White Hat Sports Headlines

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Manny the Putz

Here we are at the trade deadline, or wait, I have to say this properly as deemed by the network of sports writers.
"As the trade deadline looms just 4 hours away" here is where we stand on a few Red Sox issues that are still out there.

~The fashionable thing to say about the wide spread rumor that the Red Sox are going to trade Manny Ramirez to the Florida Marlins in a three way trade where the Sox would obtain Jason Bay and John Grabow, is that the deal isn't going to happen. That's because 12 hours ago the rumor going around on baseballprospectus.com was that the deal was finished and it was at the commissioner's office waiting for the t's to be crossed and the lower case j's to be dotted. Then Gammons spoke, saying that the deal wasn't done yet and there were still "obstacles" standing in the way of the trade.
My take: This deal is probably 50/50 right now. I am always a pessimist about these big trades at the deadline and I'm always surprised about big trades going down. I remember being shocked last season when the Sox got Eric "Game Over" Gagne, and being beyond psyched about getting him. If this deal goes through it will reach Nomar like proportions for me, because right now this team is past the point of no return when it comes to Manny and this team in general right now. Something has to happen or this season is going to become like 2001 when Carl Everett killed the team chemistry and after Jimy "One M" Williams got fired Joe Kerrigan absolutely killed whatever was left. (They even fired the bullpen coach John Cumberland who was named pitching coach and when Cumberland claimed they had no reason for firing him Dan Duquette called him an alcoholic and a lush. This was next to the days after Aaron Boone the darkest days of being a Sox fan in the last decade.) I fear that this will happen again if Manny stays with this team, because I can't take many more games like last night, it was an absolute embarrassment. Just when the unthinkable happened (Coco Crisp homering) the game went right down the urinal. The defense turned into a group of Julio Lugo's, even gold glover Kevin Youkilis looked like Bob Hamlin for a couple innings. I like Jason Bay a lot, I think he's the best case scenario of what the Red Sox would get in turn for Manny. Either he walks at the end of the season or they trade him to Florida for a couple prospects and Josh Willingham? The fundamental difference between the two are that the Pittsburgh deal would keep the Sox in the race, the Florida deal would maybe put them in contention next year if they make a couple more deals in the off season.

~The latest rumor that I've heard is that the Mariners might have made JJ Putz available for trade talks. There are no match ups or anything like that, but the rumored teams to be interested are the Red Sox and the Mets.
My take: I don't see anything happening here, but it would be a great move for the Red Sox. It would be like Gagne x 30. He has had injuries worries but his fastball is still lightining and in the high 90's and has movement on his slider. This would be a great move, not sure what they would have to give up for him, it would have to be something fairly substantial I would guess. Who knows, this is intriguing.

~Just got a text message from my buddy Zach. "Griffey to the Sox!!!" I got excited for a second even though I know he is going to the White Sox, for a second, a dream almost came true. Ken Griffey Jr, was the greatest player I've seen play in my lifetime. In the 1990's he was the best player by a mile, there wasn't even a comparison. He's a transparent guy, just seeing him in my team's uniform would be surreal.
I'm off to Bangor to spend the trading deadline with Jackson. Maybe a double post later from the Sea Dog?
We'll see.

Sterling Pingree

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Where we are at 5:41pm Tuesday

With all of the blogs and updates out there swirling, I have to decided to take it upon myself to be the filter and only relay news on things that involve the World Champion (an under used phrase this season) Boston Red Sox.
Here's where we stand as of 5:41pm on Tuesday:
Manny has been shopped to the Mets, Omar Minaya wants him, but the organization doesn't want him. They seem to be more interested in a cheaper alternative such as Raul Ibanez. The Mets are expected to wait till the last possible second so they can have all the information about Ryan Church before going ahead and looking for his replacement.
The Dodgers are the most likely suitor at the moment with the likely deal involving Matt Kemp or James Loney. Kemp seems to be the one that Boston covets but in all of the news involving this trade, it involves the Red Sox turning around and trading Kemp to Atlanta for Mark Teixiera.
My take: This all makes sense until you get to the nuts and bolts of where people are going to play. I think Teixiera is a solid replacement for Ramirez in a sea of rentals and lesser alternatives. The problem for me is where would he play? Both Youkilis and Teixiera are gold glove first basemen with similar athleticism. Youkilis has had to play the outfield this season and has in his career, but do you really want to move him to a new position for the second time in his career after he has already become a gold glover at his first new position? I don't really think so. Teixiera's bat would fit into the line up perfectly, a switch hitter with power in the middle of the line up, makes the team very versatile and a tough match up for pitchers. I just don't see both of these deals happening right now, too much in the way.
EDIT: Teixiera was just traded by the Braves to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for Casey Kotchman and minor league pitcher Stephan Marek. Maybe now they won't bat Izturis 3rd? Just a thought.

The name that has been thrown around today is Doug Brocail. He is a solid reliever from Houston and the time that I saw him pitch this season against Boston he was lights out and gave the Astro's a win in the Sunday game. He would be a good addition to the struggling bullpen right now, and would come at a decent price. The other rumor from Houston that broke last night has the Red Sox obtaining Miguel Tejada from Houston, with nothing known of what the Red Sox would have to give up. The Red Sox spoke last night and said that they have no interest in Miguel Tejada, but it's still Tuesday so there is still time before the Thursday deadline for the talks to come back if they happened in the first place.
My take: The possibility of trading Julio Lugo for Miguel Tejada has me down right giddy. Imagine Ortiz, Ramirez and Tejada in the middle of the Red Sox line up for the rest of the season, that would be production unlimited especially with what they have around them in the order. Do I think Tejada will come to Boston? No, not if it doesn't involve Manny Ramirez, but the rumor today is that Houston still thinks that they are in the running for the playoffs, (doubt it) and aren't selling off pieces. Though if Houston did want to dump some salary they would be taking 5 million off by getting Julio Lugo back for Tejada who is set to make 14 million opposed to Lugo's 9 million.
Brocail seems like something that will happen, since the Red Sox haven't been named in anything to do with Ron Mahay and Brian Fuentes seems to be staying put with the Rockies.

The Sox are also kicking the tires on Taylor Teagarden the catching prospect from the University of Texas who is currently in the Texas Rangers system and has played a couple games in the majors this season. The Red Sox need to be looking at catchers as Jason Varitek goes to free agency this off season. Though right now seems like an odd time to be talking about moves like this.

More as it comes down.
Sterling Pingree

Down Goes Shaughnessy...DOWN GOES SHAUGHNESSY!!!!!

This isn't a new update from me, sorry to get anyone excited, but more showing you the battle against idiot was won. Don't take my word for it, just take a look at the last three articles he's written...
Everyone Hates Manny Because I Say They Do, So He Will Be Gone Soon.

Remember 2004 When I Ran Nomar Out Of Town??? Well, If You Let Me Do It Again Maybe We'll Win The World Series.

I'm Not Going To Talk About Manny Because...Oh, Wait, I've Got To Complain About Something All The Time. You Fans Aren't Real Baseball Fans Because You Don't Want Manny Gone.

~Aaron Jackson

Sunday, July 27, 2008

There's Something about Manny

Picture it, it's one minute shy of 11pm on Sunday night. The Red Sox are comfortably leading the Yankees 7-2 in the bottom of the 6th, in a series that has been a let down since game one in terms of competitiveness and drama. All anybody wanted to talk about heading into this contest was Manny Ramirez and his comments made before the game. By the way, wasn't everybody happier when Manny didn't talk to anybody? I mean hell, the guy was placed on irrevocable waivers and never uttered a peep, and now suddenly the guy makes Curt Schilling look like Harpo Marx. The Manny talk was reaching a Favre-ish pitch even making it rain in Boston to push the game back an hour, just so John Kruk, Karl Ravech and Buster Olney could have more time to talk about Manny.

