Pitchers & Catchers Report to Ft. Myers

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Schilling's Mirror Image?

I've talked about over the past week about Curt Schilling and his retirement. The debate is currently going on about whether he will make it into Cooperstown with the other immortals. (I feel he merits it, whether on the first ballot or not.)

I got a fascinating email from my friend Dave yesterday, and he points an incredible comparison between Schilling's last 11 seasons and one of the game's all-time greats, and it is striking to say the least.

Dave wrote that the fine ESPN.com writer Rob Neyer pointed out this about Schilling:

On the day Curt Schilling turned 30 -- in 1996 -- his career record in the majors was 52 wins and 52 losses. Nobody would have given you a plugged nickel for his chances of someday getting his own plaque in Cooperstown.

And since turning 30? 164 wins, 94 losses.

Neyer feels Schilling is a first-ballot Hall of Famer because of what he did from the time of his 30th birthday on, and his postseason heroics. Here is what Curt did from 199-2007:

11 seasons, 164-94 win-loss, 9 saves, 2,316 strikeouts in 2,272 2/3 innings. 3.45 ERA versus league average of 4.60 (133 ERA+). 1.117 WHIP.

Superior numbers indeed. And then he pointed to the numbers of one of the greatest pitchers of all-time. Can you guess who this is?

12 seasons, 165-87 win-loss, 9 saves, 2,396 strikeouts in 2,324 1/3 innings. 2.76 ERA versus league average of 3.62 (131 ERA+). 1.106 WHIP.

Those are the numbers of one Sandy Koufax. And it is his numbers over his entire career. Koufax' ERA is quite lower, but he also in pitched in era when pitchers dominated baseball. The ERA+ is adjusted for the league ERA of the time, and it is incredibly close. They both struck out more than 1 batter an inning. Schilling and Koufax were both thought of as just mediocre pitchers at the start of their careers (Schilling did blossom until 1992, five years in, and Koufax until 1961, six years in). They also were both on multiple World Series championship teams: Koufax four, and Schilling three.

Of course, when Koufax retired, no one thought he wasn't a Hall of Famer, as he was hands down the best pitcher in baseball for six years. Schilling didn't dominate the way Koufax did, as he never won a Cy Young Award or pitched any no-hitters.

But is incredible to see just how close the second-half of Schilling's career mirrored Koufax's career in terms of overall stats. You'd never think of them in the same category of pitching dominance, but it also helps Curt's cause of him joining Koufax among the game's immortals.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Comedy Trivia on Tuesday

In honor of the fact that this Wednesday is April Fool's Day, the special category for Trivia Night this week will be "Comedy Trivia," seven questions from the world of comedy from TV, movies, standup, that sort of thing. (No, there won't be any questions on Redd Foxx. I just included that picture of his classic comedy album, as it is very funny, and I always liked the title and cover.)

The Q Train lightning round this week will be another round of "1-2-3-4 Trivia." I got some good feedback from when we did it a couple of weeks ago, so we're doing it again. It will be 10 questions that will have an answer being one of those four numbers.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
A song by what rock group was used as the theme song of Bill Clinton's 1992 presidential campaign?

We'll get going at the usual time of 9 PM on Tuesday, so I hope many of you can join in on Trivia Night with us.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Schill: An Appreciation


Well, as we all know, Curt Schilling brought his 20-year baseball career to an official end earlier this week. He put up some good numbers in his career, such as 216 total wins, 3,116 strikeouts and three 20-win seasons. But it will be the postseason heroics for which he will forever be remembered.

He was on three World Series winners, and had the best winning percentage (11-2) of any pitcher in postseason history. (Of course, you have to also remember he's played in an era with three rounds of playoffs, and many great hurlers only got to play in one in some postseasons.) He is the only pitcher in history to win a World Series game with three teams. Schilling was a money pitcher, and a guy who wanted the ball when the pressure was at its greatest. He always came up big when it mattered most, and that I believe will put him in the Hall of Fame one day.

Schilling's crowning moment was of course, the 2004 postseason. After further exacerbating an ankle injury during the 2004 ALDS against Anaheim, he got whacked in Game 1 of the ALCS in New York, and it appeared as if his 2004 season was over. But in the middle of the greatest comeback in sports history, Schilling pulled off his own miracle and returned to beat New York in Game 6, on an ankle that had been surgically worked on just hours earlier. And he repeated it once again when the Red Sox made it to the World Series, in Game 2. He pitched both of those games on sheer will and guts, and forever etched his name in Boston baseball lore.

But as we all know, Schilling is a complex individual, and enjoys letting the world know what he thinks. He's done a lot of good with all the money he's raised in support of fighting ALS. But his outspoken opinions have rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, not only opponents but teammates and fans of his own team. I'll never forget after the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series. Schilling came out and fully gave his support to President George Bush, who was running for re-election, with the vote coming just days after the Series. Despite the fact that Schilling was one of the main reasons the Red Sox had finally won, I will never forget the vitriol thrown his way by many Red Sox fans I know (most of whom are Democrats). For me, I could care less what Schilling feels about politics, but it really brought out the hate in many people I knew, and I was stunned at how vicious it was. (I've always felt that if celebrities want to come out and talk about politics, I have no problem with it, as long as it is done in the proper venue.)

Schilling also got the ire of many sportswriters, as he started his own blog, "38Pitches." This was Curt getting around the middleman and going directly to the fans. Of course, writers hate that, as they can't twist his words around and make themselves part of the story. (I think you know who I'm driving at here.) There is no doubt that Schilling loves the limelight, and has made many enemies along the way because of it.

But for me as a Red Sox fan, he came to Boston with a mission and saw it through to the finish, and forever earned my respect. Schilling knew that going to New York to try to win a ring wouldn't cement his legacy, but getting one in Boston would be something far more special and remembered. He basically spit at stupid, media-created nonsense like "curses" and brought the title to Boston.

Schilling doesn't have overwhelming numbers, but what he accomplished in the postseason should put him in the Hall of Fame, which he is eligible for in 2013. I honestly don't believe he will make it on the first-ballot, as I'm sure there are writers who won't vote for him in his first year of eligibility, for all sorts of reasons. But I think his reputation as a guy you'd want to pitch in any deciding game should put him in.

But it's interesting to see how loony some people can be on the subject of Schilling, especially Yankee fans. From a letter in the New York Post's "Sound Off Column" of March 29:

For two or three days earlier this week, the only thing sports talk hosts could find to discuss was whether or not this pompous big-mouth will get into the Hall of Fame. Schilling's not even eligible for another five years! Who cares? I'm not sure who's more pathetic: Mr. Fake Bloody Sock or the sports media suckers he continuously reels in.

No, some of these Yankee fans still haven't come to terms with the Yankees immortal Choke of 2004 and Schilling's role in it. Maybe this guy should go to the Hall of Fame and see The Sock up close, as when blood dries it turns brown, and the sock is covered in that color. (That doesn't happen with ketchup or red dye, pal.) And maybe also this guy should know that once a player like Schilling, who is not a slam-dunk Hall of Famer, retires, the debate will rage for as long as Schilling isn't in the Hall of Fame.

But for me, Schilling is a Hall of Famer. He spent four seasons in a Red Sox uniform, and was an integral part of not just one, but two Red Sox championships. Schilling talked big, and sure as hell backed it up. He will always have my respect for what he did for the fans of New England.

Enjoy retirement, Curt. See you in Cooperstown, some time in the next decade.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Get the Earplugs Ready, Tex

Today's Boston Globe had an article about Mark Teixiera, who was on WFAN radio yesterday and felt the Red Sox hurt their chances to sign him as a free agent because they talked about their negotiations with him and Scott (Evil) Boras through the media this past winter.

But this paragraph seems to signify that Teixiera had no serious interest in coming to Boston and had New York on his radar the entire time:

Teixeira was asked specifically if the public nature of the Red Sox negotiations last winter bothered him. "It did, it did," replied Teixeira. "And I think in the end, it probably worked against them a little bit, because everyone thought the Red Sox were [my] No. 1, but in reality, the Yankees were gonna be the team, like I said all along, if all things were equal, the Yankees were the place that I wanted to go. It made the most sense for my family. It made the most sense for me and my career and where I wanted to go. Being a Yankee and wearing the pinstripes into the new Yankee Stadium, it doesn't get any better than that. They had a leg up all along."

So much for the talk that the Red Sox had "blown" this deal. Hey, players and agents have used teams to get a better deal from the team they want to go to, and Teixiera is no different. With Slappy on the sidelines for the first two months or so, Teixiera better be prepared, as he figures to get most of the abuse from the Boston faithful.

Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make. Let's hope it proves true in this case.

