Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007: The Year in Review

2007 was a pretty good year for us. The good outweighed the bad by a longshot. The kids continue to grow in so many ways. They also seem a lot smarter than I was at their age. A. and I are coming up on 15 years of marriage in March. I feel like a truly lucky guy.

Here are a few highlights of the year as I go back through the last 12 month's blog entries.

January: The year didn't start out so well, as I came down with a bug on New Year's Eve and was in bed by 9:15 while the family went to a party. January is always my busiest month of the year at work, so not a lot happened on a personal level. The big sports highlight of the month was the Patriots loss to the Colts in the AFC championship game. The Sox signed J.D. Drew during the month as well, a transaction that remained inexpicable for much of the season.

February: The Celtics established a franchise record for most consecutive losses during the month. Things sure have changed quite a bit in the last 10 months, haven't they? Spring training started; little did we know that we would be celebrating a World Series championship eight months later.

March: Matsuzaka mania hit hard, as I recorded Daisuke's first start against Boston College. Captain America died and Curt Schilling joined the blogosphere. We saw the Globetrotters at the Dunkin Donuts Center, which was a lot of fun. Near the end of the month on my birthday, I took a tour of the Samuel Adams brewery in Jamaica Plain. How can you beat free beer on your birthday?

April: The month started with my annual baseball predictions. I hit on the AL East and West champions (Boston and L.A), but totally missed on all the other on all the other picks - Detroit in the Central and the White Sox for the Wild Card. I picked the Braves, Brewers and Dodgers as divisional champs in the NL, with the Mets taking the wild card. I did pick the Sox to beat the Dodgers in the World Series. I'm sure the Rockies never even crossed my mind as a possibility. For the major awards, I had David Ortiz and Andruw Jones as MVP's, while I thought Jeremy Bonderman and Ben Sheets would take the Cy Young awards. It's a good thing I don't bet on sports results for a living.

Otherwise, the baseball season started. The Indians got snowed out of a series in Cleveland and then had to play some "home" games in Milwaukee. I took J. on his first trip to Cooperstown and we had a great time. The Vintage Base Ball Federation announced the first Vintage Base Ball World Series, which was held in August in Westfield, MA.

The biggest news event of the month was the Virginia Tech massacre. The tragedy presented an additional wrinkle for our family, as the shooter was of Korean descent and we had to explain that to the kids.

May: We visited Canobie Lake Park during the month and had a great time riding the rides. Roger Clemens signed with the Yankees for $28 million prorated dollars. The Yanks got six whole wins for their money. The Sox built up their lead over the Yankees to as much as 13.5 games during the month.

June: June started off with our visit to the Jewish Multiracial Network's annual retreat in the Berkshires. We'll be attending again in 2008. Curt Schilling no-hit the A's for 8 2/3 innings until Shannon Steward broke it up. R. passed her yellow belt test in Tae Kwon Do. The Massachusetts Legislature voted not to send the constitutional amendment outlawing gay marriage to be voted on by the people, a result I wholeheartedly support. Oh, and a little gadget called the iPhone came out.

We'll do the rest of 2007 tomorrow night.

Saturday, December 29, 2007


We just got back from our annual trip to Florida in time to catch the Patriots win over the Giants. The Giants didn't make it easy for the Pats, as New England went down by 12 points in the third quarter. Brady and the Pats came roaring back to win 38-35 to complete the perfect regular season. They also set the record for points in a season, Brady set the record for touchdown passes and Randy Moss set the record for TD receptions.

It's been a remarkable season for the Patriots so far. Now they get a bye week as the top seed in the AFC as they continue the attempt to match the '72 Dolphins undefeated season.

It's been an amazing 2007 for Boston sports, with the Sox World Series win, 16-0 for the Patriots and the resurgence of the Celtics (25-3 after tonight's win over Utah).

More on the Florida trip later.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Mike Gorman and Tommy Heinsohn were briefly discussing Danny Ainge's baseball career on the Celtics telecast tonight. Danny had a short stint in the majors with the Toronto Blue Jays from 1979 to 1981.

