Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Papelbon Will Close...Jenks Happy...Bullpen Comments From Theo

Hello on this bitter cold Tuesday morning, the first day I will venture out since the snow started Sunday afternoon. Recently Boston Red Sox General Manager Theo Epstein had a few words to say about the excellent bullpen he has put together. First of all, Jonathon Papelbon WILL be the team's closer. Here's Theo...

"I sent Pap a voice mail after we signed Jenks to let him know that obviously we still see him as our closer and that now we've got two power set-up guys to get him the ball in the ninth inning. Pap I'm sure is fine with this."

Theo, say a few syllables about another power arm acquired during the off season, Bobby Jenks...

"We felt really lucky that Bobby wanted to pitch here and we were able to get someone of his caliber to join our bullpen and help Daniel Bard set up for Pap. Bobby is someone who has great stuff and we see him as more than just a thrower. He really knows how to pitch as well and goes right at guys and throws strikes and brings the kind of fearlessness to the mound that we look for in a market like Boston. We think he's going to fit in great and hopefully be part of a pen that's one of the best ones we've had around here in a long time."

I think the three set up men (Bard, Jenks and Dan Wheeler) will absolutely shut down opposing batters in the late innings of a close game, and there will be many of them. As for the lack of lefties in the 'pen, Epstein said he has all the faith in the world that Felix Doubront, Andrew Miller and Rich Hill can do the job. The team is still looking at any available lefty relievers, though, but that would be the final piece of a darn good looking puzzle solved by Theo. While I'm on the bullpen subject, here's some of the thinking going on inside Bobby Jenks' head...

"I'm just excited to get the opportunity to come here. Obviously the team they're putting together this year is very exciting and appetizing. I've always wanted to play in Boston. Once the opportunity was available I jumped on it. I feel 100 percent right now. The whole elbow thing going on last year, it was more of scare than something that was actually wrong. It's going to be exciting working with Bard and Paps. We also have Dan Wheeler. "

Yes, don't forget about Wheels. So to sum up, the Boston Red Sox are an infinitely better baseball team now than they have been in quite a few years. And with the injured super guys coming back, the Boston Red Sox will field a potent lineup. Their starting pitching is up there with the best of 'em, especially if Josh Beckett rebounds from a couple disappointing seasons. The reserves all proved themselves during the injury epidemic of 2010 and they'll just be better this year although they'll be playing a LOT less. I really like this team's chances as it stands right now. They'll be fun to watch as they try to make the 2011 season one for the record books and all of our personal memory banks.

Thanks for stopping by and please click on this post's title for more on the Sox. As always, BE WELL and remember...let's be careful out there.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Too Many Lefties For Red Sox? Blizzard Update

First of all, I'm still here in spite of the unrelenting snow and the 60 plus MPH howling winds that blow the snow all over the place, making measuring the white stuff impossible. I, unlike so many others in the now white state of Connecticut, never lost power. That would have been tough. It's only 20 degrees right now at 5:50am EST and the wind chill? I don't even want to go there. But all is warm and nice from my living room vantage point. INSIDE. The precipitation will slowly wind down around midday. The wind? Who knows? But I have a little Boston Red Sox baseball to write about. I know, I know, it's been awhile but lets face it, the Christmas/New Years Day period has always been a slow time for MLB news of any kind. As it should be.

Boston GM Theo Epstein did a bang-up job remaking his team (with the help of John Henry's seemingly bottomless wallet). Here's what one prominent MLB scout had to say about that..

“They had a good winter. They will be the team to beat in the AL, unless the Yankees can address their pitching in some way.”

I just read an article in the Boston Herald and in it Theo Epstein addresses a fact that so many critics and fans have brought up. That would be this...do the Boston Red Sox have too many lefties in their starting lineup? They'll start six of 'em. Jacoby Ellsbury leading off, Carl Crawford, probably in the two spot, the unrelenting Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Big Papi David Ortiz and JD Drew, who Mike Cameron will probably start for when the Sox play a team that's starting an "ace" lefty. Youk pummels lefties, as did Adrian Gonzalez last year. No problems there. Papi has gotten better at solving the shift and I hope he will continue. The bullpen? With Theo's addition of Bobby Jenks and the dependable Dan Wheeler, WITH Bard and Paps, Boston is now a World Series contender. They should battle it out toe to toe with the pin stripers all season long. What else could we ask for? The answer...nuttin'.

I hope your Monday, the last of 2010, will be a great one. There will be many people here who won't venture out on the road just yet. That's a good thing because the state plows are furiously working to clear the roads while the wind works against them. Mother Nature packs a potent punch. If you click on this post's title you'll be zapped to the web site of the Hartford Courant for all the news here in my cold neck of the woods. The blizzard pictures are worth the price of admission all by themselves. As always, BE WELL and be careful out there. If you live in southern New England, don't take any chances on the roads. There's still another 4-6 inches of whiteness to go. I'll talk to you soon. See ya.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's Update Time For Snow

Right now it is 12:40pm EST and it just REALLY started to snow. It will keep accumulating for the next 24 hours. Click on this post's title for the up to the second radar loop. Thanks.

The Pats play in Buffalo and the game will begin in about 20 minutes.The snow will start there around the half. Remember, it's north and west of here. I'm all set with wood for the fireplace and food for the tummy so I'll just sit back and let it all be. Have a great Sunday. It's SO nice just to look out the window and watch the flakes, cold as they are, cascade gently to the earth. I'll have another post update in a couple of hours. Enjoy your Sunday.

A Very White Post-Christmas Day On The Way. YO! It's Winter Storm Adrian Coming

Oh my goodness, we here in southern New England are finally, after two plus years, going to get the "BIG ONE." A huge storm is right now "bombing out" off the coast of North Carolina. What I mean by "bombing out" is that the barometric pressure is dropping fast as the storm deepens to near hurricane-like status. Click on this post's title and use the blue bars at the bottom and right of your screen to pan right to the east coast and down to center on the central, soon to be north, Atlantic coast. The link I left there is a looping one. You'll see the radar in action. Look how the storm already has a center, an eye. It's a scary sight. Here in the greater Hartford area, the snow (no rain inland. Just a pinch away from Long Island Sound it'll be all snow. In short, ME!) will begin by noon and slowly end Monday afternoon. Here's the very latest from NBC 30 WVIT Connecticut...

"A blizzard warning was posted for southern Connecticut and heavy snow warnings for the rest of us Saturday ahead of a major nor'easter expected to arrive Sunday. The storm is forecast to develop off the coast Sunday, bringing heavy snow to the state.
The nor'easter could drop 15 inches of snow or more in parts of Connecticut, and extremely strong winds could create blizzard conditions for several hours Sunday into Monday morning, according to NBC Connecticut Meteorologist Ryan Hanrahan.
Originally, it appeared the effects of the nor'easter looked like they would start later Sunday, but new information shows the storm moving in earlier in the day, possibly beginning midday Sunday. That's not welcome news to travelers who may be planning to head home from the holiday weekend Sunday.
Governor M. Jodi Rell held a conference call with state emergency management, State Police and state transportation officials Christmas night to discuss preparations for the massive storm. She ordered the state's Emergency Operations Center to open Sunday to monitor conditions. "This storm's high winds and significant snowfall will pack quite a punch, and we will continue monitoring its path closely," Rell said. All of the state's 632 plow operators will be out on the roads during the storm, according to Rell. State Police and the Connecticut National Guard will be on standby in case of any emergencies, Rell said."

What are my plans for this morning? Well, right now it is 5:18 am EST and I'm going to the Crown Supermarket (they have great stuff!) shortly before 8AM, just to make sure I have enough food through Tuesday. I have a list all ready to go so I should be in & out before the snow starts falling around high noon. I'll also take a lump of lumber out of the garage and stack it next to my front door just in case (No, NO!!) we lose power. Yes, I'd be warm and I'd be able to cook with the gas range but it wouldn't be fun. We here where I live have underground power wires so the winds that will later gust at 50 plus MPH hopefully won't put me in the dark.

I'm excited. After I first became aware of the term "snow day" back when I was in school, snow has given me a thrill. On a normal Sunday, this kind of heavy-duty storm would be much less harmless. But today? Oh my goodness. Everybody who travelled to their families by car now have to come home. So I wish them a safe trip. Please keep your distance from the car in front of you and take it easy. Just getting home during this winter weather event we are about to experience is a victory in itself, so BE CAREFUL OUT THERE! Don't forget to click on this post's title for the live look at an animated weather map of the country. As I said before, use the bottom blue bar to scroll east and the right side blue bar to head south until you see the monster storm just off the coast of north Carolina as it starts its slow trek north. As always, BE WELL and and I'll be back around 12 noon as the first flakes furiously start to fly like eagles on a mission. I'll see you then.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas To All And To All, A Good Morning!