Red Sox vs. Yankees: 2009 Total Payroll

My friend Adam sent me an interesting email this morning about a comparison of the Red Sox and Yankees payrolls for 2009, and as you might have guessed, New York's payroll far exceeds that of the Red Sox, and every other Major League team. Their payroll will be nearly $80 million more than the Red Sox. It is broken down by position players, starters and bullpen, and the Red Sox aren't close to them any of the three areas.

Here's a rough breakdown of each team's payroll based on salaries for this year (from Cot's Baseball Contracts). The numbers don't include bonus money, incentive pay, or obligations to former players.

Boston Red Sox - $117 million
C- Jason Varitek $5 million
1B- Kevin Youkilis $6 million / Mark Kotsay $1.5 million
2B- Dustin Pedroia $1.5 million
SS- Julio Lugo $9 million / Jed Lowrie $0.414 million
3B- Mike Lowell $12 million
LF- Jason Bay $7.5 million
CF- Jacoby Ellsbury $0.4495 million
RF- JD Drew $14 million
OF- Rocco Baldelli $0.5 million
DH- David Ortiz $12.5 million
Total for position players (minus Kottaras and another bench player) = $70.3635 million
SP- Josh Beckett $10.5 million
SP- Daisuke Matsuzaka $ 8 million
SP- John Smoltz $5.5 million
SP- Brad Penny $5 million
SP- Tim Wakefield $4 million
SP- Jon Lester $1 million
Starting rotation (not counting Buchholz and Penny’s and/or Smoltz’s incentives) = $34 million
RP- Jonathan Papelbon $6.25 million
RP- Hideki Okajima $1.75 million
RP- Takashi Saito $1.5 million
RP- Javier Lopez $1.35 million
RP- Manny Delcarmen $0.476 million
RP- Junichi Tazawa $0.45 million (even though he is in the minors)
RP- Ramon Ramirez $0.441 million
RP- Justin Masterson $0.441 million
Bullpen total = $12.658

New York Yankees - $195 million

C- Jorge Posada $13.1 million / Jose Molina $2 million

1B- Mark Teixeira $20 million / Nick Swisher $5.3 million

2B- Robinson Cano $6 million

SS- Derek Jeter $20 million

3B- Alex Rodriguez $32 million / Cody Ransom $0.4551 million

LF- Johnny Damon $13 million

CF- Brett Gardner n/a

RF- Xavier Nady $6.55 million

OF- Melky Cabrera $1.4 million

DH- Hideki Matsui $13 million

Total for position players (not counting Gardner) = $132.771 million

SP- A.J. Burnett $16.5 million

SP- C.C. Sabathia $14 million

SP- Andy Pettitte $5.5 million

SP- Chien-Ming Wang $5 million

SP- Joba Chamberlain $0.4325 million

Rotation (not counting Hughes, Kennedy, or Pettitte's incentives) = $41.432 million

RP- Mariano Rivera $15 million

RP- Damaso Marte $3.75 million

RP- Brian Bruney $1.25 million

RP- Phil Coke $0.403 million

RP- Jonathan Albaladejo $0.403 million

RP- Jose Veras n/z

RP- Edwar Ramirez n/a

Bullpen (minus 2 spots) = $20.806 million

Lester's #2, Masterson's in the Pen

The Red Sox rotation for the early season has now been set, with the top four being (in this order): Josh Beckett, Jon Lester, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Tim Wakefield. They have not as yet named a fifth starter, and Terry Francona also said that Justin Masterson will open 2009 in the bullpen.

Because of the off day on April 7 (the day after the opener), there's no rush naming the fifth guy, until April 12. Clay Buchholz has had a strong spring, the best of any starter in camp with a sterling 0.46 ERA. It will be between him and Brad Penny, who makes his second start of the spring today against the Twins. I would bet if Penny remains healthy through his next start, he will get the nod and Buchholz will open the year at Pawtucket. The final decision on the two will probably come after Penny's final start next week.

Francona also said yesterday that Lester is the number 2 starter ahead of Matsuzaka because of Dice-K's workload in the WBC, and the Red Sox don't want to rush him in early April. Dice-K was in front of Lester last year.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Forget "Freedom." Just "1 WTC"

The Port Authority declared yesterday that the new building going at Ground Zero that has been called The Freedom Tower will not officially be called that, and it will be called by what they call it's legal name: 1 World Trade Center.

1 World Trade Center was the North Tower of the Twin Towers, the first building struck by the terrorists on September 11 (and where my late friend Joyce worked). That address, along with the addresses of the other fallen buildings, should be retired in memory of those fallen on 9/11. But the "renaming" is drawing lots of criticism from many circles.

The PA is having a tough time leasing space to the new building to new tenants, but it has leased six floors to a company called Vantone Industrial Co., a Chinese company with close ties to the Chinese communist government. Is it a coincidence that the name "Freedom Tower" has suddenly disappeared?

Debra Burlingame, who lost her brother on 9/11 who was the pilot of Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon, had this to say to the New York Post:

"I understand the decision from a marketing point of view. But it saddens me that it's no longer economically viable to declare who we are. If we can't say the word freedom out loud, God help us."

Amen to that.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tower Documentary in the Works


After Trivia Night ended last night, my friend Rob and I were talking about my time at Tower Records, which seems like it was a hundred years or so ago. He told me that actor Colin Hanks, Tom's son, is currently working on a documentary film project about the late beloved music chain.

He is a native of Sacramento, where the chain started in 1960. The project is still in its pre-production stage, but it would be fascinating to see what kind of film its turns out to be. Here's more about it last August from the Sacramento Bee.

I had a feeling that once Tower Records bit the dust in 2006 that someone would do something like this to honor it. Working at Tower was one of the special times of my life and I met so many great people in my six years at the Greenwich Village store.

So, Mr. Hanks, if you come across this post, drop me a line. Everyone knows me as the Media Whore, and I've got a lot of stories to tell...

Trivia Q&A: March 24

Trivia Night returned to Tuesday night and many of the regulars returned. We had 18 teams in and a good crowd at Thom's, some of whom were watching the Red Sox spring training game with the Yankees.

This was a night were I may have made a few of the rounds too difficult, as the scores were very low for both "Music Trivia By the Numbers" and "General Knowledge." I may have to ease up a little bit next week. I also made a miscue in GK, as the Sneak Peek question about the third longest river in the world turned out to be wrong, as it was the Yangtze and not the Mississippi. I'll have to go back to my source and give them a good piece of my mind, as I am certain I didn't misunderstand the question. (3 or 4 folks came running up to me with BlackBerrys in hand to point out my error when I read off the answers. Well, The Trivia Maven ain't perfect.)

It was close going into IQ Trivia, with five teams withing four points of each other. We had a special IQ Trivia, as it was possible to get an extra two points, for a total of 22. And two teams did just that. And one of those teams came from fourth place and wound up winning by a slim one point. Congratulations to Keith and this friends for returning to the winners circle again.

Current Events
1. The Post-Intelligencer, a newspaper in this city, printed its last edition last week and officially became an Internet-only news source.
2. This space shuttle was launched from Florida last week carrying solar rays to the International Space Station.
3. Andry Rajoelina was installed as the new president of this island nation in the Indian Ocean last week.
4. Police in London were summoned after a suspicious object in the street was found under a fire hydrant last Thursday, but it turned out to be a replica of "The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch," from this legendary comedy movie.
5. This Western state became the second state to ban executions in the U.S. since the death penalty was restored in 1976 when the state's governor signed the bill last Thursday.
6. A powerful 7.9 earthquake struck last Friday in the Pacific Ocean, and shook an erupting volcano off this small South Pacific island, raising fears of more lava and ash flows.
7. This Eastern US state reversed plans for a statewide ban on bikin waxing after salon owners from across the state spoke out against the proposal.

Answers: 1. Seattle; 2. Discovery; 3. Madagascar; 4. "Monty Python and the Holy Grail;" 5. New Mexico; 6. Tonga; 7. New Jersey.

Music Trivia By the Numbers
1. On April 4, 1964, how many songs did the Beatles have in the top five Billboard singles that day?
2. In AC/DC's song "Hells Bells," how many times does the bell toll from the beginning of the song?
3. This female artist has had more number one songs that any individual artist in history.
4. This is the number of full-time members the Rolling Stones have had since their first hit record in 1964.
5. How many units have to be sold for an album to reach "gold" status?
6. How many strings are on a banjo?
7. How many Grammy Awards has Diana Ross won in her career, both as a solo artist and with The Supremes?

Answers: 1. five; 2. thirteen; 3. Mariah Carey, eighteen; 4. seven; 5. 500,000; 6. four (I also accepted "five"); 7. none.