The number one thing I remember about Danny's baseball career was his write up in Bill James Baseball Abstract one year. Danny was rated #26 out of 26 third basemen. James write-up on Ainge consisted of two words: "Dribble, dribble."

James pretty much hit it on the nose. Danny's lifetime baseball statistics included a .220 batting average, two homers and 37 RBI in 211 career games. His lifetime OPS was .533. By comparison, the notoriously light hitting Stan Papi (famously traded to the Sox for Bill Lee) has an OPS of .584.

Needless to say, Ainge's basketball career was a lot more successful. I thank him for making the Celtics relevant again.

- Is "I only did it once" and "I only did it to recover from an injury" the new "I didn't inhale"? These seem to be the top excuses from guys who were named in the Mitchell Report as to why they used steroids or HGH. Baltimore's Brian Roberts claimed that he only did it once and decided that wasn't what he should be doing. Andy Pettitte claimed he only used HGH to heal more quickly from an injury. The other popular response is the Clemens outright denial, but Roger doesn't seem to be getting a lot of credibility from that.

- Winter only officially starts today, but I'm already sick of it. We have already had three snowstorms, dropping more than triple the normal December amount of snow on us. I'm hoping we get a break on the weekend.

- Proof that you love your kids: I'm taking them and two of their friends to see Alvin and the Chipmunks on Sunday. Despite the horrible reviews, the squeaky voiced little rodents took in over $45 million last weekend. If nothing else, this insures that we'll be subjected to Alvin and the Chipmunks 2.

- Speaking of movies, my friend The Hey won tickets to see a sneak preview of Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. It's a send up of musician biographical movies like Ray and Walk the Line. It's pretty funny, although very much not for kids. I really liked seeing Jenna Fischer (Pam from The Office) in a very un-Pam like role. It's worth seeing if you like raunchy comedy. Thanks for the invite, Mr. Hey!

- The crazy money continues for pitchers: Dotrelle Willis signed with the Tigers for three years, $29 million, despite going 10-15, 5.17 ERA with the Marlins last year. Willis does get bonus points for knowing who Ty Cobb and Al Kaline are, though. So many current ballplayers know nothing about the history of the game. Carlos Silva (13-14, 4.19 with the Twins) got 4 years, $48 million from the Mariners. I wouldn't call either of these guys bad pitchers, and they both have pretty good upsides, but 7 years, $140 million for Johan Santana is starting to sound like a bargain in comparison.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

This is one of my all-time favorite goofy Star Trek moments. The Doctor teaches Seven of Nine about music, and they end up doing a duet of "You are my Sunshine." One of the things I love about Star Trek is that no matter how odd or offbeat the situation, it's just another day on the starship (or space station) as far as the characters are concerned. And only on Star Trek would you have a hologram teach a cyborg about music. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Andy Pettitte came out and admitted that he took HGH, corroborating the story former Yankees trainer Brian McNamee told George Mitchell.

Good for him. As Pettitte's teammate Jason Giambi found out, people are quite willing to forgive ballplayers for these kinds of ethical violations when they own up and take responsibility for their actions. People aren't going to hold this against Pettitte long term. They'll see him as a guy screwed up, but stood up and admitted it.

I'm wondering what this will do to Roger Clemens ongoing denials of his steroid use. Pettitte's admission enhances McNamee's credibility, which Clemens lawyer had been attacking. Roger is going to have to say something in the next few days. It will be interesting to see what route he takes when he finally addresses this in person.

If the last few days are any indication, it's going to be a long winter.

We got about 10 inches of snow on Thursday afternoon. Everyone tried to leave work and school at the same time, and this caused massive gridlock throughout the Boston area. I had the day off, but I had an appointment in Boston that morning. I took the train in and back, which wasn't too bad, but it took me 40 minutes to drive the four miles from the train station to my house.

I got off easy, of course. 5-6 hour commutes were not uncommon for many people.

Then there was the only local fatality from the storm. Some guy decided it would be a good idea to ride his snowmobile the wrong way on Interstate 84! Before long, a car carrier came along and smashed into the snowmobile. Needless to say, the snowmobile came out second best in that encounter.