So here we are again on the morning of the blessed Christmas Day. I hope every one of you has a wonderful, happy and healthy Christmas and New Years. Be happy, even if you don't feel like being happy. Believe me, a smile helps like nothing else. I love all of you for reading my little blog and I'll leave the rest of this post to the man who had all the words and knew how to put them together perfectly. Take it, John...


Words and music by John Winston Lennon (click this post's title for the video).

So this is Christmas
And what have you done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun.
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young.

A very merry christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear.

And so this is Christmas
For weak or for strong
For rich and the poor ones
The world is so wrong.
And so happy Christmas
For black and for white
For yellow and red ones
Let's stop all the fight.

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear.

And so this is Christmas
And what have we done?
Another year over
And a new one just begun.

And so happy Christmas
We hope you have fun
The near and the dear one
The old and the young.
A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let's hope it's a good one
Without any fear.

War is over!
If you want it
War is over!

Words and music by John Lennon 1972

Can we do what John asked us? I don't know. He wanted a world together in peace and yet we still have incredible divisions devouring our little blue marble of a planet. But we'll survive. I probably won't be here to see that fateful day of peace but I have faith, faith that it will happen and my niece and nephews and their future children will know just what I'm typing about. I wish I could be able see the expressions on their beautiful faces in the future that is theirs. Maybe I will.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU. Please click on the title of this post to hear the words WITH the music of John Lennon's Christmas plea for peace. This is not a "happy" video, so the kids should not watch.Thanks and as always, BE WELL.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas Eve Day

The baseballs are in their boxes, the cleats and uniforms motionless, Fenway Park is eerily silent and baseball and its players take a break with the rest of the world for the sacred holiday we call Christmas. I wish every one of you, my Constant Readers, a happy and healthy holiday as we head to a new year yet again. 2011...I never would have believed it would sneak up on all of us so very fast. But it did. I wish you the best and I'll be back with my Christmas post tomorrow morning. As always, take care of yourselves and BE WELL. Thanks

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Paps and His Bridge...So Far

Daniel Bard, Bobby Jenks and Dan Wheeler. They will be the "bridge" to Jonathon Papelbon in this upcoming 2011 season for the Boston Red Sox. That's a great bullpen mix and the exact support Paps will need as he approaches his last year before free agency. His future long-term multi-year contract will depend on his 2011 numbers. HE knows that, WE know that. Good luck to him. Hey Paps, reduce the number of blown saves and you'll be coveted by EVERY OTHER MLB TEAM. I have a feeling, no, a certainty, that you'll stay in Boston. Have a great 2011. We'll need you.

I had to make this Thursday morning post a quickie, but I'll make it up to you later today. Thanks.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The UCONN Women Are In A League Of Their Own...89 Straight Victories!

Tuesday night at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, the University of Connecticut women's basketball team did what no other sports team has EVER done. They pummeled Florida State by a score of 93-62 for their 89th (!!) consecutive victory, eclipsing the hallowed John Wooden's long-standing record of 88 wins in a row. Wooden accomplished that milestone with a talented UCLA team from 1970-1974. His grandson, Greg Wooden, was in attendance at the completely sold out Hartford XL Center. Here's part of what he had to say...

"My grandfather would have been thrilled. He would have been absolutely thrilled to see his streak broken by a women's basketball team."

Women, men, this 89 game streak has been made up of continued and sustained brilliant play, night in and night out, EVERY DAMN TIME for more than 2 1/2 years! Last night was a perfect example. Maya Moore, UCONN forward and consensus "best woman player on the planet" had a mammoth 41 points. She effortlessly glided in shot after shot after shot, most of them not hitting any rim. When she didn't score, she was passing off for an assist. She showed the entire nation just how great she is. Here's Geno Auriemma on his star...

"Nothing that she does surprises me, not since her freshman year. There is something special about that kid. She has ability to rise to the occasion. It would have been very easy tonight for her to be so hyped up she couldn't play, but she's one of the great athletes who understands what her team needs her to do. One of the things John Wooden used to always say about competitive greatness is that's having the ability to be your absolute best when your best is needed -- and that's what Maya Moore is."

During the post-game press conference, Geno received a call he was told he "had to take." Yes, it was President Obama, an avid basketball player and fan. He and Geno have met twice in the past two years when Auriemma brought his team to the White House after their two national championships. Here's Geno being Geno with the President...

"Mr. President, I appreciate your call very much. It's an incredible thing that these kids have done. And I'm sure some credit goes to that lesson you gave them on the White House basketball court. It really paid off and I appreciate you doing that for them."

Obama obviously knew that the Huskies have not lost since he was elected. Geno said this with that famous infectious grin evident on his face. That's Geno. You'll all get to know him better when he steers the 2012 USA women's basketball team towards Olympic gold. They'll do it too. They have a dream team and a dream coach and America will be fascinated by the depth of their talent and the confidence of their coach.

So, wow. 89. Holy you-know-what. What's down the road for this very young team? After all, they lost a bevy of talent before this season started and now start 2 seniors and 2 freshman. Half the team is comprised of freshman. But Coach Auriemma is the difference, along with a young and very talented woman named Maya. She and her team have brought SO much joy to this state and everybody who loves the game as it SHOULD be played. Wooden/Auriemma style.

Click on this post's title for more from the Hartford Courant and enjoy this terrific Hump Day Wednesday. As always, BE WELL. Thank you UCONN. Now I'm headed to the Hi Def to watch the second half of the game that I recorded on the DVR. Yes. Click on that title and I'll be back with the latest at the earliest.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Adrian Gonzalez Prepares...It's A UCONN Women's Night In Hartford, Connecticut

Adrian Gonzalez is getting ready for the 2011 MLB season with multiple daily grueling workouts in San Diego as he prepares for the family to make the move to the east coast. That's a big move. There are high Red Sox Nation hopes that will accompany them on their way. I'm one of 'em. He said this recently...

“I’m definitely looking forward to Boston — the team, the lineup, the atmosphere — everything’s going to be a whole different experience for me, so I’m excited about that. I don’t look back, I look forward. I’m just anticipating spring training, the whole spring training, getting to know everyone, getting situated there and getting to know all of my teammates."

Adrian sounds like he has his head on his shoulders and his heart striving to play for the Boston Red Sox. We all wish him well. Of course we do!

OK. I couldn't resist this. The University of Connecticut women's basketball team will try to do it all tonight, a Tuesday evening in Hartford. They'll be televised nationally beginning at 6pm EST on ESPN 2 and ESPN 2 HD. For all the schedule information, just scroll down one post below this one. What are the women Huskies trying to do? It's simple. They're trying to do what no basketball team, men OR women, NCAA or professional, has EVER DONE. If they win tonight, that would be their 89th consecutive victory. Need I say more? I didn't think so. Just check the post below this one for the full afternoon-filled schedule of events leading up to the 6pm ESPN 2 pre-game special and then...then...the game begins at 7pm. Hartford will be hopping, alive, as if if magically transformed into a paradise of hope, faith and certainty that the record will be ours by, let's say, 9pm or so. I'll be watching the game between Florida State and the champs and then I might head downtown near the end of the game to share the joy. Then again, if it's crazy in downtown Hartford (and it will be), I'll stay here and rejoice. Either way, I cannot lose.

Have a great Tuesday and I'll see every one of you soon with the latest at the earliest. Click on the title of this post for more on tonight's huge game and as always, BE WELL.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Latest UCONN Tuesday ESPN Schedule

Here you go. It should be a very memorable Tuesday night in Hartford for every basketball fan anywhere, everywhere...

