Wednesday, February 28, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> # 55
Jim Lonborg, SP, #16 (1965-1971)

Note: Starting February 6th, through the end of Spring Training, contributing authors will be posting biographies of the Top 100 Red Sox of all time at their own blogs and here at Top 100 Red Sox of all time

James Reynold Lonborg (born April 16, 1942) is a former Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher who played with the Boston Red Sox (1965-71), Milwaukee Brewers (1972) and Philadelphia Phillies (1973-79).

Born in Santa Maria, California, Lonborg graduated from Stanford University. He signed with the Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1963 and it wasn't long before he made his debut with Boston in 1965. On May 10, 1965 at Fenway Park Jim got the start and pitched into the 9th inning before giving way to Dick Radatz who nailed down a 3-2 win for the rookie starter.

Jim Lonborg enjoyed seven seasons (1965-71) with the Sox, and is probably most noted for his magical 1967 season.

"No player in the history of the World Series, before or since, did what Jim Lonborg did in 1967," reported The Boston Globe. "Lonborg still holds the record for the fewest hits given up in back-to-back starts, when he was simply brilliant in Games Two and Five in the great Series with the St. Louis Cardinals that year."

Lonborg led the American League in 1967 with 22 wins, 39 starts and 246 strikeouts. That same year, he was named to the All Star Team and threw a complete game to clinch the pennant. He ensured the pennant by beating the Twins and Dean Chance on the last day of the season, the only time the Red Sox were in first place in a wild three-team race between the Red Sox, Tigers, and Twins. He also won the Cy Young award.

More than anything else, Lonborg led the Red Sox to their first trip to the World Series since 1946. In his first World Series start, Lonborg retired the first 19 batters he faced, taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning. He beat the heavily favored Cardinals with a one-hitter 5-0 to knot the Series at one game each. He lost the perfect game when he walked Curt Flood with two out in the sixth on a 3-2 pitch, then lost the no-hitter when Julian Javier doubled with two out in the eighth. Lonborg then tossed a three-hit, 3-1 victory in Game Five to give Boston a 3-2 Series edge. A Roger Maris homer in the ninth spoiled the shutout and Lonborg's 17-inning scoreless skein.

By the seventh game and on only two days' rest, however, Lonborg finally gave out, losing a 7-2 decision to Bob Gibson, who won his third Series game.

How did Lonborg describe his incredible 76 season and equally splendid playoff run? He said, humbly;

"I remember feeling early on in that game that I was in what athletes describe as a zone''

After the dream season, Lonborg was sadly, largely ineffective, winning just 27 more games for the Red Sox in the next four years. On December 24, 1967 he suffered a terrific fall while skiing and injured his knee. The 1967 Cy Young Award winner, 22–9 that great season, fell to 6–10 in 1968.

In 1971, Longborg was traded from the Red Sox along with Ken Brett, Billy Conigliaro, Joe Lahoud, Don Pavletich, and George Scott to the Milwaukee Brewers for Marty Pattin, Lew Krausse, Tommy Harper, and Pat Skrable.

He won 14 games after being traded to Milwaukee in 1972, then spent the remaining seven years of his career in Philadelphia. In 1974 he won 17 games, but the highlight of his season was a grand slam he hit on June 29 against Montreal, only his third career homer. He won 18 games in 1976 and went 11-4 in 1977 before eventually fading out two seasons later. He played his final Game on June 10th, 1979

In his 15-year career, Lonborg compiled a 157-137 record with 1475 strikeouts, a 3.86 ERA, 24 complete games, 15 shutouts, and 2464.1 innings in 425 games.

Jim Lonborg was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in 2002.

After his baseball career came to a close Jim took the unusual step of enrolling in and graduating from Tufts Dental School, and is now known as Dr. Lonborg and runs his own dentistry practice in Hanover, Massachusetts.

The 63-year-old Dr Lonborg resides in Scituate with his wife Rosemary. The two of them have six children, ranging in age from 23-35, and one grandchild, with another on the way.

This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Adventitious blog entries 2

''associated with something by chance rather than as an integral part; extrinsic.''

Tito Watch

Some interesting, enjoyable and typically blunt comments from David Wells in yesterdays news. Here's what he thought about playing for Tito Francona, a guy many people, I think, overlook when they are talking about reasons the Sox won the World Series in 2004.

"Tito is awesome," Wells said. "I wish a lot of managers were like him. He lets you go out and play. Just don't embarrass the team and be accountable. He messed with all the guys. He made you feel welcome and at home at the ballpark. That's what players like to see.''

Personally, that's exactly the type of manager I would want to play for. To me he seems like the perfect man for the potentially messy job that is managing the Boston Red Sox. I believe he doesn't get half the credit he deserves.

Speaking of Tito, how long before a 'Tito-watch' type blog pops up, his comments are getting funnier by the second. What did he do while he was at home with those dreaded flu-like symptoms? He said he spent it "watching the Anna Nicole Smith trial to see if Manny [Ramírez] showed up there."

By the by, guess who managed Michael Jordan when he played in the Arizona Fall League in 1994? That's right, Tito Francona.

Who wants to party with these guys?

Sounds like things are going to be very different in Texas in 2007. Buck Showalter, who was often accused of micro managing the game and indeed the players, will probably not be missed too much by the players if comments from their new, more laid back manager turn out to become reality in the clubhouse.

New skipper Ron Washington has basically given them written permission to turn the clubhouse into a frat house

"It is their clubhouse," he said, "and I want them to do what they want to do as long as the police or the fire department doesn't show up. If they want to dance on top of tables, I'm fine with that."

My word. '' long as the police or the fire department doesn't show up''? is it just me or is it a bad idea to give a group of twenty something young men with that much money and that much time to kill that much leeway? I can see the headlines of the Dallas Morning News right now...

Who you callin' Hippo?

While researching and then writing a bio for the 'Top 100 Red Sox' blog on former Sox great Larry Gardner I came across this interesting list of other players who made their Major League debut along with Gardner in 1908.

Nine Other Players Who Debuted in 1908

  • Donie Bush
  • Larry Gardner
  • Frank Baker
  • Amos Strunk
  • Buck Herzog
  • Rube Marquard
  • Slim Sallee
  • Hippo Vaughn
  • Joe Jackson
Here's how reading the list went, 'Weatherman' style, in my head.

Hey check it out, Shoeless Joe. Must mention that. I loved 'Eight Men Out'. Great flick. I wonder why they are called flicks? Have to look that up at some stage. I would love a slice of pizza. Amos Strunk and Buck Herzog. Wow, the players names were so cool in those days. I bet Slim Sallee was a slick fielding centre fielder who stole a bunch of bases. Oh no, seriously? Hippo Vaughn? Where do I start with this one. Any relation of Mo?

You could write an entire blog on that listing alone. And seriously, was he? Any relation of Mo? Can someone check that out please?

Brendan Donnelly picks on girls

So, Brendan Donnelly has pitched to a woman in professional baseball. While pitching for the Ohio Valley Redcoats of the Frontier League in Parkersburg, W.Va., in 1994 a young woman stepped to the plate against him.

"I said to myself, 'If I don't get her out, I'm gonna quit. I actually went up and in on her and I got booed by all 12 people that were at the game. I know I got her out. A strikeout, I think. But it's been so long. Those are days I try to forget."