Seriously, if you are dumb enough to drive you snowmoble on the highway (never mind the wrong way), you kind of deserve what's coming to you.

Today we got another seven inches, followed up by sleet and freezing rain. I spent a good portion of the morning shoveling, and I'll have to go out again later to clean things up.

The sad thing is, it's not even officially winter yet for another few days!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

In case you haven't listened to the radio, watched TV or read any kind of news or sports Web site today, the Mitchell Report on the use of performance enhancers in baseball was released today. I haven't read the report (it's about 400 pages), but I did hear Senator George Mitchell's and Bud Selig's press conferences and I have read a bunch of reports online.

I'm not shocked by any of the names in the report. I'm well past the point where anyone popping up as a steroid user is surprising anymore. There were certainly plenty of of star names: the list contained seven MVP's and 31 all-stars. The biggest names on the list were Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Clemens is a particular disappointment for me. I first saw Roger pitch with the Pawsox in 1984 before he got called up to Boston. I have followed him his entire career and I'm saddened that a guy like him, who already had so much talent, felt the need to cheat.

I said it about Bonds and I'll say the same thing about Clemens: cheaters don't belong in the Hall of Fame. I don't care what their statistics are or what kind of careers they had.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What is going on with the price of relievers this winter?

The thing that really got me was Eric Gagne, who signed a 1-year contract with the Brewers for $10 million. This is the same guy that was spectacularly ineffective the last couple of months of the season with the Red Sox. Except for his implosion in game 2 of the ALCS, Francona wouldn't dare use him in the postseason without about a seven run lead.

Admittedly, he pitched pretty well for the Rangers prior to coming to Boston. There was some speculation that he didn't adapt well to the pressure put on him by Red Sox Nation, or that he was uncomfortable in a setup role. Perhaps the more relaxed atmosphere of Milwaukee and easier lineups in the National League will be more to his liking.

Keep the weekend of May 16-18 circled on your calendar. It's the weekend the Brewers visit Fenway for an interleague series. I can hardly wait to see what kind of reception the Fenway Faithful give to Gagne.

The crazy money doesn't stop with Gagne. Francisco Cordero has had some pretty good years, including 44 saves for the Brewers last season, but four years, $46 million for him? 3 years, $13 million for David Riske? Even J.C. Romero, who was released by the Red Sox in June, got a three year, $12 million extension from the Phillies.

I understand the need to have a solid bullpen if you want to compete, but it seems like there is a lot of money being thrown at mediocre pitchers. As Bill Veeck once said, “It isn't the high price of stars that's expensive, it's the high price of mediocrity.”

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Three things on a Sunday:

- You may have heard that the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee voted in five new members recently: Sox Impossible Dream manager Dick Williams, former commissioner Bowie Kuhn, one-time Pittsburgh Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss, former Dodger owner (and Brooklyn villain) Walter O'Malley and manager Billy Southworth.

The thing that has some people up in arms is the person omitted by the Veterans Committee: Marvin Miller. Miller, of course, was the head of the Major League Baseball Players Association when the players broke the reserve clause and the free agency era came to be. The entire economic structure of baseball as it exists today is a result of Miller's confrontations with Kuhn and the owners. If there is anyone who can name a person who has had a bigger impact on baseball since Jackie Robinson, please let me know who that is.

There are some good articles out there about this omission: check out Fay Vincent's op-ed piece in the New York Times or Jim Caple's ESPN Page 2 article, which includes some quotes from my friend Jim Bouton.

- I spent 2.5 hours yesterday in that special circle of hell known as the Red Sox virtual waiting room. It's where you wait until the Sox ticketing system picks you at random for the honor of maxing out your credit card to buy a few seats at America's Most Beloved Ballpark(TM).

OK, I'm being a little cynical, but it's pretty crazy that it has become so difficult to pick up some Red Sox tickets. And I was one of the lucky ones. Around 12:30, literally minutes before I was going to give up, I was able to pick up four bleacher seats as part of a SoxPak; they were pretty much the best seats that were available.

