Baseball…get your baseball here.

March 12th, 2007 → 7:07 pm @ // No Comments

It’s true: it’s been a couple of days since my last Sox-related post. That hasn’t, as some of you have pointed out, kept me from spellchecking the Times.

And certainly there’s been plenty going on lately: Daisuke-san got shelled (and apparently didn’t mind…although he did look a little mopey); the Yankees are coming to town tonight; Beckett nailed Sheffield and started a new Boston-New York-level rivalry (or so the papers would have you believe); Mike Timlin surprised absolutely no one and came up lame before the season started; and Jon Lester appears to be back on track. (Also, anyone notice how much DeMarlo Hale looks like Papa Jack in this picture? Just wondering.)

And yet…the two best stories I’ve read as of late on the Sox have both been in the Onion. OK, fine, the “Manny Ramirez Has Weirdest Feeling He Should Be Somewhere While Watching Spring Training” piece was predictable, but it does have the best Manny-related line (“Wait, is that guy there on the TV… is that Big Papi? But why would he be in Florida now?”) since Bill Simmons was comparing Vlad and Manny for his ’04 playoff preview and gave Manny the edge simply because it was unclear if Manny was even aware what the playoffs were. And only a heartless grinch could possibly resist the allure of “Excited Red Sox Fans Eagerly Await Debut of Matsuzaka’s ‘Ultimate Galactic Dragon Gyroball Pitch Power Explosion,'” a story that gives Bob Ryan the honoring of uttering this gem: “His Ultimate Galactic Dragon Gyroball Pitch Power Explosion breaks three feet inside before cutting sharply toward the dugout, where falsehood and cowardice are forced to shrink before it!”

So what’s the problem? There’s the aforementioned wedding and real estate madness, some of which has worked itself out. (The real estate issue seems to be resolved, at least until something else goes haywire at the last minute; the wedding band — and I know this will disappoint some of you — isn’t going to be an ’80s cover band, and it isn’t going to be Journey (although really, how much could Steve Perry be charging for personal appearances these days?) (and yes…there’s another parens within a parens); I ended up going with these guys, for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which is the possibility of having a ’50s noir theme wedding and getting this guy to do the invitations). But perhaps even more importantly, I’ve been having a sort of existential crisis surrounding the Sox and my involvement therein. To wit:

* I think the 24/7 frenzy surrounding the team is insane, annoying, and at least occasionally detrimental.
* While I definitely feel the media is doing nothing so much as responding to the needs of the populace — giving the people what they want, etc. etc. — I do think they (we) collectively add to the lack of oxygen in the atmosphere.
* Until J.D. Drew’s arm falls off or until we learn that ‘gyroball’ is Japanese for “giant bags full of steroids,” I’m not sure there’s much to be said about spring training.
* Ergo, I feel…I dunno, I guess a little soiled by documenting every pitchback and every Julio Lugo error.

I love baseball. For the most part, I think it’s silly when people talk about the lost days of yesteryear when men were men and baseball was romantic and pure. But spring training is supposed to be a time for fantasies and saccharine nostalgia. That’s almost the whole point: fans can admit players don’t mind signing autographs; double-A pitchers can pretend they have a chance at making the Show; Terry Francona can pretend he’s not going to need to spend another year juggling egos; and Manny can pretend he’s never, ever, even considered asking for a trade.

You’d be right to wonder whether this is hypocritical coming from a man who has spent the last two years of his professional life chronicling every move of the team. And yes, I hope that Feeding the Monster (now only $17.16 at Amazon! free signed, personalized bookplates still available!) reads like more (much more) than the collection of a couple of years worth of anecdotes (certainly the reviewers thought it was); my goal was to take what felt — to me, anyway — like the most incredible half-decade in the history of American sports and add new reporting and behind-the-scenes access to create a narrative that added context and drama and a sense of completeness to a truly remarkable period in the life of my favorite team. And maybe it is; I really have no idea. But back in ’05, when I was at spring training and when the frenzy surrounding the team was likely at an all-time high (I assure you that year’s pre-season Yankees games topped tonight’s in terms of sheer spectacle), I remember being simultaneously charmed and a bit taken aback. We were a far cry from the time when my mom and my little brother drove down to Florida and my brother got to do a stint as a batboy. A far cry.