Well Brendan you would hate the Irish Baseball League so as every year there are one or two brave women who play. My club side, the Dublin Hurricanes, have a chequered past with the fairer sex when it comes to baseball games. Hard throwing former Hurricane and Irish National Team great Ken Murphy faced a girl once in league play. Ken was probably the hardest throwing pitcher on the Irish team in the nineties. His first pitch slammed into her back and a legend was born. Everyone hated the Hurricanes from that day on.

Good friend and huge Red Sox fan Garret Pearse also faced a girl a couple of years later, and this time slapped her in the thigh with a juicy fastball. Let me tell you, people look at you funny when you hit a girl with a pitch.

Brendan D is a cool guy, in person, by the way.

Matsuzaka watch intensifies

Finally, looking for advance word on how Matsuzaka is going to fare in the Majors? How about this report from Dan Shaughnessy in yesterday's Globe?

''Dice-K was impressive. He threw 40 pitches, then two pitchouts and two final pitches for good measure. A quartet of Sox minor leaguers (Bobby Scales, Kevin Cash, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Luis Jimenez) flailed away at home plate, managing two solid hits. Cash pulled a double to left-center and Ellsbury hit a solid opposite-field single to left. Jason Varitek caught the Japanese ace''

Two hits out of 40 pitches, in a situation where the pitcher is actually telling the batter what pitch is coming? I think this is going to work out well.

Monday, February 26, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> # 60
John Valentin, SS/3B, #13 (1992-2002)

Ted Williams on Johnny Valentin: 'That little guy at Third Base, I like him. He's good. I love him'

Note: Starting February 6th, through the end of Spring Training, contributing authors will be posting biographies of the Top 100 Red Sox of all time at their own blogs and here at Top 100 Red Sox of all time

Before the 'Holy Trinity' (Jeter, Garciaparra and A-Rod) and subsequent statistical explosion, the Major League shortstop was known primarily as a glove man, someone who was going to scoop the ball up and chip in a few hits here and there. Two shortstops in particular came along in the nineties to break that mould, Cal Ripken Jnr of the Orioles and John Valentin of the Boston Red Sox.

Born February 16th, 1967 in Mineola, New York, Valentin attended Seton Hall University. Valentin's college roomate and Seton Hall Pirates team mate was Mo Vaughn. Another team mate was Craig Biggio. They played together on Seton Hall’s 1987 Big East Championship team, which went 45-10.

There has actually been a book written about that Seton Hall Team.
David Siroty penned ''The Hit Men and the Kid Who Batted Ninth: Biggio, Valentin, Vaughn, and Robinson: Together Again in the Big Leagues''

Valentin started his professional career in the Red Sox minor league system in 1988. and made it to the Majors in 1992. He would go on to have an eleven year career, ten of those with the Boston Red Sox.

Valentin always had a nose for the dramatic. He is one of only 12 players in modern major league history to complete an unassisted triple play. Valentin completed the rare play on July 8th in 1994 in a loss to Seattle. In the 2nd inning. he caught a line drive off the bat of Marc Newfield, stepped on 2nd base to retire Mike Blowers, then tagged runner Keith Mitchell who was heading (slowly!) for 2nd. As is often the case in MLB, once a player makes a great play in the top of an inning he often follows it up with some good stick work in the bottom. Naturally Valentin hit a home run in the bottom of the second. To make the game more notable still, Seattle uber-prospect Alex Rodriguez, 18, was 0-for-3 in his ML debut that night.

Statistically John's best season came in 1995. He hit at an impressive .298 clip and added 27 home runs, 102 RBI and 20 stolen bases. Red Sox fans who are possibly new to the fold and know little about Valentin should take this one on board and chew it over. 'Val' was Boston's short stop the last time the Boston Red Sox won the American League East Division championship, in 1995.

Valentin simply had a spectacular 1995. On May 2nd in a 8-0 whitewash of the hated Yankees, Boston scored all eight runs in back to back innings by former college teammates (Seton Hall) Valentin and Mo Vaughn.That was the only time ever that two grand slams account for all the runs scored in a game (Source: SABR statistician David Vincent). That two former Seton Hall lads did it only makes it more unusual and indeed unique. On June 2nd of that shining season for him, Valentin and the Sox beat the Mariners 6-5 with 'Val' going 5-5 with three home runs and four runs scored. At the time he was the first shortstop ever to total 15 bases in one game. Again at the time he was the 8th Red Sox player to hit three home runs in a single game.

On September 29th The Sox slipped past the Brewers 11-9 and Valentin reached a personal landmark 102 runs batted in, becoming just the 4th Red Sox shortstop ever to drive in 100 runs in a season.

Furthermore, when Boston's big bats (Vaughn and Canseco) completely disappeared in the playoffs first round that season against the Indians, it was Valentin led the way, blasting a memorable two run bomb in the third inning of game one to get the Sox going. Sadly that would be one of the few highlights as the Sox went meekly into the night 0-3.

John was rewarded for his excellent 1995 season by being awarded Major League baseball's Silver Slugger Award. As a measure of the achievement, the same award, since '95, has been taken by either Garciaparra, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter and Miguel Tejada. That is a fine collection of slugging shortstops.

Valentin was by no means a fast man, but he was always an extremely clever base runner, and this was displayed physically in the tremendous amount of runs he managed to score, particularly between '95 and '98. In those four seasons he clocked up an incredible 400 runs scored.

Perhaps John's finest hour as a member of the Red Sox came in the form of the '99 playoffs. The Sox were up against the mighty Indians, the first team to score 1,000 runs in a season in nearly 50 years. The 'Tribe' looked like they were going to simply brush the Sox aside and took a 2-0 lead going into game three in Boston. Cometh the hour cometh the man and Valentin got to work. In the bottom of the sixth Val hit a lead off solo shot to put Boston ahead 3-2. After the Indians tied it Val came through again with a bases loaded double, putting the Sox ahead for good on the way to a dramatic 9-3 season saving win. What happened next was nothing short of historical as a suddenly reeling Cleveland side caved in and Boston won game four 23-7.

Valentin exploded in that game knocking in an incredible seven runs. No Red Sox fan will ever forget what happened in game five when Troy O'Leary went yard twice and Pedro came in from the bullpen to shut the door on the Indians, however none of that would have been possible without Valentin's heroics in games three and four in particular. In five games against the Indians John batted .318 with three home runs and a fantastic 12 runs batted in.

Perhaps the Sox gave too much in taking the ALDS against Cleveland as they went out in the ALCS against the Yankees, disappointingly losing 4-1. Valentin still gave Red Sox fans reason to smile in game three at Fenway. With the crowd already energised by Pedro mowing down the Yanks in the top of the first, Jose Offerman jolted them further with a lead off triple against former Sox great Roger Clemens. Up stepped Johnny Val and the roar could be heard in Mineola as he lifted a majestic two run blast over the Monster in left to give the Sox a 2-0 lead on route to a dramatic 13-1 win. Although the Sox were eventually knocked out, Valentin did all he could, reaching base ten times in the five games.

Sadly Valentin's career became plagued with injuries and in his last two seasons with the Red Sox Johnny Val only played 31 games before spending one more season with the New York Mets and then calling it a day. Since hanging up his cleats Val has worked as a part-time television analyst for the New England Sports Network and has branched out into the culinary world as owner of Julia's Restaurant in Atlantic Highlands, New Jersey. He has also spent time working as a hitting coach for the Toronto Blue Jays AA affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.

Red Sox history is littered with shining stars who own often spectacular statistics. Although Valentin didn't have a 40 home run season or hit .400, he helped pave the way for a new breed of slugging shortstops and was a part of the gradual renaissance of the Boston Red Sox, which started in the nineties and culminated in '04. If anything Valentin should be remembered for his clutch hitting, particularly in the playoffs. In his time, when the bell rang, John Valentin always answered.

