December 13th, 2007 → 6:46 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Lots and lots and lots and lots of actual and virtual ink will be spilled on the Mitchell Report, which is going to make life hell for a whole mess of people. I’ll resist added too much of my drivel and will instead limit myself to some few quick points on issues such as…
Roger Clemens. Why, you might ask, would a sure-fire Hall of Famer risk his reputation and legacy over these last five or so years by taking PEDs? People asked me that question again and again during the pre-season frenzies of last season and 2006. I have no way of knowing; for some reason, Clemens won’t talk to me. But I do have an idea: because he has never, in his entire life, had to deal with the consequences of his actions. He can act like a teenage mutant ninja freak and throw broken bats across the field and it’s chalked up to competitive fire. He can demand ludicrous contract clauses like Hummers and private transportation and he’s indulged. Why, after years and years of this, would he suddenly think that the rules applied to him? (Clemens is far from alone in this regard; this is something that crops up again and again in ballplayers, who are constantly reminded that the normal rules of society–stay faithful to your spouse, clean up after yourself, don’t eat McDonald’s for breakfast–don’t apply to them.
I Love (the fact that I’m not playing in) New York. Plenty of teams’ fans are going to be crowing/letting out a huge sigh of relief…so long as those fans aren’t rooting for the Mets and the Yankees. A quick scan of what is destined to become known as the list shows current and former New Yorkers including Kevin Brown, Paul Lo Duca, Mo Vaughn, Todd Pratt, Ron Villone, David Justice, Chuck Knoblauch, Clemens, Andy Pettitte, and Lenny Dykstra. Does that mean that other teams–like, say, the Sox–are (or were) any cleaner? Hell no. It just means no-one else had a clubhouse attended that got popped.
The non-inclusion of any of the Idiots: Earlier today, what turned out to be a fake list was leaked; that one included names like Nomar, Johnny Damon, and Trot Nixon, along with other usual suspects like Pudge, Pujols, and Milton Bradley. (Later in the day, well-circulated rumor had Varitek also on the list.) Back in 2005, a member of the Sox’s front office physically shuddered at the thought of what would happen in Boston if news ever broke about someone on the ’04 team roiding up. It looks like that won’t happen…for now, anyway. That brings us to…
Eric Gagne. Gagne, as everyone now knows, was on the list, which can’t be a surprise to anyone. (Also included in the report is news that the Sox inquired about Gagne’s supposed doping before acquiring him at the deadline.) It turns out that the biggest favor Gagne may have done Boston is sucking ass for the second half of the season–now, at least, no one can point to him as one of the reason’s for the team’s success.
That’s all for now. I’ve written plenty about steroids in the past, including last August, when I wondered why no one was wondering about Roger, and way back in October ’06, when I mocked the press’s surprise that Clemens had been fingered in he Grimsley affidavit. I also tagged Jason Giambi a gutless punk, ripped into the Players Union for defending the players’ right to destroy their livers, lamented the fact that Jose Canseco seemed to be the only honest guy around, and talked about how Bill James compared steroids to going through a divorce. (Sort of, anyway.)
More later, I’m sure.
October 24th, 2007 → 10:59 am @ Seth Mnookin
The comments section has been heating upâ€šÃ„Ã®and lots of smart people have been making lots of good points. There’s a lot I want to comment on (like Manny’s freakishly similar Indians/Red Sox splitsâ€šÃ„Ã®I’m willing to bet no player has ever had two seven-year stretches that were so remarkably alike), and hopefully I will do that in these next few days. (I doubt I’ll revisit the always shocking uninformed inanity displayed by Murray Chass…but only because I’m exercising remarkable self control.) That doesn’t mean this here blog is gonna remain dark: In advance of my heading up to Boston to catch Game 1, here’s one of my all-time favorite Feeding the Monster excerpts; this one details an at-bat Theo labeled “the greatest at-bat to end the greatest game ever played.” (It really shouldn’t need saying, but here goes: if you don’t have your copy of FTM, you’re only hurting yourself. You can buy a copy from Amazon for $10.20 – cheap! – and request a personalized, signed bookplate all in matter of mere seconds.) Without further ado…
In the bottom of the 14th, Yankees pitcher Esteban Loaiza came out for his fourth inning of work. A bust during the regular season, Loaiza had been unhittable in this game, with a devastating sinker falling off one side of the plate and a wicked cut fastball collapsing on the other. His last three innings of work may have been the best pitched innings of the series thus far. Since entering the game in the 11th with runners on first and second and one out, heâ€šÃ„Ã´d allowed just one walk. Now, Loaiza struck out Mark Bellhorn to begin the inning, and a pair of walks sandwiched around another strikeout put Johnny Damon on second base and Manny Ramirez on first with two outs. David Ortiz was due up at the plate. A base hit would likely win the game.