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. The hat worn by the guards at Buckingham Palace is called a bearskin.
2. The normal chromosome makeup for a female is two Xs and no Y.
3. A nemetode is a type of bird.
4. Australia won the first America's Cup yacht race in the 19th century.
5. The dish succotash includes as main vegetables both beans and corn.
6. On a suit of armor, a gauntlet is a breastplate.
7. The original McDonald's restaurant opened in the state of California.
8. "What does not kill me makes me stronger" was originally said by the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
9. John D. Rockefeller co-founded U.S. Steel.
10. The Washington Monument was originally modeled after the obelisks built by the Egyptian empire.

Answers: 1. true; 2. true; 3. false, worm; 4. false, US won; 5. true; 6. false, it's a glove; 7. true; 8. true; 9. false, Standard Oil; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. What comedian wrote the novella "Shopgirl?"
2. What language contains the most words?
3. What is the third longest river in the world, after the Nile and Amazon?
4. "Chasing Down the Dawn: Life Stories" is the 2000 memoir of what musical performer?
5. What infamous gangster was shot dead by FBI agent Melvin Purvis?
6. What is the oldest letter in the English language?
7. How many feet deep is a fathom?

Answers: 1. Steve Martin; 2. English (900,000 words); 3. Yangtze; 4. Jewel; 5. John Dillinger; 6. O; 7. six.

IQ Trivia
1. The longest interstate highway in the United States, 1-90, is located between Seattle and what other major US city? (4 points)
2. Who is the only pitcher to win both the Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same season? ( 5 points)
3. Of the top ten web sites visited in the US, two have URLs ending in "dot org." Name one of the two. ( 3 points for one, 5 points for both)
4. What famous tune was written by a 16-year-old named Euphemia Allen in 1877? ( 4 points)
5. What did Valentina Tereshkova do in 1963 that made her world famous? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Boston; 2. Fernando Valenzuela (1981); 3. Wikipedia and Craigslist; 4. "Chopsticks;" 5. She was the first woman in space.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Four Straight

The Red Sox beat the Tigers yesterday in Ft. Myers, 7-6, as Mike Lowell, Jason Bay, Chris Carter and Ivan Ochoa all his consecutive home runs off Tigers closer Brandon Lyon. The Sox last did that back in April 2007 off former future Yankeeography star Chase Wright at Fenway Park.

Carter continues to have a great spring, and the Sox will have decide what to do with him. I would bet he will end up in Pawtucket to begin the 2009 season, but he maybe riding the shuttle to Fenway should he continue hitting at AAA.

But the best news yesterday was the start of Brad Penny. He gave the Red Sox three shutout innings, allowed no hits and just one walk. It was a spring debut and he said he felt fine after the game. He hit 93-95 on the radar gun. He was troubled with shoulder fatigue last season.

Tonight, the Red Sox play the Yankees once again this spring, from Tampa. The game will be carried on Al-Yankzeera, aka The YES Network, at 7 PM.

"No Rule Against Flatulence"

I can't resist posting this story, from today's Boston Globe:

LAKELAND, Fla.—
An eighth-grader was suspended from riding the school bus for three days after being accused of passing gas. The bus driver wrote on a misbehavior form that a 15-year-old teen passing gas on the bus Monday to make the other children laugh, creating a stench so bad that it was difficult to breathe. The bus driver handed the teen the suspension form the next day.

Polk County school officials said there's no rule against flatulence, but there are rules against causing a disturbance on the bus.

The teen said he wasn't the one passing gas.

Whether he did it or not, he might have gotten off easy. A 13-year-old student at a Stuart school was arrested in November after authorities said he broke wind in class.

I love these "slow news day" stories.

Wow, you can't break wind and make people laugh any more without getting into trouble? What kind of police state is this country turning into?

Your 2009 WBC MVP: Dice-K

Japan did again, and repeated as World Baseball Classic champions, with a 5-3, 10-inning win over South Korea at Dodger Stadium last night.

The Japanese led through most of the game, and had a 3-2 lead in the ninth. But wunderkind starter Yu Darvish had a bad case of wildness, walked two batters, and let in the tying run on a single with two outs. But he got the "vulture" win (a blown save turned into a win) when Japan scored twice in the ninth. Ichiro Suzuki singled in two runs that was the difference, 5-3.

And I'd like an explanation as to what the South Korean manager was thinking. He had an open base with two outs and Japan's best hitter coming up. So what do they do? They pitch to him and get burned and lose the tournament. Reminded me a lot of that scene in "A League of Their Own" in Game 7. Dottie Hinson, the league's best hitter comes up in the ninth with the go-ahead runs on base and two outs and an open base. So what does the opposition do? They pitch to her and also get burned. But that manager was luckier than the South Korean manager, as Dottie's sister bailed him out with an inside-the-park homer to win the title.

For the second straight WBC, Daisuke Matsuzaka won the MVP of the tourney, as he once again went 3-0. He was superb again (less so in the semifinal) and takes home some international hardware. Time for him to bring home some domestic (aka American) hardware this regular season...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Two Grand

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have now been writing The Mighty Quinn Media Machine for three years and ten days, and this is now my 2,000th post. It continues to be a real blast to write here, and I thank all of you who make this a daily stop to check on what I am currently babbling on about.

I wasn't planning on anything special for number 2000, so since this is a Monday, and Trivia Night is tomorrow night, it's time to let you know what's up for Tuesday.

The special category will be "Music Trivia By the Numbers." It will be seven questions about music trivia, and every answer will include a number of some sort. It won't be any special number.

The Q Train lightning round will be "True or False Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question for Tuesday is:

What is the third longest river in the world, after the Nile and Amazon?

We will get going at 9 PM on Tuesday, and it will be nice to be back on our regularly scheduled night. I hope many of you can come out for it.

USA Crashes Out of the WBC

The U.S. ended its run in the World Baseball Classic with a 9-4 thumping at the hands of defending champion Japan in Los Angeles last night. Japan will now take on South Korea, for the fifth time in this tournament, to see who will be crowned champion.

Brian Roberts led off the game with a home run, but Japan was not to be denied. They came from 2-1 behind in the fourth and scored five runs off losing pitcher Roy Oswalt, and coasted into a victory. The U.S. attempted a comeback in the eighth, scoring twice to make it 6-4. But Derek Jeter's error in the bottom of the inning (see what I get for rooting for him?) opened the door for three Japan insurance runs and they put the game away.

Daisuke Matsuzaka wasn't brilliant, but went 4 2/3 inings, allowing two runs and got the win. He is now a staggering 6-0 in six WBC starts in two tournaments. Red Sox fans can now breathe easier as the next time he will pitch will be in a Red Sox uniform.

As I watched the game last night, it's become more apparent to me that this tournament needs to played in November and not March. The quality of the game overall would be better AFTER the MLB season. And teams would be far less paranoid about letting players play in it. The U.S. simply had too many handcuffs on them, with pitch counts and such. I'm still a fan of the WBC as I like the concept of a World Cup-like tournament. And playing it in July is simply unworkable, as MLB won't shorten the season to accomodate it.

But of course, the MLB won't allow the WBC to happen in November, as they fear it will be overshadowed by the NFL season. The U.S. did a better accounting of themselves this time around than in 2006, as the enthusiasm by the players was very strong (the fans on the other hand, leave a lot more to be desired). Take nothing away from South Korea or Japan, as they both deserve to playing for the crown, but the U.S. will continue to be at a disadvantage if they continue to play the WBC in March. The spectre of the upcoming MLB season will continue to dog their chances of ever winning it all.

Thanks Curt

It's not a big surprise, but Curt Schilling called it a career today with an announcement on his blog. The debate will now begin over whether Schill is a Hall of Famer or not, but today I really don't care about that.

Thanks for all the memories, Curt.

Especially one very special one from October 19, 2004:

Thank you for making my life in New York so much more bearable, Curt, and for the reprise in 2007. If I ever get the chance to meet you, the drinks are on me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

A Quandry

So tonight, as the USA faces Japan at Dodger Stadium in the WBC semifinal, when Derek Jeter bats against Daisuke Matsuzaka, who do I root for? (It seems like every time I've pulled for Jeter to help the USA in this tourney, he does nothing.)

I just hope Daisuke doesn't go too long, and the USA pulls it out late.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

In a Fantasy With Manny

A few months ago, my sisters got me hooked on the phenomenon that is Facebook. It is the largest social networking site in the US, having passed MySpace for that honor. At first I was reluctant to join in, but since they all talked about how addictive it is, I gave it a shot.

And yes, I am hooked on it. These days, when I first get online in the morning, Facebook is more and more becoming my first stop. (But of course, my favorite Red Sox bloggers come next.)

I'm glad to be on Facebook, as I've found dozens of old friends I'd lost contact with. It's been fun to reconnect with them. And also I've met a few new friends as well.