This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''

Red Sox Digest 26th Feb 2007
All the Red Sox news that's fit to print

Every morning before work I go through the online papers and pick out the best of the Boston Red Sox related articles in the Globe, Herald and many others so you can just sit there, point, click and read. Considering I am five hours ahead of the East Coast of the USA, I am posting this as most of your alarm clocks go off over there. Enjoy.

Let's chop it up

The Boston Globe

Nice piece from Shaughnessy on Brendan Donnelly in today's Globe. I had the pleasure of meeting Donnelly in '05 in LA and he seemed like a really cool guy. I think he will be a very big success in the Sox pen for '07.

Donnelly's deliveries can be biting

February 26, 2007

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- He's got a World Series ring. He was the winning pitcher of the 2003 All-Star Game. His lifetime big league record is 23-8 with a 2.87 ERA. Major league batters have hit only .219 against him.

Loved this bit from a quote from David Wells on Tito;
"Tito is awesome," Wells said. "I wish a lot of managers were like him. He lets you go out and play. Just don't embarrass the team and be accountable. He messed with all the guys. He made you feel welcome and at home at the ballpark. That's what players like to see.''

Wells weighs in on Boston

Red Sox get praise, fans get brushback
By Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff

Finishing offers him fresh start
A new role could signify season of change for Pineiro

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 26, 2007

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Joel Pineiro was midway through his first bullpen session last week when a stray ball from the other side of the green divider that splits the bullpen rolled past him. He turned around and saw, leaning alone against the cyclone fence at the rear of the pen, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein, his arms folded.

Dustin Pedroia article
Second chance
After tough September stretch in '06, Pedroia wised up, shaped up, and slimmed down
Defense has never been the issue with Dustin Pedroia, who worked out with new double play partner Julio Lugo yesterday. Defense has never been the issue with Dustin Pedroia, who worked out with new double play partner Julio Lugo yesterday.

Tiant isn't expecting call
Veterans vote due tomorrow

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 26, 2007

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Luis Tiant is not optimistic about his chances when the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee announces the results of its voting tomorrow.

Papelbon still open to closing
By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Staff

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While the Red Sox go about looking for a new closer, Jonathan Papelbon continues to say he'll go back to the bullpen if the club makes such a request. Papelbon, recovered from a shoulder injury, is almost certain to start the season in the rotation, but he remains a great alternative if the closer search comes up empty

Damon leaves for personal reasons

By Associated Press

Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon is expected to miss at least a few days of spring training for personal reasons.

Live, from Fort Myers, it's Dice-K

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- One of the great things about the pre- game phase of spring training is "live batting practice." It's when hitters step into the batting cage and try to hit real big league pitching. The hurlers give them the courtesy of telling them what's coming, but the ball isn't lobbed into their wheelhouse.

It's debatable whether Pineiro can be slotted into closer role

By all accounts, everyone liked Joel Pineiro in Seattle, but everyone we talked to agreed he's had a few dreadful seasons, which makes it difficult to project him as a closer.

Friday, February 23, 2007

David says
'When it comes to politics - just say no'

Curt Schilling, Tom Brady et all beware. Red Sox slugger David Ortiz has this to say about getting into the vagaries of political life after his career in baseball comes to an end.

"I would never be a politician," Ortiz said. "A lot of people love you as a person, [and] when you begin to be a politician, that love turns to hate."

Big Pappi - will not be running for Dominican House of Parliament any time soon

Red Sox Digest 23rd Feb 2007
All the Red Sox news that's fit to print

Every morning before work I go through the online papers and pick out the best of the Boston Red Sox related articles in the Globe, Herald and many others so you can just sit there, point, click and read. Considering I am five hours ahead of the East Coast of the USA, I am posting this as most of your alarm clocks go off over there. Enjoy.

Let's chop it up

First the Boston Globe, and the big news is it looks like the Red Sox will wait until 2008 before making a pitch to rehire Curt Schilling.

Sox won't extend Schilling
Pitcher will declare for free agency after season

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 23, 2007

''Schilling declared he will file for free agency after the season and will cut off contract discussions with the Sox until that time.''

Meanwhile, what's this, Dan Shaughnessy having a pop at someone or something? Apparently he is now critiquing radio stations too.

Ace's breaking pitch appears to be outside

By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Columnist | February 23, 2007
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Another bizarro day at the Red Sox spring training site.

Is recruiting his new pitch?

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 23, 2007

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The news that Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, frustrated by years of losing in Seattle, may explore free agency after the season has not been lost on Daisuke Matsuzaka.

Uribe free for training camp

By Associated Press

Accused of shooting a Dominican farmer in October, Chicago White Sox shortstop Juan Uribe has received permission from a judge to attend spring training in Tucson.

There'll be a family reunion after all

By Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff | February 22, 2007

J.D. Drew will get a chance to see his brother Stephen when the Sox visit Arizona in June. J.D. Drew will get a chance to see his brother Stephen when the Sox visit Arizona in June.

On to the Boston Herald

Sox to Curt: Fat chance -- Team sticks with wait-and-see tactic
By Tony Massarotti

Boston Herald Sports Columnist
Friday, February 23, 2007 - Updated: 02:09 AM EST

FORT MYERS - When you really stop and think about it, Curt Schilling [stats] never had a chance. Not when he is 40 years old and just one in a strong class of potential free agent pitchers. Not when the Red Sox [team stats] have money to burn and Schilling looks like he just ate Dustin Pedroia.

Sox OK with Ramirez’ act
By Tony Massarotti

Boston Herald Sports Columnist
Friday, February 23, 2007 - Updated: 02:10 AM EST

FORT MYERS - While his teammates were on the field for their first official spring workout, Manny Ramirez [stats] remained nowhere to be found yesterday at the team’s training facility.

Manny given a pass
By Jeff Horrigan

Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Friday, February 23, 2007 - Updated: 02:10 AM EST

FORT MYERS - Red Sox [team stats] players appear to be taking a wait-and-see attitude on Manny Ramirez [stats]’ traditional tardiness. The enigmatic slugger was given permission to report to camp on March 1 after saying he wanted to spend more time with his mother, Onelcida, as she recovers from recent surgery.

MLB: Clemens offers no hint on plans
By Herald wire services

Friday, February 23, 2007

On his first day at Houston Astros camp, Roger Clemens threw pitches and hit grounders to his son, Koby. That’s about all the baseball he feels like playing right now. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner is no closer to deciding whether he’ll play a 24th major league season.

Dice-K gets busy: Extends ’pen session
By Jeff Horrigan/ Red Sox Notebook

Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Friday, February 23, 2007 - Updated: 02:10 AM EST

FORT MYERS - The Red Sox [team stats] typically ease pitchers into their first bullpen session of spring training, permitting them to throw 35-40 pitches in 7-10 minutes.
Corey Dillon to retire

So Hard Hittin' Dillon says he's had enough
The Boston Globe is reporting that Dillon is ready to hang up his cleats

Patriots' Dillon to call it quits
Running back will ask for his release

I for one always liked Dillon, he is hard nosed, speaks his mind and worked extremely hard to bring the Superbowl to New England. Plus, I like his running style, head down, straight ahead with lots of sore defenders on the other end. I hope retirements treats the man well.