As Ortiz walked to the plate, he spit into his batting gloves and then smashed his hands together. As he dug into the batterâ€šÃ„Ã´s box, he tried to drown out the serenading cries of â€šÃ„ÃºPAPI, PAPI,â€šÃ„Ã¹ to ignore the adulatory signs that freckled the Fenway stands. â€šÃ„ÃºYou want to shut everything down,â€šÃ„Ã¹ he later told Globeâ€šÃ„Ã´s Chris Snow. â€šÃ„ÃºAfter you shut down all the noise and everything around you, thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s when your concentration comes. Thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s when you focus on what you want to do.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Ortiz is often described as a hitting genius, as if his talent is purely God given. Heâ€šÃ„Ã´s more comfortable than many Latin players talking with and teasing reporters, but English is not his first language, and he often plays the part of the friendly jokester. But Ortiz works on his hitting as much as anyone in baseball. While his teammates are in the field, Ortiz often retreats to the Red Soxâ€šÃ„Ã´s clubhouse to study his previous at-bats against that nightâ€šÃ„Ã´s pitcher. Ortiz had been preparing for Loaiza ever since heâ€šÃ„Ã´d taken the mound. â€šÃ„ÃºI wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t trying to go too crazy with him,â€šÃ„Ã¹ Ortiz said later. Because of Loaizaâ€šÃ„Ã´s pitchesâ€šÃ„Ã´ late movement, Ortiz said, he â€šÃ„Ãºjust wanted to stay on the ball longer.â€šÃ„Ã¹
Loaizaâ€šÃ„Ã´s first pitch looked hittable, and Ortiz took a monstrous cut, but at the last moment the ball dove down and away, and Ortiz missed. Strike one. A ball and a foul made it 1-2. The Yankees were one strike away from sending the game, which had already taken longer than any postseason game in baseball history, into the 15th inning. The fourth pitch was outside but not by enough for Ortiz to take, and he punched it foul. He hit the next pitch deep enough to be a home run, but it hooked foul into the right field stands. Loaiza followed with another ball, bringing the count even, to 2-2. Ortiz stepped out of the batterâ€šÃ„Ã´s box.
As Ortiz and Loaiza battled, Fenway was in a complete frenzy. A group of young men just behind home plate had been pounding on the dividing wall that separated the field from the stands since the eighth inning. Down the third base line, ESPNâ€šÃ„Ã´s Peter Gammons stood, poised by the entrance to the field, as he waited for the game to end so he could run out and collect a few quick on-camera quotes. Heâ€šÃ„Ã´d been standing there for a couple of hours already, ever since the bottom of the eighth, when the Yankees looked as if they were about to put away the game, and the series. Gammons, whoâ€šÃ„Ã´d seen the Red Sox beat the Cincinnati Reds in extra innings in the Sixth Game of the 1975 World Series, couldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t seem to erase the grin from his face. â€šÃ„ÃºUnbelievable,â€šÃ„Ã¹ he occasionally murmured, shaking his head.
Ortiz knew a walk would load the bases, and with Doug Mientkiewicz on deck, he also knew the Yankees would much prefer to pitch to the light-hitting defensive specialist than to the man whose postseason highlight reel seemed to grow with each passing day. At this point, the difference between men on first and second and men on every base was negligible: with two outs, the lead runner would be off on contact in either case, and a base hit would likely win the game regardless of whether Damon was on second or third. Even with two strikes, Ortiz knew Loaiza wasnâ€šÃ„Ã´t going to give him anything on the fat part of the plate, and the way Loaiza was pitching, he could keep on painting the corners forever. Ortiz dug in, determined to foul off as many pitches as it took until there was one he could handle.