"Here's the plan, according to the World Wide Leader's communications department....
ESPN2 will be the home to UConn's Record Run as the Huskies look to surpass Coach John Wooden's and UCLA's record 88-game win streak in a battle against No. 14 Florida State from the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. ET.
Highlights include:
The Final Four announcing team of Dave O'Brien and Doris Burke will call the game, with reporting by Rebecca Lobo;
Originally scheduled to air on ESPNU, the game will be shown on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. from the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.;
The Final Four studio team of Trey Wingo, Kara Lawson and Carolyn Peck will host an hour-long pregame show on Tuesday beginning at 6 p.m., and additional postgame segments - all from the XL Center;
ESPNU will conduct five consecutive hours of UConn programming leading up to the ESPN2 pregame special Tuesday:
UConn's Record Run: The Climb - UConn's Quest for Perfection at1p.m. The four part, two-hour series was a behind-the-scenes look into the 2009-10 season and was televised during the 2010 postseason;
UConn's Record Run: Baylor vs. UConn - Breakdown with Geno Auriemma at 3 p.m. The veteran coach sat down with Doris Burke to analyze Connecticut's 65-64 win over then-No. 2 Baylor on Nov. 16;
UConn's Record Run: UConn Legends Roundtable, a half-hour show starting at 5 p.m. Doris Burke hosts a forum with former Connecticut All-Americans - Rebecca Lobo, Jen Rizzotti and Sue Bird, in addition to current UConn All-American Maya Moore. The group will discuss UConn's Record Run, Auriemma's coaching style and much more;
UConn's Record Run: Debating the Streak, a half-hour special beginning at 5:30 p.m. Hosted by Trey Wingo, the show will contain segments featuring discussion topic about UConn's streak from some of ESPN's most popular daytime programming - PTI, First Take, SportsNation, Mike & Mike and Jim Rome is Burning."

I cannot wait for tomorrow night. ESPN2. The place to be starting at 6pm EST. I'll be back with the latest at the earliest. As always, BE WELL. GO UCONN!

Classic Geno Auriemma. Some Tounge In Cheek, Some Not...By A Long Shot

UCONN women's basketball coach Geno Auriemma has always been a person who says exactly what's on his mind. Yesterday was no exception. You'll all find that out when the USA women's basketball team plays on the world stage that is the 2012 Olympic Games. The USA team couldn't be in better hands, not by a long shot. The UCONN women handily beat number twelve Ohio State at Madison Square Garden for their 88th straight victory, and we're not talking about exhibition games. We're talking about a team who, for the last three years, if not more, has always had one of the toughest schedules of them all. The following comments followed the rousing NYC victory last night that tied the all-time record of 88 in a row, bringing men AND women together. Geno was talking to a mammoth group of media, media from everywhere. Here you go...

"I just know there wouldn't be this many people in the room if we were chasing a woman's record," the Connecticut coach said Sunday near the end of his postgame news conference. "The reason everybody is having a heart attack the last four or five days is a bunch of women are threatening to break a men's record, and everybody is all up in arms about it. All the women are happy as hell and they can't wait to come in here and ask questions. All the guys that loved women's basketball are all excited, and all the miserable bastards that follow us to break the record are all here because they're pissed. Because we're breaking a men's record, we've got a lot of people paying attention," Auriemma said. "If we were breaking a women's record, everybody would go, 'Aren't those girls nice, let's give them two paragraphs in USA Today, you know, give them one line on the bottom of ESPN and then let's send them back where they belong, in the kitchen.' "

And then he said...

"I like to remind my players all the time that you don't stumble and bumble into history. You don't fall into the history books. You're going to have to do it the right way if you're going to get in there."

They are doing it the right way. I smile every time I read that. Some of it, he said with his huge and infectious smile. But not all the time. He is one of the best basketball coaches, women or men, NCAA or NBA, on our planet, and I can't wait for them to break the record with their 89th victory. UCONN will play Florida State University in Hartford tomorrow night at 7pm on ESPN 2. The game is a solid sellout. I'll be there in spirit with my UCONN cap on and a song in my heart. And you know what? They're going to do it. Take care and click on this post's title for a tremendous piece from the Hartford Courant head sports guy, Jeff Jacobs. I love his writing so click away. As always, BE WELL. Thanks. 88? WOW!!! 89? Nobody has ever done it in division 1 basketball.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

88! 88 !!

The UCONN women did it! Read on from Sports Illustrated...

NEW YORK (AP) "Geno Auriemma and Connecticut matched UCLA's record streak in one of basketball's most famous arenas.
Already with no equal in women's basketball, UConn won its 88th straight game Sunday to tie the mark set by coach John Wooden and his UCLA men's teams from 1971-74. Tiffany Hayes scored 26 points and Maya Moore added 22 to help the top-ranked Huskies rout No. 11 Ohio State 81-50 in the Maggie Dixon Classic at Madison Square Garden.
"The number's the number. I don't know if that changes me a whole lot right now," Auriemma said. "I'm going to go to a good restaurant tonight. I'm going to have a good bottle of wine. I would have done that either way."
UConn already owned the longest winning streak in NCAA women's basketball history. Next up, the Huskies (10-0) can surpass the UCLA men Tuesday night at home against No. 15 Florida State.
Connecticut matched the Bruins' mark before a crowd of 15,232 - a record for a women's game at Madison Square Garden. With 40 seconds left, the crowd rose and chanted "88! 88!"

I'm smiling.

Watching The Wheel(ers) Go 'Round

Add Dan Wheeler to the ever-growing Boston Red Sox bullpen. For the last three plus years he has played for the Tampa Bay Rays. Here's what one MLB scout said about him...

“He’s a strike thrower. He can throw five different pitches. His split was very effective against lefthanded hitters last year and he can throw to righthanders effectively. He’s got a natural cutter. He can get himself in trouble if he’s up in the zone, but he’s not afraid to pound hitters inside. He’s a natural leader who really knows that division. Battle-tested. I’m sure he’ll be a popular kid on that team and in that bullpen.’’

Wheeler made 64 appearances last season, and was always a reliable member of Joe Maddon’s staff. While he was used mostly against righthanded batters (.222 average), lefties hit only .154 against him. Theo Epstein is sure doing his job to shore up the spots where the Red Sox need that assistance. Papelbon and Bard will lead this cast of characters who specialize at saving ball games through the 2011 baseball season. Good job, Theo.

Today is game day here in all of Connecticut and for very many immersed in the NCAA basketball world. The University of Connecticut women's national championship Huskies have won 87 (!!) straight hoop games and today at Madison Square Garden in New York City, they'll try to make it 88. Does that number ring a bell? It should. The great UCLA men's basketball coach, John Wooden, guided his team to 88 straight victories in the early seventies. It was (and still is) a record that "could not be broken, much less approached." Don't tell that to UCONN coach Geno Auriemma, who is also skipper of the USA National team that will compete in 2012. Everybody will know his face come then. So here we are...87 straight with one to tie today and then if they do, the tiebreaker will be Tuesday evening in Hartford, Connecticut. The TV schedule (by ESPN) shows that you can find today's game at 2:30 pm EST on ESPNU, not the most viewed ESPN channel. If UCONN wins this afternoon, ESPN 2 is pulling out all the stops Tuesday at 7pm, including a sports desk right inside the XL Center. But it's one game at a time and the 8-1 Ohio State Buckeyes are good. Hey, all those naysayers who ask me if UCONN will cakewalk through their season because of a weak schedule couldn't be MORE wrong. UCONN's RPI is as tough as it gets. So go Huskies. That's all I can say. This isn't a MUST game but...but...wouldn't it be nice? Yeah.

Thanks for stopping in and I hope your Sunday will be a great one. Click on this post's title for more on the big basketball game from SI and as always, BE WELL. Be careful out there if you're on the roads. I'll be back with the latest at the earliest.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Take The Train...

Here's the new TRAIN Christmas song. I just heard it for the first and second times and I really enjoyed it. Click on this post's title with your sound on. Thanks and have a great weekend. Click away and have a great holiday season.

A Tampa Bay "Thank You" To Carl Crawford

The people who run and write the blog entitled DRaysBay all pooled some resources and took out a full-page ad in the Tampa Bay Times, thanking Carl Crawford in a very special way. I want you to read the ad itself. Here it is...

"The Tampa Bay franchise has undergone a lot of change in the past nine years: new name, new uniforms, new managers, and new ownership. The one constant in all of that change has been Carl Crawford.
Our franchise leader in hits, batting average, stolen bases, doubles, triples, runs scored, breath-taking defensive plays, and more, Crawford has become one of Tampa Bay’s most beloved sports figures It’s rare for any player to spend nine years of their career in one city, let alone the best left fielder in all of baseball.
The team is still strong and will stay competitive, but we should consider ourselves lucky to have seen Crawford play. Good luck in the rest of your career, Carl – you’ve earned it."