"I think more of my health, how I envision myself 5-10 years down the road," Dillon said via cellphone from California. "I don't want to be broken down, not able to play with my kids. I've been blessed and fortunate enough to play 10 years. I can get up and walk around and be comfortable. That's one of the big determining factors."

Dillon came to New England after a trade with the Bengals before the 2004 Super Bowl season. Before his stint in New England he played seven seasons with the Bengals. During his career he ran for 11,241 yards, ranking him a very respectable 14th on the NFL’s all-time list. As a Bengal, he broke the single game rushing yards record (later to be broken by Jamal Lewis) with 278 yards.

In his three years with New England, the hard-charging Dillon helped the Patriots to a whopping 35-8 record in games in which he played. He scored 39 touchdowns in 43 contests, totaling 3,180 yards on 753 rushes (4.2-yard average). He recently passed John Rigging on the all time rushers list and should definitely be in with a strong shout at being voted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Who doesn’t like presents?
My Dad, Big Pappi and big trucks

Today, Febuary 22nd, is my Father's birthday. Happy Birthday Dad. I can only dream of the day I can present him with something like what the Red Sox Front Office presented Big Papi on his arrival at Red Sox Spring Training Camp.

A black Toyota Tundra TRD Off-Road I-Force truck.

For now, he is going to have to settle for the fact I wear '22' on my jersey since that's your birthday. Oh, and those concert tickets my brother and I got him.

“They give me something every year - That’s why I keep going. I like presents. I’m like my daughter (Alexandra). When she sees any box come to the house, she opens it. (I say), ‘Alex, that ain’t yours,’ but (she says), ‘I want to see what it is!’ She likes presents. I like presents. Who doesn’t like presents?”

Big Pappi
Bellamy insults Sports Karma
Sports Karma has no comment (and stands back and watches)

Last week Liverpool striker Craig Bellamy was in trouble.

''Craig Bellamy is facing a heavy fine and an uncertain future after a night out allegedly concluded with the forward using a golf club to attack his team-mate John Arne Riise.''

Today, in Liverpool, all over the UK and Ireland and indeed in Madrid, Bellamy is a hero.

Last night he scored in Liverpool's shocking 2-1 win over Barcelona in Spain to put the Spanish Champions elect in serious danger of being knocked out of the competition.

Amazingly, with all the furore from last week, Bellamy then proceeded to celebrate by mimicking a golf shot. Absolutely unbelievable. Right up there with Robbie Fowler celebrating a goal against arch rivals Everton by getting down on all fours and pretending to 'snort' the white sideline markings (I'll let you figure that one out).

Several thoughts on this.

First and foremost, when does the investigation into Bellamy's celebration begin? The reason I ask is, I saw yesterday that Paddy Powers, the Irish bookmaker, had a 'cheeky' special bet available of 100/1 that Bellamy would celebrate a goal with a golf related celebration. I kid you not. It doesn't take Bill Billichek to figure out that maybe Bellamy got wind of this and maybe someone associated with him might have placed a large bet on that special before last nights game. Maybe.

Secondly, what on earth is Sports Karma doing at the moment, is it on vacation? First the Indianapolis Colts anger the Sports Karma Gods by trash talking before the Superbowl and yet they are still allowed win. Now a player beats another player in training with a golf club and is subsequently rewarded with a goal and a precious win in a crucial game. Sports Karma, what gives? Maybe this is all part of the greater plan. I have faith.

Thirdly, readers in the States who have made it this far down the piece without falling asleep. You guys think NFL and other pro sports celebrations are bad. Check Robbie's 'celebration' out..

Tyrell Owens would be proud. Actually, if anyone has T.O's contact details send this on to him with a subject line of 'hint hint' and let's see if he includes 'the Robbie' in his repertoire.
Red Sox Digest 22nd Feb 2007
All the Red Sox news that's fit to print

Every morning before work I go through the online papers and pick out the best of the Boston Red Sox related articles in the Globe, Herald and many others so you can just sit there, point, click and read. Considering I am five hours ahead of the East Coast of the USA, I am posting this as most of your alarm clocks go off over there. Enjoy.

Let's chop it up
First, the esteemed Boston Globe

One of the most enjoyable writers in the Globe has gone South, literally. Eric Wilbur, right here.

How about THIS for a development eh?
Auction may be in plans
Ramírez will travel to Atlantic City, says ad

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 22, 2007

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- While Manny Ramírez's teammates are scheduled to be working out here Saturday at the team's player development facility, the Red Sox left fielder is scheduled to appear at a classic car auction in Atlantic City, according to radio ads playing in the Philadelphia area.

Ramirez planned to attend car show
By Howard Ulman, AP Sports Writer

FORT MYERS, Fla. --Manny Ramirez, who received permission from the Red Sox to report late to spring training for family reasons, was scheduled to attend a car auction in New Jersey on Saturday, according to the promoter of the auction.

Manny's absense a mystery to Red Sox
By The Associated Press | February 22, 2007

Manny Ramirez will arrive late to Red Sox camp -- again. Now the question is, why?

On to the Boston Herald

Driving ’em crazy: Auto auction drives slugger’s absence
By Jeff Horrigan
Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Thursday, February 22, 2007 - Updated: 05:56 AM EST

FORT MYERS -- Manny Ramirez [stats] has cited his mother’s medical condition as the reason why he can’t report to spring training until March 1, but it appears the Red Sox [team stats] slugger never had any intention of being with the team for today’s first full-squad workout.

Taking it all into account: Sox expect Manny to play by rules
By Tony Massarotti
Boston Herald Sports Columnist
Thursday, February 22, 2007 - Updated: 05:59 AM EST

FORT MYERS - What we confirmed, at the very least, is that Theo Epstein knows the meaning of the word “accountable.” What we failed to learn, unfortunately, is if Manny Ramirez [stats] ever will.

Hubbub lost on Drew: Boston pressure can’t sour his carefree way
By Gerry Callahan
Boston Herald General Sports Columnist
Thursday, February 22, 2007 - Updated: 05:59 AM EST

FORT MYERS - The blood-red cap looks as odd and out of place on his head as the buzz cut does on Britney’s, but J.D. Drew [stats] has one thing going for him as he embarks on his Red Sox [team stats] career: He doesn’t care. Even his worst critics can’t take that away from him.
Drew doesn’t care what you say. He doesn’t care what I write. He doesn’t care what Tony La Russa thinks of him. He isn’t going to listen to the cynics on sports radio or the buzzards in the right-field grandstand at Fenway Park

Papi: Powerful presents -- DH picks up bonus from Red Sox owners
By Jeff Horrigan
Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Thursday, February 22, 2007 - Updated: 06:01 AM EST

FORT MYERS - David Ortiz missed the opportunity to have a Brinks truck back up to the door when he signed a four-year contract extension last April, only months before the Major League Baseball salary structure exploded.

When the slugger arrived at spring training camp yesterday, however, Red Sox [team stats] owners literally backed a truck up to the door for him, making a gesture to say how much they appreciate the Dominican slugger. Ortiz, who worked out for the first time, was presented the gift of a new, black Toyota Tundra TRD Off-Road I-Force truck upon his arrival.

Ortiz sees benefit of melting pot
By Jeff Horrigan/ Red Sox Notebook
Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Thursday, February 22, 2007 - Updated: 06:07 AM EST

David Ortiz inadvertently caused a minor stir during his upbeat, half-hour meeting with the media yesterday by saying he didn’t remember new teammate Daisuke Matsuzaka from his 2004 MLB tour of Japan because everyone in the country looked alike to him.