And so Ortiz fouled off the seventh pitch of the at bat, and then the eighth and the ninth. As he stepped out of the batterâ€šÃ„Ã´s box again, he examined his bat before seizing it by the barrel and smacking it, handle first, into the ground to make sure one of Loaizaâ€šÃ„Ã´s cutters hadnâ€šÃ„Ã´t splintered it. Satisfied, he tucked it under his arm, spat into his gloves once more, smacked his hands together again, and settled back in to hit. And on the tenth pitch of David Ortizâ€šÃ„Ã´s seventh plate appearance of the night, Loaiza threw a cut fastball in on his hands. Ortiz, no longer swinging for the fences, fisted the ball over Derek Jeterâ€šÃ„Ã´s head, where it fell in front of center fielder Bernie Williams. On national television, commentator Joe Buck exclaimed, â€šÃ„ÃºDamon coming to the plate, he can keep on running to New York. Game 6, tomorrow night!â€šÃ„Ã¹ As Loaiza walked dejectedly off the mound he spit out his gum and took a swat at it with his glove. This had been the best heâ€šÃ„Ã´d pitched all year, and still Ortiz had beaten him.
It was Ortizâ€šÃ„Ã´s second walk-off hit of the series and his third of the postseason; no other player in history had hit more than two in his entire career. Afterwards, Theo Epstein said, â€šÃ„ÃºIt might be the greatest game ever played. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´d like to hear other nominationsâ€šÃ„Â¶. That might have been one of the greatest at-bats to end the greatest game ever played.â€šÃ„Ã¹ Pedro Martinez, whoâ€šÃ„Ã´d made headlines in September after referring to the Yankees as â€šÃ„Ãºmy daddyâ€šÃ„Ã¹ after a tough loss to New York, said simply, â€šÃ„ÃºThe Yankees need to think about whoâ€šÃ„Ã´s their Big Papi.â€šÃ„Ã¹
October 1st, 2007 → 12:18 pm @ Seth Mnookin
The 2004 Sox went 98-64, peaked in the second half of the season, and won the Wild Card. The 2007 Sox went 96-66 (which wouldn’t even have been good enough to make the playoffs in ’04), peaked in the first half, dethroned the Yankees to win the AL East, and tied for the best record in baseball. The 2004 Red Sox faced the Angels in the ALDS; the 2007 Red Sox will face the Angels in the ALDS. In ’04, obviously, the Sox won it all. In 2007, who knows what’ll happen? But let’s look at how they fare in a head-to-head matchup…
Catcher: V-Tek v. V-Tek: Sorry, 2006 Varitek; your 2004 self whips your 2007 self’s pasty white ass. 2007, 0, 2004, 1.
First base: The Battle of the Kevins: By the end of ’05, Millar’s shtick had become real old. In ’03 and ’04 he had real value, though. Youk, meanwhile, anchored down his corner of the IF with defense that, if not exactly Mientkiewiczian, was pretty damn good. On the other hand, he hit well below .250 the second half of the year, was surprisingly prone to strike-out, and had the corner on the Paul “If I look really pissed when I don’t succeed then it means I’m gritty” O’Neill market. 2007, 1, 2004, 1.
Second base: The Battle of Who Could Care Less: OK, fine…that hed doesn’t work. (And if it was the criteria, Bellhorn would seem to be a clinch.) I love(d) Mark, and he sure as shit should have been the ’04 WS MVP, but Pedroia gets the clear nod here. 2007, 2, 2004, 1.
Shortstop: O-Cab v. Lugo: This isn’t really a contest: it’s O-Cab in a landslide. 2007, 2, 2004, 2.
Third base: Lowell v. Billy Ballgame: Mueller won a batting title (in ’03, granted). Lowell picked up the offense and played better defense. 2007, 3, 2004, 2.
Left field: Manny being Manny v. Manny not being Manny quite as much: He didn’t deserve that WS MVP, but Man Ram circa ’04 tops Man Ram’s ’07 without really breaking a sweat. 2007, 3, 2004, 3.
