Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Mackenzie and Nick from Longwood University, and Other Cool People at Pats / Ravens Game

I met a lot of cool people at all of the sporting events this year.  I met a few in Baltimore on Sunday.  I especially remember eating after the game at a Chili's near our (By "our," I mean my friend Chris and me) hotel, and meeting Mackenzie and Nick, from Longwood University, in Virginia.  They were nice enough to laugh at all my silliness.  Nick even tried a "Well, you know, Susan..."--which is my rendition of the New York Yankees' radio guy, John Sterling--and Mackenzie did an outstanding Inappropriate Slap.  (Don't ask.)  Funniest moment was when I told Nick that he was overachieving with such a pretty girl with him--and he agreed with me!  The smart ones know when they're overachieving.  (I'm always overachieving.)  She's going to be an elementary school teacher (the world always needs good teachers) and Nick's going to be something in the law, either a lawyer or a policeman.  Good luck to both of them, and if you're reading the blog, guys, please comment or email me!  The email address is to the right of this entry, below my other pages.  (And I'm upset that I didn't take their picture, while I did take the picture of the other cool people I spoke to, below.)

--Others I met in Baltimore include a Santa / Grinch cameraman:


And a very cool Ravens fan / Santa who was such a good guy that he deserved better.  He was such a solid fan that he was one of the few Ravens fans to stay to the bitter end.  And what did he get?  Two garbage-time touchdowns scored against his team.  Here he is taking a beard break:

--And, if you've never been there, here are a few pics of M & T Bank Stadium.  I was pretty high up, but I had such a great view that I was able to see every single play of the game, a rare occurrence at any football stadium.  (And the fireworks before the game were cool, too.)  I saw each play so well that I correctly overruled the refs on some plays, even in the Ravens' favor. That shows you how brutally bad the refs were that night.  And for the record, Ravens fans know the first name of one of the refs personally--that's how often, they say, he has screwed them over.  So, the pics:

 --I watched a Patriots game on December 22nd, sans jacket, and with my sleeves rolled up.  It was sixty-one degrees at game time.  Sure, it rained all the way back, but there were only a few scattered drops during the game itself.  What a great night!

A great, big, hearty thank-you to my friend Chris for inviting me along, and for driving me a total of about 13 hours, to and fro--including 6 1/2 hours in a pouring rain the entire time back.  Thanks for all the Fenway games, too!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Offseason So Far

Some very quick things to say about the offseason so far:

--Fans who spurt vitriol Ellsbury's way--and Johnny Damon's way before him--are simply ignorant of the fact that the Yankees offered much more money both times.  The Sox offered Ellsbury a three-year deal.  Even at $20 million per year, that would be "just" $60 million.  The Yankees offered him seven years for $153 million dollars, which by my simple math is four years and $93 million dollars more.  Bottom line: More security via a longer contract, and $93 million.  Plus whatever endorsements he can get in New York, which I'll bet will be incredible, especially after one or two very good seasons.  Would you turn down $93 million?

--Robinson Cano, don't ya know, going to Seattle is a shocker, though the 10-year, $240 million contract isn't a surprise.  It's just surprising that Seattle gave it to him and not New York.  Though the Yanks did spend roughly $280 million so far, it was on three full-time, high-impact players at three different positions, rather than just one high-impact player at one position.  And Cano won't win too many playoff games in his ten years in Seattle, though he will have a good pitching staff.  But he's now the only weapon offensively.

--I guess Jay-Z came through for his client--albeit a client who wants dollars more than he wants rings.

--Signing Napoli is a good move.  Though nobody can K like he can, it's also true that nobody around the team can field first base and motivate his team like he can.  And he likes Boston like college students do.

--Napoli will make more with this two-year deal, plus last year, than he would have with that three-year, $39 million contract that he lost because of the physical that found his deteriorating hip.  But he'd better rest more the next two years, or that hip will end his career.

--Signing the ex-Cardinals reliever Mujica is a good move, too.  He's a solid reliever who can pitch frequently, and for two innings at a time.  Two years for $9.5 million isn't bad for him.  Bailey's gone, and Hanrahan is just happy to be around.  Uehara will still close, and Tazawa and Breslow still have the eighth, and when one of them falters, either Mujica or Hanrahan can step in.  Relief still looks very good in Boston.

--As does their starting pitching.  Everyone's stayed.  They're a year older, but Lester and Buchholz are still young in baseball years (though Buchholz needs physical coddling and Lester needs emotional coddling), and Workman, Doubront, and other younger players in Pawtucket are ready to step in when needed.  The Sox are poised to get younger, and their farm system looks great.

--Which is why the Yankees had to spend $153 million for Ellsbury, $85 million for McCann, and $45 million for Beltran, for 7 years, 5 years and 3 years, respectively.  And the Sox?  Not a dime.  Because the Sox have a good farm system, and the Yanks don't.  And won't for quite awhile.

--Though, I would've liked to have seen Beltran in right, and Victorino in center.  But maybe Fenway's right field is too big for Beltran, though Beltran is a good athlete and a very good fielder, and he gives 100%--all of which we saw in the playoffs.  Plus, he's one of the best playoff hitters of all time.  (Which made the game-ending pickoff of that Cardinals rookie even more inexplicable--because Beltran was at the plate.)

--I still say that Choo would be a good fit in center or in right, as well.  He's an on-base machine, which the Sox covet, and he can run and steal, though not as prodigiously as Ellsbury.  Still, a very good fielder and a very good leadoff guy.

--Right now, the leadoff position is a little murky.  Victorino can, but you don't want him to, since he was great hitting second, plus he's getting older.  Pedroia can, but you don't want him to, since you want him at third.  Is Jackie Bradley fast enough?  Is he a good enough hitter?  If he is, he's your answer.  But I'm not sure that he is.

--I'll take Pierzynski over Saltalamacchia any day.  Fewer Ks, more walks, about the same batting average with better production and OB%, and a much better play-caller.  I like the Sox catching corps for 2014.

--They're both old, sure, but they can play the position very well, DH on rare occasion, learn first base, and get relieved by one of the Triple-A catching stalwarts every now and then.

--Salatalamacchia and Middlebrooks never played again after that horrible, game-ending play.

--And I'm not crazy about seeing Middlebrooks at third, so I hope the Sox re-sign Drew to play short, and put Bogaerts at third, and make Middlebrooks the first- / thirdbaseman to begin some games.  He's still great trade-bait, as he does have a great upside.  I just don't think he'll ever meet it.

--Though I'd hate to break up whatever he's got going on with Jenny Dell.  Did you notice how her before- or after-game interviews with him were a little sweeter than they were with anyone else on the team?

--Speaking of the off-field talent, I hope Jerry Remy is better and ready to go.  Sox fans will take him back, no problem.  Hopefully his lungs and head are well, and he wants to return.  If he's up for it, I think he will.