J.D. dealt calmly with the deal
By Jeff Horrigan
Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Thursday, February 22, 2007 - Updated: 06:04 AM EST

FORT MYERS - J.D. Drew was not sweating the seven-week delay for his five-year, $70 million contract to be finalized.
The free agent outfielder went about his life in his tiny hometown of Hahira, Ga. (pop. 2,500) like any other offseason while lawyers hashed out contract language that provided the Red Sox financial protection if his surgically repaired right shoulder led to significant time on the disabled list.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Manuel Aristides Ramírez
The final word
(well it won't be but it should be)

“A lot of people say he’s crazy, but Manny’s not crazy,” he said. “Manny is really smart. Manny’s a father with three kids, he’s got a wife, a mommy and daddy, he’s got a couple of houses and he’s always staying in shape. He just does his own thing. I don’t think that makes him crazy. I’d like to be crazy if I could hit 40 home runs every year with 100 RBI, hitting .300, making $160 million. Let me be crazy for that. Call me crazy anytime you want.”

Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez

“A lot of people say he’s crazy, but Manny’s not crazy,”

Let's just leave it at that

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Red Sox Digest 20th Feb 2007
All the Red Sox news that's fit to print

Every morning before work I go through the online papers and pick out the best of the Boston Red Sox related articles in the Globe, Herald and many others so you can just sit there, point, click and read. Considering I am five hours ahead of the East Coast of the USA, I am posting this as most of your alarm clocks go off over there. Enjoy.

Let's chop it up
First, the esteemed Boston Globe

Eric Wilbur is in Florida. You can follow his blog/reports here. One of the Globes best keeps us up to date with what is going on in Spring Training. Lucky fella.

Nice little story about a local boy hanging out with the big guys.
Major long shot
N.H. pitcher enjoying his time in Sox camp
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 20, 2007

Arriving at Ramírez decision - Manager waits for information
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 20, 2007

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Julio Lugo, the new Red Sox shortstop, checked in yesterday morning, a day before position players are scheduled to report, joining Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis, and Eric Hinske among the more prominent early arrivals. Mike Lowell dropped off some stuff at camp in the afternoon, and the buzz is that David Ortiz, who was three days early last year, will hold court today.

Dice-K Daily: Catcher has cheat sheet of Japanese phrases
Bit of a chill hits in Florida
A-Rod: Jeter and I are less friendly
By Associated Press | February 20, 2007
There's a lot going on in Red Sox camp, but the Yankees aren't far behind.

Column: A-Rod & Jeter, Jung and restless
By Ronald Blum, AP Baseball Writer | February 20, 2007

TAMPA, Fla. --Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter no longer have sleepovers. Perhaps this means they've grown up.

Onwards and upwards with the Boston Herald

Julio is man for job: Lugo happy to be here
By Tony Massarotti
Boston Herald Sports Columnist
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Updated: 03:20 AM EST

FORT MYERS - We know what you’re thinking: Oh great, another shortstop. But if you believe the Red Sox [team stats] erred when they failed to re-sign Orlando Cabrera following the 2004 season, know that the Sox see Julio Lugo [stats] as the same kind of player.

Making pitch for Manny: Tavarez defends pal
By Jeff Horrigan
Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Updated: 01:08 AM EST

FORT MYERS - Manny Ramirez [stats] will start the new year just like he ended the previous one, out of sight while his teammates are working on the field. But friend and confidante Julian Tavarez insists the enigmatic slugger’s reasons for arriving at spring training on March 1 are genuine.

Crisp’s finger not yet sharp
By Jeff Horrigan/ Red Sox Notebook
Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Tuesday, February 20, 2007

FORT MYERS - Coco Crisp still is experiencing the aftereffects of a fractured left index finger almost a year after suffering the injury, according to Terry Francona.

Timlin wants chance to close
By Tony Massarotti
Boston Herald Sports Columnist
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Updated: 05:24 AM EST

FORT MYERS - Four years ago, in his first spring with the Red Sox [team stats], Mike Timlin [stats] was a member of The Committee. The Sox have dismissed that philosophy, but the end game remains unchanged. They need a closer.
Timlin believes he can do the job.

Williams a no-show at Yankees’ camp
By Associated Press
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Updated: 03:58 AM EST

TAMPA, Fla. - Bernie Williams was nowhere to be seen, and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman doesn’t think that will change.
”It appears he made his decision. That’s all I can take from it,” Cashman said. ”I’m assuming at this stage that he’s not coming.”

The big chill: A-Rod, Jeter not so chummy
By Herald wire services
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Updated: 03:54 AM EST

On the first day of his fourth season with the New York Yankees, Alex Rodriguez finally acknowledged his relationship with Derek Jeter has cooled. After insisting for three years that they remained close, Rodriguez said it was “important” to him to publicly confirm what others have said since he joined the team.

Twins have spot for Ponson if he can prove he’s turned it around
By Associated Press
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Updated: 03:52 AM EST

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Sidney Ponson’s offseason lasted longer than usual, giving him plenty of time to ponder personal improvement and prepare for the most important spring of his unsatisfying career.

Swindal apologizes, won’t speculate if arrest will alter role with Yankees
By Associated Press
Tuesday, February 20, 2007 - Updated: 04:02 AM EST

TAMPA, Fla. - Steve Swindal returned to work at Legends Field on Monday and apologized for becoming a distraction. He wouldn’t speculate whether his arrest last week for driving under the influence would alter his role as George Steinbrenner’s designated successor to run the New York Yankees.
Reasons why no one likes A-Rod
Reason number 3,454

This old classic cropped up in todays news

''Jeter, the Yankees captain, has distanced himself (From A-Rod) since a 2001 Esquire article in which A-Rod said “Jeter’s been blessed with great talent around him” and “he’s never had to lead.” “You go into New York, you wanna stop Bernie (Williams) and (Paul) O’Neill,” A-Rod was quoted as saying. “You never say, ‘Don’t let Derek beat you.’ He’s never your concern.”

Just a class act

Hey so, think they are having fun yet in Yankee Camp down south? A-Rod is tripping over his own words with about as much grace as Britney after a night on the town, Bernie Williams is proving to be a huge distraction and George Steinbrenner's designated successor Steve Swindal (is that his official title? really?) was arrested on a DUI. Fun times for all!
''This is harder than the NFL''
Brady-baby-gate gathers pace

Once Dan Shaughnessy weighs in you know a story has got out of hand. There has been a veritable media explosion in the last 24 hours with the news that Tom Brady's ex girlfriend Bridget Moynahan is pregnant and she is claiming the baby is Tom's. Now word from Brady as yet on the matter.

What's amazing is, the anticipation of a comment from New England's star QB is building to pre-Superbowl like hype levels. I realise I am going to sound like Carrie Bradshaw here, however, is the media eventually going to eat itself?

''Please God just put me back on the Football field''

Where is this going to end? Trawl around the Internet, you can find video footage of Brady allegedly leaving his new girlfriends apartment and pictures of them on a date in Paris. You can also find a blog linking the baby in question to an early recruitment drive by Brady's alma matter University of Michigan.

''This just in: the University of Michigan has begun recruiting the fetus placed in Bridget Moynihan’s womb by Tom Brady. They are interpreting the formation of gills and rudimentary appendages as a strong verbal commitment.''

And yes, even Boston sports media columnist Dan Shaughnessy is writing about it. As an aside, this is what infuriates me about Dan. I read his column after having been completely incensed by a column he wrote yesterday saying he was happy to see Foulke retire. It made me really angry that he was 'enjoying' a players retirement because of injury. Then he goes and writes a really good piece on this media carnival.