I've also discovered a number of celebrities have Facebook pages too. Curt Schilling is the first one I found, and he accepted me as a Facebook friend almost immediately. Curt has always been an Internet junkie, and continues to be one.

I've also found that there are people out there posing as celebrities on Facebook, too. It's easy to tell with some, harder with others. I became friends with a guy calling himself Dustin Pedroia, but on his page he lists himself as being born in 1989. (Dustin is older than 19.) So it clearly wasn't the 2008 AL MVP.

A couple of months ago, I hooked up with Manny Ramirez. At first I wasn't 100% sure it was Manny, as he's been posting a lot on Facebook. (I'm not sure if Manny spends a lot of his free time on the Internet, but maybe he does. Also, the above picture is from Manny's Facebook page.)

But earlier this week, Manny put up a post on his page, asking who wanted to join him in his Yahoo fantasy baseball league. Fortunately, I was one of the first 11 friends to send him my email address, so he sent me an email with a link to the league he set up. It was a live draft this past Wednesday night.

When I went to it, the other 10 friends had joined. I looked at the background of Yahoo fantasy baseball, and discovered it would be a "pay" league, that you'd have to pay $24.99 to be a part of it. (For the last few years I've been in free ones, but I thought I would check this one out anyway.) And to my surprise, when I got up to the end, which is payment, I discovered that the league had been prepaid by "the commissioner." (That is, Manny himself.)

I got to thinking about it, and it convinced me that Manny could not be someone posing as him, simply because no imposter is going to fork over nearly $300 to play fantasy baseball with 11 strangers. (I do think it could be someone running his Facebook page, but probably with his blessing.)

On Wednesday night, we had the draft, and Manny had the number 1 pick. (What a coincidence, eh?) Manny is calling his team "Bluecruw 09." He and I were the first people in the drafting room, and I had a chance to chat with him before the draft. We talked about the WBC and I thanked him for bringing two titles to Boston. (I had the number 8 overall pick, and my team is called "Professor Thom's Red Sox.")

So guess who Manny took with his number one pick? Yep, he took...himself! Not the biggest shock in the world. Although I was hoping I would get the top pick, and if I did, I was considering taking Manny with that pick. (And wouldn't it be something if the week I played him in the league he had a monster week with the Dodgers? So he might have single-handedly beaten himself!) He wound up taking mostly Dodgers, about 15 in all (out of 21 picks). I took Ryan Howard as my top pick, and two Red Sox overall: Jonathan Papelbon and Jon Lester.

I noticed during the draft there was only one other fan trying to chat with Manny, and he was baggering him to admit he really wasn't Manny, and that he was really some Dodger fan posing as him. But Manny just didn't say anything to him, which I found very interesting.

I liked the team I picked, and I am looking forward to being in this fantasy league. Whether this really is Manny Ramirez or not, I appreciate his invite to the league. Let's play ball...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Interesting Slappy Theory

The boys at Surviving Grady today have a fascinating post about Alex Rodriguez and his hip injury:

So when a co-worker threw out the idea that A-Rod's injury was a fake to cover up the fact that he tested positive for steroids this off-season and was suspended, well I was on that like Fred Berry on a plate of brownies. The "injury" reports have A-Rod out until May. If he was suspended for 50 games, he would be eligible for return on May 27th. Mark your calendars.

I am NOT a conspiracy theorist, as I think 99% of all conspiracy theories I've ever heard are from what Colonel Sherman Potter once said on "M*A*S*H," "right off the stable floor."

But when it comes to Alex Rodriguez, I put nothing past him. Or Major League Baseball for that matter. So let's see if Slappy misses exactly 50 games...

Youk Won't Blame the WBC

Kevin Youkilis isn't pointing fingers at the World Baseball Classic for the achilles/ankle injury that ended his time with the USA. And it doesn't appear that the celebration he was in had anything to do with knocking him out of the tournament. (BTW, the US will play Japan in the semifinals on Sunday night in Los Angeles.)

He's a had a concern with his foot for many years, and it's been a problem since spring training started. But he did absolve the WBC for any blame for the injury:

"I've been hearing that this [injury] is the WBC's fault, this is a stupid idea. It's not. It's a great thing. We had fun. It was a blast. It was an honor to represent your country."

Here's more from the Boston Globe.

No timetable has been set up for Youk's return, but it still doesn't look like anything that will keep him out for any significant time. And Dustin Pedroia returns today to the Red Sox lineup against the Pirates.

The Red Sox last night rudely treated old friend Bronson Arroyo, as Jed Lowrie and Chris Carter both blasted two-run homers to lead the Sox to a 9-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds in Sarasota. Jon Lester pitched 4 1/3 solid innings, allowing just a first inning run before settling in.

I was watching the game on the MLB Network last night and had the Reds feed. They talked about the Reds moving to Arizona next season for spring training. And then both Florida and Arizona will have 15 teams playing spring baseball. (It doesn't seem that long ago that Florida had twice the number teams training there than in Arizona.) I guess someone will have to move from one state to the other to keep the number of teams in both states even.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not Again

Kevin Youkilis is now out of the World Baseball Classic because of an injured ankle. He returned to Ft. Myers and was examined by Red Sox team physicians. Like Dustin Pedroia, it doesn't sound like this WBC injury is anything serious.

(By the way, did anyone else notice that Youk was in the middle of that silly celebration after the USA pulled that game out Tuesday night? Could that have been the real culprit of his injury? He didn't appear to be in any pain during the game. I've been saying for a long time that eventually in one of these dumb home plate celebrations after a team wins in their last turn at-bat there will be a star player suffering an injury. Then maybe these players will tone it down.)

From the Red Sox web site tonight:

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Boston Red Sox issued the following statement regarding first baseman Kevin Youkilis:

"Kevin Youkilis returned to Fort Myers, FL this afternoon to be examined by the Red Sox medical staff. He was diagnosed with a mild left ankle sprain as well as mild Achilles tendinitis in his left foot. Both MRI results were negative. To limit movement and allow his ankle to heal, Youkilis will wear a walking boot for the next several days but is not expected to miss significant time.

Youkilis originally experienced some pain in his left ankle several days ago and it worsened in last night's game vs. Puerto Rico. He will no longer participate in the World Baseball Classic and will return to Red Sox camp tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

No, That Wasn't Me on "24"

My friend Ken in San Diego sent me a very interesting email this morning. He was watching the TV show "24" this past Monday and discovered something that I did not know.

There was an assassin on the show, played by French actor Sebastian Roche (pictured). I don't know anything about "24" as I've almost never seen it. (I'm really not into shows about terrorists, as certain events from earlier this decade put me off them.) I hear it is supposed to be a terrific show. Anyway, the character Mr. Roche was played was named...John Quinn.

Yep, my very own name. There are John Quinns everywhere. The site Howmanyofme.com says that there are 1,401 people named John Quinn in the United States right now. There have been a few famous John Quinns, among them a onetime GM of the Philadelphia Phillies, a big Los Angeles lawyer, a couple of US Congressmen, and a baseball pitcher who played nearly a quarter-century. (If you google "John Quinn" you will get over 200,000 results.)

I've even had a few people send me a Facebook friend request thinking I was some other John Quinn. And there are plenty of us John Quinns on that networking site.

There is a famous John Quinn in Red Sox history. Robert Quinn (his real first name was John) was the owner of the Sox during their worst period, from 1923-33. He ran the Sox between Harry Frazee and Tom Yawkey, and is most famous for when during those years, a rain delay was referred to as "Quinn's weather." (I guess because the Red Sox couldn't lose if it was raining.) J. Robert Quinn's grandson was the GM Bob Quinn, who ran the Reds and Giants many years ago.

But there's a really weird coincidence with "24"'s John Quinn. I saw Roche's acting resume, and he had recently been on the soap opera "General Hospital." The character he played was named Jerry Jacks. My best friend growing up was named Jerry Jacques (who pronounced his last name "Jacks."). Unfortunately, Jerry passed away over 25 years ago. So, the last two characters Sebastian Roche played on TV were named John Quinn and Jerry Jacks. Spooky.

And do I have a story to tell Ersatz John Quinn if I should ever meet him.

US to the Semis; Bard Gone

The United States clinched a berth in the WBC semifinals last night as they scored three runs in the ninth inning for a thrilling 6-5 win over Puerto Rico. David Wright's bloop single with the bases loaded gave the US the win. Kevin Youkilis drew a bases loaded walk in the ninth to set up Wright's heroics, and he also went deep earlier in the game, his third blast of the WBC.

The United States will now play Venezuela tonight to see who wins the round.