What a cool thing to do. Let's hope CC can re-invent his Fenway Park offensive numbers and pick them up a little. In the small left field territory, he'll be fine but I envision him playing the overly spacious right field, Dewey's Domain, before his contract is up. I know JD Drew's out there but he won't be in three to five years. Crawford has the speed and the wheels to cover all that ground in right and he could easily catch a ball that winds around the Pesky Pole if it lands within reach. But he must make an adjustment in his batting stance and try to powerfully punch the ball to the Wall (not ALL the time) even though he is a strict pull hitter. Remember, he's a lefty but he can do it. He will probably, at least in MY lineup, bat second behind Ellsbury and ahead of the much missed Dustin Pedey Pedroia. And then come the power guys. Yes, this team will score a ton of runs. We need Josh Beckett to BE Josh Beckett, not the imitation we've sometimes seen lately. Faith. That's all. And fun.

Think about the late inning trio the Boston Red Sox have assembled. They are Bobby Jenks, Danny Bard and their closer for now AND later, Jonathon Papelbon. That's a nice back end of a 'pen. That's not all the Sox have. The middle relief corps looks better and better every ensuing week. Great job by Theo. So 2011, HERE WE COME.

Hey, thanks for stopping in, have a great weekend and please click on this post's title for more Sox news. As always, BE WELL and be careful out there. I'll be back with the latest at the very earliest. Every day I can.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Jenks & Albers Added To The Red Sox 'Pen

Theo Epstein, as I wrote in a post earlier this week, is methodically adding arms to the bullpen. Pending a physical (today), Bobby Jenks will help Bard in his eighth inning set-up role, leading to Papelbon to finish the games. Bobby will earn $12 million for his two year deal. And this is where it gets a little more confusing and confounding.This opens the door for Paps to be traded and Jenks or Bard will become the closer. In my opinion, I do not see that happening, not before the season begins, PROBABLY NOT EVER. Boston needs both Bard and Jenks as well as their closer supreme. And this gives Boston Red Sox manager Tito Francona more flexibility when the bullpen guys have thrown a lot of innings. The more the merrier when it comes to relievers is what I believe. Last year, Jenks had a rather high ERA of 4.44, the highest since he broke into the majors in 2005. But a closer look at the statistics reveals that may have been a product of bad luck. Jenks averaged 10.4 strikeouts per nine innings, the best rate of his career over a full season. He also had the second-best ground ball rate (58.3 percent) of his career and maintained his control, issuing only 18 walks over 52 2/3 innings. Jenks allowed three home runs and converted 27 of his 31 save chances (Thank you Boston Globe). Theo also signed Matt Albers to a one year deal for $875,000. He's 27 and compiled a record of 5-3 with a 4.52 ERA (again..high) with the Baltimore Orioles. Hey, they're the Orioles, what does one expect? He appeared in a career-high 62 games and led the American League by making 25 appearances of MORE than an inning. He's durable and that's what Boston needs in the seemingly porous middle part of their 'pen. It's become less and less porous as the days quickly zip by.

While this was happening in Boston, the picture was a little bleaker for the pin-stripers from the Bronx, namely the New York Yankees. They lost reliever Kerry Woods to the Chicago Cubs and except for their incomparable closer, Mo Rivera, and the on-again off-again Joba Chamberlain, their 'pen needs help. Mariano "Mo" Rivera actually had talks with the Sox before NY got down to business and signed him. Said Mo...

"It was real. It was real."

I believe him. My goodness, the Yankees don't even know if Andy Pettitte will be back but unnamed family sources are saying he's leaning strongly to return for one final year. Why not? He would be a huge asset to the Yankee rotation.

It's an 11.6 degree F. morning here in north central Connecticut. I hope every one of you has a great day and a terrific weekend. Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden, the University of Connecticut women Huskies will attempt to tie UCLA's John Wooden's unreal record of 88 consecutive wins in a row. The game will be televised on ESPNU and there have been complaints about that. ESPN and ESPN2 have a possible thirty million more people able to watch each of them but I and many others here in Connecticut are able to receive ESPNU on a digital or extended tier. If you are lucky enough, try to catch a little of the game. The opponent will be 9-1 Oklahoma State. I can't wait. If they win Sunday, the XL Center in Hartford will host their try for consecutive win number 89 Tuesday evening on ESPN 2 with the entire ESPN2 crew and their own set IN the building. Won't that be something. Oh yes.

As always, BE WELL and click on this post's title for something Soxy. Let's be careful out there. Have a great weekend and enjoy yourselves.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

BCS. Really, Mark?

Mark Cuban's view on the college football playoff series (so to speak). Inquiring minds want to know. From Yahoo sports with my thanks...

"Here's how the world works when you're as filthy, stinking rich as dot-com billionaire Mark Cuban:

1) You buy a basketball team;
2) You get a little bored after a few years;
3) You try to buy a baseball team;
4) You fail in your attempt to buy a baseball team;
5) You start reading a book about how terrible the Bowl Championship Series is.
6) You take it upon yourself to use your fortune to personally fund a playoff system that will render the BCS obsolete.

Cuban, the outspoken owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, told ESPNDallas.com on Wednesday that he is "actively interested but in the exploratory stage" of creating and funding a playoff system to crown a champion for major college football.
"The more I think about it, the more sense it makes as opposed to buying a baseball team," said Cuban, who tried to buy the Chicago Cubs and Texas Rangers within the last few years. "You can do something the whole country wants done."
Cuban said he has talked to two athletic directors from BCS conferences who were extremely enthusiastic about the idea. He intends to contact several school presidents and state senators in the coming weeks."

Wow, from the mouth of...no comment.

Bob Feller Dies At 92

Bob Feller, the best Cleveland Indian pitcher of all time, passed away yesterday. Here is an excerpt from the AP...

CLEVELAND (AP) — Teenage pitching sensation, World War II hero, outspoken Hall of Famer and local sports treasure. Bob Feller was all of them. One of a kind, he was an American original. Blessed with a right arm that earned the Iowa farmboy the nickname "Rapid Robert" and made him one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, Feller, who left baseball in the prime of his career to fight for his country, died Wednesday night. He was 92.
Feller, who won 266 games in 18 seasons — all with the Indians — died at 9:15 p.m. on Wednesday night of acute leukemia at a hospice, said Bob DiBiasio, the Indians vice president of public relations.
Remarkably fit until late in life, Feller had suffered serious health setbacks in recent months. He was diagnosed with leukemia in August, and while undergoing chemotherapy, he fainted and his heart briefly stopped. Eventually, he had pacemaker implanted. In November, he was hospitalized with pneumonia and recently released into hospice care. Even as his health deteriorated, Feller continued doing what he loved most — attending Indians games deep into last season.

His fastball was clocked with a motorcycle's (!) help at 100 MPH. Remember, those were the days before the radar gun. Rest in eternal peace, Rapid Robert. You will be missed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Theo Is Working On The Red Sox 'Pen

Hello on this frigid Wednesday morning. It's a balmy nine degrees F here but it's that time of year. With a fresh but thin snow cover, the temperatures inch down. Hey, my heat works just fine! Catcher Russell Martin has signed with the NY Yankees. This leaves the DH role solely in Jorge Posada's capable hands. They also signed a fourth rotation pitcher. He would be Mark Prior, who has not thrown a ball since 2006 because of shoulder problems.

The Boston Red Sox and Theo Epstein are narrowing any other of their acquisition dreams to the bullpen. Good decision. Right now two names stand out. Number one is Matt Albers, 28, who wasn't tendered a contract a couple weeks ago by the Baltimore Orioles. He's a ground ball pitcher, a guy you'd want in there with someone on first and looking to turn two. But the big bullpen name right now (although BOTH would be nice) on Theo's radar is 35 year old Brian Fuentes. Boston is not the only team looking and yearning for him. There are several others. In 2009 he led the league in saves with 48 and last year, with the Angels, his ERA was a nifty 3.52 with 23 saves in 27 chances.

We can only hope. The Boston bullpen needs two shots in the arm, to put it bluntly. Other than that, the big four rotation (Lester, Buchholz, Beckett and Lackey) looks right, nowhere near the Phillies but great nevertheless. For December 15th, the club is in great shape, the injured healed and everyone ready to hit spring training. We have the holidays in front of us but after that, let's get ready to get ready!

