The Gray Pages

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ricky, don't lose that number. Or street address.

Before every election, the Post-Gazette routinely sends letters to the candidates seeking material for the Voters Guide. Back in March, as part of that process for the primary, the newspaper sent a letter to Rick Santorum at his home address, at least the one that he claims. Back from Penn Hills came the letter with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as "Not Deliverable As Addressed -- Unable To Forward."

That is all you need to know about the nasty dispute between the Republican Sen. Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in the November election. The whole thing is rooted in one inconvenient fact for Sen. Santorum: He doesn't live here anymore.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Email from my brother-in-law

I wanted to let everyone know, Senshi was euthanized yesterday evening around 6pm at the Silver Spring animal hospital. She went happily-- they fed her chocolate and a pepperoni pizza before giving her sedatives to make her fall asleep, then stopping her heart. After an ever-increasing number of unprovoked attacks on people both familiar and strange, I decided that Senshi's biting problem was becoming too dangerous. The training we tried helped Senshi refine her obedience skills but did nothing to alleviate the biting issues, and the breeders, trainers, and veterinarians I spoke to said that no matter how much training she gets I would never be able to trust her again around other people.

Sorry to break the bad news. Should you feel so inclined, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would certainly appreciate any donation you care to make in Senshi's name. Her problems most likely stemmed from being born and raised in a large puppy mill, and the ASPCA does a lot of work to promote responsible dog breeding.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

I do not have a crush on Derek Jeter

I learned last night that Jeter is approaching 2000 hits. Wow. Does he have a shot at 4256? Needing 2,200, if he plays until he's 45 (like Pete Rose did), that's 160 a year. (He's 31 now.) Let's say he gets 200 a year for the next six seasons ... 3200 hits, needing a thousand more to break Rose's record at 37. That would put him at 14th on the all-time list, just ahead of Cal Ripken's 3184.

I'd say he has a shot. He could switch to centerfield or first base, DH more often ... good for him. You know, given all the negative publicity around the homerun title right now, this one doesn't bother me at all.

Trivia: We all know that Rose is first and Cobb is second. Who's third? Hank Aaron: 3771. Man, is he underrated or what?

I admit it

I'm terrified that I jinxed the Sox against Sheffield, who is guaranteed to hit two homers against Wakefield tonight.



Today in Rick Sutcliffe

Bottom 8th: Boston
- C. Bean relieved R. Villone
- J. Varitek walked
- M. Lowell doubled to deep left, J. Varitek to third
- W. Harris hit sacrifice fly to deep center, J. Varitek scored
- A. Cora singled to center, M. Lowell scored
- K. Youkilis grounded into double play second to first, A. Cora out at second

Deep fly ball to centerfield, runners on second (Mike Lowell) and third (Jason Varitek). Varitek tags up, scores the run. Rick Sutcliffe gives Mike Lowell credit for, I don't know, being a gentleman and NOT tagging up to third in a (now) 8-1 game. Because that's not what baseball is about, and believe me, the Yankees would remember that. Good for Mike Lowell, says Rick Sutcliffe. (I guess we wouldn't want any bad blood between these teams or something.)

My question is this: should Lowell have stopped at third on Alex Cora's single? And is he a bad guy for trying to score? Has he lost his Rick Sutcliffe All Gentleman Team (which is like the All-Madden Team, only consisting entirely of the 2001 American League All-Star Team and coached by Derek Jeter's dad) by trying to score? And is he aware that 10 minutes later, he agreed with the other guy in the booth that no lead is safe against the Yankees?

Note to the other guy (Dave Remsen?): Jimmie Foxx's number has not been retired by the Red Sox. Foxx didn't retire as a Red Sox, so he's not eligible. Yes, this is a stupid-ass rule. And it's also stupid that the Red Sox only retire the numbers of players who have been elected to the Hall of Fame. Dwight Evans's number and Dom DiMaggio's number and Johnny Pesky's number should be up there. (Off the top of my head.) Screw Cooperstown: it's a Red Sox honor. The Celtics get this right, retiring numbers like crazy.

9: Ted Williams
4: Joe Cronin
1: Bobby Doerr
8: Yaz (I was at the game when the retired it)
27: Fisk
42: Jackie Robinson

More nominees, active and retired: Jim Rice, Bruce Hurst, Tony Conigliaro, Babe Ruth, Jim Lonborg, Mo Vaughn, Nomar Garciaparra, Harry Hooper, Wade Boggs, Roger Clemens, Tim Wakefield, Dick Raditz, Smokey Joe Wood, Jimmie Foxx.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Things Dave and Christine are tired of hearing about:

So, there was a survey in Sports Illustrated. They asked a bunch of players who is the most overrated in baseball. Derek Jeter came out as the most overrated.

