Keith Foulke: Heading back home to patch his bones

February 19th, 2007 → 11:58 am @

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.

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Keith Foulke & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics

You got to roll me

December 10th, 2006 → 3:59 pm @

I sure as hell hope it’s not true…but that doesn’t stop me from fully appreciating the Herald‘s headline on Michael Silverman’s story about the disintegrating negotiations between the Red Sox and Daisuke Matsuzaka: “Tumblin’ Dice.”

Even in light of Scott Boras’s well-publicized track record of shortening players’ careers in order to snare some extra dough, I think this deal will go down. Matsuzaka doesn’t want to return to Japan, the Seibu Lions don’t want him back, and there’s no other dog in this hunt. If it’s true that the Sox are at $8 mil a year and Boras is closer to $14 or $15 mil, I’d bet on Matsuzaka receiving an annual salary in the neighborhood of $10 or $11 million when the deal is done. Whatever the case, you can bet Boras’ll burn the candle right down.

Post Categories: 2006 Hot Stove Season & Daisuke Matsuzaka & Explicit References to Rolling Stones Lyrics & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics & Scott Boras

Say your piece and get out

December 2nd, 2006 → 8:18 pm @

A quick note: we’ve had a lot of new people sign up on the site recently — which, believe me, is something I’m very grateful for, especially if you all are buying copies of the book. (Have I mentioned it makes a great holiday gift? It goes great with a personalized book plate.) So a quick reminder is in order: let’s keep the personal attacks — on players, or writers, on front office personnel — to a minimum. (And by minimum I mean to zero.) Bring on the constructive criticism. Bring on the fiesty debates. Don’t bring on the “so-and-so is a stupid worthless whore.”

So…if you post a comment and don’t see it go up on the site in some reasonable amount of time, don’t take it personally; I get emotional, too. And feel free to add something else to the discussion.

With that: onward! On Manny, on J.D., on Peavy and Nixon! Let the fun begin!

Post Categories: Comments & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics

Truckin…up to Brattleboro

October 6th, 2006 → 10:51 am @

I’m about to take off for Brattleboro, Vermont, where I’ll be reading as part of their annual literary festival. As a result, I won’t have any trenchant comments on:

* The Yankees loss to the Tigers.
* The continuation of A-Rod’s playoff disappearing act. Yesterday, A-Rod struck out with the bases loaded in the first. Since Game 4 of the ’04 ALCS, he’s 4-35 with 0 RBIs in October.

* The Dodgers loss to the Mets. Grady Little started the rookie Hong-Chih Kuo (who-o?) (sorry – – couldn’t resist) instead of Greg Maddux. Seriously. (Let’s hope nobody takes Keith Law’s and Bill Simmons’s columns and reads them to Grady.)
* Nomar’s injury.

More, and more of those year-end wrap-ups, over the weekend…

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & A-Rod & Feeding the Monster Readings & Grady Little & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics

Guitar solos and tour riders, oh my! (All praise Iggy and the Dragonforces)

October 6th, 2006 → 10:36 am @

Two must-views:

1. The dual guitar solo on Dragonforce’s “Through the Fire and Flames.” (The whole clip is only about a minute long. I was tipped off to this by Kelefa Sanneh’s Times piece from earlier this week. As K. says: “A one-minute video of Mr. Li and Mr. Totman trading impossibly fast solos — from a song called “Through the Fire and Flames” — has been viewed nearly half a million times. (The fretwork is astonishing, but what’s even better is watching Mr. Totman swig a beer while Mr. Li plays.)” It’s truly mind-blowing…and actually better than Jake Shimabukuro’s ukulele rendition of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Tangentiallly, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that Kelefa is the best music writer in the country. I can’t think of a bad piece he’s written, and at least twice a week he comes out with something that examines some aspect of the music world in a whole new way.

2. Rock ‘n roll tour riders have been the subject of much fascination and awe ever since Van Halen demanded that their dressing rooms have bowls of M&M’s…with all the brown ones taken out.

Without further ado, I present to you the Iggy and the Stooges rider, dug up by the Smoking Gun. It is the best tour rider ever.

Some selected examples:

* “By the way, if there are any Reality TV executives reading this — hardly likely, I know, but — here is my idea for a Reality TV show. It’s called ‘Dead Dog Island’, where a group of contestants/dog lovers is asked what is their favourite breed of dog, then whatever they reply…they are then presented with a dead dog of that particular breed, which they have to cook in a number of different ways…”
* Sandwiches: “Hopefully not one of those sandwiches from Subway with beef and alfalfa sprouts sticking out like a Florida retiree’s bikini bottoms. Yuk.”
* Backstage entertainment: “Someebody dressed as Bob Hope Doing fantastic Bob Hope impersonations and telling all those hilarious Bob Hope jokes about golf and Hollywood and Bing Crosby.”
* For the Stooges dressing room: “6 cans of red bull or similar. Something with testicles in it. Or testicles lite.”