I watched the game at home last night, as I'm not one of these amateurs who has to go out and get bombed on St. Patrick's Day. (I also had spaghetti for dinner last night, as just the smell of corned beef and cabbage makes me nauseous. I'm damned proud of my Irish heritage, but I don't need to prove it with alcohol.)

The Red Sox released Josh Bard today, and it appears that George Kottaras has won the backup catcher position. The Red Sox guaranteed only 1/6th of the deal they signed Bard to this winter ($1.7 million for one year), and had they kept him one more day it would have been 1/5th (that's about a $50,000 saving). They would have been on the hook for the whole thing had Bard made the Opening Day roster.

Bard was having a terrific spring, hitting .462 with 1 HR and 4 RBI. But Kottaras was out of options and five years younger than Bard.

Sorry to hear that Aaron Boone needs open heart surgery to put an aortic valve in his heart. It will probably end his 12-year playing career. We all know what we remember him for (and I won't mention it here), but we wish him all the best.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Papelbon's Day

I was thinking about what to put up on this site in honor of St. Patrick's Day, and since I talk so much about the Red Sox, why not feature Jonathan Papelbon doing The Riverdance after the Sox won the 2007 AL pennant?

So here it is. Happy St.Patrick's Day everyone!

Slappy: He's So Vain (What a Shock)

If you picked up today's New York Post, you saw quite the sight on their front page.

A-Rod in love. With himself.

So what's news about this?

He's the subject of a story in the upcoming Details magazine, and it just reinforces his image as a man totally in love with himself. The picture here is Slappy giving himself a smootch in his own mirror.

And just when you thought it can't get any worse for him? Here's more from today's New York Post.

Just more fodder for behind the bar at Professor Thom's.

Trivia Q&A: March 16

On the night before St. Patrick's Day, I was sure we'd have a smaller turnout for Trivia Night, and I was indeed correct. I thought we'd have 10 or 11 teams in, and we did have exactly 10. It was a good night of Trivia, and definitely an interesting one.

We had some good scores for the first two rounds, which included Irish Trivia. My buddy and bartender Jim suggested a "bonus question," and since we are both of Irish descent, we decided to it. The bonus was "What's the difference between an Irish wedding and an Irish wake?" The answer is: "One less drunk." A few teams actually got it and a bonus point.

I got some positive feedback from "1-2-3-4 Trivia" where each answer is one of those numbers. I may bring it back again in two weeks. But the numbers for General Knowledge were rather low, as it was on the difficult side (and I heard about it from one of the regulars). But the team of Erin Go Braghless got a perfect score in that round and had a five point lead going into IQ Trivia.

The scores in the final round were a bit low too, as only three teams got as many as 3 out of 5 right. But the leaders held on for a very narrow one-point win. Congratulations to Matt and his crew on their win.

We will be back next week at our regular day and time, Tuesday, March 24th at 9 PM.

Current Events
1. A long-rumored secret was finally revealed last week to be true when the pocket watch of this US president was opened and a message his watchmaker put in it was indeed there.
2. This actor/musician jumped off the stage during a performance in Miami Beach last week and confronted a heckler before security guards dragged him away.
3. Governor Jack Markell of this Eastern state introduced a bill last week to make sports betting legal in his state.
4. This man regained the title of The World's Richest Man as Forbes magazine's annual survey says he is now worth $40 billion.
5. A teenager from this country burst into his former high school last week and began shooting students, killing 15 before committing suicide.
6. This famous skyscraper was recently acquired by the Willis Group of London and they plan to change the name of the building, to the consternation of many of the residents of the city where the building is.
7. CNBC's "Mad Money" host Jim Cramer and this talk show host got into a war of words over the past few weeks on their shows and it culminated when the two appeared on the latter's show last week.

Answers: 1. Abraham Lincoln; 2. Joaquin Phoenix; 3. Delaware; 4. Bill Gates; 5. Germany; 6. Sears Tower; 7. Jon Stewart.

Irish Trivia
1. What is Ireland's second largest city by population after Dublin? a. Belfast; b. Cork; c. Derry; d. Limerick.
2. What is Ireland's most popular team sport? a. soccer; b. rugby; c. Gaelic football; d. hurling.
3. What year did Ireland become an independent country? a. 1916; b. 1918; c. 1922; d. 1926.
4. Bob Geldof was once a member of what Irish rock band? a. The Corrs; b. Thin Lizzy; c. The Pogues; d. The Boomtown Rats.
5. To make Irish coffee, what alcohol ingredient would you use? a. rye; b. whiskey; c. vodka; d. bourbon.
6. In what US city did Irish-Americans have the first St. Patrick's Day parade in 1737? a. New York; b. Boston; c. Philadelphia; d. Baltimore.
7. In which century did Ireland's Potato Famine take place in? a. 17; b. 18; c. 19; d. 20.

Answers: 1. a; 2. c; 3. c; 4. d; 5. b; 6. b; 7. c.

1-2-3-4 Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. This is the maximum number of times Friday the 13th can happen in any given year.
2. The number of US state capitals named after US presidents.
3. The number of Super Bowls won by the NY Giants in their history.
4. This is the number of future presidents who signed the Declaration of Independence.
5. This number was a hit song for The Bee Gees, Faith Hill and U2.
6. In astrology, Taurus is this number sign of the Zodiac.
7. This was the number of the car driven by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt.
8. This is the atomic number of helium.
9. On a telephone, the letters G,H,and I are found on this number.
10. The number of MLB teams who've won more than one World Series in the 21st Century.

Answers: 1. three; 2. four (Jefferson City, MO, Lincoln, NE, Madison, WI, Jackson, MS); 3. three; 4. two (Adams and Jefferson); 5. one; 6. two; 7. three; 8. two; 9. four; 10. one (Boston Red Sox).

General Knowledge
1. What actor played Ben Cartwright on the long-running TV series "Bonanza?"
2. Hominy is what type of food?
3. On TV, what "middle ground" lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge?
4. Dan Simmons' new book "Drood" is based on the troubled last years of what immortal writer?
5. What modern holiday is believed to be descended from the Roman holiday of Lupercalia?
6. What screen legend's final film was the 1981 movie "Ragtime?"
7. Which of the four major North American pro sports currently has the most number of teams?

Answers: 1. Lorne Greene; 2. corn; 3. "The Twilight Zone;" 4. Charles Dickens; 5. St. Valentine's Day; 6. James Cagney; 7. football (32).

IQ Trivia
1. James Boswell is best known for his biography of what 18th century literary figure? ( 5 points)
2. In 2002, the House passed a resolution declaring that Antonio Meucci was the true inventor of what? ( 4 points)
3. What immortal Hollywood male star played the most leading roles in history, with 142? ( 4 points)
4. How many time zones are there in North America? ( 3 points)
5. What historic 19th century European military figure said, "Glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever?" ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. Samuel Johnson; 2. telephone; 3. John Wayne; 4. eight; 5. Napoleon Bonaparte.

Monday, March 16, 2009

US Lives to See Another Day; Dice Rolls

The United States put the hurtin' on the Netherlands and ended their Cinderella run with a 9-3 win and now will play the loser of the Puerto Rico-Venezuela game on Tuesday night for the right to go to the WBC semi-finals.

Brian Roberts and Jimmy Rollins were the US hitting stars, with Rollins blasting a two-run homer and Roberts, in his first WBC game, getting three hits and coming up just a home run short of the cycle.

There was a little dustup near the end of the game when the Dutch outfielder Bryan Engelhardt hit the first Dutch home run in the WBC off former Brooklyn Cyclone Matt Lindstrom in the eighth. Lindstrom felt that Engelhardt admired the home run too much and threw behind the next hitter. That brought out the entire Dutch team and led the home plate ump to issue warnings to everyone. (I saw the replay and it didn't look like he admired it any more than some MLB hitters do.) Nothing else happened afterwards and the US went on about their business in getting the win.

One other thing I have to say about this game. I have little use for Rick Sutcliffe as an announcer, as I think he's another one who just doesn't know when to shut up. But I was ready to vomit as he seemed to genuflect at the Altar of Derek Jeter all night. He called him "the face of baseball over the last 7 or 8 years." Yep, for as long as the Yankees haven't won a championship. And Dave O'Brien, a Red Sox announcer who should know better, came out with this beauty: "Most Red Sox fans think very highly of Jeter." I'd love to bring him to Professor Thom's for a Red Sox-Yankees game, and introduce him to my buddy Jim McGuire. It might have him think twice before he says something like that. (It reminds me of that stupid ESPN commercial from a few years ago when an announcer said, "Even Red Sox fans call Jeter Captain Intangibles." Yes, we do. To mock him, and not because we admire him.)

