Sunday, November 15, 2009

Two very cool baseball related things that have happened to me:
  1. Getting to play at Fenway Park at the Jimmy Fund Fantasy Day: The company I work for used to sponsor the Jimmy Fund Fantasy Day fundraiser at Fenway Park, and in 2001 I was selected to participate. I got to play first base for 45 minutes, then was allowed to take 15 swings at the plate. It was pretty much like every dream I ever had. I wrote about the experience shortly after. If I can find the files, I'll post them here sometime.
  2. Being mentioned in a book by Jim Bouton: Most baseball fans know Jim Bouton as the author of the classic Ball Four, but Jim wrote a book called Foul Ball: My Life and Hard Times Trying to Save an Old Ballpark plus Part Two. Jim and his partner Chip Elitzer made two attempts to refurbish Wahconah Park in Pittsfield. I was involved in the second attempt. You can see the actual page here. Bonus points on this one: when I was being treated for thyroid cancer in 2005, Jim printed a draft version of Part Two from his word processor and sent to me in a three ring binder. It is among my prized possessions.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Ten things I'm thinking about on a Monday:
  1. What is with the weather? We get snow in mid-October, then sunny, 70 degree days during the second week of November. It's all a bit crazy, isn't it?
  2. I like the Jeremy Hermida trade a lot from a Red Sox point of view. This is another low risk, high potential reward deal by Theo. The pitchers traded were not top of the line prospects, and if Hermida can realize even a fraction of the potential the Marlins thought he had when they picked him 11th in the 2002 draft, the Sox could have a real bargain here. Even if he doesn't, they have a pretty good 4th/5th outfielder.
  3. That said, this points out another instance where a big market team can afford to take a risk that a small market team can't. Florida was unwilling to pay Hermida whatever he was going to get in arbitration as a raise from his $2.25 million earned last year. Florida can't afford to pay a guy who might be unproductive, while the Red Sox can afford to take a risk for what is, for them, relatively short money.
  4. I have been reading comic books for a long time (going back to when I would get paid in issues of Thor for cleaning up in my father's drug store.) A few days ago, I bought my first iPod Touch comics, using the iVerse reader app. I bought the Star Trek: Year Four mini-series, written by D.C. Fontana. The 5 issues were 99 cents each, a siginificant savings over the $3-4 a comic costs these days. The comics and art were pretty readable using the iPod. I wouldn't use it to replace any of my regular paper comics, but I would consider buying things at a discounted rate that I wouldn't otherwise get.
  5. Patriots played well in yesterday's win over the Dolphins in Foxborough, but the real test will be taking on the undefeated Colts in Indy on Sunday night.
  6. Celtics are 7-1 after a stretch of 8 games in 12 days. Not bad. If everyone stays reasonably healthy (especially the Big 3), this could be a really fun season.
  7. I picked up the Sam Adams Winter Classics Pack this weekend. 2 beer each of the Lager, Winter, Cranberry Lambic, Coastal Wheat, Holiday Porter and Old Fezziwig Ale. Good stuff.
  8. I think there's a special place reserved in Hell for soldiers who turn on their compatriots. Major Hasan should already have his own spot waiting.
  9. Anyone else sick of hearing how wonderful Jeter, Posada, Rivera and Pettitte are?
  10. The MBTA is screwed up even worse than people thought, according to a report recently released? I think those of us who ride the system every day would agree that it's pretty much in as bad shape as we thought.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

As I said, I'm not a betting man. Good thing.

Yes, I totally blew my prediction on game 6. Pedro couldn't get Hideki Matsui out and Andy Pettitte pitched very well on short rest, enabling the Yankees to win the 2009 World Series. Matsui had one of those historic games people will be talking about 30 years from now, with 6 RBI on a home run, a double and a single.

So did the Yankees buy a World Series championship? Well, sure, to a certain extent. The Yankees spent essentially the same amount of money as they did last year, when they didn't make the playoffs. They just did a better job of spending the money on players who fit into what Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi wanted to do. There were no Jason Giambis or Kevin Browns on this team. A.J. Burnett, C.C. Sabathia and Mark Teixeira were improvements to the team, and not distractions.

Again, I want to emphasize that money doesn't guarantee winning. If that were the case, the Mets and Cubs should have been in the playoffs this year. You have to know what you are doing with the money. But the fact that the Yankees can spend about 50% more on payroll than even the other "rich" teams gives them a huge advantage, to say nothing about how they compare to the Royals and Marlins and other small market teams.

Here's something else I was thinking about: how many different World Series champions have I seen? I have been following baseball since 1974, and have seen 35 World Series (with the 1994 cancellation). Here's where the champions have come from:

7 - Yankees (1977, 1978, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009)
3 - Reds (1975, 1976, 1990)
2 - A's (1974, 1989), Phillies (1980, 2008), Dodgers (1981, 1988), Cardinals (1982, 2006), Twins (1987, 1991), Blue Jays (1992, 1993), Marlins (1997, 2003), Red Sox (2004, 2007)
1 - Pirates (1979), Orioles (1983), Tigers (1984), Royals (1985), Mets (1986), Braves (1995), Diamondbacks (2001), Angels (2002), White Sox (2005)

So 19 out of 30 teams have won a World Series in the last 35 years. That seems like a pretty reasonable distribution.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

So, A.J. Burnett got smacked around by the Phillies (6 runs, 4 hits, 4 walks in two innings) and sent the series back to Yankee Stadium.

Is anyone surprised?

I have said this here before. I'm not a big proponent of sending pitchers out on short rest when they are not used to it. Burnett has rarely pitched on three days rest. Pitchers, in general, are creatures of habit. Why would you expect a good result when you take a guy out of his comfort zone? And why would you do it for the most important games of the year?

C.C. Sabathia is obviously the exception. He has shown himself capable of pitching well on short rest, both this year with the Yankees and in 2008 with the Brewers. Sabathia no doubt would have thrived pitching 300+ innings with Sandy Koufax and Bob Gibson in the '60s, but, for most guys, times are different now.

Game 6 is going to feature either 37-year-old Andy Pettitte on short rest up against Pedro Martinez on regular rest. If I were a betting man, I'd be putting the mortgage money on Pedro and a game 7 on Thursday.

I'm looking forward to seeing it all unfold tonight!

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