In the previous post on this very website, my compatriot (by the way, compatriot is defiantly my word of the month) Mr. Jackson made the argument that Shaughnessy and Bob Lobel are now running Manny out of town like they have with other players in Boston that they didn't like. Jackson listed Nomar as the player that Shaughnessy ran out of town when the most important person that Shaughnessy had the most influence over their departure was Theo Epstein. If you read Seth Mnookin's tremendous book "Feeding the Monster" (which should be mandatory reading for any Red Sox fan the way Drive: The Story of My Life by Larry Bird is for Celtics fans) he chronicles how Shaughnessy's column on a Sunday made Epstein leave the Red Sox on Halloween 2005. I'm not defending anybody in these situations, I even had Dan on my radio show the following week and asked about the GM situation now that Epstein was gone. But the history of writers influences teams and seemingly "pushing"athletes out of town.

~The Colonel Dave Egan tried for years to push Ted Williams out of town but never did it. Instead he waged a battle that lasted Williams entire career in Boston.

~Everybody remembers the battle between Dan Duquette and Roger Clemens and before Clemens was viewed as a criminal in the court of public opinion he was shown as a vindicated hero forced out of town by the management who dropped the infamous "twilight of his career" line. What people forget though was the battle that worn on between Roger Clemens and the late Will McDonough, who went as far as calling Clemens the "Texas Con-man". McDonough had a great relationship though with John Harrington, who was stingy to the nth degree and didn't want to pay anybody, so McDonough was used to paint an unflattering portrait of superstars heading towards free agency. Which brings me to .......give me a moment........this one is still painful.

~Mo Vaughn......Sniffle. McDonough carried out the wishes of Harrington when he decided that he wasn't going to pay market value for a team leader like Vaughn but would pay above market for guys like Dante Bichette and Jose Offerman. I blame Harrington for this, but McDonough was his mouthpiece that tried to make it right in the public. As you can tell, they never won me over.

(Somebody just gave Mariano Rivera a Wet Willy in the bullpen. Wow, that's all I can say, wow.)

Game note: Jacoby Ellsbury has 3 hits tonight batting 9th. I love this move by Terry, I've seen it done before and it takes the pressure off younger guys. Plus he can still set the table, because as we know to get to the lead off hitter after the first inning it helps if your number 9 guy can get aboard for him. In this case, isn't it a good thing to have people on base for the American Dream Dustin Pedroia? Back to the column.

We've been in a similar situation with Manny before oh ye of short term memories. It was three years ago and I remember where I was and who I was with the entire week. I was working at a summer camp and the clientele of the camp were kids from New York, DC and a few from Boston. We were on the big trip at he end of the summer which just happened to be in Boston and it was the week leading up to the trading deadline which was great because at the camp it was tough to find out news as it happened because there was only one TV. On the trip all the kids and I were plugged into ESPN the whole time and I was constantly checking my cellphone for updates. Manny was heading out of town to the New York Mets for a package of prospects and the only one I remember from the group was Lastings Milledge (oy vey). Well the kids that were staying with me were all Mets fans as a majority of the kids at the camp were aside from a few bandwagon Yankee kids, for them I made them run laps. So for two days I was surrounded by Met fans who were making jokes like "Can we go to Olympia Sports? I want to get my new Manny Ramirez jersey!"

It was a long trip, but it was fun looking back on it. One day we were out on Martha's Vineyard and everybody there who knew anything was in a panic about Manny. There was something about being on the island that just made me feel isolated, maybe it was the sketchy cell phone service, or the fact that there is water everywhere you look, but I couldn't help but feel like I could have changed something from happening if I was on the main land. Two days later back at the camp I was the biggest celebrity in camp because I had my Dad calling me with Manny updates on July 31st and guess what, nothing happened. Manny stayed in Boston and two seasons later, contributed to another World Series Champion.

I will leave you with one final thought after seeing Manny put out an effort tonight and seems like he won't phone in the final two months of this season.

Will Manny still want the extra 5 million dollars he says he wants now, if he's sipping Champagne for the 3rd time this October?

Sterling Pingree

"This Is Like Deja Vu All Over Again"

With every Sox season comes a special time. Not the playoffs, not the World Series, not even opening day. Nope, one of the most memorable times every Sox season seems to be the Manny Media Madness. Let me explain...

Every year there comes a point where Manny makes a mistake, and then "leaked" media reports come out that suggest that management is slightly upset about said mistake. Then uppity curmudgeons like Dan Shaughnessy, Bob Lobel, and others who don't like Manny decide to throw gasoline on the fire, creating Manny Media Madness. Take for example Bob Lobel. He is a now disgraced sports anchor who was let go after many years in the Boston television market. So what does Lobel do? He decides that he can say whatever he wants, and takes the first shot right at Manny, suggesting Manny's at bat against Mariano where Manny went down on three straight strikes looking was Manny's way of protesting being put in the game. He comes out and makes these allegations while giving no sources whatsoever, and other media members give him the credibility he so clearly is actually lacking. He then says the team fined Manny a number in the triple digits. Notice no specifics here, it could potentially be anywhere from 100,000 to 999,999. Pretty big range, no? And despite the fact that multiple reports surfaced later stating Manny was fined around 10,000 for the incident with the traveling secretary (a much more realistic amount), people still believed Lobel.

Then enters Dan Shaughnessy. His hatred for Manny is well known, and he is by far one of the crankiest old stiffs to ever cover sports. I'll admit that I severely dislike him as a disclaimer, but Shaughnessy likes to think he is above and beyond anyone else out there, when frankly his ego is way over-inflated compared to his actual ability. He almost single-handedly ran Nomar out of town, and I'm sure he will throw a party the day he succeeds at doing the same to Manny. Here is what he wrote recently...

"Manny has punched his ticket out of town. It's over. O-VA. Adios, amigo. Good night, Irene. Turn out the lights. Last night's 1-0 loss to the Yankees (think they could have used Manny?) was the proverbial last worthless evening."

You can read the full article right here, and after you can watch his video in which he also rips on Manny, reminding me of the Crocker kid protecting Britney Spears. Or you could try to "hide a pencil" in your eye like the Joker. Personally, I'd go with option b. Anyway, idiot (Shaughnessy is too long to type, and I can't use the words I really want to use to describe him, so idiot will have to do) announced that the fans and team are fed up with Manny. No sources other than this one...

"Former state treasurer Bob Crane happened by the EMC Club, pregame, and spoke for many fans when he said, "Manny's got to go. Enough's enough. Fans are finally sick of this guy.""

So one guy is now the voice of the fans? Personally, I like having a 300 hitter with major power that is one of the best right handed hitters ever to play, but that's just me.

I understand some people consider themselves "baseball purists", and you know what, that's fine. If you want to think your a better person for hating Manny then go for it. But me, I'll take the guy that will go down as one of the best players in Sox history, that was a major factor in the Sox finally breaking the 86 year slump and winning two in the last four years.

And even if we wanted to trade Manny, we can't get equal value. The names out there normally are Josh Hamilton and Matt Holliday, both who we can't get for Manny straight up. Plus, they do their work at home in hitters ballparks, with Coors ranked fourth in ballpark factor and Rangers Stadium sixth. And if you look at their splits, they both bat around 260 with considerably less power on the road compared to at home. And before you say Fenway is also a hitters park, don't be so certain. Fenway is actually just about even in ballpark factor between hitters and pitchers, and is twelfth overall. So not only will you have to give up more than Manny to get them, they also have numbers that are inflated by home ballparks, both in average and in power numbers.

Manny came out today and said he would accept a trade anywhere if the team truly thinks they are better off without him, which they aren't. He even went as far as to say that he thinks the Sox should trade him if they consider him a distraction as he doesn't want to hurt the team. To me, that shows a lot of class, definitely a lot more than idiot and his goons.

When Manny was asked about his knee problems, which by the way he has had over the years, he said this...