Center field: Johnny Jesus v. Coocoo for Coco Crisp: My crush on Coco is well-documented; the rest of the world’s crush on Damon is just as well documented, if not more so. I’m tempted to mark this one a draw, but I’ll give JD the nod, even though I still believe Coco’s defense was one of the two or three most important components of the ’07 team. 2007, 3, 2004, 4.
Right field: Trot “The original dirt dog” Nixon v. J.D. “Why wait around for the division-clinching celebration?” Drew: I assume pretty much everyone is going to give Nixon the upper-hand here (Tony Mazz probably summed up the feeling of a lot of RSN when he gave Drew an F in his year-end report card) but I’ll go all counter-CW here and give it to Drew. His defense was arguably as consistently good as we’ve seen in right since Dewey, and he’s been raking during the last month. Plus, the ’04 Trot wasn’t exactly great shakes. (And, it’s worth pointing out, was a lot less durable than JD.) 2007, 4, 2004, 4.
DH: Huge Papi, ’04, v. Big Papi, ’07: Even before his heroic playoff performance, Papi had one of the all-time great years in ’04. 2007, 4, 2004, 5.
Josh Beckett v. Curt Schilling, ’04 edition: Schilling was great; Beckett was better. And hopefully won’t need to resort to cutting up his ankle. 2007, 5, 2004, 5.
SP: Daisuke Matsuzaka v. Pedro Martinez: Draw.
SP: Curt Schilling, ’07 edition, v. Bronson Arroyo: The Big Schill takes it over Saturn Nuts. 2007, 6, 2004, 5.
SP: Tim Wakefield, ’07 edition, v. Tim Wakefield, ’04 edition: Still as likely to be brilliant as terrifying. To Sox fans, that is. Draw.
Closer: Jonathan Papelbon v. Keith Foulke: Draw. It’s easy to forget how incredibly good Foulke was in ’04 due to how bad he was in ’05. Along with Ortiz, he should have been the playoff MVP.
Bullpen: Okie, Tavarez, Lester, Delcarmen, Gagne, Lopez v. Lowe, Timlin, Embree, Swilly, Myers, Leskanic: Since we’re doing this regular-season awards-style and thus can’t take D-Lowe’s playoffs into consideration, and since the Sox had the best bullpen in baseball this year, this goes to ’07. 2007, 7, 2004, 5.
Bench: Cora, Hinske, Mirabelli, Ellsbury v. Youk, Kapler, Malphabet, Mirabelli: Ellsbury is the obvious wild-card here. I’m gonna give a slight edge to the ’04 gang. 2007, 7, 2004, 6.
Manager: Tito the rookie v. Tito the vet: Terry’s managing of the squad during the ’04 playoffs was brilliant; his managing during the ’07 campaign was too. Once again, since it’s a regular season thing, this year wins. 2007, 8, 2004, 6.
Chemistry: Cowboy Up v….well, what are we supposed to call them, anyway?: The fact that the ’07 team has no kind of slogan makes the answer obvious. 2007, 8, 2004, 7.
And there you have it. The nod would seem to go to this year’s team, but, of course, we’re not grading the rest of baseball. And all categories are not created equal. (Example: Ortiz would obviously beat out Greg Norton in the DH category…but the difference would be a lot greater than, say, Papelbon v. Mariano.) But if we want to look at the totality of the ’04 season and what will, in a month, be the totality of the ’07 season, regardless of what happens from here on out, ’04 wins. The Sox will never again win their first WS in more than eight decades. (At least we hope so.) The Sox will not beat the Yankees in a seven-game series after being down 3-0 a year after losing a seven-game series in extra-innings because of the bone-headed move by a Gumpian manager. The Sox will never again break the curse. The Sox will never again experience the last-gasp transition from the Duquette era to the Epstein era. The Sox will never again have David Ortiz truly embody the whole hackneyed David v. Goliath thing.
But that doesn’t mean the next month of baseball isn’t going to be fun.
