Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Title Defense Starts

The Red Sox will begin the official defense of the 2013 World Series championship tomorrow at 3 PM in Baltimore. It will be the third time in my lifetime the Sox will go through a season being called "Defending World Series Champions."

I won't make any predictions regarding this season (I tried and failed badly last season so I've learned my lesson). I am quite optimistic about the Red Sox going back to the postseason this year, but of course many things have to go right for that to happen.

Anyway, the Sox cut down their roster yesterday, and here are the 25 players who will go north as defending champions, with six new additions (in italics) since the Sox won the 2013 Series:

Position Players
Infielders: Mike Napoli, Dustin Pedroia, Xander Bogaerts, Will Middlebrooks, Jonathan Herrera
Outfielders: Mike Carp, Jonny Gomes, Daniel Nava, Grady Sizemore, Shane Victorino
Catchers: A.J. Pierzynski, David Ross
DH: David Ortiz

Starters: Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Felix Doubront, Jake Peavy
Relievers: Koju Uehara, Junichi Tazawa, Edward Mujica, Brandon Workman, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Chris Capuano.

The Red Sox will play three in Baltimore, including Wednesday and Thursday nights, and will open the 2014 season on Friday afternoon at Fenway against Milwaukee and unfurl the championship flag. I will be on hand for it, and I can't wait to be a part of it.

Friday, March 28, 2014

It's RemDawg's Call

Last weekend, a new firestorm erupted after the Boston Globe published a column about Jerry Remy's son Jared and his arrest for the murder of his girlfriend Jennifer Martel.

Eric Moskowitz' column is a history of the younger Remy's resume of drug abuse and his terrible history with women. It's a terribly disturbing account of a young man with enormous problems, and in many people's eyes, paints a picture of his father Jerry as nothing more than an enabler that led to the death of a young woman.

There have been calls for Remy to step away from Red Sox broadcasts permanently. He sat out from last August until the end of the season after his son's arrest, and it looked like he might never return. But earlier this year, Remy made the decision to return to the NESN booth, with the Red Sox brass' blessing.

It is a ticklish situation for all involved. Every Red Sox fan seems to have an opinion on the subject, and mine is very clear: it is totally Jerry Remy's call what he wants to do. If the Red Sox front office are fine with his calling games in 2014, I'm on board with that. If it appears too much for him to continue and he ultimately decides to walk away, I would respect that decision, too.

I've even heard someone in a column yesterday (I wish I could find the link) say that Remy's son's case could have a detrimental effect on the Red Sox as a team. Are you kidding me? Listen, I'm sure Remy is a respected man by most, if not all Red Sox players, and I'm sure they have offered their sympathy and support to him and to the Martel family in this terrible time in their lives. But the players are professionals, and have a job to do. I can't see this affecting the team in a negative way. Once the season begins, the emphasis will be on the team and baseball (unless some new firestorm pops up).

I won't go into whether Jerry Remy was a bad parent and enabled his son to the point where it led to the death of Jennifer Martel. I'm in no position to judge Jerry.

Baseball is Jerry Remy's life, and in this awful time for him and his family, it maybe the best thing for him. He'll never be the same RemDawg he was. Whether you like him or not, or think he shouldn't be calling games on NESN, it is not for us to decide. It is ultimately Jerry Remy's call.

I hope Jerry and his wife, along with the Martel family, can one day find peace.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Large and In Charge: Papi Staying Through 2015 (At Least)

Our 4500th post at The Mighty Quinn Media Machine is some good Red Sox news, and not entirely unexpected.

The Red Sox and David Ortiz came to an agreement that was announced yesterday that will keep the 2013 World Series MVP in Boston at least through the 2015 season.

This wasn't a big surprise, and most fans are pleased that the deal got done before the 2014 season begins. But let's face it, the Red Sox are really the only team Ortiz could sign with, as most AL teams are not going with a single DH anymore. Whining about his contract is his standard MO, so you knew a deal was on the horizon.

Better to have a Happy Papi than an angry one.

Papi's deal is for $16 million for 2015, and there is a club/vesting option for 2016, which automatically happens based on him reaching a certain number of plate appearances in 2015. There is also a club option for 2017.

It's a wise move for the Red Sox. They and Papi are both satisfied.

Now let's get an extension for Jon Lester.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Two Former Sox Head The List of Irish HoF Candidates

My friends over at Foley's NY Pub and Restaurant over on 33rd Street in Manhattan announced on Monday (St. Patrick's Day, of course) the candidates for the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame. There are 13 in all.

Four current and former MLB players head the list: Derek Jeter (his mother is of Irish descent), Mike Sweeney, and two former Red Sox players: David Cone and Kevin Millar.

Three members of the MLB Baseball Hall of Fame are on the list: Oldtimers Roger Bresnahan and Big Ed Delahanty, and umpire Tom Gorman.

Two MLB managers were nominated: Joe McCarthy and Jack McKeon.

Two media members were nominated: sportswriter Hal McCoy and Mets broadcaster Ed Coleman.