The best news of the day was the performance of Daisuke Matsuzaka against Cuba. Japan won, 6-0, but Dice went six innings, struck out eight, walked none and allowed just two hits. He was masterful and looked in mid-season form. He was never in trouble, and kept the Cuban hitters off balance all game long. He caught the first five men he struck out looking. Dice-K is now 5-0 in five career starts in the two WBC tournaments. Japan is now one win away from the semi-finals.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Irish Trivia on a Special Night

As most of you hopefully know by now, we are not having Trivia Night this Tuesday night, as it will be St. Patrick's Day, and it will simply be impossible to have Trivia Night there with a bar full of revelers, many of whom would be yelling out answers.

So last Tuesday, we had a vote as to which night the regulars would like to have it this week, and Monday won handily. So on March 16th at 9 PM, we will have a special edition of Trivia Night. We will return to our usual Tuesday night on March 24th.

The special category will be "Irish Trivia." Big shock, eh? It will be seven questions associated with the Emerald Isle, and they will also be of the multiple choice variety. The Q Train lightning round will be something new, and I am calling it "1-2-3-4 Trivia." I will give you ten questions and each answer will be one of those four numbers.

The Sneak Peek question for this week is:
"In what century did Ireland's Potato Famine take place in?"

I hope many of you can turn out for the special edition of Trivia on Monday night. Erin Go Bragh!

Loser Leaves Town Match Tonight

The US was thoroughly embarrassed last night in the WBC second round matchup with Puerto Rico, getting pummeled 11-1 on their home grounds in Miami. And worse, they were mercied, as PR scored 4 runs in the seventh to end the game, as they were up by 10 runs.

Mercied at home. Beyond embarrassing.

Jake Peavy was again hammered, as he gave up six runs in two innings of work. The Puerto Ricans put it out of reach early, and it felt like garbage time by the third inning. The US could do nothing against Javier Vazquez, who pitched five solid innings and allowed just one run.

Tonight, the US faces the Netherlands in an elimination game, as the winner will face the loser of the Venezuela-Puerto Rico game. In wrestling parlance, tonight's game is a "loser leaves town match", and the US better not look past the Dutch, who have pitched spectacularly this tournament.

Injuries: Good and Bad News

The word on Dustin Pedroia is more encouraging today, as he was examined by Red Sox doctors and he has a slight abdominal strain. He's done with the WBC and will rest and should be fine for Opening Day. Heck, it's an injury that could have happened at Red Sox camp or at the WBC, so it's better to err on the side of caution and sit Pedroia for a few days to let the injury heal. Here's more from MLB.com.

But the word on Julio Lugo is far worse. He's going to have arthroscopic surgery on his ailing knee, and right now the doctors don't know how long Lugo will be on the shelf until they see the extent of his probable torn meniscus. It now appears that Jed Lowrie is the Opening Day shortstop. Lugo had been having a terrific spring training.

And the deal that was rumored last weekend about Jon Lester has indeed happened, as the club announced today that Lester has agreed to a five-year deal, with a club option for 2014. The exact terms were not announced. Here's more from Redsox.com.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Uh-Oh. Pedroia Out of WBC

Dustin Pedroia suffered a muscle strain near the rib cage in practice for tonight's WBC game for the USA against Puerto Rico and has returned to Ft. Myers to be examined by Red Sox team physicians. Mark DeRosa will take his place at 2B on the team tonight.

Pedroia seems to think it is pretty minor, but he won't return to the U.S. team, as Brian Roberts will take his place on the roster. Here's more from Extra Bases.

Liverpool Ain't Dead Yet


Don't hand the Premiership championship trophy to Manchester United just yet.

Liverpool walked into Old Trafford earlier today and handed United a 4-1 hammering to keep their title hopes alive, and swept the series from them this season. The Reds fell behind early on a penalty kick by Cristiano Ronaldo, but Liverpool came back in the 28th minute on a goal by Fernando Torres (pictured), and took a 2-1 halftime lead by way of a Steven Gerrard penalty.

United went down a man in the 76th minute when Nemanja Vidic was sent off, and Liverpool took advantage and made it 3-1 with a goal from Fabio Aurelio. And Liverpool completed their biggest win at Old Trafford since 1936 when Andrea Dossens made it a 4-1 thrashing in added time. Here's more on Liverpool's historic win from ESPN.

Liverpool still have a mountain to climb as they are in second place, 4 points behind United, and Man U still has a game in hand. But this could be the game that puts the Reds back in the race and shifts momentum over to their side. Go Liverpool!!

I Know It's Just Spring Training, But...

The Red Sox beat the Yankees last night in Ft. Myers, 8-4. I had the pleasure of watching the game at Professor Thom's with a few other Red Sox fan friends amid a sea of college basketball fans last night. (One odd thing though. We first put the game on the MLB Network, but it was blacked out here in New York. I don't understand that, as the Yankees were NOT carrying the game locally on YES or WWOR. But NESN did carry it and we were able to see it here in New York.)

The Yankees basically fielded their "B" team, with just Xavier Nady and Chien-Ming Wang as first team starters. The Sox hammered Wang for 7 runs in just 1 2/3 innings (although his defense let him down in the second, so he should have been out of the inning with less damage). Mike Lowell and David Ortiz (just back from the WBC) both went deep as the Red Sox put the game away early.

Tim Wakefield looked shaky, giving up all four runs in 2 2/3 innings. But Junichi Tazawa pitched an effective inning, as did Takashi Saito. Tazawa has a terrific curve ball, and Saito continues to impress this spring. He may well end up being the best pickup the Red Sox made this past off-season.

You can't get too worked up over wins in spring training, but it's always nice to beat the Yankees any time of year. On my Facebook page last night, I said that no one got hurt, as that is always a big concern in March. But now it turns out that Julio Lugo left the game in the first with pain in his knee, and he had an MRI on it after the game. The fear is now Lugo may have a torn meniscus. It's a shame because Lugo was off to a great start this spring, and the Red Sox should have more information about the injury later today.

Rumors are now also strong that an announcement by the Red Sox is coming this weekend regarding the five-year contract extension for Jon Lester that came out last Sunday but was denied by the player earlier this week.

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Harbinger of Things to Come

Manny Ramirez was all set to make his 2009 L.A. Dodgers debut yesterday in a game against the South Korean WBC team. But guess what?

He begged out with a sore hamstring.

Where have I seen this act before?

Mr. McCourt, I hope you and Manny will be very happy together.

And warn the Dodgers travelling secretary to be careful around this guy.

Three

It was three years ago today that Yours Truly began The Mighty Quinn Media Machine. I woke up the morning of March 13, 2006 and decided it was time to start blogging. I nearly started a blog back in the summer of 2005, but ultimately decided against it. I wish I had begun it then, but I'm glad I got going when I did. 1,979 posts later, here we are.

I got the name from a friend who once called me a "one-man media machine" after all the things that happened to me after the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004 and its aftermath (and the 9/11 attacks as well). I stuck The Mighty Quinn in front of media machine, as I've been called that nickname since I was in grammar school (and most people named Quinn have been called that at one time I suppose). So a web site name was born.

It's been great writing this site for the last three years. I've had people from the four corners of the world visit here, and I'm always amazed by some of the places that pop up: from Siberia to the South Pacific, and from Afghanistan to East Africa. It's great to know that people in places I've never been to can read my words, even if they don't know the first thing about baseball or trivia or anything else I rant about.

I am also most grateful to those of you who return here from to time to time to check out what I have to say. Many are friends of mine, and many are people I do not know who found my site and like what they saw and come back. I especially thank those of you with web sites who've been kind enough to put up a link for me. Most of this blog is dedicated to the Red Sox and baseball, but putting up the Trivia Night Q&A has brought many more people here as well.

We're three years old today and we are going to keep going and try to become bigger and better. So to celebrate the blog's birthday, here a cool way to do it. From over New York Harbor on July 4, 2007, you can't go wrong with fireworks:



Thank you so much everybody.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Pap Diagnoses Cancer

No, he's not a doctor, and he doesn't play one on the Red Sox. But Jonathan Papelbon gave a blistering interview in April's Esquire magazine, and absolutely pulls no punches when the subject of Manny Ramirez and the 2008 season came up.

"It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that's exactly what was happening," Papelbon said, according to the magazine. "Once we saw that, we weren't afraid to get rid of him. It's like cancer. That's what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It [stunk], but that was the only scenario that was going to work. That was it for us."

No, he's a man not afraid to speak his mind, is he?

It's pretty clear to me that Manny had completely worn out his welcome by late last July, and the Red Sox play that month seemed to reflect that. But once Manny disappeared it was like a black cloud over the team passed. (And don't forget, the Sox had the second best record in baseball after July 31 to the end of the season.)