Nostalgic for the ’04 season? (Who isn’t? Who won’t be for the rest of their lives?) If you want to relive the insanity and bliss of ’04, and if you want to learn everything there is to learn about the team leading up to the World Series win…and everything there is to learn about the year (plus) after that same win, make sure to get Feeding the Monster, the Boston Globe and New York Times bestseller thatâ€šÃ„Ã´s been called â€šÃ„ÃºRed Sox pornâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and the only book written by someone who was embedded with the team for a full year. It’s available from Amazon for only $10.20 (cheap)â€šÃ„Â¶and you can even get your copy inscribed with one of these free, signed, personalized bookplates. Theyâ€šÃ„Ã´re really nice. Seriously: ask anyone you know who has one.
May 2nd, 2007 → 11:26 am @ Seth Mnookin
Yes, I’m getting to this a bit late — I’m about to get to a lot of things a bit late — but I want to make one last comment about the whole Schilling/bloody sock imbroglio. In his always entertaining, usually insightful blog, Schilling couldn’t help but use his brush to paint reporters with some broad strokes. “If you havenâ€šÃ„Ã´t figured it out by now, working in the media is a pretty nice gig,â€šÃ„Ã´â€šÃ„Ã´ he wrote. “Barring outright plagiarism or committing a crime, you donâ€šÃ„Ã´t have to be accountable if you donâ€šÃ„Ã´t want to. You can say what you want when you want and you donâ€šÃ„Ã´t really have to answer to anyone.”
This shows, more than anything that a) Curt would do well to do what I try to do when I get really upset: write down the first thing that pops into my head and then throw it away (I’m not always as successful as I might like) and b) he has very little understanding of the media.
There definitely are reporters that seem to have a questionable relationship with reality, just as there are those reporters who appear to use their columns to grind their assorted axes — I’ve been railing on Murray Chass for both of these sins for some time now. There are also those situations, and they seem to occur more frequently in the sports pages, where accountability is lacking. (Anyone remember when Jayson Stark said the Kenny Rodgers-Dirtgate controversy would rival steroids?)
But for the most part, there’s an enormous amount of accountability in the media — more so, I might add, then in the world of professional athletes, whose whims are catered by any number of people. (The whole media accountability thing is a subject I know something about.) And working in the media is, more often than not, not a pretty nice gig. Take baseball beat writers. Their hours suck: 3pm to midnight. Their people they cover (and are surrounded by) view them as annoyances…or worse. They’re fed an endless diet of stunningly unappetizing food and spend countless days crammed into coach and countless nights in crappy hotels. They make a couple of trips to Cincinnati (or Arlington, or Kansas City, or Detroit) every year. And their audience either thinks they’re supercilious pricks or pathetic suck ups.
All this for the privilege of working in an industry that looks to be in a death spiral. Oh, and earning about 140 times less per year than people like Curt Schilling. If they’re lucky.
Can reporters screw up? Of course. Can they be unscrupulous? Absolutely. Are they ever careless with the facts? Well, duh. But Curt’s blanket statement is about as accurate as saying my saying that working as a professional baseball player is a pretty nice gig because you get paid tens of millions of dollars to shoot up with ‘roids.
February 19th, 2007 → 11:58 am @ Seth Mnookin
In a recent Dirt Dogs online poll, El Guapo and D-Lowe tied as the favorite Sox relievers of the past thirty years, beating out Paps, UUU, and, of course, the Stanley Steamer.
Oh, and also, Keith Foulke, who’s retirement last week didn’t get much attention in RSN. (As far as I can tell, the only Globe article on Foulke calling it quits was one that outlined locker-mate Josh Beckett’s reaction to the news. This in a paper that documents everytime Dice-K takes fielding practice.) After one great year and two painful years in Boston, Foulke opted for free agency instead of picking up his player option for a fourth year with the Sox; he signed earlier this year with the Indians for $5 mil and was supposed to be competing for the closer spot. Had he showed up for spring training and then hit the DL, he would have collected that not-insignificant check; instead, he decided his body couldn’t perform the way he wanted it to and hung up his spikes.
Foulke’s surly attitude in ’05 and ’06 will keep him from ever getting the acclaim he deserves, and he’ll be remembered as much for his infamous Johnny Burger King comments as he will for anything he did on the field. He’s been accused of not liking baseball, of being a mercenary, of only talking to outlets that paid him money, and of running over litters of stray kittens in his truck. He’s certainly not warm and cuddly: during the ’05 season, the most animated I saw him was when he was talking about the attractive lady fans at this or that country music concert.