The final two nominees are Bill Shea, the lawyer and executive who helped bring the National League back to New York in 1962 in the form of the Mets and their ballpark was named for him, and actor and rabid Chicago Cubs fan Bill Murray.

The Hall will be introducing a new award: the Pete Caldera-Duke Castiglione "I Didn't Know He Was Irish" Award, given to an honoree whose Irish roots are not well known.

Foley's will announce the new 2014 inductees next month.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Scarves For The 96

This coming April 15th will mark the 25th anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster, when 96 Liverpool fans were killed at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield during the FA Cup semifinal between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest.

There will be all kinds of tributes to the lost Liverpool supporters (I'm looking forward to seeing ESPN's 30 For 30 special about the tragedy), and the club will be marking the day with a memorial service at Anfield.

And the club is asking supporters from around the world to send in scarves, regardless of team or sport, and the scarves that are sent in will form a "96" on the pitch during the service. You can also write a note with your donation in support of the Hillsborough families.

I will be sending in a Red Sox scarf I have in memory of those lost, from the club that is cousins with the great English side.

Here's more info about the tributes of April 15th.

If you'd like to send in a scarf to Liverpool FC, here is the address to send it to:

Hillsborough Scarves
20 Chapel Street
Liverpool L3 9AG
England, UK

The club requests that the scarves arrive by April 8th, so that they are assured of a place in the tribute.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

"The Devil's Snake Curve: A Fan's Notes from Left Field"

I just finished reading a book called "The Devil's Snake Curve: A Fan's Notes From Left Field" by Josh Ostergaard, which is an interesting mix of baseball and political history.

Ostergaard, who grew up a Kansas City Royals fan in Kansas, looks at America's pastime through the lens of politics, mixing "colonialism, jingoism and capitalism."

I guess the key word in the title of the book is "left."

I don't usually talk about my political beliefs on this blog. Everyone is entitled to their politics, and Ostergaard's are clearly to the left of center. For me, I am very much an Independent. I like to think for myself. I've learned in life there are certain subjects I generally keep to myself. Politics falls into that category.

So, overall I have to admit I really didn't care that much for this book.

But it wasn't without its merits. Ostergaard talks extensively about his hatred for the Yankees, and really has it in for onetime owner Del Webb, who built the Japanese internment camps in Arizona during World War II. Billy Martin and George Steinbrenner take their lumps in this book as well, and Ostergaard rips into the Yankees and their corporate image. Lots of Yankee bashing here, and that's never a bad thing. (Although I was disappointed to read that he was rooting for the Yankees during a 2009 ALCS game at Yankee Stadium.)

The book goes through baseball and America through the years, and touches on subjects like the treatment of American Indians, black Americans, Japanese Americans, the wars that America has been involved with through the 20th and 21st centuries, the steroid scandals, and much more.

If your politics veer off to the left, I think you will probably enjoy this book. Probably more than I did.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Eight Years Today

It was eight years ago today that Yours Truly decided to start writing this blog.

Where does the time disappear to?

I'm not writing as much as I did back when I first started The Mighty Quinn Media Machine, but I still do get quite a kick out of it when I do.

I have come to know so many wonderful people through my site, and I'm so appreciative to all of you who take time out of your day to check on my ramblings.

Here's to another great year here!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Thank You, Dr. Jobe

Earlier this past week, Dr. Frank Jobe, the surgeon and LA Dodgers doctor who created a revolutionary treatment for baseball players known as "Tommy John surgery," died at the age of 88.

Dr. Jobe, who was an Army medic in World War II and received a Bronze star after successfully escaping being captured by the Germans at the Siege of Bastone, became the Dodgers' team doctor in 1968 and served the club for nearly 50 years.

In 1974, Dodgers' pitcher Tommy John suffered was thought to have been a career-ending elbow injury during a game. Dr. Jobe used John as his "test patient" on a surgery he pioneered, taking a ligament from the wrist of his non-pitching arm, and placing it in the injured elbow. It was the first reconstruction of the ulnar collateral ligament, and Dr. Jobe gave it only a 5% chance of being successful.

After 18 months of rehab, Tommy John was back on a mound for the Dodgers in 1976. And he went on to pitch in MLB until his retirement in 1988. Dr. Jobe also pioneered reconstructive surgery on the throwing shoulder, which was first performed with success on Dodgers pitcher Orel Hershiser in 1990.

Today, Tommy John surgery patients now have a better than 92% chance of returning to MLB. It worked wonders on John Lackey, who had the surgery after the 2011 season, and was a completely new pitcher in leading the Red Sox to a 2013 World Series championship. (Every Red Sox fan should thank Dr. Jobe for that.)

The careers of countless pitchers have been saved by Dr. Jobe's procedure. Stars such as Stephen Strasburg, John Franco, Chris Carpenter, Tim Hudson, Joe Nathan, David Wells and Brian Wilson have had TJ surgery and returned as good as they ever were. Can you imagine the quality of MLB had these stars been forced to quit if TJ surgery were not available?