"I'm a ballplayer with more than 500 home runs and almost 2,000 RBIs. I'm a professional. I don't know how anybody can say I could be making it all up."

And he's right. He is getting older, and he has had a history of knee injuries. Why wouldn't we believe him if he says his knee hurts? The baseball season is a long one, and giving the guy a couple days off isn't the end of the world, despite idiot thinking that the game was "the biggest game of the year." Really? A game in July is the biggest game of the year? Personally, I like to think the games in October are slightly more important, but you're the "professional writer", not me. You must be right idiot.

And finally, Manny said this today during the same interview as before with ESPN Deportes...

"The Yankees are getting closer and getting stronger, while we haven't done much," said Ramirez. "I could say that right now there's a strange atmosphere in our team."

And you know what, he's right once again. The Yankees could tie us for second place with a win today, with the Sox having one more win on our record and the Yankees having one less loss.

Something has to be done, I'll agree with idiot on that. But what needs to be done is him shutting up, along with his fellow goons. Let Manny do what he does. He stays out of trouble off the field, he puts in great performances year after year, and when it comes time to play in October he's one of the best. He may make the occasional mistake, and he's not Trot Nixon, but you're fooling yourself if you think he doesn't care about the Sox and baseball.

Now that the Sox have started to win regularly, idiot curmudgeon needs something new to complain about. He doesn't have his beloved curse anymore, so he attacks Manny. It's unfortunate, but in the end Manny always stays, he always performs, and eventually idiot gives up until next year. And with the Sox really starting to struggle lately, I hope that is exactly what happens this year. Because if the Sox get rid of Manny, in the famous words of Yogi Berra, they could be making a "wrong mistake."

~Aaron Jackson

Friday, July 25, 2008

History In The Making

Alright, so I’m about to attempt something never attempted before, at least to my knowledge. I am going to do a double jogging diary. I will switch between the USA Basketball Team and the Sox-Yankees game. Here’s the catch; once USA is up by twenty I’m done.

8:07 PM: Canada showing some early aggression. Interesting to note that the Canadian team has only one white player starting. I would have expected more.

8:10 PM: USA up by five right now, and Wade nailed a three with the announcer’s reaction being “I think Wade is already wet right now”, followed by “I don’t think Kobe is getting off right to start.” Awwwwkward. Time to switch.

8:11 PM: Top four already, and the Yankees are up one to nothing. I hate the newly minted Sox fans with a passion, because you see them all the time talking about how the Yankees suck and they aren’t scared of them. No offense, but if you were a fan of the Sox earlier than 2004 you would know better than to not be scared of the Yankees. I’ll be O.K. with the Sox when they have a 20 game lead with 30 games left. No sooner.

8:15 PM: Varitek throws out Melky Cabrera perfectly. I think we should just allow Tek to take a baseball whenever he gets up to bat and just throw it. That way we don’t have to watch him hit and his average is bound to go up.

8:18 PM: I switch back over to USA action just in time to hear the announcer say that Kobe is too cool for school. This announcer is extremely, extremely awkward. I think he should travel back about 40 years in time, he would fit in then. Also, Jesse Young for Canada looks exactly like Chris Kaman, only with black hair. Poor guy. USA still only up by five. They need to get to twenty soon, otherwise I won’t be able to use my wrists to hit in the ABC Vs. Local Merchants Softball game tomorrow.

8:22 PM: The announcer just said something about erections. Alright, seriously, he’s got to be doing this stuff on purpose. I’m looking at you, Tim Donaghy, with your prop bets.

8:25 PM: Back to Sox. Joba is on the mound, and so far has looked really good. Well, he was looking good till we got a close up of Luis Alicea’s crotch. Now I’m not so sure. Jerry Remy just said Joba is slowing his fastball down as a starter, then says he is hitting around 91-93. Meanwhile the radar gun is showing 98+. Now they are showing shots of the Sox bullpen band. That thing is so cool; I’m surprised it hasn’t gotten more publicity than it has.

8:29 PM: Back to basketball, and it’s a close-up of Cana-Kaman. Not the greeting I was hoping for. Score is 32-25, and the USA still has yet to pull away from Canada. This is kind of depressing. Meanwhile, Fran Fraschilla just called Beijing Beeeejing. That’s fantastic. Now it’s a ten point game. This is more like it.

8:34 PM: Tried to go back to Sox, but Youk makes a fantastic play at first to get the unassisted double play and send it to commercial, so back to NBA. The announcer for the NBA just announced he is “feeling Dwayne Wade”. To take a page out of Arrested Development, he should really just watch the tape of his game calling and see if there is anything awkward about it. I’ll be referring to him as Tobias the Analrapist from now on. Back to Sox.

8:37 PM: Breaking news, Yankees have traded four prospects for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte. Both decent players, but not the stars we are used to seeing head to the Yankees. I guarantee this is followed by the announcement that Hideki Matsui is done for the year. And now you know why I am never comfortable with the Yankees. Meanwhile Joba’s breaking stuff is much more impressive than his fastball to me. Of course, I wouldn’t be saying that if I was in the batters box.

8:41 PM: Team USA is now up by 15, and this jogging diary has an expiration date of about 10 minutes I bet. They have expanded the lead now with Chris Paul at the helm rather than Jason Kidd. Hopefully they don’t start Kidd because of his “experience”, because Paul is the guy that will win it all for them. Tobias the Analrapist has nicknames for all the players on the team like he’s their best friend.

8:45 PM: Beckett is struggling, giving up nine hits through 5+ innings right now. Only one run, but it seems only a matter of time till he breaks down. I saw him live during the Brewers series, and I can tell you this isn’t the same Beckett we saw last year.

8:48 PM: We are one point away from the end of the jogging diary. My prediction of 10 minutes may come true.

8:50 PM: Well, I was close. USA has the twenty point lead plus some now, so this is the end of this ground-breaking jogging diary.

Till next time my friends…

~Aaron Jackson

Thursday, July 24, 2008


With the trade deadline only one week away and all hell about to break loose, Peter Gammons will become the most important person in my life. (Sorry everybody else in my life, but you have to understand this time of year for me. In the words of Tony Soprano anytime he got a phone call during Sunday dinner; "This is my busy season.")

The early rumors have been involving Brian Fuentes going to any team in contention, (I'm giving him the Scott Sauerbeck award for the reliever that will fail wherever he goes but is rumored to be going to every team leading up to July 31st.) Earlier this week the price tag for Fuentes came out and my jaw hit the floor. From the Yankees they want Ian Kennedy and from the Red Sox they want Clay Buchholz and the equivalent from every other team that is interested. In my opinion Fuentes is no where near worth it, I understand that he pitches his home games in a hitter friendly environment, (so is Fenway) but for crying out loud the Rockies are in the National League West. Can you name one offensive team in the National League West who would make you the least bit nervous and the only argument you could make would be COLORADO if they were completely healthy. So I am saying to heck with Brian Fuentes coming to the Red Sox.

The rumor that cropped up today was Juan Uribe. I'm not sure if I'm on record saying this or not but I have definitely said it before, Juan Uribe might be the worst player in Major League Baseball to the point that I have no problem envisioning him even farther overweight playing 1st base for the Connecticut Defenders at anytime now. I agree with playing Jed Lowrie for the bulk of the time that Lugo is on the shelf because he could pull an Ellsbury and steal the job by the time playoffs come around fair and square. To say though that Uribe is an upgrade at all over Lugo is insane and even over Cora seems like a stretch in this writers opinion. Not only does Uribe remind me of Manny Alexander (huge strike against) he might have the worst swing in baseball history(perfect for wiffle ball though).

The verdict is to heck with Uribe.

