Unintentional irony department

July 20th, 2006 → 9:47 am @

“Gibby called a team meeting and then he stood up and reamed me out in front of my teammates. I’m very disappointed about what he did and I find it very unprofessional.” (Emphasis added.)

— Toronto Blue Jays infielder and DH Shea Hillenbrand, in a comment directed at Blue Jays manager John Gibbons before Wednesday night’s 5-4 loss to Texas. Hillenbrand was designated for assignment during the game and his locker had been emptied by the time the Blue Jays returned to the clubhouse.

“Trade me, you faggot.”

— former Red Sox infielder Shea Hillenbrand, in a comment directed at Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein during an on-air interview with Boston’s WAAF-FM in April 2003. Hillenbrand was traded approximately one month later to the Arizona Diamondbacks, after which he called Epstein a “little twerp.”

Three years after Hillenrbrand warned the Red Sox that trading him would be reminiscent of the infamous Bagwell-for-Andersen trade, I think it’s safe to say there’s been nary a moment of regret about this deal.

Post Categories: Dumb Jocks & Red Sox & Shea Hillenbrand & Toronto Blue Jays

Outtakes: Terry Francona on Keith Foulke, Johnny Damon, and Theo Epstein

July 8th, 2006 → 8:19 am @

This is the seventh in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This interview with Terry Francona took place on January 4, 2006, when Francona was recovering from offseason knee surgery. (Theo Epstein was officially re-hired by the Red Sox on January 19.) Read the book for exclusive details on Francona’s hiring following the Red Sox’s collapse in the 2003 playoffs, his take on the 2005 trade deadline controversy with Manny Ramirez, and his reaction to winning the World Series.

On the departure of Theo Epstein: I don’t think I’d say I was nervous or anything, I usually think I tend to believe that things work out for the best and there’s reasons things happened and stuff like that. But not knowing [how the general manager situation would be resolved], I think the word I’d use is unsettling. When there’s change you’re always a bit unsettled, but as far as myself I’ve been around this game a long time and I don’t have trouble getting along with people, so things usually work out.

On former assistant general manager Josh Byrnes, who was named general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks last fall: Josh was a real stabilizing force in that office. He’s somebody I really looked up to a lot. I say that in past tense. I still do, but he doesn’t work here. He’s a great guy. Great head in his shoulders, and when he spoke he was guaranteed one person was listening and that was me. Then we lost Peter Woodfork [who followed Byrnes to Arizona], who was also down there, so you know you lose three people: Theo obviously, his name was out there because he ran the show, but it was the whole office that worked together. You lose three of the guys down there. That’s tough. From where I sit, I know they’ve taken some shots for hiring Ben [Cherington] and Jed [Hoyer as co-general managers] and the two-headed whatever-you-call-it, but I’m glad they did because I think there’s a lot of stability. Things are getting done like they always have. Those guys all work together and they still are. They’re a couple of guys short right now, which I’m sure is making their man-hours a little bit more, but things are getting done like they always do and I’m comfortable with that.

On the attention that comes with working in Boston: I just think its part of what we deal with here. There’s a lot of passion, there’s a lot of interest. The media, their job, I guess, is to explain to the masses how they view things. How they view things – that’s what it is – it’s how they view things, it’s not necessarily always correct. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes you disagree but that’s how they view it, and that’s their right. And again in a place like Boston where there is a lot of passion and a lot of interest, you can get some interesting articles.

On the 2004 offseason versus the 2005 offseason: Well, it is a more normal winter. Last year wasn’t normal for anybody. Everybody was making appearances and talking about how good we were and it was a big love-fest. This is a little bit more normal. Last winter was a little more fun. Winning brings that. This has been a unique winter here for us, a lot of things have happened: Theo and Johnny Damon and all kind of things happened. So, like you said, anything that happens here is big news, and when it is big news it’s real big news.

On Johnny Damon going to the Yankees: You know what, you know it’s a possibility that a guy can leave, because he’s a free agent he has that right. It’s hard because I don’t think I hid the fact of how much I respected and liked Johnny, but there comes a point when ownership…that’s why I really try to almost stay out of it, because it’s not my money. And you start talking about 40, 50, 60 million dollars – holy smokes. That’s up to ownership and front office to make those decisions. I’m allowed my opinion but I’ll tell you, when you start talking about those kind of millions of dollars, I don’t want to hold ownership or front office hostage by saying things, that’s just not right. The reason these guys have gotten to where they are in life is because they know how to do business. So, you got to sit back and respect that a little bit.