''A football field is 100 yards by 53 1/3 yards. When you are dropping back to pass and the blitzing linebacker is in your face mask, you can throw the ball out of bounds and start over. Off the playing field, in 2007, nothing is out of bounds.''

By the by, did you know Bridget was a local girl, Massachussetts readers? She grew up in Longmeadow, Mass. Hmph. Would have been such a cool couple had they stayed together. The Patriots QB and a local girl made good. For the love of God, listen to me! I swear, this E! type scandal stuff is foolishly addictive.

The Boston Globe asks, nay, screams, ''When will Brady break his silence?''. I wonder, when will this all go to far?

I know, I know, what am I talking about, I am part of this explosion of nerd like activity on the Internet otherwise known as blogging. Yes, don't worry, I worry about myself sometimes. I shall now go read about why Britney shaved her head. Later skaters.
The top 100 Boston Red Sox of all time

The continuing story of the..
Top 100 Red Sox of All Time: A Sox Blogs Project

Basically, 'it does what it says on the tin', several Sox bloggers got together and spent a while selecting their top 100 of all time to wear a Boston uniform.

Starting February 6th, through the end of Spring Training, contributing authors will be posting biographies of the Top 100 Red Sox of all time at their own blogs and here at Top 100 Red Sox of all time

The countdown will begin with #100 and build all the way to the best player to ever put on a Red Sox uniform. It is currently at number 73!

This from one of the groups creators;

''As a group, we've combed through history to rank the 100 players based on their career performance in a Red Sox uniform. Statistics achieved for other teams were not factored into this analysis. We wanted to find the greatest Red Sox player of all time more than we wanted to find the best player to wear the Red Sox colors.''

The 'breathless fan-boys' (as Dan Shaughnessy calls us) were given a few players each out of the top 100 to write bios on. So far I have penned Buck Freeman and Keith Foulke with several more to come.

I think it's a great little project, and I am delighted to be on board. If you are a Sox fan take a few minutes to check it out!

Monday, February 19, 2007

Liverpool FC and the Cincinnati Bengals
Separated at birth?

This one is for those of you following the Cincinnati Bengals immortal quest to have ten members of their squad arrested in the one season. The are currently at nine and I am giving them to the end of the draft before closing the book on that one.

Liverpool Football Club seem to be determined to follow in the Bengals illustrious footsteps. This from the Guardian online edition

''Liverpool's preparations for Wednesday's Champions League game at Barcelona have been overshadowed by drunken misbehaviour on the Algarve. Craig Bellamy is facing a heavy fine and an uncertain future after a night out allegedly concluded with the forward using a golf club to attack his team-mate John Arne Riise.''

Nice. A golf club, no less. Bellamy is an aggressive little miscreant, for years my Dad has been warning 'he's a nasty little piece of work and will get into serious trouble eventually' and lo and behold he was right all along.

''Riise, who seemingly sustained bruises to his legs, was able to train alongside Bellamy yesterday and may receive a lesser punishment.''

Why on earth would he be punished for being beaten with a golf club? The mind boggles.

The dispute itself. Over a love interest perhaps? Or an insult maybe? Apparently not.

''The dispute involving Bellamy and Riise seemingly started with a karaoke competition in the early hours of Friday morning, when Bellamy took offence at the Norwegian left-back's refusal to sing.''

Now that's taking your Karaoke seriously.

You in the States thought T.O. was a distraction, and that Merriman was bad news, well Bellamy has class written all over him.

A history of trouble

  • February 2002 Receives a caution for hitting a woman in a nightclub
  • March 2003 Charged with racially aggravated harassment outside a nightclub but later acquitted
  • March 2004 Throws a chair at John Carver, Newcastle's assistant manager
  • January 2005 Fined £80,000 by Graeme Souness for calling him a liar
  • April 2005 Abuses former Newcastle team-mate, Alan Shearer, by text
  • September 2006 Rows in tunnel with Newcastle coach Terry McDermott
  • November 2006 Bellamy cleared of assaulting teenage girl in a nightclub

Then moral of the story appears to be, if you are the manager of a football team, team-bonding trips are to be avoided at all costs! Check this merry little list of disastrous bonding events out!

Pay no attention to that curly haired man behind the curtain!
Dan Shaughnessy v the World

Oh boy does Mr Dan Shaughnessy like to poke fun at people. The Boston Globe's Sox columnist has a pop at at least one individual in most articles. His acerbic style of writing is generally entertaining and I for one really got up to speed with what it means to be part of Red Sox Nation by reading his Magnus Opus 'The Curse of the Bambino' while working on the Cape for a summer in 1993.

Every now and then, however, he manages to not only cause the reader to raise an eyebrow in surprise, he also manages to offend a reader like no other current Baseball Journalist (yes, even George King).

Take one of his latest efforts, entitled;
''Baseball season means a trip to wondering land with Manny''

Now, Dan absolutely loves taking swings at Manny Ramirez. I likened it once to the Simpsons character Frank Grimes who's passionate hatred of Homer Simpson ultimately leads to his demise. .Shaughnessy seems to hate Ramirez to the same extent.

In this piece, however, Dan manages to take jabs at Keith Foulke, Curt Schilling, Red Sox fans who write blogs and indeed Manny himself. I ask out loud, Dan, why so angry? Why do you have to scream this absurd nonsense at us when all around you the Globe journalists (Wilbur, Edes, Ryan etc) generally excel at what they do in a rational, well thought out and peaceful manner?

His 'jabs' are short and brief this time round, but all serve to illustrate how spiteful Shaughnessy can be when the mood takes him. First off the bat Dan tries a one-two combo aimed at Keith Foulke and Curt Schilling. In one fell swoop he ridicules two of the primary reasons the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004. Dan rants;

''We have rejoiced in the retirement of Keith Foulke and we won't sleep until the Sox make a decision on the 2008 contract extension for the Big Blowhard himself, the inimitable Schill.''

Now I do have a theory on why he hates Schilling and Foulke with such glee. With the Sox win of 2004 a new aura of optimism and hope surrounds the Red Stockings and this is not good for Dan's book sales. When all you do is throw vitriol and spite at people, well, you need hard times to be popular.

That aside, Dan shows how bitter he can be by rejoicing in an injured baseball players retirement (Foulke). Apparently Shaughnessy is not a fan of 'My name is Earl' or any other Karmic entertainment. Enjoying anyones demise through injury is just about the lowest of the low.

After having taken a couple of pot shots at two of his favourite whipping boys Dan then turns on Red Sox fans from all around the Globe, preaching;

''This Sox talk is enough to fill the sports hole for the nightly news at 6 and 11 and keeps the fan-boy bloggers breathlessly e-mailing one another 24/7. ''

Well, sorry Dan. I completely apologise, along with all the other Red Sox fans who enjoy writing harmlessly about their favourite sport, team and pastime in the form of blogs. I (and indeed 'we' I am sure) am enormously sorry for even daring to pen anything about the Red Sox and I promise not to get excited about them this season. I particularly promise to remain in control of my breathing at all times during same season.

For the love of God. Do you think Shaughnessy hates puppies? Probably. Does anything escape his bitter rhetoric?

To cap it all off Dan goes back to his favourite topic and spends a little time slating Manny Ramirez. Naturally everyone is absolutely welcome to their opinions however Frank Grimes, sorry, I mean Dan Shaughnessy, beats this dead horse like no one else alive.