Have a great Hump Day Wednesday and I'll be back with the latest at the earliest. As always, be well and be careful out there. Thanks.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Surprise...Cliff Lee Stays In Philly

The New York Yankees received a call from Cliff Lee's agent, Darek Braunecker, who told them that ace pitcher Cliff Lee will stay in the cheesesteak city, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The contract he accepted calls for five years at more than $100 million with a one year option. Less money, less years but if he wants to be there, that's the most important thing. The NY Yankees had offered him a seven year deal, then upped it to eight. No dice, pinstripers. Here's the Yanks GM, Brian Cashman, after the news broke...

"This is much different than two years ago. We have a top-of-the-rotation pitcher in CC Sabathia, an 18-game winner in Phil Hughes and A.J. Burnett will rebound. We also have some of the best young pitchers in baseball and a top 10 minor league system. We got a really good team and will make it better regardless of what transpires. I am not panicked by it."

When you look at the projected Philadelphia Phillies pitching lineup, it puts fear into any MLB team. Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee will be the numbers one and two guys. Those two every five days is almost unbelievable. Follow them with none other than Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels. Hey Brian, as much as you sugarcoat this major blow, your team is no better than last year's club. Get used to second place in the AL East. Here's how the pinstripers rotation looks like as of this moment...CC Sabathia. Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova and nobody. I'm looking for Mr. Nobody to have a great year. He's due plus he's a nice guy. And AJ will rebound? PLEEEZE.

That's it for now, my CONSTANT READERS. I thank you for popping in and if you'd like, click on this post's title for an article from yahoo dot com that I REALLY enjoyed. It's all about the Cliff Lee decision with a touch of humor. I highly recommend it. Click! Now? Yes!! As always, BE WELL. Let's be careful out there.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Red Sox Adrian Gonzalez Has Class...Boston Batting Order Is On Francona's Mind, Among Many Other Things

Boston Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez took out a full page ad yesterday to thank all his California hometown fans. Here is what he and his wife said in the San Diego Union-Tribune advertisement...

"My wife Betsy and I have been fortunate to call the San Diego area home - both during childhood and the past five seasons with the Padres. While my baseball career continues on the 'other' coast, family, friends, and Padres fans will remain close to our hearts. It was a dream come true to play for the hometown team for five wonderful years. It was a privilege to put on a uniform bearing 'San Diego,' and to live and work amidst so many wonderful people. This is truly an amazing city.
"Betsy and I will miss seeing so many of you on a regular basis. You always raised our spirits and have a profoundly positive impact on our lives. For this and so much more, we are grateful.
"For now, I will refrain from saying goodbye; the Adrian & Betsy Gonzalez Foundation will continue to honor its commitment to helping area youth and we have every intention of doing our part to better this already great community.
"Many thanks and God bless."

I think that's a great and kind gesture from someone who we'll get to know very well over the years. But as a first impression, this is heartwarming. In other Boston Red Sox news, Terry Francona has been thinking about the batting order and where exactly to slide in Carl Crawford. Carl has said in the past throughout his career that he does not like batting lead off. Read this quote from Red Sox skipper Terry Francona......

“I think I’ve been pretty consistent all along. Our best team is when Jacoby is hitting first. I’ll sit down with Carl, I’ll sit down with Pedey. Obviously Crawford’s going to hit somewhere in the top of the order, second or third, but we want to have some balance, as much as we can, with Adrian and Youk following, and David and J.D. There’s some things to think about. If they hit, it’s not an issue for me. We just want them to be the players they are and we’ll line it up where it works best. We just want them to be the players they are and we’ll line it up where it works best.”

I'll let Tito figure this one out but if I had my druthers, here's how I'd arrange the batting order. Ellsbury, Pedey, Crawford, Gonzalez, Youk, Papi, JD, Scutaro, Salty/'Tek.

Solid as a rock. I have to run now but click on this post's title for more and as always, BE WELL. Be careful out there. Thanks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Carl Crawford...Was He The Right Choice For The Boston Red Sox? I Hope So

I just finished reading an article in the Washington Post all about Carl Crawford. Did the Sox do the right thing or did they do the very thing they were trying NOT to do, and that is sign another left handed hitter to a lefty loaded lineup? I'll give you the entire Washington Post article right now and I'll be back with a few comments...

Boston Red Sox' contract to Carl Crawford raises questions by Thomas Boswell

"With the $142 million deal they gave to Carl Crawford, who has spent nine seasons proving that Fenway Park damages every part of his game, the Boston Red Sox just made the Washington Nationals look smart. Or, at least, the Nats now look a lot less dumb for giving Jayson Werth $126 million. The Red Sox just broke the bank for a free agent who, as a Tampa Bay Ray, never hit 20 homers and only once had more than 81 RBI. But Boston's decision, made after the Nats grabbed their first choice, Werth, may be scarier than that.
Throughout his career, Crawford has hit Red Sox pitching just as well as he has hit against everybody else - that is, as long as the games were in Tropicana Field. There, he had a flashy slash line of .327/.363/.482. But in lopsided Fenway Park, which works against all his tendencies as a hitter, Crawford has only hit one home run every 85 at-bats. In 338 career plate appearances in Fenway, a large sample over many years, he has an ugly .275/.301/.406 line. There's a name for speedy, weak-armed left fielders with those numbers. They're called AAAA players. Or young prospects. Many teams have one. The Nats' example is Roger Bernadina, except he can throw. Last year, Crawford's OPS was "only" 75 points lower in Fenway than elsewhere.
Crawford's other flaw is that his career numbers against left-handed pitching are even worse than his stats in Fenway. Now, in the same lineup with lefties such as David Ortiz, J.D. Drew, Adrian Gonzalez and Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox will see every team's southpaws. Calling CC Sabathia. And Andy Pettitte and Cliff Lee?
Few phrases are as filled with tingles and terror as "$100 million contract." But add the word "guarantee" and the hair really stands up on your neck. Nats fans have that double-edged feeling now. But Bosox fans who think Crawford's a safe bet should, too. What on earth is the Red Sox' excuse? For a team as obsessed with stats as Boston it's amazing to watch the Red Sox do a deal that screams "Yankee Fear." Didn't the Yanks help the Red Sox out enough already by re-signing their utterly immobile captain for three more years? Derek Jeter, a handsome marble column of a shortstop, has finally gone from "iconic" to "Ionic."
Werth was the Red Sox' logical choice as a free agent outfielder. He's a righty power bat who hits more flies than grounders and pulls the ball more often than he goes to the opposite field. Hello, Wall. Besides, his strong arm and speed would be perfect for Fenway's huge right field. Also, he'd help balance that lefty-loaded lineup. Just a week ago, before fiscal insanity broke loose, Nats left fielder Josh Willingham (career .265/.367/.475) was a possible trade match for the Red Sox. He not only jerks all his high-fly home runs to left field but lands most of them in the same seat. You can look that stuff up now. Josh's 103 homers are so tightly bunched they'd look like a rifle-range target hung under the CITGO sign in Boston.
There's a Fenway Type hitter: Dick Stuart, Rico Petrocelli, Butch Hobson, Tony Armas, Tony Conigliaro, Hawk Harrelson, Don Baylor, Nick Esasky, John Valentin, Kevin Millar, Mike Lowell and even Jason Bay.
Everything about Crawford's game is ill-suited to lopsided Fenway. His only flaw is a weak arm. In Boston's huge right field, he'd be a pigeon for the running game. So, he'll have to remain a left fielder. But he'll be stuck in the smallest left field in the sport, where the impact of his range is minimized and the hits he does manage to steal will mostly be singles, not doubles or triples.
Many elite lefty hitters blossom into batting champs in Boston if they have opposite-field power. You'd think that the 215-pound Crawford would fit the bill. And he may. But he hasn't yet. In his whole career, he only has seven opposite-field homers. And in Tropicana Field, only three of his 53 homers have been hit even one inch to the left of dead center field. On paper, you couldn't draw a hitter less helped by Fenway. Maybe he'll adjust.
The Nation better adapt its expectations to the real Crawford. He steals 50 bases, bunts, hits more grounders than fly balls, slaps the ball to left field, but pulls it to right field with occasional power. He seldom walks and doesn't even score a ton of runs - averaging 95 for the last seven seasons. His contract is $50 million more than any ever given to a player who's never hit 20 homers. But, like Roberto Clemente, the player he most resembles statistically at 29, he looks great doing it and steals runs in the outfield - well, in a normal park where he can get a head of steam.
Over the next few years, the Nationals will have plenty of chances to worry about whether Werth was worth it. But at least they got the player that General Manager Mike Rizzo had known since Werth was in high school and whose athletic blood lines, conditioning regimen and clubhouse fire were exactly what he wanted. Werth has flourished under post-season pressure, played with a World Series champion and subtracts a key piece from a division rival.
So, right or wrong, the "lowly Nats" got exactly what they wanted. And, as a result - hold your breath - the mighty Boston Red Sox had to pay $142 million for what was left."