I've solved the problem at short stop, now for the hole at middle reliever, I'm looking at you Javier Lopez. The names that I have heard out there are George Sherrill and Ron Mahay. I would be willing to post a decent fee for George Sherrill, the kid absolutely has stuff and left handers have a tough time with his heat and his movement. He's only 31 and has the stuff to become a dominant set up man for a team like the Red Sox. The other cheaper alternative here is Ron Mahay. Mahay has been dealt at the deadline before going to the Atlanta Braves a couple years ago, and that worked out pretty well. He has good stuff and his ERA this season is below 2. He is a proven veteran with a good track record pitching for bad teams. Who really knows what he would do in a pressure situation which he probably hasn't been in, save with the Braves, since his time with the Red Sox back in 1998. Sherrill sounds like a bit of a reach especially with his new contract in Baltimore and Peter Angelos doesn't seem willing to build for the future just be futile for today.

I say go out and get Ron Mahay and make a overture towards Baltimore for Sherrill and point out that their all-star closer's ERA is almost 4 and that you'll take that great big contract off their hands. (Sounds too greedy? Yeah, it's too greedy.)

Game Over!!!

Sterling Pingree

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Dream Deferred

Picture this, if you will...
Joe is a college student at a private university, and he is getting ready to graduate. He has a bright future ahead of him, has achieved what most consider the highest level in his respective major, and is now getting ready for the real world. Joe gets rewarded for his hard work and is signed into a contract by a top level company, and is getting ready to live his dream. However, he also made a commitment when he started college that he would work for a different company. The other company at the time said they would allow him the opportunity to pursue his dreams as long as he also maintained a relationship with them, and eventually went to work for them later on. Now said other company is backing out of their written agreement, and stating that Joe must come work for them now. Joe takes it well, stating that he knew he had prior commitments, and while he wanted to pursue both dreams, he was ok with living one. Sounds like a good kid getting screwed over doesn't it?

Meet Caleb Campbell. He is a graduate from Westpoint, a military school. He also played football for their team, and excelled at his position of safety, so much so in fact he was drafted into the highest football league in the world by the Detroit Lions. His military contract stated that he would be allowed to play in the NFL if he was drafted, and could serve as a recruiter till his NFL career was over. Today it was announced the military has changed it's policies, and will not allow Campbell to play in the NFL, but will instead force him into military duty.

There are so many things wrong with this. One, the military isn't playing this correctly. After taking public relations classes I can tell you the military needs all the good press they can get, and this guy could've been a step in that direction, a guy who serves his country while living his dream. Plus, what better way to recruit new members than telling them to meet with an NFL player.

Two, they changed the policy after Campbell was led to believe he could play in the NFL. He was ready to live two dreams; to play in the NFL and serve his country. Now, he is being forced into one. The military says they will allow him to ask to be released in May of 2010, but in a league like the NFL your career tends to be shorter than most. Plus, who's to say they don't just "change the policy" at their convenience.

And three (this is what really burns me) the media is not jumping on this. It's an injustice to Campbell, and although he's taking it well he shouldn't be in this situation. The media has the power to create change, to shed light on injustices, and that is clearly what should be done in this situation.

It's an unfortunate situation, but it has shed some light on the falsities of the so-called "American dream". In the end, maybe Campbell will get his chance to pursue his dream, but maybe he won't. One thing is sure though; you won't hear Campbell complain. He, unlike his country, stays true to his word.

~Aaron Jackson

Ortiz: The Prince of Portland

My compatriot Reid Durost is standing almost in line with Ortiz. He's in the blue and red striped shirt.

I attended last night's Portland Sea Dogs game in Portland where David Ortiz played his 5th rehabilitation game. The feel of the game was very weird, very unfamiliar to me. It was tough to judge a sporting even where there is one person there that everybody is there to see and nobody cares that much about anybody else in the game. Especially for a baseball game and more specifically for someone who isn't even playing in the field.

The ballpark was full last night and actually opened an extra hour earlier than usual so that people could watch his batting practice (8 home runs and one off an inflatable blimp in right center field that looks about 400 feet away that no double A player should ever reach.) The feeling was weird because everybody was there to see him, even the regulars who go to a lot of the games (you can pick these people out easily because they are the ones wearing Sea Dogs gear instead of just wearing Red Sox gear.) I tried to put the game into some sort of perspective but I was having a hard time in doing so until the score got out of hand (Portland lost 18-6) the game had the feel of one of the high school basketball games that ESPN broadcast when Lebron James was at St. Vincent-St Mary's. There was one player that made you want to watch the game, but he REALLY made you want to watch the game. That's what this was like, if you want a pop culture/baseball reference to what this was like, well here it is. It was like the beginning of the Brendan Fraiser/Albert Brooks movie "The Scout". In the beginning Albert Brooks has to scout Mexico for talent and finds Brendan Fraiser's character, Steve Nebraska. Nebraska is one of the greatest players Mexico has ever seen and they carry him into the game on a Pharaoh's caravan and drops him off on the mound. It is clear to all that are watching the game that he is the greatest player they have ever seen and they are there because Steve Nebraska is there.

That's how it was last night, people revere David Ortiz and feel like they have a connection with him because he is personable. You feel like you know David Ortiz, the opposite way I feel about somebody like Manny Ramirez. I thought to myself last night what other Red Sox player could get the same type of reaction that Ortiz got last night in Portland and in my life time it's a very short list and only one could do it at this point in their career.

1. Mo Vaughn (post 1995 MVP season)

2. Pedro Martinez ( Anytime during his time with Boston)

3. Nomar Garciaparra (1997 to 2000)

Mo was my favorite player growing up and he was absolutely larger than life when I got the opportunity to meet him in 1996. The guy had an incredible presence the way that Ortiz does, but he doesn't have the outgoing personality quite like Ortiz does. Mo was good, but not Ortiz good.

Nomar playing in double-A for a rehab assignment would have been huge news for the state but could he deliver when the ballpark is full of people who want to take his picture and want his autograph and still stay upbeat when he gets asked for the 30th time in two days if he has eaten any lobster yet? I doubt it, the lobster thing would have put him over the edge.

Pedro is the only other person I feel that could do what Ortiz has done but he has one distinct disadvantage and that is that he is a pitcher. Most likely if he was in Portland for an appearance it would only be for one game and then he would be gone, probably wouldn't even spend the night in the city. Pedro was fun loving like Ortiz but a lot more controversial and much more willing to speak his mind when things happened that he didn't like. It would have been incredible to see

Pedro in his prime make an appearance in Double-A even for a rehab start, just to see the dominance that was Pedro against minor league hitters. Pedro also shares the same as Ortiz in that he is so admired in Boston that even coming off a season like Ortiz is coming off (just not one of his best) people still want to see them because of who they are and that they are something just so special that it goes beyond their accomplishments and into something deeper.

People feel they have a connection with David Ortiz and seeing him in your own backyard is something special. I have the feeling that if and when I have a son of my own and take him to Hadlock field that I will tell him stories about seeing the "Great Ortiz" played at this very field and he won't believe me because son's don't believe half of what their fathers tell them. Then I will point to the roof on top of the right field bullpens and tell him about Ortiz hitting a ball in batting practice over that roof and hitting an inflatable blimp that they had sitting on it.

Some guys just mean more.

Sterling Pingree

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We've Been Here Before

It's almost one in the morning and Jon Lester just got lifted from the Sox game after being struck with a ground ball/line drive (I really can't tell, I'm a little shaken up about it) but he was pretty much at the end of his night anyway, but that means that mine has just begun. On the replay it looks like a one hopper right off the shin of Lester. Papelbon is on now to work with one out and the bases loaded and a 4 run lead.

Right now Terry Francona is avoiding Hideki Okajima with runners in scoring position like Artie Bucco avoids Charmaine on the Sopranos.

Side note, I am working my way through the series for the second time, and upon further review Artie wasn't in the show as much as I remembered the first time. Whenever he was around, it was very awkward like when he would order for people at the restaurant and of course all of his awkward fights (I just watched the weird fight he had with Jean Phillipe over the money he lent him for "The New Vodka" so I'm pretty stoked for his upcoming feud episode with Benny Fazio. They were the Flair v. Rhodes of the whole show).

