, then why don't pitching coaches cup their mouths when they go out to talk to pitchers on visits out there?

3. Why do the media insist on putting the term "gate" at the end of every so-called controversy that pops up? (I know it stems from Watergate, but it is still very stupid.)

4. Why is it when the odds are posted on say, a golfer or tennis player winning a tournament, the odds for someone from the "field" is always less than most of the favorites? Shouldn't the odds on a longshot winning be far higher?

5. Why do we say, "back East" and "out West", and not "back West" and "out East?"

6. I've noticed that when media people talk about a court case, it's becoming more fashionable for them to say, "Roe v. Wade", instead of saying "Roe versus Wade". It's silly, annoying and lazy. Do you ever hear anyone say "the Red Sox v. the Yankees"? Of course not. So why do these so-called reasonably intelligent commentators say that? They are setting a bad example.

I'll have more burning questions I'd like answered in future columns.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

This Crap Is Front Page News?

It must be a slow news day.

The New York Daily News has on its front page today a story about how legendary thief Jeffrey Maier, who just graduated from Wesleyan University, is being looked at by the Yankees as a possible pick in this month's amateur draft.

"That Kid Is Back!" the headline screams. Ugh.

Maier is a marginal prospect who set the record for hits at the school (Wesleyan isn't exactly a major college baseball power). But he will forever be known as the kid who stole a home run for the Yankees in the 1996 ALCS, as Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco was attempting to catch the ball hit by Derek Jeter. The umpire, Richie Garcia, totally blew the call and later admitted that he did. (If you go to the spot where Maier interfered with Tarasco, you'll see it can't happen again, as barriers have since been built there.) The home run tied the game in the eighth inning and the Yankees went on to win Game 1 in extra innings, and later the series.

Umps blow calls all the time, but what bothered me most after it happened was the fact the media anointed this kid "The Angel In The Outfield," and made him into some kind of hero. He and his family made appearances on talk shows, that sort of thing. If an Orioles player hit that ball, and had they won by one run, Maier and his family would have been thrown out bodily by Yankee Stadium security, arrested and would probably have received death threats from angry Yankee fans. (It would have been "The Steve Bartman Incident" 7 years before it actually happened.) The whole affair made me want to throw up.

Now the media is once again making a big deal over this kid. I've heard him interviewed and he seems like a decent guy. But it doesn't excuse the media's once again fawning all over him again.

However, don't bring up Maier's name to Orioles fans. A couple of them I know have never forgiven him and still want his head on a stick.

With everything going on in the world (Iraq, DHS cuts, oil prices, etc.), this nonsense gets the front page. It should be buried deep in the sports pages, where it belongs. Or even in the "whatever happened to" section. Maier belongs in obscurity, and let's hope he goes there soon.