Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Diceman Pitcheth

Here it is, courtesy of the Boston Globe - the very first picture of Daisuke Matsuzaka in the home whites. The Dice Man threw 44 pitches of live BP yesterday, and from all accounts looked pretty impressive. He also scratched his arm three times, adjusted his belt four times, picked his nose twice, and did not use the resin bag once.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


Shocking to hear that former Celtics guard Dennis Johnson collapsed and died today from a heart attack. DJ was a much too young 52. In addition to being one of the most interesting-looking people in the NBA with that strange red hair and the freckles, he was also one of the most underrated players in NBA history. Sick defense, clutch offense. Won a championship in Seattle in 1979, the same year Larry Bird began his career with the Celtics. Starter on the greatest five ever assembled in the 1986 Celtics (Bird, DJ, Ainge, Parish, Walton, McHale). Five-time all-star. Three championship rings. And yet not a Hall of Famer.

As a star-struck kid following those 80's Celtics teams, DJ was a joy to watch. He always played with his chest puffed out, and his offense got better the bigger the game. It's also been great to hear some of the stories about DJ today. He had the real common-man touch. One guy told a story about how DJ was shopping in his family's store, and his Dad was a big Celtics fan so he started a conversation. Next thing you know, the guy invited DJ to come to his son's 11th birthday party and DJ showed up and had cake and ice cream. Pretty cool.

Here's hoping Red and DJ can watch over those ping-pong balls.

Monday, February 19, 2007

I Knew It!

It's official. Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter have had a falling out in their relationship, with A-Rod complaining that he used to sleep over at Jeter's place 4 or 5 times a week. 4 or 5 times a week. Interpret amongst yourselves.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Four Beautiful Words: Pitchers and Catchers Report

I miss football, dammit. It's Patriots football and Red Sox baseball that rule year-round here in Boston, and when you think about it, it's both amazing and embarrassing how long our two winter sports teams have been completely irrelevant. Thankfully, the void between the end of the football season and the start of spring training is only 12 days. That's the amount of time the local college hoops teams, hockey teams, Bruins and Celtics have to strut their stuff in front of maybe a few more eyes. It's the Black Hole of sports. I just can't get into college basketball ('cept for Final Four), I love college hockey, I watch the Bruins sparingly and I haven't watched a Celtics game all year long - though it's becoming more tempting as their car wreck of a season continues. After tonight's tough 2-point loss to Minnesota, the Celtics, folks, have officially lost 18 consecutive games. Very hard to do, but the injuries this team has suffered this year have absolutely ravaged them. If you're wondering, the NBA record is only five defeats away. Both the expansion Vancouver Grizzlies in 1995 (remember them?) and the 1997-98 Denver Nuggets lost 23 games in a row. So as far as the NBA goes, we're already salivating over the potential choice between Ohio State's Greg Oden and Texas' Kevin Durant. (even though we're also students of history - and remember that lotteries haven't always been kind to us (Tim Duncan in 1998 and Massachusetts State in forever).

Praise to the Lord, this is the week where we'll see the obligatory photo in the Globe or Herald of the Red Sox truck leaving for Fort Myers. Pitchers and catchers report on Friday and it's time to put baseball back on the front-burner until early November.

It's going to be very interesting to see how this team gels in 2007, and I think one thing in our favor is Terry Francona's ability to to bring people together. This is what the lineup currently looks like:

Coco Crisp, Julio Lugo, Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Kevin Youkilis, Jason Varitek, Mike Lowell, Dustin Pedroia. Not too shabby. The open questions are leadoff, the order of 6 through 9, and the unknown quantity in Pedroia, who some reports say has dropped more than 20 pounds. Youkilis, overrated in my book, may also see some time higher up in the batting order. This is why acquiring Helton made so much sense in my mind because he stretches the lineup. As far as bench players, we've got Wily Mo, Alex Cora, Eric Hinske and Doug Mirabelli. Not inspiring, but the regular lineup is much improved.

The pitching rotation looks pretty sweet with Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, Curt Schilling, Jonathan Papelbon, Tim Wakefield, and maybe Jon Lester all in the mix. Would have been nice to grab one more No. 3 or 4 lefty starter during the offseason. Lester's recovery from non-Hodgkins lymphoma will be closely monitored.