On Keith Foulke: I don’t think [his 2005 season] had anything to do with focus. Foulke comes in to spring training and his knee hurts. That’s not focus. He threw a lot of innings in the playoffs [in 2004]. Sometimes guys maybe achieved some things maybe their bodies really shouldn’t allow them to achieve. And they pay the price. And Foulke was unbelievable. We don’t win [the World Series] without him. It was unreal. He didn’t get the most valuable player, but it was as valuable a contribution as you could find. He was unbelievable. Our whole bullpen was fantastic. It was incredible. It was awesome. Striking out Tony Clark [to end Game Six of the American League Championship Series in Yankee Stadium]: It was awesome.

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Red Sox & Sports Reporters & Terry Francona & Theo Epstein

Outtakes: Nomar Garciaparra on his Achilles injury, the 2004 season, and the Red Sox winning the World Series

July 6th, 2006 → 8:18 am @

This is the sixth in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. It is the last of three outtakes from this interview with Nomar Garciaparra, which was conducted in Austin, Texas on October 28, 2005.

On the rumors about his Achilles injury: When I heard how I got hurt playing soccer, it was insulting to me because it attacked my integrity. And some of the other stuff I have heard was insulting to my integrity. The stories that I heard that I was like, ‘What?’ When I heard that one, ‘You got hurt playing soccer,’ I actually heard that one after I was traded and the funny thing was that was the year, that year and the year before I didn’t kick the soccer ball around. I was like, ‘Why would you bring up soccer, because of my wife? Now is it getting personal? Why that?’ It’s just so far from the truth. I played the first two/three games of spring training, and what really happened with my Achilles and everything, when I got hurt—I assume a lot of responsibility for this because I was vague, and I’m not going to deny that—but I got hit there, and no one saw it, I was taking a ground ball. It didn’t bother me till three or four days later. I could have been other stuff. All I know is it flared up. This is how it happened. I’m not going to lie. Did that really cause it, maybe it did and maybe it didn’t. So I asked the doctor, ‘Can this happen?’ Because it didn’t flare up or bother me until later. And the doctor was like, ‘It can.’ When you’ve got a thousand people asking you what happened to you, ‘Well it could be this. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.’ I don’t know what to tell them.

Like I said, [the confusion surrounding the injury] is my fault as well. I’m not saying that I didn’t make mistakes along the way. I’m not here to tell you I didn’t. But either way, it flared up and it flared up really bad. It was so painful, so swollen, it was so bad, I couldn’t walk. I was in a boot. I was stubborn. I didn’t want crutches. And that is what I dealt with that year. It sucked. What I did learn about the injury, if you know anything about tendonitis at all, it’s inflammation of the tendon and the tendon is throbbing. It’s hurting. It’s painful, and it can gets so swollen it can eventually pop. You really have to calm that down for a few reasons: one for reduced pain, two to strengthen the area. If it gets weak, it’s just going to give. And the thing about the Achilles is, there is not much blood flow in that area of the body and the only way to get the inflammation out is with blood. Not much I could do in that area so it took me a while to come back and for it to calm down, to deal with that so it wouldn’t snap because if it snaps you’re done. And I’m also thinking about my free agent year, you know, ‘It doesn’t look like they’ll want me back.’ What was I going to do?

On the 2004 season: Throughout the year, that is another thing that hurt me was hearing that I was faking it, faking the injury. Those are the things that I don’t understand exactly. And in my free agent year….I’m not sticking it to the Red Sox, I’m not sticking it to anybody, my teammates, my fans, myself, those are the people I care about the most, I’m not sticking it to them. I mean the stuff you hear. I wouldn’t do this in the free agent year. If I could play, I could play. So when I was finally able to comeback, I played.

On the Red Sox’s World Series win: I was happy, elated, excited. It was a little bit hard, sure. Absolutely. I wanted to be there with them. But they made me feel like I was with them. Guys on the team called me throughout it. Trot, Tek, JD, ‘Hey guys, you’re winning, keep going.’ They’d call and say, ‘Nommie, did you see that?’ I didn’t watch the World Series but I heard…I didn’t sit there and watch it. But I followed it and I followed them, Trot, all the boys.

I was happy for the city, I was happy for those people. The whole time I was there, I said I wanted them to win a World Series. I was part of that championship season. For forty of them, I was a part about that. And my teammates knew that. It was great. Getting the call from them, and then me calling them back, it meant the world to me. I hope I just gave you the facts. I’m not here to bash anyone. I’m not one to say this guy’s this way. This is the first time I have said how it really happened. You can see through the media the half-truths. That’s why I’m here now. Because you hear it, I’m not one to point the finger. I don’t know how someone interprets it. They said they do respect me and that’s all I ask. And all I have ever given the media is that respect in return. And it may not have been easy maybe difficult, but at the very least I hope I was respectful at all times.