~I just saw the Yankees score on the bottom line, how on earth is Sidney "Separated at birth from John Daly" Ponson 6-1? I knew the Yankees had won most of his starts, but I figured it was like when most aging veterans join a team and they get a lot of no decisions and he just keeps the team in the game, gives them a chance to win (I'm going for the managerial record for post game cliche's in one column) and really located his pitches.

~ Jose Vidro is playing first base for the Mariners right now. Really Seattle? The guy was an Expo for crying out loud and they didn't hit him third or have him play first base. (I know they had Vlad, but still.) This Mariners team sort of reminds me of the Red Sox teams of the late 90's and very early 2000's. They don't have a ton of talent, they should be winning a lot more games than they are, but have some likable guys on the team. Here are the similarities and player to player comparison's from the late 90's very early 2000's Red Sox and the 2008 Seattle Mariners.

Ichiro would be the Nomar of the team, he can hit and is genuinely exciting to watch. He starts every all-star game now matter how bad the team is because he's that good and people want to watch him play. Felix Hernandez is the Pedro of the team, but is more like Pedro when he was in Montreal, starting to come into his own and is one Cy Young away from signing for a East Coast contender. (Who knew Montreal and Seattle had so many similarities? Maybe I should write a save out Mariners column? Too soon Sonic fans? Too soon.)

I'm going to keep going with this comparison because, well it's fun.

Willie Bloomquist is a combination guy, he could either be Darren Bragg (one of my favorite under producing Sox players of all time) or Trot Nixon minus the one really good season so far. He hustles and you feel like he is going to get a hit when he comes up or at least will remember to always bring his bat to the plate when it's his turn, which on this team is really saying something right now.

Yuniesky Bettancourt (great name to say out loud in baseball today, do it, DO IT!!!) is a lot like Jose Offerman but not grossly over paid and hasn't quite hit the same kind of stride, maybe because he bats 9th? Yeah, it's because he bats 9th, Offerman on the other hand was a lead off hitter. This comparison doesn't go much past, they are both from other countries and both are middle infielders.

JJ Putz is definitely the Tom Gordon of the team. I was debating between Gordon or Derek Lowe, but Lowe didn't throw nearly hard enough to be compared with Putz. People forget now how good Tom Gordon was and how good we all felt about having Pedro, Nomar and Gordon. Two all-stars and another who was a top 5 closer and with his numbers would have been on every all star team now, (especially with Tito taking 6 closers.)

To paraphrase what Magic Johnson said about Larry Bird on Larry Bird Night, (February 4, 1993, yes I have that date memorized. I've seen the tape of that night literally 100 times, I thank for dad every day for taping it.)

"There will never be another Rich Garces." EVER!!!

Sox close it out and tomorrow I am on my way to Portland to see David Ortiz play for the Sea Dogs. I will have a column up on Wednesday with a full report.

Sterling Pingree

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grade A's debate

I didn't see this coming, (probably I should have) but the running debate right now that is started to get heated between my Dad and I revolves around the Oakland Athletics. He doesn't understand at all what Billy Beane is doing with the team by dumping all of their proven talent in favor of getting three high ranking minor leaguers in return. He knows that the theory is that he will get young talent and hope that in two years that they will be good but he doesn't believe that they will keep them. Which is a valid concern, but having kept a close eye on the dealings of Billy Beane and the Oakland A's in the post Moneyball Era, I see exactly what he is doing an why this is going to work.

The argument against right now is that Beane will gets these young players and maybe they will perform for him and maybe a few of them will become All-star's soon enough and perhaps dethrone the aging Angels for AL West supremacy. But when they create these stars how to does Oakland keep them. The prototype for this is Barry Zito. He pitched for two seasons for Oakland at the Major League level before winning the Cy Young award in 2002, guess how much he made that season in which he went 23-5?

$295,000. Why so low you ask? Because he was still held to his rookie contract with the Athletics that he signed when he was drafted. That's what Beane does is takes young players higher in the draft than other people would take them and gives them less money than that pick would usually get and the player is grateful to be taken so high in the draft that he will play ball and not hold the team up for money, case and point here was Nick Swisher when he was drafted out of Ohio St. Now this doesn't always work, the case for this is Jeremy Brown the catcher that was spotlighted in Moneyball by Michael Lewis (if you can't tell by now, I've read it 5 times) he hasn't made an impact at the major league level and was a big time guy that Beane loved because of his dominance at the University of Alabama and his ownership of their offensive record books. Beane will lock these young players up for as long as he can early so he isn't forced to watch the next generation of Tejada and Giambi walk out the door because they won't pony up 60 million for 4 years like the bigger markets will.

Beane will be successful because he has the track record of doing it in the past, now will this crop bear the fruits of MVP's or just a couple of all-stars that can't get it together we won't know for sure for a few years and yes there will be a losing season on the horizon for 2009 and maybe even this season if they aren't careful. The encouraging thing if you're an A's fan is that your GM has a clue and has a plan which is more than I can say for most of the small market clubs in Baseball. To cop an old phrase, "It might not be today, it might not be tomorrow, but It'll be soon."

I'm not ready to say for the rest of your life though.
Sterling Pingree

Friday, July 18, 2008

Draft Notebook: 2008 Edition

Alright, so this has been a long time coming. While the NBA Draft was a long time ago, and I promised my annual draft notebook right after it, I lied. Why would I do such a thing? Well, because someone stole my draft notebook. Sterling and I think it may have been Charles Oakley stealing it on behalf of Michael, but we can't be certain. One thing is for sure though; my criteria for making my notebook was all in that book, and so I'm doing this from scratch. If you need to see how accurate I've been in the past, you can go right here.

As a quick recap, heres how it goes...I am giving you the guys that were the best value of this draft. That means I'm not giving you who I think will be the best players in the draft, because for the most part that is what the draft does. I am giving you the guys that will fit into their new teams best, that were picked lower than I think they should've been, and that will outperform their draft position. I've got four guys that I am positive of, and this year I've added the Asterisk Zone, because it seems asterisks are extremely popular now. That zone will include three guys I am very high on, but am not high enough to include them in the notebook. Consider them the "best of the rest" if you will. To the picks...

Eric Gordon: Number seven overall by the Clippers: Gordon is the best pure shooter in the draft, and he goes into a situation where he will play right away, and will play under a veteran guard who will help him along the way. Gordon was considered the top pick for parts of the year, but fell apart some late in the season when his entire team was in disarray. That was not his fault though, Indiana's problems were just too much for anyone his age to overcome. And sure, the Clippers have their own problems, but they are at least trying. I could see Gordon becoming a similar player to Ray Allen, and with Baron Davis, Marcus Camby and Chris Kaman around him he should step in and contribute right away.

Jason Thompson: Number 12 overall by the Kings: This guy was a complete stud in college, and I was one of the first writers out there to put him in the first round. As the draft approached more and more projections had him going higher and higher, which means he impressed in workouts. Normally, I don't put much stock in workouts, but for Thompson it just solidified the fact that he was NBA ready. And he went to the Kings, who may start him as soon as their opening game. I really think he can excel quickly, and would not be surprised if he competes with Michael Beasley for the Rookie Of The Year.

J.J. Hickson: Number 19 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers: I wasn't sold on Hickson coming out of college, I thought he was a year or two away and was still too raw. He quickly changed my opinion though in his first summer league appearances, averaging 22 points and 7 and a half boards. Heres the real reason I like him though; he has a chance to bond with Lebron James, and Lebron will make him better. There is the potential for him to come in and play right away, and if he can perform well and earn Lebron's trust then he will be successful because he'll have plenty of open looks. Plus, he came out of the ACC, the best conference in college basketball.