Which isn’t to say there’s not a lot of good stuff out there (or that any of us should feel guilty for getting our fix). (Not that kind of fix. You should feel guilty about that.) On SoSH, Mike F. captures some of what I like to imagine spring training still feels like. You all know I’ve been a big fan of Rob Bradford’s, and his new blog is a good read. (I do disagree with Rob — vehemently, in fact — that it’d be a good idea to bring Tek back when his contract expires in two years, unless he’s coming back as a coach.) There is, of course, Schilling’s new blog. (I’m still hoping to get an official, printable answer to this question; in the meantime, I’ll take solace in the fact that the first listing in a Google search of “Curt Schilling blog” turns up…this. Curt, you haven’t beaten me yet!) But I’m hoping that my baseball-related entries will focus more on those times when I actually have something to say.*

* I reserve the right to change the definition of “having something to say” at any time and without warning.

Post Categories: 2007 Spring Training & Curt Schilling & Feeding the Monster reactions & The Onion

5 Comments → “Baseball…get your baseball here.”

  1. deversm

    17 years ago

    Will you be updating your “Other Work” section regularly? I saw mention in a previous post about looming deadlines so I was wondering if there was more Mnookin coming out in print. I know you write about more than just baseball and spelling. You’re an ideas man, like this guy.

    I will indeed — although at least one of the things that’s coming out soonish is a Sox-related piece. But I’ll keep everything up to date…



  2. Adam White

    17 years ago

    While I understand that Varitek’s longevity as a catcher may be limited, given the physical strain it requires, the Sox would have to be nuts to let him go. He’s too great a resource regarding American League hitters — who better to mentor the next catcher, and to fill in at backstop as needed?

    In a couple of years, surely there will be a spot for him at First Base. Move Youk across the diamond. Lowell’s great, but I’d rather have Tek at First and Youk at Third, and Lowell moved to Second or another team altogether, than to lose Tek. Anyway, Lowell’s contract is due to run out after this year anyway, I believe.


  3. ntpopo

    17 years ago

    With all due respect, Adam, as much as I love Tek and what he has meant to this team and this town, there is absolutely no way you could EVER justify having him at first base. When his body gives out on him, hire him as a coach. Groom him as the next manager. Use him that way. Why would you ever his numbers of the LAST THREE YEARS at first, let alone what he’ll be able to contribute after the next two?


  4. Adam White

    17 years ago

    Keeping him as a coach is a good option, assuming that he’d go with that.

    But I think your analysis is a bit shortsighted, at least to the extent that, by “his numbers of the last three years,” you focus exclusively on his hitting numbers. There’s a lot more to baseball than AVG and OBP — as I noted above, his knowledge of the league’s hitters, and his positive morale effect on his teammates, are worth quite a lot.


  5. branatical

    17 years ago

    You’re right, ain’t nothing going on in Florida…same old BS everyday. I’m sick of hearing about the closer situation, Pedroia’s slump, Pena’s 400ab’s and Schilling’s changeup. I don’t care, it’s nauseating, but then why do I check in everyday?

    The story about Ortiz and the Iraq soldier from NH was good and further demonstrates what type of guy Ortiz is. That was worth reading. I was at that game. Awesome moment and it means even more now.

    Red Sox had their starting nine out today against the Pirates and could barely muster a hit. Sounds like an exciting game.

    NBC Nightly News did a piece on Matsuzaka, it was pretty bad, reporter pronounced his name Matsusuku, but he’s making national news. He’s a pretty exciting addition, by all accounts legit and a solid persona. But that’s not really news.

    Hopefully by the time Tek’s contract is up Kottaras will be an outstanding everyday guy. Reports seem positive.

    Sorry for the ramble.


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