He starts with a little shot across the bows;

''Nothing from Manny's teammates who loathe his attitude but bite their tongues and say nothing ''

My first question is, if his team mates have said nothing, how does he know they hate him? Personally I think many of Manny's team mates seem very at ease around the chap. You are telling me David Ortiz hates Manny Ramirez? Sorry Dan, you may be selling but I aint buyin'.

Dan continues with;

''Manny has the Nation over a barrel and he knows it. His talent has allowed him to go through life without the rules that apply to the rest of us.''

So now we should picture Ramirez sitting in a oversized white chair stroking a cat giggling with glee as to how he has fooled Red Sox Nation?

Finally, Dan offers;

"Hey, who is that Japanese guy and why is he wearing Johnny Damon's number?"

Well now, that's just plain insulting, insinuating Ramirez doesn't know that the Sox have a couple of new Japanese players and that Johnny Damon is long gone.

Come on Dan, why so much anger? We are all here to help you. Come out of the shadows and into the light. The Red Sox are tuning up for what should be a great season and the sun is shining. It's a beautiful day! If you don't start being nice, the 'breathless' denizens of Red Sox N ation are going to have to drop an intervention on you. You have been warned!
Red Sox Digest 19th Feb 2007
All the Red Sox news that's fit to print

Every morning before work I go through the online papers and pick out the best of the Boston Red Sox related articles in the Globe, Herald and many others so you can just sit there, point, click and read. Considering I am five hours ahead of the East Coast of the USA, I am posting this as most of your alarm clocks go off over there. Enjoy.

Let's chop it up. First off the bat, congratulations to a few people. Congratulations to Boston Celtics youngster Gerald Green, Movie star Bridget Moynahan and New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady.

To Brady and Moynahan first. From the NY Post - February 18, 2007 -- ''BRIDGET Moynahan, the star of ABC's "Six Degrees," is expecting and the father is New England Patriot All-Pro quarterback Tom Brady, although the couple is no longer together.''

Same story different slant in the Boston Globe.

Congratulations too to Gerald Green, who won the weekends All Star slam-dunk championship.

High-flying Green slam dunk champ
By Peter May, Globe Staff | February 18, 2007

''Look Ma, I can fly!''

LAS VEGAS -- Gerald Green blew away the competition with an assortment of creative dunks that touched on Celtics history and showed the world his extraordinary hops last night to become the 2007 Slam Dunk champion. It wasn't even close.

On to the Sox news and first off the Boston Herald

Dice-K earns stripes: Team-building begins
By Tony Massarotti - Boston Herald Sports Columnist
'' ‘Did you see him carrying my equipment bag? I told him its an American custom.’ - Jason Varitek, explaining why Daisuke Matsuzaka lugged the catchers equipment onto the field yesterday at spring training ''

Matsuzaka likely to debut vs. Eagles
By Jeff Horrigan/ Red Sox Notebook - Boston Herald Sports Reporter
Monday, February 19, 2007
''FORT MYERS - The Red Sox [team stats]’ formerly meaningless exhibition game with Boston College is likely to be the most important sporting event to an entire nation this year.
That nation, however, will be Japan. Terry Francona announced yesterday that Daisuke Matsuzaka will most likely start against the Eagles in the March 2 exhibition game (6:05 p.m.) at City Of Palms Park.''

Pen shift a relief: Pineiro enjoys new role
By Tony Massarotti - Boston Herald Sports Columnist
Monday, February 19, 2007
''FORT MYERS - It is hardly a coincidence that Daisuke Matsuzaka’s locker is next to that of catcher Jason Varitek in the clubhouse at the Red Sox [team stats]’ minor league complex. But let the record show that the man living on the other side of Varitek is not there by accident, either.''

Weight’s off his shoulder: Trim Pedroia ready to earn keeps
By Jeff Horrigan - Boston Herald Sports Reporter

Schilling cranking it up: Just getting loose with arm, lips
By Jeff Horrigan - Boston Herald Sports Reporter

MLB: Bernie has minor dissatisfaction in Yanks
By Herald wire services
''Bernie Williams wants a guarantee, not a maybe, so it appears he won’t be with the New York Yankees when position players start workouts tomorrow. ''

It’s full steam ahead for Lester
By Jeff Horrigan/ Red Sox Notebook
Boston Herald Sports Reporter

Varitek still rock solid: Veteran has staff’s trust
By Tony Massarotti - Boston Herald Sports Columnist

On to the Red Sox news in the Boston Globe

Ace touches on foreign policy, health care
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 19, 2007
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- He spared Terry Francona the trouble of naming an Opening Day starter by matter of factly mentioning he's planning to pitch that day.

Early returns favorable
Varitek, Schilling laud Matsuzaka
By Amalie Benjamin, Globe Staff | February 19, 2007

Spring flings mark Sox' first workout
By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Columnist | February 19, 2007

Tavarez: Ramírez a latecomer

By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 19, 2007
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox pitcher Julian Tavarez said in a TV interview last night that Manny Ramírez will not report to camp until March 1 because his mother requires surgery for an undisclosed reason.

Baseball season means a trip to wondering land with Manny

By Dan Shaughnessy, Globe Columnist

Time to get throwing
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 18, 2007
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Daisuke Matsuzaka is among the first group of Red Sox pitchers who will throw bullpen sessions today, when the team takes the field for its first official workout of camp.

Sox, Yankees are an unmatched pair

By Nick Cafardo
A look at the American League; second of two parts

An age-old question for Varitek
Catcher says he has something to prove
By Gordon Edes, Globe Staff | February 18, 2007
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- In 106 seasons of Red Sox baseball, there's Birdie Tebbetts, who did it twice, in 1948 and '49, and Tony Pena, the last to do it, in 1992. They are the only Sox catchers 35 or older who managed as many as 400 at-bats in a season.

Checking things out behind enemy lines...
The New York papers (The NY Times and the NY Post)
The New York Times up first

Following His Heart, Samardzija Cuts Off Route to N.F.L.
By KAREN CROUSE - Published: February 19, 2007

With Pride, Howard Says M.V.P. Ability Is All Natural
By JACK CURRY - Published: February 19, 2007

Sympathy in Camp as a Friend Stays Away
By TYLER KEPNER - Published: February 19, 2007

For Tigers Pitchers, Fielding Comes First
By JACK CURRY - Published: February 17, 2007

The New York Post

February 19, 2007 -- TAMPA - Ten weeks in the desert rehabilitating his body didn't prepare Carl Pavano's legs for the early part of spring training. So, when the Yankees rotation participated in fielding drills yesterday, Pavano was sidelined due to heavy legs caused by three days of running on grass.


February 19, 2007 -- TAMPA - Joe Torre believes he knows why Bernie Williams wasn't among the position players who reported to camp yesterday and why his career could be finished.

yankee blog
by george king
Bernie Williams is running out of time. If this is the end of a great Yankees' career, get ready for Bernie Williams Day.

Friday, February 16, 2007

100 Greatest Red Sox >> #76
Keith Foulke, P, #29 (2004-2006)

Note: Starting February 6th, through the end of Spring Training, contributing authors will be posting biographies of the Top 100 Red Sox of all time at their own blogs and here at Top 100 Red Sox of all time

Further note - I wrote this just earlier this week before knowing Keith was about to retire and I am meant to post this on Sunday on the Top 100 blog but I had to pop this up here on my own blog tonight as a mark of respect to Foulke who retired today. Enjoy

In sporting commentary there is a popular cliche where the commentator says 'Fans of (team X) are very divided on (player X)'. When it comes to Red Sox fans and Keith Charles Foulke, the split isn't as much 50/50 for/against as it is 80/20 against/for.