Courtney Lee: Number 22 overall by the Magic: In case you haven't noticed yet, there is a trend with my picks...they often fit a need. For the Magic, I wrote it before and I'll write it again, they need guards, both a 2 guard and a 1 guard, to be considered a contender. I also wrote that they can live with Jameer Nelson running the point, Keith Bogans at the two doesn't work, and J.J. Redick is not in their best graces. Lee can come in, play right away, and is a great shooter and a plus defender. He is a more polished, slightly less skilled version of Eric Gordon, and is in a perfect situation to possibly start right away on a very good young team.

Alright, now it's time to give you the first annual Asterisk Zone selections...

D.J. Augustin: I absolutely love Augustin, and it hurts to leave him off the list. Here is why I did: I evaluate my performance within a few years of the draft. Augustin went to a team where he will probably play behind Raymond Felton, and Charlotte also took Kyle Weaver, telling me they aren't sold on Augustin. While I am, I don't think he plays enough to be consistently good. Mark my words though, this guy will be an all star at some point in his career. He is such a good leader, and has all the skills a basketball player ever could want.

Trent Plaisted: This guy was on the top of my notebook list for much of the college season, then he kind of fell off the map. He is extremely consistent, but very rarely wows you. In the NBA unfortunately many teams are obsessed with the wow factor, and because of that he may not get the playing time he deserves. If things break his way though, expect him to do great things.

Danilo Gallinari: If he wasn't picked so high, and had such high expectations placed on him, he would be on the list. Unfortunately, he has high expectations placed on him, and at the six spot I'm just not comfortable saying he is going to significantly outperform that pick. To me, to outperform that pick he has to be hall of fame worthy, and I'm not quite there with him yet. Close though.

Bill Walker: This guy is extremely athletic, and is becoming more and more talented. He still has a little ways to go, and it will be interesting to see how he overcomes his knee issues, but he as the skill set to succeed. He doesn't make it on the list because of the knee injury, and because he was traded to the Celtics, so he probably won't see much playing time. The only way he plays is if they consider him their new James Posey, which is possible, but he can't shoot it well enough yet.

~Aaron Jackson

World of late night

It's past midnight so it's officially Friday, and the best news about that is the Red Sox play tonight. I am going nuts with out something to watch and for some reason there was an abbreviated schedule of games tonight. The world is righted today then but in the mean time there was some action on Thursday, one in particular made this Troubadour very happy.

~Sexson signs with the Yankees.
This is a move that you knew the Yankees were going to make at some point, they make two moves a year at this time and this is the first one. It fits the bill of what they usually do, think back to the Jose Canseco's and Glenallen Hill's, Richie Sexson fits the exact same mold. I don't give many but here is a fantasy tip, pick up Richie Sexson for the next couple weeks because he's going to go on fire, but after he does, he is going to go to hell in a hand basket. This type of player always starts hot and then goes away completely come crunch time. That being said, this isn't a bad move for the Yankees, because how long is Jason Giambi either A. Going to stay healthy, or B. Going to keep ripping home runs and being a liability at first base. Sexson will never provide good average or better than Giambi and apparently he won't provide more power, but he is better defensively, but all in all, I think Sexson compares to Giambi's skill set but not favorably at all.

~ Joe Blanton has just been traded to the Phillies for three minor leaguers.
I was reading Rob Neyer (I won't provide a link because it was on the insider and I hate that) earlier and he was talking about whether or not Billy Beane was going to deal Street, Duchscherer and Blanton all this season after trading Harden and Gaudin. His conclusion was Duchscherer's value would never be higher (he's leading the league in ERA right now) and now would be the time if Beane is going into full rebuilding mode. Street hasn't been mentioned much, and then he mentioned that it seemed Philly and Oakland had been talking about Blanton today. The deal is now done and it's a great deal for the Phillies for the stretch run anyway, I haven't heard a lot about the package that Oakland got in return but my guess is that I will hear a lot of them the next two seasons and probably at the Coliseum. Philadelphia can make a legit run this year, they have the offense to do so, it's the pitching that they don't have. Hamels is an ace in the making but hasn't put together the steady numbers to become a solid match up against a Sabathia, Harden, Sheets or Zambrano. Blanton lengthens their rotation and helps them out a lot even giving them the chance to use Brett Myers (called back up this weekend) as a reliever a role that he thrived in last season.
Selfish side note on Duchscherer, I would love to see the Red Sox get into the bidding on him. He has been a terrific middle reliever in his career and is throwing well as a starter right now. He would fill the void as the "long" reliever on the team if need be, and also could be the dominant set up man that the team needs this season, because right now nobody is stepping up. If the price is right, I would think Theo might call Beane and kick the tires on Street or Duchscherer.

~Mike Hampton left his rehab start tonight in the 2nd inning with soreness in his groin. This also just in, the world is round, tax day is in April and gas prices suck. Thought I would point out the other things that were painfully obvious while I was at it.

~David Ortiz hit a bomb tonight in Pawtucket's 15-6 victory. The report from Rhode Island is saying that his swings looked good and that he wasn't holding anything back. I have my tickets ready to see him play in Portland next Tuesday and by the sounds of it, I better make sure I get there in time for batting practice because the Big Fella is gonna put on an absolute show.

Sterling Pingree

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Impromptu Jogging Diary for the 79th All-Star Game, 12th Inning Edition

As the 79th All-Star game is still knotted at 3 in the top of the 11th, I felt now is a good time to pound out some thoughts so far from tonight.

~I apologize for missing the live chat, the wireless went down at my house and left me with no other options and I had already banged out a column this afternoon sitting outside of the local hotel in town. (Hamilton’s Derby, a classic If I have ever possibly written one. I have to go Paulie Walnuts on this phrase, "Did you hear what I said, I said it's a classic if I've ever written one.")

~Corey Hart just came to the plate and I swear below Joe Buck I heard Sunglasses at Night being played. Bill Simmons should finally feel vindicated, he was bitter of this here.

~The fans of New York hate Jonathan Papelbon, they booed him. He is the home team and is playing with Yankees players. Yankees fans just booed their own team. Disgraceful. I was starting to get a nostalgic feeling about this all-star game, like when it mattered. Because for two days I’ve heard all about the old days when the Senior Circuit dominated and how bad guys like George Brett felt only winning one all-star game in his career. Now this sort of thing happens and the Yankee fans just took it all away. Not only did Ken Rosenthal say that Papelbon didn’t mean to say that he is better than Rivera or anything of that nature, Tim “I played for Boston but got cut during the Impossible Dream season and I’m still bitter about it so I hate the Red Sox to this day” McCarver just agreed with him! What a bunch of degenerates.

~On a shot of the line up card at the beginning of the 11th inning it showed that Francona had written Sandman in stead of Rivera after he came in for Rodriguez. Make me wonder if he is refered to that by the Red Sox all the time or what? I think about things like this, A LOT.

~ Is it Chevy or Fox who said “Hey, let’s play the sappy, “Shoeless” Joe is walking out of the cornfield music, coming and going from each and every commercial break?”

~Did Joe Buck really talking glowingly about Kevin Youkilis for 2 straight minutes before his first at-bat in the second inning? Another funny moment involving Youk and McCarver. Tim said that the Red Sox players got booed before the game, except for Youkilis, who got “The best ovation of the night for a Red Sox player.” They then play the clip of Youkilis being announced and the crowd boos him off the field. The great part is even after hanging himself with that statement, McCarver talks about his ovation like they threw a parade just for him when he came out of the dugout. I think McCarver might be self medicating.

~ Navarro just got gunned out at the plate in the 11th inning. By the way, if Kinsler doesn’t get hosed on the missed call on the caught stealing, J.D. Drew’s single would have won the game, won home field for the American League, and maybe even given Drew the game’s MVP award. I’m not bitter, I’m just saying. We’re now heading for the 12th and this is becoming an impromptu Jogging Diary! The first in history, “There is only one White Hat Sports Page.
~ My started making the battery is dying noise and the charger is all the way upstairs. You guessed it, my phone is now completely dead because I refused to go all the way upstairs and get the charger. You better be thankful that my laptop was laying at my feet the entire game or else this might never have happened.