Post Categories: Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Nomar Garciaparra & Red Sox

Outtakes: Curt Schilling on Fenway, Boston fans, and winning the World Series

July 4th, 2006 → 11:51 pm @

This the fifth in a series of outtakes from interviews done for Feeding the Monster, to be published on July 11 by Simon & Schuster. This interview with Curt Schilling was conducted in the Red Sox dugout on September 28, 2005. Read the book for exclusive details on how Schilling ended up having emergency surgery in October 2004, his reaction to his 2005 season, and Pedro Martinez’s response to Schilling’s arrival in Boston.

On whether he thought he’d end up in Boston: I went into [the 2003 offseason] thinking and feeling like I was a free agent with a contract, which gave me a lot of leverage, because we were both extremely happy in Arizona. But I had known for an extended period of time that that was my final season in Arizona, just based on the contractual situation and things that had been said by [Diamondbacks owner] Mr. [Jerry] Colangelo and the front office there. I knew I was probably going to be the odd man out, and when we started to think about what we were going to do, that season I was injured for a lot of the year on and off, so we started to look around, and the two things we wanted weren’t exclusive.

We wanted to go somewhere that we were familiar with and comfortable with, and we wanted to be on a contending ballclub for the remaining years of my career. I went into this knowing that this was going to be the last contract for me. The two teams that kind of jumped out at us were the Phillies and the Yankees. It became obvious very early on that the Phillies were not interested on a personal level, that that wasn’t going to work out. Because through back channels, I made it very clear to them that I’d go there for a lot less than I actually ended up signing for, for a lot shorter period of time. We wanted to go back to what we thought was home. I think there were a lot of personal issues between people that were in the organizations and myself that just weren’t going to work out.

And then with the Yankees situation, we let it be known that that was one of the teams we were interested in. Boston wasn’t a team that we were even contemplating, because I didn’t know anything about them. I didn’t know anything the organization, I didn’t know anything about the people here.

On Fenway’s reputation as being a bad park for fly-ball pitchers: Well, that wasn’t even a top-of-the-rung factor. That was something that just added to the negatives. I’d played here and knew it was an incredible atmosphere to pitch in, but it was not something that offered a lot for me.

On why he decided to consider Boston: When Tito [Francona] ended up getting interviewed for this job, it became someplace that I was interested in. It all happened, literally, in a span of about 12 hours. My wife had a fundraiser at our house, and Mr. Colangelo and [general manager Joe] Mr. Garagiola were both there, and this was, I think, the day I’d heard that Tito had been interviewed for the job. And I felt like if Tito interviewed for a job, he was going to get it. And I went to Joe and I told Joe that I would probably contemplate or consider coming to Boston. I know that within five minutes, he told Jerry, and within five minutes after that, Jerry came to me and told me he might have a deal. My impression was that Boston had talked to Arizona and had a preliminary deal on the table in case they became a team I was interested in, and when that happened it happened very quickly.

On the experience of pitching in Fenway: First of all, I was prepared, to a degree, for what this was like, but I wasn’t prepared for what it really was. The first thing that I kind of, that took me not by surprise, but was more than I expected was the level of the personal relationship that these fans have with the players. If you are a member of this franchise, you’re a member of their families. There was so much hype and excitement, and I was excited to think that coming here could have that kind of effect on people. I think in the end, coming here, the final piece of the puzzle was that Boston presented me, on a personal level, was a challenge that no place else can offer. Philly had won [the World Series]. In New York you were supposed to win. Boston had never won [since 1918], and to come here and be a part of something that could change that was incredibly attractive to me. From day one, it was nice. It was everything I had hoped it would be, atmosphere-wise and more.

On what’s changed for the Red Sox after winning the World Series: You can take the same 25 guys from one year to the next, and things are going to change. The atmosphere is going to change, because people change. Everything changes: the dynamics in the clubhouse. We all have families. We all live real lives. Teammates go through divorces, teammates get married, teammates have kids—those are life-changing experiences, and people change because of them. So regardless of whether you’ve turned over a whole roster or have 25 of the same guys, the dynamics are going to be totally different each year. The difference here is that there’s so much scrutiny, so much media, that every change is addressed and dissected to the umpteenth degree. It’s monotonous, and things are made out to be a much bigger deal here outside the clubhouse than they are inside the clubhouse.

On the press coverage in Philadelphia compared to the coverage in Boston: One of the differences is that in Philadelphia, the media is so negative. It is such a negative place. There are some negative people here, but the years I spent in Philly, there was such a deep resentment for the front office and the team that fans were not going to support the team just to show the ownership and the team a thing or two. That’s not the case here.