I'll admit that I am conflicted when this subject comes up. I absolutely appreciate everything Manny did for the Red Sox, being a key part of two World Series championships and being one of the most feared hitters of this generation. But what he did last season was deplorable, and has damaged his reputation, especially in Boston, the city he "suffered" so much in. (See the current quote at the top of this blog from the man himself.) So I am content to just let him go and move on.

But I'm sure many people on the inside have their opinions on him, and we certainly haven't heard the last on this subject.

Also in the Esquire article, we discover that the Red Sox aren't "protecting" the number 21 anymore:

(The Red Sox) also offered him the number 21, Roger Clemens’s old number, because they thought the favorable comparison might help Papelbon take to the idea. But the role didn’t sit right with him, and neither did the number.

So, the Sox aren't keeping that number retired any more. But still no one has worn it since The Texas Con Man left. Do you suppose that no one wants it?

And before I conclude, what's going on with Jon Lester? He reached a one-year contract agreement with the Red Sox the other day, and says he knows nothing about any five-year, $30 million deal that was reported last Sunday. I know the Red Sox are always tight-lipped about these things, but how come they didn't deny the other day an extension with Lester was reached? Very curious...

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Those Dutch Boys Do It Again

In another stunning, improbable victory, the Netherlands came from behind last night in the 11th inning to once again defeat the high-powered Dominican Republic, 2-1, to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

The Netherlands are basically a collection of minor league players mixed in with a few guys who've had limited MLB experience. The DR puts out an All-Star worthy lineup. 23 Dominican players play in MLB, while the Dutch have two. And once again, the Dutch pulled off another incredible win. The game remained scoreless until the 11th inning when the Dominicans scratched out a run when Jose Reyes scored from first when a ball hit to the outfield was misjudged.

In the bottom of the 11th, the Dutch tied it on onetime MLB player Eugene Kingsale's single, and he moved to third on an errant pickoff. He scored the winning run when a grounder to first went off Willy Aybar's glove and he threw late to first. It set off some wild on-field celebrations.

Now, the Dutch move on to the second round with Puerto Rico, and will be matched up with the US and Venezuela. The Dominicans now go home and face the ire of their countrymen, and I bet the Dominican papers are letting the team have it this morning.

One good thing: David Ortiz now makes an early return back to Red Sox camp.

Australia nearly pulled off a stunning upset later in the night as well in Mexico City against Cuba, as they had a 4-3 lead in the eighth. (I had just gotten back from Trivia Night and couldn't believe the score on the screen.) But the Aussies' dream of pulling off a Dutch-like upset died that inning when a two-run blast put Cuba back in the lead to stay, 5-4. Cuba now advances to Round 2, and the Aussies get another shot to advance tonight, when they have another match against host Mexico.

Trivia Q&A: March 10

We had 18 teams in for Trivia on Tuesday night, and we decided to do something special about next week's Trivia Night. Next Tuesday is St. Patrick's Day, so it would be impossible to have Trivia among the throng that will be present. Wednesday is not possible, as there is a private party at Professor Thom's that night. So we decided to let democracy rule, and we let the Trivia regulars choose between next Monday and next Thursday.

And by a 8-4 vote, Monday was chosen, so our next night of Trivia will be on Monday night, March 16th, at 9 PM.

As for the night, we had some strong scores for "Did They Make It To 30 Trivia" (which one person called "Morbid Trivia" on their sheet), with two teams getting a perfect score of 14 in the round (it was double points, as guessing the age was also worth one point). We also had some really strong scores for General Knowledge, as seven teams got the perfect seven.

It was close going into IQ Trivia, as the top six teams were separated by just three points. But the team in first at the time, Whoa, A Cross-Bow! got four of the five questions correct for 16 points, and wound up winning by three points. Congratulations to Joe and his crew on their victory. (And it was a nice surprise to see his sister and one-time Trivia Night regular Mariangela take part last night.)

Current Events
1. This Oscar-winning actress was pulled over for speeding in Beverly Hills last week and given a citation for speeding, while a camera crew from the TV show "Speeders" filmed her trying to say it was all a mistake.
2. A study by the Harvard Business school reveals that this western state surprisingly has the highest rate of subscriptions to Internet adult entertainment web sites.
3. The two surviving members of this legendary rock band will get together next month for a benefit concert at Radio City Music Hall.
4. These two Oscar-winning actors filed a lawsuit last week over an unauthorized commercial tie-in to a film they did together last year.
5. Horton Foote, two-time Oscar winning screenwriter and playwright, died last Wednesday at age 92. What 1983 Robert Duvall film did he win his second screenplay Oscar for?
6. This actor/comedian was forced to cancel the remainder of his one-man show tour when it was discovered he will need heart surgery and have an aortic valve placed there.
7. Michael Jackson announced last week that he will return to performing this July, playing ten shows in this European capital city.

Answers: 1. Jodie Foster; 2. Utah; 3. The Beatles; 4. Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro; 5. "Tender Mercies;" 6. Robin Williams; 7. London.

Did They Reach 30 Trivia
1. Bruce Lee
2. Tupac Shakur
3. Heath Ledger
4. John Belushi
5. Marilyn Monroe
6. Janis Joplin
7. Chris Farley

Answers: 1. yes (32); 2. no (25); 3. no (28); 4. yes (33); 5. yes (36); 6. no (27); 7. yes (33).

True or False Trivia ("The Q Train")
1. Horoscope sign Virgo is represented by a creature that is half-man and half-horse.
2. Cape Hatteras is located in South Carolina.
3. Interview magazine was founded by Andy Warhol.
4. Mayflower is the official flower of Massachusetts.
5. Bashful is the only beardless dwarf in "Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs."
6. According to the Bible, the walls of Jericho collapsed when a trumpet was blown.
7. The Old Vic, a London landmark that closed in 1997, was a famous pub.
8. The proper term for a single banana is finger.
9. Stevie Wonder was the youngest winner of the Best New Artist Grammy award.
10. Oregon is the only US state with different designs on the back and front of its state flag.

Answers: 1. false, Sagittarius; 2. false, North Carolina; 3. true; 4. true; 5. false, Dopey; 6. true; 7. false, it was a theatre; 8. true; 9. false, LeAnn Rimes; 10. true.

General Knowledge
1. Eukenuba is a popular brand of what?
2. James Joyce's semi-autobiographical novel is called "A Portrait of the Artist as a" what?
3. The African National Congress is the governing political party of what African country?
4. Parris Island is the basic training site of what US military branch?
5. The sun currently generates heat and light from the fusion of hydrogen into what?
6. According to the 2000 Census, which US state has the smallest population?
7. In 1971, George Harrison organized a concert to help the citizens of what war-torn nation?

Answers: 1. pet food; 2. Young Man; 3. South Africa; 4. Marines; 5. helium; 6. Wyoming; 7. Bangladesh.

IQ Trivia
1. In France, the English Channel is known as "La Manche," meaning what? ( 4 points)
2. In the 1992 book "The Pelican Brief," Darby Shaw is a law student at what southern university? ( 5 points)
3. A monument in which state claims to mark the geographic center of the 48 contiguous United States? ( 3 points)
4. The first and last episodes of the TV series "Seinfeld" both feature George and Jerry discussing what topic? ( 4 points)
5. Kilgore Trout is a recurring character in which prolific author's novels? ( 4 points)

Answers: 1. The Sleeve; 2. Tulane; 3. Kansas; 4. shirt buttons; 5. Kurt Vonnegut.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Return of Mike Lowell

Some good news for the Red Sox today, as Mike Lowell saw his first game action since his hip operation of last October. He was the designated hitter in today's spring training game against the Orioles. Lowell struck out, fouled out, and singled in three at-bats before leaving for a pinch-runner.

The Orioles won, 5-1, but that doesn't matter. Lowell is on his way back.

Murderers. Plain and Simple.

From today's New York Post: the 9/11 suspects brag about their attack that killed 3,000 innocent people 7 1/2 years ago.

The faster these assholes are banished from this planet the better.

Red Sox & Yankees: Perfect Together

Ever since the World Baseball Classic started, we've been hearing from the media about the fact that players on the Red Sox and Yankees, and Mets and Phillies, have had to play together for the United States (namely Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Derek Jeter, as well as David Wright and Jimmy Rollins) and how bizarre it is that they are playing together.

The media seems to imply that these guys all hate each other because their clubs are archrivals. Articles such as this one seem to think it's the most unusual thing to see guys like Pedroia and Jeter having a laugh together while trying to help the US win the WBC.

In this day and age, the biggest rivalry in baseball is among the Red Sox and Yankees fans, and that's where any "hatred" may lie. Sure, there maybe players on both teams who may not like each other, but overall the majority of players like and respect each other. The days of guys like Bill Lee hating everyone on the Yankees (and vice versa) seem to have gone away. (Although on Facebook, I have seen the "friends list" of Kevin Youkilis and guess who is on it? Yep, one Joba Chamberlain. Go figure.) The fact that players move around as much as they do, along with the big money they all make have made "hating" each other a little less common.