~ They are now going for inning number two with the Joakim Soria Experience. I’m excited to see how it turns out.

~ Miguel Tejada is really playing like a seasoned veteran who doesn’t know how many of these year’s he has left. Honestly, nobody knows how many years’ he has left. Thank you, I’ll be here all week. (Presuming my wireless gets fixed tomorrow.)

~National League is threatening first and second with nobody out in the 12 off The Experience. Sac bunt and the runners are now in scoring position with 1 away. Speaking of the ageless wonder, Tejada is getting intentionally walked to face Dan Uggla with the bases loaded. Just to recap Uggla’s night to this point. He took over at 2nd in the 6th, he struck out in the 7th, hit into a DP his next at bat and then committed two errors in the 10th that the NL was lucky to survive. HE IS DUE!

~I will take this moment to announce this is now the longest all-star game in MLB history by time. Uggla strikes out and Francona is now going to his bullpen to bring in George Sherrill leaving him with only Scotty Kaz left in the cupboard. (That is the weirdest slang in the history of this website. Is that a niche? And with that I need a drink.)

~I’ve got some orange juice (straight…….from the carton) and George Sherrill chews up and spits out Adrian Gonzalez with the bases loaded. Here are some unofficial stats from tonight:
12 innings, 6 total runs scored and 896 runners stranded on base. These are the unofficial tally.

~ Had to flip channels during the commercial break and caught AWA Wrestling on ESPN Classic just in time to see Adrian Adonis put the sleeper on a guy and almost kill him. I take that as an omen that this game is about to end. (You will never see a comment like that on any other website, I swear.)

~ Dan Uggla looks like any Red Sox infielder from the pre-winning the World Series Era, just real afraid that he’s going to be the next guy blamed for the loss. Longoria is up, or as I see him, the closest person who if they hit a walk off would take the MVP tonight from J.D Drew. I can’t root against the AL, but I can root for Longoria to walk here. He strikes out and Aaron Cook looks like Don Newcombe right now. Glad he wasn’t like this in the World Series last year.

~ Justin Morneau is being walked so Cook can face Alfred P. Newman AKA Ian Kinsler. Someone should tell Hurdle that Kinsler is hitting .337 this season, Lou Pinella might want to at least mention that to Clint. (I have noticed lately that there is a serious lack of people named Clint these days. I think Clint Eastwood just set the bar so high that people look at their kids and say, “Naw, he’s not cool enough to name Clint.” I swear this is happening all over the country ever since Clint played Dirty Harry. Newman grounds out to 3rd and we head to the 13th inning.

~Did I just see correctly on ESPN Classic’s bottom line that the Clippers just got Marcus Camby for a 2nd round pick in 2010?

~ “Yankee Stadium just doesn’t want to let go of this one,” I swear Joe Buck just said this coming out of the break.
David Wright just hit a milestone on a broken bat flair to centerfield, the first hit I’ve even see him get in a game I was watching. I swear the guy makes an out every time I’m watching him. Guzman is squaring to bunt, Carlos Marmol is warming and Brad Lidge has warmed up and thrown 6 innings and has given up 3 home runs in the bullpen tonight.

~ How tempting is it for Terry Fracona to throw Scott Kazmir out there right now for the 14th inning if we get there? The guy just threw 100+ pitches on Sunday and Francona could push a guy over the edge who has had a lot of trouble with injuries while his team is just a half game up on the Rays? That is tempting.

~ The teams are a combined 3-27 with runners in scoring position. This is probably cutting into my Sopranos Bedtime.
“They’re not respecting the Bing.” Silvio Dante

~ Random note that I texted Jackson during the pre-game ceremonies. How bad does George Steinbrenner look right now? In the words of my grandmother he looks like death warmed over. I put the over under on time until he dies on September 1st.
Drew is facing Carlos Marmol, I have a feeling. That feeling apparently was that Dan Uggla was going to botch another play. Is it a hit? If it is, its Drew’s third hit of the night? Nope, error, third of the night for Uggla.

~Clint Hurdle is chewing gum so hard right now that it’s causing his hat to bounce up and down on every chew. How alert am I over here?
It’s weird, up until about 3 weeks ago I always pictured Sergio Mitre when I thought of Carlos Marmol, and I’m really not sure why. I’ve seen Marmol pitch this season but come to think of it, every time I have seen him pitch it has been at a distance and usually at a bar.

~ Drew steals second, just buffing that resume right now. Something from Quintin right here could end this. (How many times have I said that tonight? 37.)
Quintin strikes out, and we head to the 14th inning. Joe Buck comments on how much we have heard the majestic music tonight, I have a feeling he’s going to bubble a bottle of Wild Turkey after this one’s over with.
Now for the moment of truth, does Francona bring in Kazmir? Nope, and George Sherrill gives up a shot to Nate McLouth that doesn’t quite get out of the yard. WHEW.

~ George Sherrill has pitched longer tonight than in any other outing this season. Somewhere Dave Trembley is drunk and angry right now.

~ Jeter is signing autographs for fans behind the dugout and Brandon Webb is now in the game. Lincecum is unavailable because he’s in the hospital right now. So Webb is the “break glass in case of emergency” pitcher for the NL, Kazmir is for the AL. Who knew when I started this Jogging Diary that I’d end up going for than an inning or two we are going on 3 innings now and I’m getting worn down. Someone needs to knock one out of here and soon. Joe Buck says the clock is ticking on this one if Kazmir comes into this game.
By the way, Clint Hurdle has gone to Brandon Webb before he went to Brad Lidge. He is saving his closer in this game and throwing a guy who just had a start two days ago. This game just got a weird playoff feel to it and I’m afraid it might be in part because it’s being played at Yankee Stadium. Wow, Fox’s brainwashing efforts took hold of me there for a second. I’m back now and Longoria is gone, 15th inning, here we come.

~ Kazmir is in, all hell has broken loose and Dan Uggla has struck out again. Kazmir gets out of the 15th inning and apparently Ken Rosenthal is texting with the Rays GM right now. I think we might look back at this moment as a milestone for baseball sideline people. Peter Gammons is the pioneer of it, Chris Myers was steady and Ken Rosenthal was the innovator that took the art to the next level.

~ Lidge is in, I smell soul crushing home run. Morneau singles, and of course the AL isn’t bunting right here. I guess they feel confident in the power of Ian Kinsler in this situation. Ryan Ludwick makes a great catch to rob Kinsler of a base hit. What a game this really is, runners have been stranded, caught stealing, pick offs, home runs, comebacks, and I just found out that Kevin Youkilis drinks something called Slump buster. How did they get a fat woman in a can?
Navarro singles and now J.D Drew is now up with two on and one out and Joe Buck is practically begging him to get a base hit. The count runs full, Francona check his watch, Lidge looks into Brian McCann, Lidge has the one he wants, the pitch: ball four. Michael Young comes up with the bases loaded. Joe Buck isn’t even masking it anymore, he just said “Here we go again.”
Fly ball, the play at the plate, SAFFFFFFEEEEEE. The American League wins it, 4 hours, 50 minutes long and the game ends. Francona looks like a little kid who just got a new bike for Christmas when the game ends. Kazmir wins, Lidge loses, and now the only question is who wins the MVP and the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid? You know who gets my vote, Drew. It’s pretty wide open though, we shall see.

~ J.D wins it, the trophy and a 2009 Chevy Tahoe Hybrid. What a night for J.D Drew and for Baseball. A great night a 5 hour all-star game and now I get two days to rest up before the Red Sox resume play on the West coast on Friday night.