My friend Joe pointed out the other day that when John Smoltz is elected to Hall of Fame (and it could be as soon as next year), he will be the first player inducted to Cooperstown who had Dr. Jobe's ground-breaking procedure. And I'm sure Smoltz won't forget mentioning him that day.

I am fully in agreement that Dr. Frank Jobe deserves his own plaque at Cooperstown. Like Curt Flood and Marvin Miller, what Dr. Jobe did for players off the field and their careers cannot be fully measured. His impact will be felt on the game for as long as baseball is played.

And for that, we thank you, Dr. Jobe. Godspeed, and my deepest sympathies to his family and friends.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The AAA Marlins Ain't Happy With The Sox

Many of you have probably heard about the recent hubbub about the Red Sox fielding less than an All-Star lineup on Thursday's spring training game in Jupiter, Florida against the Miami Marlins.

The Sox fielded just four players in the original lineup with any MLB experience, which is suppose to be the minimum for any Grapefruit League game. (It has been falsely reported the Sox fielded just two by many outlets.) The four players were Ryan Lavarnway, Jackie Bradley, Brandon Snyder and Allen Webster (the starting pitcher). The game ended in a scoreless tie when the rain came in the eighth inning.

This "scandal' has even been called "lineupgate" in some circles. (Can we please STOP using the suffix "gate" on everything that is allegedly a scandal? That crap is VERY annoying.)

Apparently, this really rubbed the Marlins brass the wrong way, and want the Red Sox fined for leaving all of their big stars back in Ft. Myers. GM Ben Cherington even issued an apology, but manager John Farrell would not.

If anyone should apologize, it's the Marlins management, who has abused its fan base time and again in its history. They increased prices for the midweek game, and I heard the highest price ticket was as much as $70. (Who pays that kind of money for a game that ultimately doesn't count when it is concluded?) And as it turned out, the majority of fans attending the game were dressed in Red Sox garb anyway.

The MLB lineup in Miami for the majority of the 2013 season was to say the least anemic, after they made that blockbuster deal with Toronto, sending Jose Reyes, Josh Johnson and others to the Jays for a package of prospects. And previous to that, they traded arguably the best player in MLB, Miguel Cabrera, to Detroit for a bunch of prospects that didn't work out well for them. (Two of which, Andrew Miller and Burke Badenhop, are in the Red Sox bullpen this year.)

Marlins management gets a brand new ballpark in Miami, and proceed to dismantle their team, to the consternation of those who call themselves Marlins fans. And they are angry at the Sox over sending over what they feel is a subpar Red Sox team in a game that means absolutely nothing.

Excuse me if I have to stop writing now, as I'm laughing too hard.

Here's a good take on this whole thing from Red Sox Monster.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

"Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs"

Two years ago, Fenway Park turned 100 years old, and there were celebrations marking the milestone anniversary of "America's Most Beloved Ballpark."

In 2014, the focus now turns to Wrigley Field, as the Chicago Cubs will honoring their famed ballyard with their 100th anniversary celebrations.

Pultizer Prize-winning sportswriter Ira Berkow has just put together a fine coffee table-style book called "Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs" in honor of this anniversary.

We all know about the Cubs and their star-crossed history, and this book covers all of those bases. (Sorry, I couldn't help but use that cliched term.) The book opens with a preface by Cubs star pitcher Kerry Wood, and a foreword by retired US Supreme Court justice and lifelong Cubs fan John Paul Stevens.

Anything you can think of about the Cubs is covered in the book: the pennant-winning years, Babe Ruth's alleged "Called Shot", the nonsense about a "Billy Goat Curse", when lights came to the park in 1988, the failures of 1969 and 1984 when the Cubs looked on their way to the World Series, and of course, the 2003 Game 6 NLCS loss. (I really wanted a Red Sox-Cubs World Series that year. Just wasn't meant to be.)

Every great player who ever played for the Cubs gets the royal treatment, everyone from Gabby Hartnett to Ernie Banks to Sammy Sosa. I really enjoyed seeing the many great old black and white photos of Wrigley, back in the days when the Cubs were actually winning pennants. Colorful characters of their history like Bill Veeck and Harry Caray take center stage here. And there's a small section in the book on President Barack Obama, a noted White Sox fan, on his take on the Cubs and Wrigley. (I don't think too many North Siders will enjoy it much.)

The other sports that have graced Wrigley are not forgotten, as the time the Chicago Bears called Wrigley home is remembered, along with the NHL Winter Classic that was played in 2009 there as well.

The book also has many interesting takes from their famous fans, from Dennis Franz, Joe Mantegna, George Will, Billy Corgan, Shecky Greene (wow, he's still alive!), and even Rod Blagojevich ( the former governor who is currently in slammer on corruption charges).

This absolutely the perfect book for the Cubs fan in your life. As a Red Sox fan, I have always had sympathy for the Cubs and their fans, and I have known a few in my life. Like us, they are fiercely loyal to their team, and this book drives that point home. I really hope I see the Cubs win a World Series in my lifetime. "Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs" is an enjoyable, but at the same time, a rather sad look back at one of America's most beloved sports teams.