Read all 18 pages. It’s worth it.

Post Categories: 2006 Playoffs & A-Rod & Feeding the Monster Readings & Grady Little & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics

There ain’t no place I’d rather be…

August 28th, 2006 → 5:09 pm @

From the “things you learn when promoting a book” department: there is, in publishing, something known as a clusterfu, er, radio tour. These are not “tours,” per se, but a series of staggered phone calls, one after another after another, with stations around the country. They’re a surprising amount of fun, although the only other time I did one — right after Feeding the Monster came out — I did get a little slap happy by the end. Anyway, tomorrow there’s another, proving either that the gods of scheduling have a perverse sense of humor or the rest of the country wants to wallow in Boston’s misery. In either case, here’s the schedule. And yes, for all you fans in Nashville, you’ll actually have three chances to hear me tomorrow. Because Tennessee is a hotbed of Sox fanaticism.

Also, coming up in September, a brand new series of readings, including stops in Manhattan, Providence, Newton (home of the Tigers), and Burlington (MA, not VT). For those of you who won’t be able to heckle me in person but would still like a signed book, I can offer personalized, signed bookplates, sent to you free of charge in a lovely Simon & Schuster envelope.

Post Categories: Feeding the Monster Readings & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics

All hail the Fat Man: Gimme five, he’s still alive

August 12th, 2006 → 12:55 pm @

One of the things I was most surprised by last year was the hatred directed towards David Wells. Fans didn’t like him. Reporters weren’t overly fond of him. Casual acquaintances asked me why the Sox had bothered to sign him up at all.

I’ve always kind of liked Wells. I’m naturally predisposed towards people who speak their minds, and Wells’s apparent inability to keep his mouth shut was refreshing in a world in which most everyone is trained not to offend. Watching ESPN in the clubhouse before a game one day, he blurted out, apropos of nothing, “Can you imagine what my record would be like if all these guys weren’t on steroids? That’s one good thing about being so fat: no one’ll ever suspect me.” When Manny had his mid-season melt-down, most of his teammates tossed off platitudes about what a good teammate he was and how his trade demands were never a distraction. Wells wasn’t quite so politic. “The guy’s messing with my cake,” Wells said last July 30. “I don’t care what’s going on. This team needs him. … It’s selfish for him not to step up. Listen, we’ve got a couple of guys hurt.” On the last night of last year’s August visit to Kansas City, I asked Wells about the intensity of the fans in Boston. He didn’t give a rote speech about how nice it was to play in front of passionate fans; instead, he said publicly what a lot of the players had grumbled about privately. “[The fans] don’t care [about privacy]. That’s why I don’t go out. You can’t enjoy a drink with a friend or a meal with your family because they’re such huge fans. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when the game’s over, you’ve got to let us breathe. I mean, look at Manny. He’s got a hard time. And David Ortiz, Johnny Damon, guys very seldon go out because they know what they’re up against and they don’t want the hassle. There’s really nowhere to hide.”

I’ve also liked Wells because he’s a true physical marvel. Roger Clemens works his ass off to stay in shape; Julio Franco eats 20 egg whites as the first of his five or six meals a day. Wells? He eats like crap, drinks a lot, throws a beautifully nasty curve, has remarkable control…and may or may not have thrown a perfect game while half-drunk. He’s a physical marvel like Hunter Thompson was a physical marvel.

For Wells fans, last night was a good night. In May, the hulking lefty suffered an incredible bout of bad luck when he was nailed in the right knee in his first game back from an injury…to his right knee. Since then, he’s been uncharacteristically quiet: no calls for Bud Selig’s resignation, no disses of his teammates, none of his outbreaks of verbal diarhhea. As a result, he’d almost slipped under the radar (to the extent that any Red Sox player who weights 250 lbs can slip under the radar in Boston). After a so-so outing from Josh Beckett, a shaky one from Jon Lester, a blown save from Jonathan Papelbon, and a late-inning meltdown by Curt Schilling, it was Wells, the balding, ornery, overweight ex-Yankee, who, for one day at least, was the savior. The stopper, even.

Grateful Dead fans used to affectionately refer to Jerry Garcia as the Fat Man. If the Sox are going to make a successful push to October, Wells will be one of the keys, and I hope the Fat Man keeps tearing off those nasty curves, keeps putting up those phenomenal K/BB numbers, and keeps spouting off. It’s just David being David. And it’s exactly what we need.

Post Categories: David Wells & Oblique references to Grateful Dead lyrics