Wow. This is Peter. The reason I posted the entire article was because it was a little bit of a hassle to log in to the Washington Post web site. I didn't know Carl's numbers were that much lower when he plays at Fenway. He'll adapt and still steal 70 bases. It is proven that Adrian Gonzalez DOES hit a lefty pitcher tremendously. Youk? The pitcher only has to throw the ball. Papi is getting better although the "shift" will be there for the rest of his career. JD DREW...I'm not sure but he's a streaky and oft-injured hitter. Jacoby Ellsbury, another lefty at the plate, is still learning. I hope he has an entirely healthy 2011.

That's it for me. According to the Washington Post writer, it's all the Nats fault for paying Werth all those dollars. Me? I'm not worried. Not at all. Are the Boston Red Sox immeasurably better than they were 2 1/2 weeks ago? My answer is yes. And Theo is still shopping, with money to spare, for the two or three arms needed in the bullpen to complement Paps and Bard. Have a great Sunday, click on this post's title and as always, BE WELL. Don't worry, BE HAPPY. Thanks for being here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

'Tek Is Signed...Crawford Press Conference

Yes and yes on this Saturday morning in December, just another day except for these two little items concerning the Boston Red Sox. First, it's official that Jason Varitek will be back with the Sox. His one year contract is official and we need him so much. He'll be a pitching coach someday. Mark my words.

The Boston Red Sox have issued this concerning their official new left fielder, Carl Crawford. Here you go...

"The Boston Red Sox will hold a press conference at 10:00 a.m., TOMORROW, SATURDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2010 to announce the signing of outfielder Carl Crawford."

The press conference will be televised on NESN & NESN HD and heard on the Red Sox radio network. I'll be watching. I hope your Saturday will be a great one and as always, BE WELL.

Friday, December 10, 2010

UCONN Women Win 87th Straight

The University of Connecticut women's national championship basketball team, behind the all around play of Maya Moore, defeated Marquette University Thursday night by a score of 79-47. They have won 87 straight basketball games and they will attempt to tie John Wooden's UCLA record of 88 when exams are over. That will be on December 19th. Here is the report from the Associated Press...

STORRS, Conn. (AP) "Connecticut needs just one more win to match one of basketball's greatest feats.
Maya Moore scored a season-high 31 points and Connecticut beat Marquette 79-47 on Thursday, pulling within a game of the Division I record 88-game winning streak set by John Wooden's UCLA men's team in 1974.
Tiffany Hayes and Bria Hartley each added 16 points for The Huskies (9-0, 2-0 Big East), who don't play again until Dec. 19 against No. 6 Ohio State at Madison Square Garden.
"Obviously we have an opportunity to do something that's pretty significant in terms of the basketball world," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "The basketball world views that number as a really significant number."
But Moore said the Huskies view the Buckeyes as just another team looking to knock them off their perch.
"Anyone who we play we look at as someone trying to take away from our program and beat us," Moore said. "And I don't see that changing when we play in the Garden next weekend. If it's pressure, than it's exciting pressure to know that we've got an opportunity to make this year even more special."
Moore was special on Thursday.
The senior All-American was 12 of 18 from the field and had eight rebounds, four steals and five blocks.
"It's not that complicated," Auriemma said. "Maya is really good and she makes our team what we are. Everyone that's watched us play knows that."
Angel Robinson led Marquette (7-2) with 15 points.
Connecticut had a 21-0 second-half run, turning a 49-36 lead into a 70-36 advantage. UConn held Marquette without a point for over 8 minutes as the Golden Eagles missed 16 consecutive shots.
"You're plying the best team in the country and if you don't have 40 minutes of focus this is what happens to you," said Marquette coach Terri Mitchell.
The Huskies have won 23 consecutive Big East home openers, 63 consecutive regular-season home games, and 144 straight games against unranked teams.
They also have gone 236 straight games without allowing an opponent to shoot over 50 percent from the field, holding the Golden Eagles to 26 percent and 18 field goals. The Huskies also blocked 11 shots.
Moore scored the first points of the game on a layup 15 seconds in and had 22 by halftime.
UConn opened with a 14-3 run, and another layup by Moore midway through the half made it 26-12.
Marquette got within seven when Robinson hit a layup that cut it 32-25, but Moore and Hayes answered with back-to-back 3-pointers.
Robinson hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, but the Huskies led 41-30 at the break.
Freshman Samarie Walker had a personal-best 12 rebounds for UConn.
Connecticut has never lost to Marquette, improving to 6-0 against the Golden Eagles.
UConn has given up only 165 points in the second half of games this season, or just over 20 points per game. Marquette got 17.
Connecticut last lost in the 2008 national semifinals to Stanford. Should the Huskies beat the Buckeyes, they could break the record on Dec. 21 in Hartford against Florida State.
Marquette's Mitchell said she will be rooting for that to happen, and believes everyone in the basketball world should be talking about what UConn has accomplished.
"It's special," she said. "I'm watching it because it's history. I'm living history right now and that's worth talking about.""

The UCONN women are truly amazing. Simply click on the title of this post to both read about the game and see an interview with Maya Moore. It's from the Hartford Courant, borrowed with my thanks.

Final Thoughts...MLB Winter Meetings 2010

Hello on this 5 degree F. Friday morning, my birthday. Since it's SO cold out AND it's my birthday, I dragged a lap top outside and I'm just wearing swimming trunks. Why? I have no idea. Am I serious? Not on your life, but it IS my birthday today.

The Winter Meetings of Major League Baseball are basically over and we all have to agree on this...Theo's skills and John Henry's wallet improved the 2011 Boston Red Sox team immeasurably. They are the favorites not only in the AL East but to go all the way to the "promised land." One rival team executive said this about Mr. Epstein, expletive included...

"My God, Theo fucking dominated this week.”

I wish I knew who said that. I'd find him and shake his hand over a beer. He knows his baseball. Now the ball is in the court of the New York Yankees. They've upped their offer to pitcher Cliff Lee to seven (!) years, a contract length they said they never would approach. They did. Maybe the Yankee brass felt the pressure and are becoming desperate. I don't know that but I do know this. If they don't land the talented starter, they're looking at second place. Only the recent demise and depletion of the Tampa Bay Rays will keep them that high in the standings. But that's only conjecture. The 2011 season will tell all.

I hope my birthday will be a great Friday for you. I feel the same. Nadia has been back in Minnesota for four months and will be out there in the land of cold another three months. My brother and his family are also out of town. I might have a solo birthday night tonight. But I'll have a nice dinner somewhere and maybe even a glass of wine. How old am I, you ask? I'm older than you think but younger than you can imagine. If that age clue helps you in any way, please explain it to me! By the way, my pic is on my web page, standing with Nadia just up from the beach and Long Island Sound in Connecticut. Have a great day, click on this post's title for more on the Red Sox and as always, BE WELL. Be careful out there, you and me.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours For Boston. Red Sox Land Carl Crawford... It's Time To Smile!

Wow, what a week! First the Boston Red Sox bought the services of one of the best first basemen in the major leagues, Adrian Gonzalez. They still needed a bat and a glove in left field. Wednesday night, their wishes (with the help of John Henry's wallet) came true. Carl Crawford will be playing Wall Ball for the next seven years at Friendly Fenway Park, a place that was made for his defensive skills. He's going to love the small confines of the left field territory. He is the second All Star signed by the Sox in roughly a week and the move forces the NY Yankees to put all their eggs on one basket, a basket with Cliff Lee in it. If they don't land him they might fade away into the dusty land that is called third place in the AL East. I'd like that! Here are Carl's regular season career statistics...

