Wednesday, April 22, 2009

I'd Like to Buy a Vowel

You know, it really all comes down to time. Work-wise, I had a first quarter from hell. Early mornings, late nights, weekends, and it still wasn't enough. I could have worked 24 hours a day for three months straight and there'd still be more to do. Now don't get me wrong - I've got a good work ethic, and I understand extra hours come with the territory when you're pulling down seven figures like I am. But when you start to dream about work every night, that's when you really need a vacation.

So I took one. And a really long one at that. Between the quick post about Jim Rice finally getting his due and the short 2009 opening day recap, 85 days went by. Now I'm back from a real family vacation, and I'm raring to post away. I hope I haven't lost any of my three readers during the hiatus. Just know that it was part of an overall mind cleansing effort.

So what to cover? Obviously lots going on in Boston pro sports right now. The Bruins are steamrolling their hated nemesis in round 1 of the playoffs, the injury-riddled Celtics are in a battle for their playoff lives with the upstart Bulls, the NFL draft is this weekend, and the Red Sox have shaken off their early-season doldrums and are starting to hit the ball around the yard. They dispatched with the Orioles pretty easily during a four-game sweep, and at this very moment, mere blocks from where my ample arse sits, they're holding a 10-1 lead in the seventh inning over the Twins. The game is in a rain delay, which is weird because it's not raining in the Back Bay. But I digress... the big problem early on was that the 1-2-3 hitters in the order - Ellsbury, Pedroia, and Big Papi - weren't doing much. That's changed a little over the past few days and now the wins are starting to pile up.

The Sox are actually playing two games today to make up last night's rainout. Tim Wakefield has pitched another gem so far today (best thing about Wake - he can sit in the clubhouse for a two-hour rain delay and come right back in and throw that devilish knuckler). Tonight's game at Fenway has Francisco Liriano going against Brad Penny.

Some of the more interesting early-season story lines around MLB:

The new Yankee Stadium got a lot of ink over the past week or so because of the number of home runs that were hit to right field during the first series at the park against the Indians. A whopping 20 homers were hit in four games, and 14 of them went to right. All sorts of theories are flying around, and the only reason the Yanks are concerned is because more of those homers came off Indians' bats than their own. I was initially worried that the signings of CC Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira had shifted the balance of power in the AL East, and they still might - but so far, they've played pretty uninspiring ball. And consider this - even when A-Fraud comes back, their starting outfield is still Johnny "Pop-Gun Arm" Damon, Brett Gardner, and Nick Swisher. Not exactly Lynn, Rice and Evans.

Enjoy it while it lasts
Some of the best early-season records belong to some surprise teams for sure. The Marlins, Blue Jays, Mariners and Padres are a combined 39-19 as I write this, while several of last year's playoff teams - including the Rays, Angels, champion Phillies, Mets and Brewers are a collective 26-39. Something's gotta give eventually.

How bad are the Nationals?
So bad that they actually wore uniforms in one game this year that had their team name misspelled as "Natinals", as displayed by slugger Adam Dunn above. That's bad. Really bad.

Check out Joe Torre's book
If you want to pick up a good read, I highly recommend the Joe Torre/Tom Verducci book. Some good revelations in there, even if it is written out of spite. For Red Sox fans, there's also some good color on the epic 2004 ALCS comeback, and additional details on the Aaron Bleeping Boone game the year before. Yes, even after five-plus years and two world championships, my blood still boils at the mere mention of Grady Little's name. Doofus.

Fantasy island
My best fantasy baseball performers so far this year: Youk, Orlando Hudson (sell high!), Bobby Abreu, Carlos Quentin, Joe Saunders and Andy Pettitte. Biggest disappointments: Brendan Webb, Lance Berkman, Chris Iannetta, Troy Tulowitzki, Jason Motte. What about yours?

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