Sterling Pingree

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Hamilton's Derby

I can't say enough about what Josh Hamilton did last night in the Bronx at the Home Run Derby. I can't because everything that could be said about his past, and his present was said and re-said 100 times through out the night. All the while, nobody seemed to notice that Justin Morneau, (My pick) walked away with the hardware. The thing I said to my buddy Zach while we watched the trophy be presented to the Twin, was that in 5 years nobody will remember that Morneau won in New York, all that people will remember was the 28 home run show that Josh Hamilton put on in what will be known as one of the great comeback stories in baseball. But how great of a story is it? Why aren't I buying Hamilton's rookie cards on eBay right now, (I still might I'm not quite sure about this one.) Is it because I can't forget about how he seemed to throw away his god given talent right after nabbing a 4 million dollar signing bonus from the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays? Is it because the aforementioned 4 million dollars was thoughtlessly blown on crack cocaine over a 4 year spiral into movie of the week territory? Perhaps, but I think the best way to describe what I feel about Josh Hamilton right now can be summed up by "Double Down" Trent, from Swinger:

"You don't wanna be the guy in the pg movie that you like right away and really really hope that things work out for. You want to be the guy in the R movie that you're not quite sure that you like yet."

Hamilton is the second guy. We're not quite sure that we like him. Right now he seems like the all American boy, having his former American legion coach 71-year old Clay Council throw to him in Yankee Stadium. He is the rebound that people like to see, but fear for what might happen next. 5 Years ago we might have been talking about Josh Hamilton as sort of a drawn out version of Len Bias, but now he is a story of rebound and recovery and right now incredible talent.

Ironically enough I was talking to the bench coach of my legion team last week and we were talking about the Majors and Hamilton came up as one of the year's big surprises and what he said was very interesting to me. He said "You did everything right, I did everything right as a player and we were both very good. This kid had all of the talent in the world, abused it for almost 10 years and can one day just try to do it again and suddenly he's an MVP candidate and a threat to pull off the triple crown. Is that fair?"

And maybe he's right, maybe that's what is eating away at me. Maybe it's just jealously that a guy can abuse his talent for a decade and then one day wake up and drill a baseball 500 ft in front of 55,000 people and I can't. What I do know is, last night was the greatest performance I've ever seen in a Home Run Derby. Greater than McGuire, better than Sosa and more impressive than Giambi. There are a lot of clouds hanging around over Josh Hamilton's head right now, but this time however they are no longer storm clouds. Hamilton may have had a tough time with crack cocaine, but something that he hasn't been criticize for is taking steroids. And in this day and age a story about somebody not taking a short cut and making his career harder than it has to be, no matter how it was done should be admired. Whatever happens tonight in the All-Star game, the "one played in Yankee Stadium" will always belong to Josh Hamilton and the night he owned New York.

Written in the parking lot of the Herbert Grand Hotel, Kingfield, Maine.

Sterling Pingree

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Floating down the river.

It's an off day. The Red Sox aren't playing, so what would be the greatest thing to do with myself tonight?

Go to one of my best friend's Bachelor Party tonight. We are floating down a river on a home made raft that the groom built yesterday, don't worry we will be properly hydrated all night. All 15 of us. We tried to do the math of how many 55 gallon barrells to secure to the bottom today. We're pretty screwed, but it's a bachelor party, so it's gonna be a story to tell if any of us even make it to the wedding. Anyway the wedding is Saturday, so I am going to be reaching for scores all weekend and really won't have a lot of time for columns. Bill Simmons recently said he is taking 10 weeks off from columns, (he will continue the podcast's, I am actually listening to one right now) so I am going to take a shorter sabbatical and take a break until probably Monday with a nice little home run derby preview. I might write it Sunday night, maybe not.

Did I mention that there's an after party after the reception Saturday?

See you Monday.

Sterling Pingree

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Shaun Alexander Signs With The Patriots?

Updated 11:24 AM, July 10th: Looks like we may have jumped the gun on this one, as there is still no official word on this story. I'm guessing it will happen soon if it does, but who really knows with the Patriots. They always keep things well under wraps. I'll be sure to post something more official as soon as I have it.

11:15 PM: Props to my good friend Ryan Olderman for this story. There has been tentative interest in Shaun Alexander from the Patriots for some time now, and Alexander has been not so tentative in expressing his interest in the Pats, now it seems the two sides have came together and the Pats have signed Alexander for the veteran minimum. While I have yet to find official word on this, it seems like a good match. The Pats have a decent running back core in Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris, plus Kevin Faulk as a pseudo-reciever in the backfield, so it can't hurt to add a little depth to the position. Especially when you consider the fact that Alexander isn't too far removed from being considered an elite back in the NFL and leading his team to a Super Bowl. You've got to think the guy has something in the tank still, even if the shelf life on running backs is significantly smaller than other positions. Worst case scenario he has nothing left and is cut. In the NFL most money in contracts is non-guaranteed, so the Pats most likely won't lose much if he doesn't pan out. If he does pan out they add another good piece to what is already the best offense in the league. I'll try to get some more sources to confirm this if not tonight than early tomorrow, but I thought I would continue in the White Hat tradition of getting breaking news out even before ESPN.

~Aaron Jackson

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

"Bit's O' Info"

It's been awhile since a "Bit's O' Info" post, so now seems like the perfect time to do one.

Cubs trade for Harden: Originally I thought this was a terrible deal for the Cubs, as the Cubs are now just getting over the Mark Prior-Kerry Wood era, and now they bring in another pitcher with tons of talent that is always injured. Then I found out they didn't give up a whole lot (Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson and a minor leaguer), and they also acquired Chad Gaudin. Gaudin is a guy I think will have more of an impact on the Cubs than Rich Harden. He was having a good year in the AL, and AL pitchers tend to translate very well to the National League, at least at the outset.

All in all, if Harden pans out they pair him with Zambrano for a great front end of a rotation. If not they still got Gaudin, who will provide quality-high quality innings.

Elton Brand goes to the Sixers: Shades of Carlos Boozer on this one. Brand opted out of his deal with the Clippers, and stated he absolutely wanted to return. The Clippers then go out and get a verbal commitment from a great player in Baron Davis to pair with Brand, giving him some much needed help. They also draft Eric Gordon ( who may very well make an appearance in my draft notebook special that I am still working on), giving themselves a team that should contend in the West. Now Brand is reportedly going to sign with the Philadelphia 76ers. While I understand why he would do this (the Sixers are a good up and coming team in a weaker Eastern Conference), he still is breaking his word with the team after they made a good faith effort to help him. It would be one thing if the Clips did nothing to bolster the team and expected Brand to stay, but they signed a huge piece of the puzzle thinking he would be around. I'm not sure they make the Davis signing if they think Brand is going to leave. We'll see if the rumors become true, because according to multiple sources the deal with the Sixers is just about done.

Record for Maine Olympics: The state of Maine has a record 7 people making the cut for this years Olympics, including world record holder and gold medalist Ian Crocker. The state seems to be slowly but surely becoming more modernized, both in technology and in sports. I personally can't wait for the proposed NBDL team to arrive in Portland.

NFL continues crackdown on cheating: In a move reminiscent of the NBA's new hire of Major General Ron Johnson to oversee it's referees, the NFL announced the hiring of Pennsylvania State Police Chief Jeffrey Miller to oversee security, which includes both fan and team behavior. The NFL seemed eager to specify that his duties include the overseeing of teams taping other teams when the announcement was made. Personally, I don't like either hire. These guys are outsiders to the game, and will have a tough time adjusting to their new lives. personally, I think it's more of a public relations stunt by both leagues than anything. Gives them a "hard ass" new look at the top.

Wrigley Field to host next NHL outdoor game: This was some of the best news I have heard in awhile. Seriously, an NHL game at Wrigley? That will be amazing to watch. The only other baseball park I would rather see a NHL game in would be Fenway. Can you imagine watching Sid the kid and the Penguins take on the Bruins with the monster as the back drop. It would be unbelievable. Still, a game at Wrigley Field, in HD, has me more ecstatic about hockey than I have been in a long time. This outdoors idea could slowly, single-handedly, bring the NHL back to relevance.

~Aaron Jackson