Sure, it's bizarre to have to root for Jeter, but that will end when this tournament ends. So for now, the guys who supposedly can't stand each other because they are on opposite sides of the best rivalry in sports have come together for a common cause.

Let's Go USA! And yeah, even Jeter, for the time being.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Stomp


The US rolled out the whoopin' sticks last night in Toronto in beating Venezuela, 15-6. Kevin Youkilis went deep again, his second home run in two days. The US came from behind in the sixth and scored eight runs to make it 10-3, and coasted in to qualify for the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

In the sixth Venezuela brought in Victor Zambrano, and the moment I saw him I knew the Americans were on their way to a victory. Zambrano, the bum the Mets gave Scott Kazmir away for in 2004, faced four hitters, walked two of them, and all four scored. The key blow of the inning was Chris Iannetta's bases loaded triple that put the US in front for good.

Venezuela faces the Canada-Italy winner to see who will join the US in the second round. The US will play one more game in Round 1, against the team that wins the Venezuela-Canada/Italy game to determine who gets the top seed in Round 2.

And speaking of routs, Australia did some hammer job on Mexico, as they set a new WBC record for runs scored in a game with 17, and hits with 22, as they bashed the Mexicans, 17-7, in Mexico City. Australia faces Cuba next with the winner heading to the second round in that pool.

Gone Too Soon Trivia Tuesday

This week's special category for Trivia Night will be "Did They Make It to 30 Trivia." I will give you the names of seven famous people who died young, and you have to tell me if they made it to age 30 before they cashed in their chips. This will also be a "double points" category, as if you can also give me the age the celebrity died at, you'll also get another point.

The Q Train lightning round this Tuesday will be "True or False Trivia."

The Sneak Peek question this week is:
In 1971, George Harrison organized a concert to help the citizens of what war-torn country?

We should get going around 9 PM, so I hope many of you can come out and have some fun on Tuesday night.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Lester Signed For 5 Years, $30 Million

Theo Epstein made another brilliant move with the young players on the Red Sox by locking up Jon Lester to a five year, $30 million deal, which also includes a $13 million club option for the 2014 season. The deal will be officially done when Lester takes a physical this week.

Lester joins Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia as players who reached contract extensions with the Red Sox this winter. They continue to build a solid core of players who came up through the system and will be playing at Fenway Park for many years to come. Here's more from Yahoo Sports.

Good Start For the US; Bad Start For the DR

The U.S. got their revenge for the embarrassing loss they suffered to Canada three years ago in the WBC with a 6-5 win in Toronto yesterday. Kevin Youkilis, Adam Dunn and Brian McCann all went deep for the US, and it was a terrific game played before more than 42,000 fans.

Jake Peavy looked shaky over the first three innings as Canada took an early lead. But the homers put the U.S. in the lead, which expanded to 6-4 by the ninth. But Canada wouldn't go quietly, as they scored a run off J.J. Putz in the ninth before he got the last out with the tying run on second.

The U.S. plays Venezuela today at Toronto. They defeated Italy, 7-0, yesterday, and the winner of today's game qualifies for the second round. The Netherlands shocked the baseball world by defeating heavily favored Dominican Republic, 3-2, in San Juan yesterday. The Dutch scored three runs in the first inning, but since they had Sidney Ponson pitching for them, you figured they'd tee off on him with their All-Star lineup. But he pitched surprisingly well over four innings. Pedro Martinez pitched three solid innings in relief for the DR, allowing just one hit. (I believe it was his first relief appearance since Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS. Remember that night?) But it was the Netherlands who stole the show. (The announcers on ESPN were comparing it to the US win over the Russians in Olympic hockey in 1980. Big upset? Sure. But I don't know if I'd go that far. Most of the Dutch players are professionals.) Manager Felipe Alou of the DR said after the game, "We should have beat these guys 9-0."

Sounds like his boys were a little overconfident, no?

The DR gets a chance to right their ship today with their second game, against Panama. If they lose today, they go home.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Out to Conquer the World

Today in Toronto, the United States begins its quest to capture the second World Baseball Classic, as they take on Toronto at the SkyDome (Rogers Centre) at 2 PM. (I refuse to call them "Team USA." I've always found having to put the word "team" in front of USA makes them seem like they are a bunch of ten-year olds, like they have to reminded they are a "team." Yikes. "U.S." "United States" or "USA" is good enough.)

I have long been a fan of a real baseball world championship, something similar to soccer's World Cup. (We all know referring to the World Series champions as "world champions" is a misnomer.) 16 teams are vying for the title, with Japan as the defending champions from the inaugural tournament held in 2006. (The next one will be held in 2013, and every four years afterwards.)

There have been problems with the WBC, as it is held during spring training. Other times of the year have been shot down, like at the All-Star break and after the World Series. It just isn't feasible to have the WBC during baseball's regular season, unless the number of games in the season is cut back (and that will NEVER happen). And in November, it's in the middle of the NFL season, so it might become almost an afterthought. So March seems to be the best alternative. Many players and teams are very leery of the WBC, as some fear injury to players who haven't been in training for a while yet in 2009. So many of the best players have passed on it.

The fan reaction in this country has been mixed to the WBC, as many see it as just a marketing attempt by MLB to further the game around the world, so for many fans it's just a pre-season tournament, and the real championship is still the World Series.

There are also some specific rules for the WBC, especially ones to protect pitchers, who are in the middle of spring training. Here are some of them:

A pitcher cannot pitch until

  1. a minimum of three days have passed since he last pitched, if he threw 50 or more pitches when he last pitched.
  2. a minimum of one day has passed since he last pitched, if he threw 30 or more pitches when he last pitched.
  3. a minimum of one day has passed since any second consecutive day on which the pitcher pitched.

A pitcher cannot pitch more than

  1. 70 pitches per game in Round One of the tournament.
  2. 85 pitches per game in Round Two of the tournament.
  3. 100 pitches per game in the Semifinals and Final of the tournament.
  • A pitcher can still finish a batter's plate appearance even if the limit is reached, but must come out after completing the plate appearance.

A game will be a called game if the leading team is ahead by

  1. 10 or more runs when the opposing team has batted in at least seven innings.
  2. 15 or more runs when the opposing team has batted in at least five innings.

The Designated Hitter rule applies for all the games.

I agree with all those rules. But there is one that is just asinine, in my opinion. An artificial one: if a game goes to the 13th inning, both teams will start that inning with runners on first and second automatically. That stupid rule comes from the Olympics, in a way to try to get runs in so the game won't go any longer. It reminds me too much of the shootout in hockey, or the OT rule in college football. It's trying to completely change the way a game is completed, and I hope no game reaches a 13th inning (but you know one will).

There are four rounds to the WBC, and the first round is double-elimination instead of round-robin. After the first games, the winners meet in Game 2, and the winner of that game goes to Round 2. The two losing teams from Game 1 meet, and the loser of that game is eliminated. Then the the two 1-1 teams play and the winner of that game goes to round 2, and the loser of that game is eliminated.

The US is in the same pool as Italy and Venezuela. All those games will be in Toronto. The Round 2 games will be in San Diego and Miami, and the semifinals and final will be in Los Angeles, at Dodger Stadium. Japan already has qualified for Round 2, winning their first two games. (China and South Korea will meet tomorrow to determine who will also go to Round 2 from Asia.)

The other groups are Pool B: Australia, Cuba, Mexico, South Africa; Pool D: Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico. The Red Sox have a number of players in the WBC, including Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis for the USA, Daisuke Matsuzaka for Japan, and David Ortiz for the Dominican. Check out the WBC web site for more info on the tourney, which will conclude with the final on March 23.

Friday, March 06, 2009

A Giant No More

The Giants released Dave Roberts yesterday, as they continue their youth movement.

It's always great to relive this moment:



We don't know if Dave has reached the end of the line, as I'd bet someone might pick him up as a spare outfielder. But if it is, thanks as always, Dave, for giving us the turning point moment in Red Sox history.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

I'm Glad Nomar Signed With the A's

Because if Nomar Garciaparra hadn't (and he just upped with Oakland a few days ago), a certain team from New York, who just lost their third baseman until mid-May, might be sniffing around, kicking his tires.

Granted Nomar isn't nearly the player he once was, but I never want to see him in pinstripes.

UPDATE: Now it turns out that the Yankees and Slappy will NOT go the surgery route for his hip, and that he will try to rehab and play with the injury. It's a similar injury that happened to Mike Lowell last year. And if what happened to Lowell last year is any indication, the Yankees better go out and get a replacement for Slappy. Right now.