The closer sweepstakes looks like it's on again and will be a source of daily debate. With the Sox sticking to their plan to make Papelbon a starter, the likely candidates for the role are Mike Timlin, Julian Tavarez, Joel Pineiro, Brendan Donnelly, and Craig Hansen.

Monday, February 05, 2007

An Unremarkable End to an Unremarkable Season

In one of the sloppier, duller Super Bowls ever - played in a constant pelting rain - Peyton Manning and the Colts (and Bill Polian, ugh) finally won the Big One, 29-17, over an overmatched Bears team. Peyton also took home the MVP for his troubles, mostly because they couldn't well give it to a no-name safety (I still can't remember his name) who made the biggest pick of his life against Rex Grossman as the Bears were driving and trying to take the lead. The other standouts for the Colts were the two running backs, Joseph Addai and Dominic Rhodes.

This was one strange game. The Colts completely dominated in plays run, time of possession and total yardage, and yet Chicago was somehow still in it until Grossman threw his fateful interception to Kelvin Hayden, who promptly raced into the end zone to seal the deal. When we think about this one 20 years from now, we won't remember any Manning heroics. There was no glorious Adam Vinatieri field goal to bring confetti from the roof. We'll remember the two Colt RBs, we'll remember Devin Hester's electric TD on the opening kickoff, and most of all, we'll remember the rain. And maybe Prince. And, okay, his dancing Twins.

For those of us still smarting that the Patriots lost - and the gnawing thought that they easily would have won another Lombardi for the trophy case at Gillette Stadium - remember this. Brady 3, Manning 1. And we of course can't wait to see LaDainian Tomlinson play for Bill Belichick in the Pro Bowl soon.

After that, all eyes turn to baseball.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Ah, That's Better...

Sorry 'bout that first picture of Prince with his 80's poodle mullet thing. Here he is in more recent times with his hot Twins. Yow.

Fourth quarter is just underway - Colts lead, 22-17. A Colts TD would please me greatly.

Purple Rain

Now, if I had bet on things like 'Prince will open with 'Let's Go Crazy' I'd be doing alright. Unfortunately, I did not - and I was one of many thousands of Americans who lost an opportunity to win some square money when Adam Vinatieri missed that chip shot right before the half. Traitor Bastard. Honestly, the greatest clutch kicker in the history of the world is lining up a 20-something yarder, and I'm thinking it's okay to start wondering how I'll spend my 250 clams and not tell my wife about it. And then he pulls a Rich Karliss on me. Another bastard from my past. Bare-footed, even. But, as my Mom always told me, there are people worse off than me. Just got off the phone with my Dad and he lost $500 on the missed FG. And then he told me the waitress at the place he's at lost $1000. So I'm calming down.

Colts lead a rainy, mistake-filled game 16-14. I actually feel bad for the teams and fans that have to sit through this - they had gorgeous weather all week long, and now it's raining pretty good and nobody can hold onto the pigskin. Actually, screw that - I almost did a split on ice this morning in my driveway and I can't feel my toes right now. They can deal with some wussy showers.

By the way, allow me a quick media commentary note. I was an early reader of Bill Simmons, ESPN's Sports Guy, back when he used to send around 'live diary' emails of Patriots games. He was really good back in the day, and he pioneered the sports blog on his old Digital City Boston website. He's since gone on to greener ($$) pastures, and good for him. When he's on, he's one of the best. But I have to say, his coverage this week in Miami has been absolutely lame. He's written a column every two or three days, and the submissions have been half-assed. Walking around radio row. Some observations on Miami. How him and his old intern bumped into Anna Kournikova at a party. It's almost like something happened to him down there - maybe one of his patented colds or the sniffles or something set in. Warrants mentioning. For some good yuks, check out his Wikipedia page, which some ingenious sole took the time to write (I claim credit for the first line of the second paragraph - seriously).

Da Colts

We're minutes away from the kickoff of Super Bowl XLI, and I'm going with my head over my heart for once this year. The Colts will win the game, and Peyton will have his day in the sun - or at least the light rain. Not that I wouldn't love to see the Bears win, though. A Chicago triumph would diminish that sour-apple loss the Pats suffered to Indy a fortnight ago.

The first prop is out of the way - the Bears win the coin flip, and Devin Hester is stretching his legs. Here's hoping for a good game.

And that was prescient - Devin Hester just returned the opening kick of the Super Bowl for a touchdown. Un-freaking-believable.

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