As one of those Washington pollsters who is runing America, I have some opinions on this. Of course, I'd design it differently. But I digress.

But my favorite thing that has come out of this poll (more accurately, the news story about the poll) is that many TV announcers have felt the need to comment on it. And they all agree that the poll is wack (I'm quoting Steve Phillips there), that Derek Jeter is the greatest ever. Joe Morgan said, "Well, they didn't ask me."

I really enjoy this, because if Derek Jeter is overrated, and the players all feel this way, it is the TV broadcasters who have overrated him. I mean, it's not like the players are sitting around reading Baseball Prospectus and doing their own research. They're watching ESPN, like the rest of us. (Though they probably have TiVo, unlike me.) So when Joe Morgan goes on and on about how great Jeter is, he's in the process of overrating him. As far as the players are concerned.

Not me, though. I love Jeter.

Kick him out

Rep. Jefferson, please leave the Democratic Caucus of the House. The good people of your district can vote from whomever they want, and you can call yourself a Whig for all I care. But I don't want you in my party.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Funny thing happened on the way to 1000 runs

I've mentioned this topic before. The Yankees are not going to score 1000 runs this year. Let me explain:

1. Their roster includes two players -- Sheffield and Giambi -- who everyone knows are steroid users. Sheffield is now having trouble recovering from his wrist injury. Tendons? Um, yeah. It was inevitable that at least one them would miss significant time due to injury.

2. Bernie Williams is embarassing himself and his legacy. Announcers can talk about the Yankees having an all-star at every position (and they do, occassionally), but being an All-Star in 2001 -- the last time Bernie was named -- doesn't mean anything in 2006. Here's some other players who were American League All-Stars in 2001:

Roberto Alomar. Bret Boone. Tony Clark. Juan Gonzales. Cristian Gusman. Edgar Martinez. Joe Mays. Eric Milton. Jeff Nelson. John Olerud. Magglio Ordonez. Cal Ripken. Mike Stanton. Mike Sweeney. Greg Vaughn.

3. Injuries happen. And not just David Wells or Carl Pavano or anyone else that we knew would get hurt if he wasn't already.

(a) Older players get injured more often. The Yankees have a very old roster. That's the chance you take when sign 32-year old Johnny Damons instead of finding younger talent.

(b) Every team loses someone to injury that they didn't see coming. So, while Matsui's loss is unfortunate (and may even apply to the older player risk that I mentioned above), you can't curse your bad luck when some important role player is lost for the year or at least a good chuck of the year. It happens to everyone. Well constructed team aren't devasted by this because they have some sort of replacement-level player to take over when their key cogs go down. The Yankees do not. So when the Yankees lose their B-pluses, they replaced them with nobodies. The Red Sox lost Coco Crisp and planned to replace him with a combination of Andy Stern, Dustin Mohr and Wily Mo Pena before Pena took off and did it all himself. The Yankees have traded away all their Andy Sterns and they don't have any Dustin Mohrs in Columbus.

4. Cleveland has a better offense, anyway.

Quit, Barry

It's over. Fourteen games played last year, a .233 batting average this year through one-quarter of the season. It's over. Retire.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Clemens receives first offer

Roger Clemens' Family Offers Him One-Year, $10 Million Contract

HOUSTON—Representatives from the Clemens family met with the star pitcher over an informal dinner Tuesday evening to discuss the possibility of keeping Roger Clemens home for one more season, sources close to the family reported.

Baseball analysts are calling the one-year, $10 million contract a last-ditch effort on the family's part to bring the seven-time Cy Young Award winner and three-time World's Greatest Dad back to his roots.

"It's hard to put a dollar amount on what Roger has historically meant to this family," said Clemens' wife Debbie, who has been handling most of the negotiations. "Many of the younger members of this organization really look up to Roger—growing up, he was their hero. Now Roger has the chance to be a kind of mentor to guys like Kacy and Kody. They have really been lacking the strong veteran presence that's so crucial at this point in their careers."

"We need you, Roger," Debbie added. "Please come home."

Friday, May 12, 2006

Good luck getting work done

Introducing google trends!

Senators I've been relatively close to in the past couple of months

Well, how close have you been?

- Hillary Clinton -- event at Brookings
- Ted Kennedy -- shook hands with him outside of an elementary school a couple weeks ago
- Barak Obama -- because I was at this event
- Russ Feingold -- because Christine scored an invitation to an event at this place on June 14.

Based on the headline, I'm not sure how this is news

Sutcliffe Gives Incoherent Interview

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Congratulation, me!

Congratulations are offered to the Greasy Thugs of the Heath's Triple Play League. Though languishing in 6th place (mostly thanks to an ill-advised trade of Chris Capuano for the injured Coco Crisp), I just traded Reds reliever David Weathers for outfielder Brian Giles of the San Diego Padres. I have been compiling closers (Papelbon, Jenks, Weathers, and Texas's Otsuka) for exactly this purpose. Mission accomplished.