But Foulke will always be one of my favorite members of the ’04 squad, and anyone who thinks he doesn’t care about baseball should go back and watch their DVD’s of the Yankees ALCS. (When Foulke signed with the Indians a couple of weeks back, I posted a Feeding the Monster (signed bookplates still available, folks!) excerpt about Foulke’s Game 6 heroics. It’s worth reading…not because I’m such a brilliant writer, but because that was such a brilliant moment in the history of Red Sox baseball.) It was Foulke, along with Papi, that truly saved the season during Games 4, 5, and 6, three games jammed into just over 48 hours in which Keith threw more than 90 pitches. (The always worth reading Art Martone has a nice appreciation of those days in Sunday’s Providence Journal.) I’m not going to go over all the game logs since ’04, but I’m willing to bet no reliever has topped that. I’m of the opinion that the punishment his body took was one of the main reasons he never regained his elite form.
Foulke could be a prick, to be sure. When he wasn’t on the mound, he didn’t do a lot to endear himself to the public or the press. But he was a helluva competitor, and, in his own weird way, a classy guy. God’s speed, Keith. Enjoy the hockey.
February 1st, 2007 → 10:06 am @ Seth Mnookin
Let’s see: in the months since the ’06 season ended, the Sox were seconds away from trading Manny, until they weren’t. They were about to lose the rights to Daisuke Matsuzaka, until they didn’t. They signed J.D. Drew to a five-year deal, until they didn’t, and then they did. And in just the last week, the Red Sox were thisclose to a deal to bring Todd Helton to Boston, and then they weren’t. In the midst of all this, the New York Times has been waging a bizarre jihad against Theo Epstein, who, oh, by the way, happened to get married. (Don’t worry: he nuptials did not really feature Coney Island’s Nathan’s hot dogs.)
It’s been a hectic offseason. It shouldn’t be too much to ask for a calm couple of weeks until spring training starts.
It shouldn’t be too much to ask, but it is. With Curt Schilling in danger of being supplanted as the team’s top pitcher by Dice-K, Schill pulled a Pedro and picked up the gun #45 had pointed at the Sox’s front office before the ’04 season. Less than a year after saying ’07 would be his last season in the bigs, Schilling announced — on WEEI, naturally — that he would pitch in 2008. Oh, and he sure as shit better get a deal before April 1. “There won’t be any distractions in questioning because if I don’t have a contract before the season starts, then I’ll get a contract after the 2007 season, as a free agent,” Schilling said last night. What if the Red Sox want to, you know, see how a 40-year old whose last two years could generously be described as up and down was doing once the rigors of the season started? “That’s not going to happen,” he said. “I think I’ve earned the right to do one or the other. If they don’t think the risk is worth the reward, or vice versa, I get that.”