Keith Foulke was a Boston player between 2004 and 2006, two years of much drama and controversy indeed. If he had left Boston in 2004 he would have left a hero. Instead, after two years battling knee, arm and back injuries along with a problematic personal life, Foulke left town for the Cleveland Indians with the majority of the Boston media and a sadly large proportion of Boston's fans only too happy to show him the way out.

Taking a step back, Foulke's legacy will always be the awesome 2004 campaign he turned in for the Red Sox. When the Sox attempts to run the closer position 'by committee' in 2003 failed miserably they set their minds to bring in a shut-down closer in the offseason. Foulke signed on from Oakland and promptly gave Boston fans exactly what they wanted, a dominant closer.

In 2004, his first year with the Red Sox, Keith saved 32 games in 39

opportunities while racking up 79 strikeouts and a regal 2.17 ERA across 83 innings. His numbers were fantastic but he was only getting started. In the 2004 postseason, Foulke appeared in 11 of 14 games turning his own gam

e up to another level, throwing 257 pitches over 14 innings. He clocked up 19 strikeouts in those 14 innings, and over the entire stretch, allow exactly one earned run on a completely meaningless solo shot long ball. At the time many in the media (who were about to drop verbal napalm all over him for the next two years) believed he should have been named the World Series MVP over Manny Ramirez.

I will never, ever forget the 2004 playoff run Keith Foulke had. From his uplifting strike out of Tony Clark with the Sox in big, big trouble against the Yankees, to his absolute abuse of a totally over matched Jim Edmonds and Scott Rolen in the World Series proper, Foulke had an entirely sensational 2004 playoffs.

On October 31, 2004 Jim McBride of the Boston Globe announced:

''It's unlikely Foulke, an avid hockey fan, will have to pick up a check in town for quite a while''

Just recently, Foulke filed for free agency and is no longer a Red Sox player. His manager had this to say as reported by Tony Massaroti of the Boston Herald;

'I don’t want to forget -- or have anybody else forget -- what he accomplished here,' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said late yesterday. 'It was phenomenal what he did here in 2004. I mean phenomenal. We don’t win anything without him.' "

Happy ending so, a player who should be forever remembered as a hero to the Red Sox 'nation', heads off into the sunset, his managers accolades ringing in our ears? Apparently not. As Foulke filed for free agency, Tony Massaroti actually said;

''Now Foulke is gone and here is the truly amazing thing: No one is shedding a tear. Not Foulke, not Epstein, not anyone who has watched the Red Sox over the past two seasons.''

He followed up that completely, self revealed erroneous statement (he had just reported that Francona was indeed very sad to see him go) with this sanctimonious rubbish:

''That might all be considered sad were it not for the simple fact that Foulke brought so much of this upon himself.''

If Massaroti had taken a step back and considered real life for a brief second he would have realised Foulke was hit by knee injuries, arm problems and a debilitating divorce in 2005. There is no doubt his acerbic personality didn't exactly demand that people support him, but there was no reason for the 'Shock and awe' campaign most of the New England media launched on him. He did not 'bring it on himself', if anything all that he proved was his inability to eloquently defend himself in the face of mounting criticism.

If only people would take Foulke's comments in perspective. From 2005 on he was wound up, frustrated and disappointed. He made some poorly thought out, throw away comments and probably instantly regretted them himself. The irony is most of them are actually reasonably amusing if you take a deep breath and avoid the 'cast the first stone' mentality.

Keith Foulke is a baseball player. He is not a journalist, a reporter or a politician. He does not have time to create measured, careful comments. He doesn't get to sit behind a keyboard and pick apart every single word that comes from someones mouth. Further still, he is not paid to be a spokesperson for anyone. Nowhere in his contract does it say that he should be an eloquent speaker on behalf of anyone. He is what he is, he is paid to throw the ball past Major League batters. End of story.

The slating he took, and still takes, for some acerbic, muddled and yes, regrettable comments, is completely out of order and uncalled for. It is shooting ducks in a barrel and the glee which people like Massoroti, Dan 'negativity' Shaughnessy and the unfailingly negative 'Boston Dirt Dogs' site ride the comments to personal gain is absolutely unnecessary. Further more, particularly on the parts of established journalists like Shaugnessy and Massaroti, it is shockingly lazy.

Keith Foulke throws the final pitches on Opening Day, 2005 (4/11/05)
Taken by Scott Norwood

Why didn't those who were so quick to latch onto this totally inane and substance-light story give any air time to Foulke's explanation of the comment?

Given time to respond Keith Foulke said at the time;

“Yeah, I apologize to those people. You know what, the whole, like I said, the whole part. It was part of a joke and once again the media goes out there. They don’t print the first part of the joke where it puts people in the funny mood. It started off with ‘I’m not inviting him, I’m not inviting the people that are booing me, I’m not inviting them to my World Series party.’… That’s where the joke starts. And the last line is kind of a follow-up line. If you don’t hear the first part, yeah you may not understand the second part. You gotta take the whole thing and evaluate the whole sentence. Not just part of it.”

Clearly the whole story just isn't as dramatic when balanced out with either the entire quote, or Keith's explanation. So instead of actually giving us the whole story we were treated to part of it to validate certain journalists days work, to make them feel better about themselves and what they do.

Sadly I guess that's how it works. Foulke gets absolutely destroyed for a spoken, spur of the moment comment, while journalists can make thought-out comments that are the equal and if not worse of Foulke's and get away with it completely. They actually get paid for this Calvinistic, mid eighties 'woe is me' trash, and no one takes them to task over their often lazy, irresponsible and self serving writing. The amazing propensity for Boston scribes to find ways to attack Foulke is mind boggling. Take Massaroti's feeble summing up of the personality of Keith Foulke

'' Off the field, for whatever reason, Foulke seemed perpetually grumpy and displeased.''

Right, so, I guess everybody has to smile for the camera, Tony? Massaroti admits in his column; ''Foulke battled injuries to his knees, back and arm'' and it is common knowledge that Foulke went through a very bitter divorce proceeding in 2005. However, I guess he should dance around happily like Homer does for Marge, singing;

''Look at me! I'm making people happy! I'm the magical man from Happy Land in a gumdrop house on Lollipop Lane!''

Maybe if Keith had adopted that false strategy everything would have worked out fine, and the media would have left him alone to deal with his personal issues and injuries and would have dealt with him for what he is, a baseball player.

A pitcher that was one of the main reasons the Boston Red Sox won the World Series in 2004.

Sadly, it appears we live in a world where journalists like Massaroti ascribe to another Homer Simpson quote;

''“Sometimes the only way you can feel good about yourself is by making someone else look bad.''

There is a scene in 'The Departed' where Matt Damon and a few other State Troopers sit in an office with this below exact picture clearly in the background. That's Keith Foulke, celebrating making the last out of the 2004 World Series.

With Foulke, 'It is what it is', he is a baseball player and if you are a Red Sox fan he delivered, on a plate, your wildest dreams. Take it all for what it is, let those who need sensationalist, false and doctored stories to further their careers do so on their own.

Always remember this picture and just move on.

This Top 100 Red Sox of all time profile was written by Cormac Eklof @ ''I didn't know there was baseball in Ireland?!''

Irish National baseball team

Irish National baseball team
Team Ireland at the European Championships, Croatia, 2000.

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports

A nice little mention for this blog on Fox Sports


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