Go, Thugs!

Next stop: trading Jose Vidro to a team in need of a second baseman. Felipe Lopez has been hitting on the road AND at home, so I don't need two.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Great moments in Rick Sutcliffe


I was talking to Larry Bowa before the game and he said that everything they say about Derek Jeter is true. That he's so focused, that he's so committed. That he's never seen a player who never makes a mental mistake. Never. And Larry Bowa's been along the game for a long time, so that's saying something: never makes a mental mistake. You know, in a long season, that's very hard to do. And now Giambi hits a ground ball to second ... he's out at first ... and Jeter is doubled off second. Took too big a turn, the umpire is saying. But I'm not so sure that's he was out. When a guy like Derek Jeter complains, you know he doesn't do it lightly.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May 1 predictions

- I typed this up before the Sox won last night's glorious opener.
- Giambi is hitting better than I thought
- Toronto looks awful good. This could all change any second, and if Burnett were healthy, maybe I'd have the Blue Jays winning the division
- Baltimore's really not that bad, either

- The Royals are an embarassment
- Tough to say who will finish second here
- If the Twins are actually going to be this bad, then who do they jettison at the trade deadline?

- I've got nothing to add here.

- Hey, at least the Marlins have young talent
- Year Two of Bowden, and we've gotten worse. But Soriano is better than I thought he'd be.
- Pedro! Pedro! Pedro!

- What don't I understand about the Astros?
- Bronson Arroyo is Exhibit 152 that the AL is a significantly tougher league than the NL.
- I believe in the Brewers, and I've got an 8th-place (out of 10) fantasy baseball team to prove it.
- St. Louis is not built for the playoffs.

NLW: Who the hell cares?
- Colorado is 15-10. Call it exhibit 153.

Wild Cards: NYY, MIL

World Series: CHW over MIL

My happiest moments in sports

It's not a list I've ever put together comprehensively, but on that list is (a) the Larry-Dominique "mano-a-mano" game, (b) Dave Henderson's homerun in Gave Five of the 1986 ALCS, (c) Mark Bellhorn's homerun in the 8th inning of 2004's ALCS Game Seven hits the foul poll, (d) "Bird steals the ball! Underneath to DJ ... lays it up ... it's GOOD! Wait, they have ONE SECOND LEFT! WHADDAPLAYBYBIRD! This place is GOING CRAZY!!!" and (e) the time that Robert Parish kicked the crap out of Bill Lambier and no foul was called.

Until Bill Simmons's recent column, I honestly had no idea that (d) and (e) were the same game. Allow me to cut and paste:

They showed this game on ESPN Classic last week, the one that ends with Johnny Most screaming, "Now there's a steal by Bird, underneath to D.J. and he lays it in! The Celtics have the lead with two seconds left! Whatta play by Bird, he stole the inbounds pass! My God, this place is going crazy!!!!!!!!!" You know ... that game.

And I have written about Parish clocking Laimbeer in the first half before. Here's how I described it four years ago.

"During Game 4 of the 1987 Eastern Conference finals, Laimbeer had the gall to clothesline Larry Bird, causing a brawl and getting the Basketball Jesus thrown out of the game (which the Pistons ended up winning). When the series shifted to the Boston Garden for Game 5, you could actually feel the collective hatred in the crowd for [Laimbeer]. It was tangible. We wanted blood. I'm still convinced that this was the reason Robert Parish snapped and sucker-punched Laimbeer in the first half ... we practically willed the Chief to do it. I'm dead-serious. We brainwashed him. I will believe that one until the day I die. You really had to be there. It was primal."

When you watch the tape, you can hear the crowd cheering as Laimbeer writhes on the ground in pain. And you know what? I still enjoy the footage to this day. In fact, even though I own the game on DVD, if somebody is showing that game, I will always keep an eye on it, waiting for the final minute of the first half, just so I can see the normally serene Chief completely snap and pummel Laimbeer to the ground. Never gets old. It really doesn't.

But here's the crazy thing about that play: PARISH STAYED IN THE GAME! Didn't even get a technical! When you watch the replay, you can see the closest referee (Jack Madden) watching the whole altercation from 10 feet away. What does he call? Nothing! Nada! Zippo! It's the most incredible no-call in the history of sports. If it happened in the year 2006, ESPN would air emergency live episodes of "Around the Horn," "First and 10" and "The Sports Reporters" just so middle-aged white sportswriters could scream at one another about what happened. Back then? Nothing. I remember the Pistons fans complaining; everyone else in the country believed that Laimbeer got what was coming to him. And frankly? He did.