Post Categories: Curt Schilling & Feeding the Monster Outtakes & Red Sox

Combine a DSL connection, some free time, and lots of online videos… (Warning: no porn content)

July 2nd, 2006 → 1:59 pm @

It’s Sunday, I haven’t brushed my teeth yet, and the superballs got me poking around for some great ads. The first one I sought out was “The Showdown” (click on McDonalds in the left-hand menu). Speaking of Jordan, I’m partial to the “Jordan 21” ad. There’s also, of course, some obligatory World Series ads: the funny one and the dusty one.

Once you start poking around for videos, it’s hard to stop. For anyone who hasn’t turned on their TV in the past 24 hours, you can compare Gary Matthews to Coco Crisp. (I know Crisp’s catch was a game-saver, but I don’t see any way Matthews doesn’t come out on top.) I couldn’t find video of Pedro’s 99 All-Star game performance, but here’s a nice tribute (I’d forgotten about the time he offered his glove to an ump and told him to pitch). And then there’s this weirdly touching super-fan remix throw-down, the battle of the Dream Ons, with the Sox going old school and Larry Legend getting the Eminem treatment.

(Apologies to Bill Simmons for the blatant appropriation. And when you go to the Simmons column, check out Will Leitch‘s picks in a sidebar on the right.)

Post Categories: 2004 Playoffs & Ben Cohen & Coco Crisp & Deadspin & Gary Matthews & Larry Bird & Michael Jordan & Red Sox

Uh oh…

June 30th, 2006 → 9:29 am @

“It’s OK to say it. Don’t worry about jinxing them. The 2005 Red Sox are going to win the American League East. By a landslide…. Stop worrying about the Yankees, Orioles, and Jays. It’s not even going to be close.”
— Dan Shaughnessy, June 26, 2005

“The Sox have not made an error since the Nixon Administration (actually it’s June 11, 16 games, which ties a major league record) and they lead the Yankees by four games. It’s almost beginning to look like Secretariat in the Belmont around here…”
— Dan Shaughnessy, June 30, 2006

Ah, the unbridled optimism that comes with interleague play.

Post Categories: Dan Shaughnessy & Red Sox

Sneak Peeks: ‘This is about winning the World Series.’

June 30th, 2006 → 12:34 am @

This is the fourth in an occasional series of Sneak Peeks from Feeding the Monster. The section below–which is running in honor of Curt Schilling’s tenth win of the season–takes place on November 26 and 28, 2003, the span during which the Red Sox were allowed to negotiate a contract with Schilling. Here, CEO Larry Lucchino, general manager Theo Epstein, and assistant to the general manager Jed Hoyer are at Schilling’s house outside of Phoenix, Arizona, trying to convince the big righthander to agree to a trade that would send him to Boston. (Schilling had initially said he would only agree to trades that would send him to either the Phillies or the Yankees.)

Schilling’s initial wariness was noticeably softening. “The preperation they did in getting ready was big for me,” he says. “It was impressive. It was clear, they’re a very forward-thinking group of guys, and I knew that was going to mesh with what I was trying to do. There was just a lot of common ground.” That night, the Sox made their initial proposal—three years with a club option for a fourth year or four guaranteed years at less money.

Schilling contemplated the offer, pointedly playing with his gaudy World Series ring. “Look,” he said. “You guys are bringing me here for one reason. It’s not to make the playoffs. It’s to get beyond where you were last year and win the World Series. Let’s make that very clear.” Since that was the case, Schilling said, why not build in a World Series clause into his contract: If the team won the championship while he was in Boston, he’d get a raise for every year remaining on the deal. “I don’t want a clause that says, ‘If we make the World Series,'” Schilling said. “This is about winning the World Series. That’s all I care about. That’s what I’d be there for.”

As Hoyer says, “We were like, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty cool.'”

As the Red Sox executives were heading back to Schilling’s house on Friday afternoon, they were hopeful they could seal the deal, but they knew that if Schilling didn’t agree to their new offer, they’d have almost no time to renegotiate. When they arrived at Schilling’s house, they presented him with their latest offer. Schilling took the piece of paper on which they had written out all of the specifics–the World Series clause, the award bonuses, the club option–and was silent for several minutes. Finally, he looked up…

What was Schilling’s response to Boston’s initial offer? What was it that sealed the deal? And what were the big righthander’s first impressions of playing in Fenway? Find out the answers to these questions, along with much more about Schilling’s tenure in Boston, in Feeding the Monster, out July 11 from Simon & Schuster.

Post Categories: Baseball & Curt Schilling & Feeding the Monster Sneak Peeks & Larry Lucchino & Red Sox & Theo Epstein