Last year I was so disgusted with the whole ticket scramble I didn't try very hard to get any. So, I only went to two games last season, and I found I missed being at Fenway. So, at least I know I'll make it to four games in 2008.

- We got the kids a Nintendo Wii for Hanukkah this week. I had a chance to play it and I have to tell you, it's really fun.

We have had a Playstation 2 for a few years and I never really got into it. I grew up in the Atari 2600 era and video games with one button and a joystick. The Playstation controller has 17 different buttons and joysticks! That's way too much for my middle-aged fingers to handle.

The Wii Remote is motion sensitive. When you play the Wii Sports baseball, to swing the bat you swing the remote like a bat. To pitch, you throw with the controller in your hand (holding onto it, of course). It's so much more intuitive and the controls don't get in the way of the fun.

And I have an 94 MPH fastball and an 86 MPH spitter in the baseball game. I'm basically Curt Schilling on the Wii.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

OK, I thought this was pretty cool. You can generate your own message on the Disneyland sign and download the result to your computer. I discovered it courtesy of the Business Filter blog on

Not much apparent movement on the Santana talks, but there was a blockbuster trade. The Florida Marlins traded their two best known and highest paid players, Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis to the Detroit Tigers for six minor league prospects. The Tigers certainly made themselves better by adding Cabrera to the lineup, but it remains to be seen what Willis will bring to the table. After winning 22 games and fininshing second in the Cy Young Award voting in 2005, he has only won 22 games in the last two years combined and had a 5.17 ERA with the Marlins last year. Switching to the AL isn't going to make life easier for him, so we'll see how he adjusts.

The Marlins, on the other hand, traded away nearly half of their $30.5 million 2007 payroll. Although the Marlins picked up some promising young players, you have to wonder if anyone will show up at Dolphins Stadium to watch this team next year.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Last night's Patriot's game against the Ravens had as wild an ending as I have ever seen. Tom Brady led the Pats to a touchdown in the last minute of play, which isn't terribly unusual. However, it included a poorly timed time out by Baltimore, penalties (including a false start on the Pats that ended up working to their advantage), an official review of the winning touchdown pass and a Ravens player flinging the ref's yellow flag into the stands. As if that wasn't enough, Baltimore QB Kyle Boller threw up a Hail Mary with time running out, and it was caught three yards outside the end zone.

So the Pats prevailed 27-24 to go 12-0, but they could have easily lost that game. I guess you need some luck as well as skill to go undefeated, but I could go for another blowout after the last two weeks.

The Santana talks continue. There are reports that the Yankees are out (although I don't believe it) and Angels GM Tony Reagins says that his team hasn't even talked to the Twins. The latest deal floating around includes the Sox sending Jon Lester, Coco Crisp, Justin Masterson and Jed Lowrie to Minnesota. If the Sox can pull this off without giving up Ellsbury or Buchholz, it would be a incredible. Let's hope things work out.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The big Red Sox news, of course, is their pursuit of Twins ace and two time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana. Reports are that the Sox are offering a package including some combination of Coco Crisp, Jon Lester and a group of minor league prospects that could include shortstop Jed Lowrie and pitcher Justin Masterson. Pitching prospect Michael Bowden has also been mentioned.

The Sox appear to be unwilling to include either Clay Buchholz or Jacoby Ellsbury. Short of those two guys, I would give up any combination of the others. You don't have a chance to get a top of the line lefty who isn't even 29 yet like Santana too often. With him and Beckett at the top of the rotation, the Sox would be a World Series contender for years.

The Yankees are in the hunt, too, and have reportedly offered up Phil Hughes and Melky Cabrera, among others. Obviously, it would be a double win if the Sox could get Santana and keep him away from the Yankees.

Would I include Ellsbury or Buchholz in a deal for Santana? Definitely, not Ellsbury. He looks like he could be the Sox center fielder for the next decade or more, and has proven himself at the tail end of the regular season and the playoffs. Buchholz I would be more tempted to trade in the right deal, just because pitching is less certain in going from potential to actual. There's no way the Twins are getting both Lester and Buchholz, though.

The Winter Meetings are coming up, and there's a chance this could be resolved there.

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