2002 TB 63 259 23 67 11 6 2 30 9 41 9 5 .259 .290 .371
2003 TB 151 630 80 177 18 9 5 54 26 102 55 10 .281 .309 .362
2004 TB 152 626 104 185 26 19 11 55 35 81 59 15 .296 .331 .450
2005 TB 156 644 101 194 33 15 15 81 27 84 46 8 .301 .331 .469
2006 TB 151 600 89 183 20 16 18 77 37 85 58 9 .305 .348 .482
2007 TB 143 584 93 184 37 9 11 80 32 112 50 10 .315 .355 .466
2008 TB 109 443 69 121 12 10 8 57 30 60 25 7 .273 .319 .400
2009 TB 156 606 96 185 28 8 15 68 51 99 60 16 .305 .364 .452
2010 TB 154 600 110 184 30 13 19 90 46 104 47 10 .307 .356 .495
Career 1235 4992 765 1480 215 105 104 592 293 768 409 90 .296 .337

He has been remarkably consistent with his batting average hovering near the .300 mark. The seven year, $142 million deal makes him the highest paid outfielder in all of Major League Baseball. Crawford hit .307 with 19 home runs, 90 RBIs, and 47 stolen bases last season for the Tampa Bay Rays. Talk about a solid season! A very happy Boston manager Terry Francona said this upon hearing the news last night...

“He’s that guy that can change a game defensively, offensively. When he gets on base, he gives you a headache."

Give 'em all headaches, CC. Carl will probably bat second, one batter after another premiere base stealer, a healthy Jacoby Ellsbury. Two speedsters on one team, both super fast and both able to cover outfield ground like the Flash of comic book fame. And then comes the power-packed guys in the lineup. Pedey, Gonzalez, Youkilis and Big Papi, not to mention JD Drew bringing up the rear of this lineup's power core. That leaves the numbers eight and nine guys, Scutaro and Salty/Varitek. Now that's a solid lineup, top to bottom, bottom to top. Coupled with the sextet of starters and a bullpen that still needs two additions (Theo's working on it and will get them...100%), Boston will field a first place team in 2011. I didn't hear this news until 5am EST this morning and I've been smiling ever since. I hope you have, too.

Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day...oops, sorry, I went off to Oklahoma land but I'm back here in north central Connecticut, where it is 12.5 degrees F. Brr. You can click on this post's title for more on the whirlwind, free spending (!) Boston Red Sox, the team I love. I'm not sure where that link will take you but I'll figure it out. You just have to do the clicking. As always, BE WELL and remember, let's be careful out there.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

John Lennon October 9, 1940 - December 8,1980

Wow, it's that day again. December 8th. I dread it and the only spiritual relief I can get is to write this yearly post. John would have been 70 by now and it's been exactly 30 years since Mark David Chapman shot him in the back multiple times with hollow points and severed all the blood vessels going into and out of his heart. There was nothing the emergency doctors could do. Click on this post's title and you'll hear everything from the primary doctor who was called to aid him. Please, this eight minute UTUBE audio/video is not for the queasy or feint of heart.

Thanks for stopping in once again. Click on this post's title for something special but not for the feint of heart. John had no chance. Chapman was an expert shooter with hollow point bullets. That's a deadly combination even for an average shooter. Listen to the Doctor's chilling details. The Doc didn't even know it was Lennon until after John passed, although in reality he was dead when they carried him from the police car. His last word was "yes" when one of the officers asked him if he knew who he was. And then, right then, he went to Heaven.

I miss you, John. We ALL do. Rest in peace. Peace, that's what you yearned for. We haven't made it yet and maybe we won't in my lifetime. But the children and their children, there's always hope. Imagine. But you already did.

As always, BE WELL. I'll end with John Lennon's words from the early seventies. "AND WE ALL SHINE ON, LIKE THE MOON AND THE STARS AND THE SUN. YES WE ALL SHINE ON. ON AND ON AND ON AND ON..."

John, your light keeps on shining, brighter than ever.

Red Sox Interested In Carlos Beltre?

The Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets have discussed outfielder Carlos Beltran, who is in the final year of a $119 million contract. Why? Don't ask me. Ask the person who's sitting next to me. Wait...there's nobody sitting next to me. It's not even light on this Wednesday early morning. Back to reality. It must have been my in-house ghost. But that's another story for another day. Carlos is a center fielder by trade but if the Red Sox acquire him, he could play a corner outfield position and be a part-time DH. Here's the Mets GM, Sandy Alderson...

“I think we’re realists. If we felt given all of the components of the transaction that it was in our interest, yeah. We’re always open to wild and crazy ideas. Maybe one or two of those have come up. But they usually remain wild and crazy ideas – nothing more.”

Beltre has a downside, a huge one...his arthritic knees, which at this point can only be managed, not fixed. He opted out of microfracture (ouch!) surgery in favor of a less severe procedure. I say LET HIM BE unless the Metsies would be willing to take Daisuke Matsuzaka, who is owed $20 million over the next couple of seasons. It would be just about a wash. To tell you the truth, Boston doesn't need an outfielder with two crippled knees. Theo, save the money for the bullpen. PLEASE!

Click on the title of this post for more and as always, be well. It's a sad day for me and I have another post to write and miles to go before I sleep. And the ghost is gone...for now. Maybe it was John Lennon. If it was I hope he visits often. Thanks. BE WELL. Let's be careful out there.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

RIP Elizabeth Edwards

Her "husband" didn't make it any easier for her, be she succumbed to cancer today at too young an age. No crocodile tears, John.

WASHINGTON –"Elizabeth Edwards, the estranged wife of former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, died Tuesday after a six-year fight with cancer, her family said. She was 61. A family friend said she died in North Carolina at 10:15 a.m."

Pearl Harbor Attack December 7, 1941

This is a special time to give thanks to the men and women who perished on that "day which will live in infamy." They were all American heroes, their families, too. Please click on the title of this post to see amazing "as it happened" history. My Dad enlisted on that black day. He made it.

Straight From Theo's Suite To Your Screen

Theo Epstein, still glowing from his acquisition of the player who Boston coveted most, Adrian Gonzalez, outlined in general what his club's needs will be before opening day. Think bullpen. Here you go...

"Bullpen, bullpen, maybe integrate a right-handed bat into the mix if we can find the right one. ... I feel like if we brought back the same outfield group, we'd be OK. I think here is a possibility of us doing something in the outfield, it might be a more complementary-type move. We actually have some nice depth as it is.”

To put it this way, Carl Crawford will not be pursued, much less old friend Adrian Beltre. Epstein likes the 1-9 lineup as is and the reserves proved themselves last year. Epstein also said he expected to acquire at least two relievers via trade or free agency. Brian Fuentes, Ron Mahay and Koji Uehara are possible targets. Theo said that our man Youk's rehab is going "really well." Lastly, talks are still under away with Hideki Okajima, the Darkman. The Darkman might be packing his bags soon for a journey, a long journey far far away. Red Sox Nation wishes him well.

So that's it for Day 1 AG (after Gonzalez). It looks like everything's coming up roses, red roses for the Red Sox. These are the times to remember but they will not last forever. These are the days to hold onto but we won't although we'll want to. These are the days. My thanks to Billy Joel for the beautiful words and my thanks go out to you for popping in. Click on this post's title for more Red Sox news and as always, BE WELL. Let's be careful out there. GO SOX.

Monday, December 06, 2010

RIP "Dandy" Don Meredith

Quarterback and Monday Night Football personality Don Meredith died last night at the age of 72. He was the foil to Howard Cosell's wit and alcohol-fueled on air persona. Just click on this post's title for a tribute to the entertaining man he became. As Don sang at the end of MNF...

"Turn out the lights, the party's over, they say that all good things must end....."

RIP Dandy Don. Here's an official release...

"Don Meredith, the legendary Cowboys quarterback who also manned the "Monday Night Football" booth, passed away Sunday evening at 72. Meredith had been battling emphysema in recent years and suffered a stroke in 2004. The Texas native was the first Cowboy, signing a contract in 1959, two months before the team was admitted into the NFL. Meredith led the Cowboys to NFL title games in 1966 and 1967, losing both contests to the Packers, before abruptly retiring at 31 in 1968. He joined the MNF booth in 1970 and became beloved for his work there before stepping down in 1984. As a player and broadcaster, "Dandy Don" was known for his charisma and sense of humor. He was also a prolific passer, throwing the Cowboys to relevancy, though his failure to secure a championship for Dallas gained him criticism from the team's fans."

After A Major Sunday Scare, Gonzalez Belongs To The Boston Red Sox

I was lying in bed last night watching the 10 pm news, sports and weather and to say I was shocked would be an understatement. You see, it was said the Adrian Gonzalez deal between San Diego and Boston was off. I couldn't believe it but by the very end of the day, the deal was on again. I was in limbo until I woke up this morning and came downstairs to get the newspaper. "PHEW!" is all could say when I saw the headline that read YO ADRIAN. Here is the official release from Sports Illustrated dot com, who broke the story. Read this...