That language might sound familiar to readings of Feeding the Monster. Here’s how I described the situation as it stood in spring training 2004…a couple of months after the Sox signed Schilling:
“Pedro Martinez, meanwhile, who was paid $14 million in 2002 and was signed for $15.5 million in 2003, said he felt disrespected by the fact that the club hadnâ€šÃ„Ã´t picked up his $17.5 million club option for 2004. If the Red Sox didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t act by the time the 2003 season started, Martinez said, heâ€šÃ„Ã´d assume his career with the club was over. ‘Itâ€šÃ„Ã´s bye-bye once the year starts,’ he told reporters. ‘Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m gone. Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m just going to pitch. I wonâ€šÃ„Ã´t wait until the All-Star break to talk to them.’ …
With Schilling on board, Martinez wondered if the Red Sox were planning on keeping him around beyond the 2004 season, and without a contract, he was both hesitant to risk further injury and worried about giving the impression he was less than totally healthy. Martinezâ€šÃ„Ã´s anxiety about pitching during one season before he knew if heâ€šÃ„Ã´d get paid for the next had been apparent since 2003, when, during spring training, he began agitating for the Red Sox to pick up his 2004 option. Now, when he spoke of Grady Littleâ€šÃ„Ã´s decision to leave him in Game 7 of the previous fallâ€šÃ„Ã´s American League Championship Series against the Yankees, he talked not of the fact that the game was on the line but of the risk to his arm. â€šÃ„ÃºI was actually shocked I stayed out there that long,â€šÃ„Ã¹ he told Sports Illustrated. ‘But Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m paid to do that. I belong to Boston. If they want me to blow my arm out, itâ€šÃ„Ã´s their responsibility.’ …
The same fragility that made Martinez anxious about securing a long-term deal made the Red Sox concerned about giving him one. ‘The arm angle Pedro had in spring training was very worrisome,’ says John Henry. When Henry asked one of the teamâ€šÃ„Ã´s top baseball operations executives what kind of season Martinez would likely produce, the answer stunned him: ‘I was told, â€šÃ„Ã²Heâ€šÃ„Ã´ll win 12 or 15 games, have a 4.00 ERA or a 3.50 ERA.â€šÃ„Ã´ And I was like, â€šÃ„Ã²Fuck.â€šÃ„Ã´’ Despite this prediction, the team wanted to re-sign its star. ‘I thought he should finish his career in Boston,’ says Henry. …
On April 30th, as the Red Sox sat in the visiting clubhouse in Arlington, Texas, waiting for a thunderstorm to pass, Martinez decided to chat with the Heraldâ€šÃ„Ã´s Michael Silverman, his favorite reporter on the beat. Martinez told Silverman he was cutting off all negotiations with the Red Sox until seasonâ€šÃ„Ã´s end. ‘Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m just really sad for the fans in New England who had high hopes thatâ€šÃ„Â¶I was going to stay in Boston,’ Martinez said. ‘[The fans] donâ€šÃ„Ã´t understand whatâ€šÃ„Ã´s going on, but I really mean it from my heartâ€šÃ„Ã®I gave them every opportunity, every discount I could give them to actually stay in Boston and they never took advantage of it. Didnâ€šÃ„Ã´t even give me an offer.’ His contract status, he said, wouldnâ€šÃ„Ã´t be a distraction for him or the team ‘because Iâ€šÃ„Ã´m not going to allow it.’”
It’s no secret that Pedro and Schilling were not the best of friends, and it’s no secret that Pedro was wounded that Schilling overtook him as the Sox’s best pitcher. It turns out the two pitchers might not be that different after all. Negotiating in the media? Check. Playing on fans’ emotions and Boston’s tendency towards soap operas? Check. Needing the attention focused on himself? Check.
On the upside, 2004 — another season with its fair share of drama — ended up okay when all was said and done.
(Obligatory FTM plug: The reviewers love it, it was a New York Times bestseller, and it’s available for only $17.16 on Amazon. Oh, and, of course, signed, personalized bookplates are still available free of cost. And How can you resist?)
January 26th, 2007 → 12:03 pm @ Seth Mnookin
Longtime readers will know that Murray ain’t my only obsession; I’ve also been fixated on the notion of process versus results, especially as it relates to baseball (and stock picking). Honestly: who else do you know that could incorporate Robert Rubin’s economic policy and why the Boston media doesn’t write about the positive things happening in Red Sox Nation? (On two seperate occasions, no less?)
There’s a strained way that this relates to Trot Nixon and one of the most discussed at-bats of the 2004 World Series. The scene: Game 4, 3rd inning, bases loaded, 2 out, Sox leading 1-0, Nixon at the plate with a 3-0 count. Jason Marquis serves up a meatball that Trot nails; the ball is mere inches away from being a grand-slam. (The fact that that ball didn’t leave the park speaks to Trot’s diminished power…but I digress.) The Sox were roundly praised for giving Trot the green light on 3-0, especially with Marquis struggling and a walk scoring a run. Except Trot wasn’t given a green light; he simply blew the sign. Taking a pitch was arguably the right move: Marquis was struggling, there was nowhere to put Trot, and Shaggy McShouldaBeenSeriesMVP was on deck. In the end, it didn’t matter, Terry’s a genius, and Trot’s folk-hero status is brought up one more notch. But it’s worth pointing out that the play didn’t go down as planned; it went down despite not being planned…