"Adrian Gonzalez is headed to the Red Sox ... again. After several more hours of negotiations Sunday, the Red Sox completed a deal for the Padres first baseman. The Padres and Red Sox had previously reached an agreement in principle on a trade to send the All-Star to Boston for four players, including three minor league prospects. The Red Sox had received permission to negotiate a contract extension with Gonzalez. But Major League Baseball had set a 2 p.m. ET Sunday deadline to complete the deal, and the trade appeared to be jeopardy when that deadline passed without a formal extension being reached. The Red Sox have scheduled a Monday news conference to announce the trade. No contract extension is expected to be announced at the news conference, but both sides have apparently agreed to the parameters of a new deal, believed to be for eight years and worth a total of about $167 million"

Apparently that 2pm deadline was never set in stone and the Padres and Red Sox got the deal done without even revealing the monetary terms or the length of Adrian's contract. He'll be happy, we'll be happy and Boston will be the team to beat in the AL East.There will be an 11 am EST major media announcement at Fenway Park that will be televised by NESN and the internet. My eyes will be glued to that. Here's old friend Kevin Millar, who will be an analyst for the Major League Baseball cable channel...

“This makes them the favorite. He’s an unbelievable hitter and he’s going to make a big difference. This gives Kevin Youkilis a chance to go back to his natural position at third base. They are stacked right now. I can’t see how they can be beaten.’’

That's the spirit, Kevin. In another piece of baseball news, the Washington Nationals have signed outfielder Jason Werth to a seven year (!) contract worth a mind blowing $126,000,000. 00. Other clubs are said to be livid over that figure. They're worried that, oh, let's say Carl Crawford's buying price was now too high for them to participate in the bidding. I can see their point.

Don't forget to look for that major news conference from the Fens beginning at 11 am. From the agony of last night to the ecstacy of this morning...oh, what a difference! Click on this post's title for more news on the trade and as always, BE WELL. Let's be careful out there. YO ADIAN!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Red Sox Are Oh So Close!

I've always been the first to admit when I'm wrong, as I was yesterday when I wrote that Jonathon Papelbon would be moving on as a part of the Adrian Gonzalez mega-deal. That's what the earliest reports hinted at and I read between the lines. I won't do that any more. Right now (it's very early Sunday morning), his name hasn't be mentioned at all. The Padres seem to want plenty of young talent. Who can blame them? According to Fox Sports, there is a 2pm EST deadline for Boston and San Diego to dot all the I's and cross all the T's. The two sides almost must agree on a lucrative contract extension. This is no "rent for a year" deal. Gonz is looking for eight years or so but the two sides will compromise it down just a little. But this will be a long term commitment for mucho dinero. The final terms would likely make it the largest by this ownership group and the second-largest in team history. It's almost too good to be true. Again, my apologies for yesterday's erroneous information.

Adrian Gonzalez garners praise from almost everyone in baseball. Here's the manager of the Tampa Bay Rays, Joe Maddon, for example...

“He’s a tremendous player. He’s a force from the left side, and given the way he hits, it’s almost like having another righthanded hitter in the lineup. If that happens, that’s a tough move for our division.’

He'll be batting right in the middle of the lineup, near Youk, Pedey and Papi and improve Boston's offensive attack beyond measure. The doctors gave him a clean bill of health yesterday and said his surgically repaired shoulder "should be just fine." And Youkilis can "live" at first base or third with his stellar infield defense. A perfect fit? Oh yes. My goodness, oh yes!

You can click on this post's title for all the latest info from Red Sox dot com. Enjoy. As always, BE WELL and have a terrific Sunday. The UCONN women go for win number 86 in a row today at the XL Center in Hartford. That's what I'll be doing from 1pm to 3pm EST. Hey, it's been a great weekend for the Sox and I'm a very happy member of Red Sox Nation.

Saturday, December 04, 2010


Hello on this maybe momentous early Saturday morning. There is an almost completed deal between the Boston Red Sox and the San Diego Padres. Read this from the Boston Globe and I'll be back with a few ecstatic syllables...

ORLANDO, Fla. — "According to a major league source, trade talks between the Red Sox and San Diego Padres with regard to first baseman Adrian Gonzalez have reached the stage where medical clearance and a contract extension may be the only things standing in the way of a deal that would bring the lefthanded-hitting slugger to Boston. The 28-year-old Gonzalez is expected in Boston today for a physical."

Boston wants to make sure Adrian's shoulder has responded normally after his off season surgery. He will play first base, Youkilis will man the hot corner and the pursuit of Adrian Beltre will be over. One Adrian for another, I guess, but what an infield the Red Sox will have, defensively AND offensively! The new closer will be none other than Daniel Bard. Also, the Red Sox have been extremely reluctant to ink a seven (!) year pact with Carl Crawford and with Gonzalez, there's simply no need for him any longer. Boston might still go after power hitting outfielder Jayson Werth but landing a premiere offensive and defensive player like AGonz trumps everything. It will be unfortunate to see Jonathon Papelbon go but it is a necessary evil, an offshoot of this transaction. AGonz has one year left on his contract that would have paid him $6.2 million this year. The early word is that if the medical tests go well, Boston will (might) sign him to a six year contact for $20 million per year. Believe me, HE'S WORTH EVERY PENNY. Great job, Theo and company. Tito, too.He was in on everything. It looks like it will all come down to today's physical in Boston. WOW!!

I've been waiting for a virtual bombshell to shock us all alert and this certainly fills the bill. For more, simply click on this post's title for a link. Have a great weekend and watch for the official news, with press conferences, soon, very soon. It's in the hands of the doctors at this point. Hooray!! As always, BE WELL. LET'S BE CAREFUL OUT THERE.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Ron Santo Dies

This story just in from Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune...

"Legendary Chicago Cubs player and broadcaster Ron Santo died Thursday night in Arizona. He was 70.
Friends of Santo's family said the North Side icon lapsed into a coma on Wednesday before dying Thursday. Santo died of complications from bladder cancer, WGN-AM 720 reported.
"He absolutely loved the Cubs," said Santo's broadcast partner, Pat Hughes. "The Cubs have lost their biggest fan."
Hughes noted that with all the medical problems Santo had--including diabetes with resulting leg amputations, his heart and bladder cancer--"he never complained. He wanted to have fun. He wanted to talk baseball. He considered going to games therapeutic. He enjoyed himself in the booth right to the end."

He will be missed.

'Tek Resigns With Red Sox...Mo Rivera Back With NY...Pedey's Foot Completely Healed

Good news for Red Sox Nation was announced yesterday. The captain, Jason Varitek, will be back for another year. This is from the Globe's EXTRA BASES.

"The Red Sox have signed Jason Varitek to a one-year deal worth $2 million according to a baseball source. The deal includes $300,000 in incentives that likely would be based on how often he plays. It seems apparent now that the Red Sox are prepared to move forward with Jarrod Saltalamacchia as their regular catcher and Varitek as the backup."

'Tek will do more than play #2 catcher behind Salty. The two will work closely together between games, mentor to student. I'm happy he's back. Now Boston can fully concentrate on landing Werth, Beltre and/or Crawford.

In pin striped news, the New York Yankees, still in the middle of things with Jeter, made it official. Mariano Rivera will be back. The club will pay him $17 million for his one year deal and that's right on line with what he's worth to the club. He's amazing. An unnamed source said this...

"I think Mo will be the greatest closer in the game until he decides to quit. That's how good he is. As long as he can throw that cutter, put it where he wants to put it, he'll pitch as long as he wants to pitch. He wanted to stay loyal to the Yankees."

Good luck to him (unless he's playing the Sox.)

Dustin Pedroia got a clean bill of health from his doctors after a Cat scan revealed what we were all waiting for...his foot is 100% healed. He will resume running January 1, 2011. Here's the man himself...

“I’m real excited to start the year, because I’ve got a lot of energy built up, that’s for sure. My biggest thing this year is to make sure my foot is healthy and make sure my body is healthy and built up. I played 75 games last year, so other than my foot, my body is well-rested and ready to go. I think this year, my main focus is get my body in game-playing shape and go out there and get ready to play 162 games and be out there all year and be consistent and do the things I do to help us win.’’

Wouldn't that be nice! We love ya, Pedey. I hope every one of you has a great Friday and a terrific upcoming weekend. I'll be back if the news warrants. Until then, click on this post's title and vote for Jon Lester as the AL's best starter. When the screen appears, just click on STARTERS (or any other category). I voted for Tito, too. He had such a great season, didn't he? The link is there...just click away. As always, BE WELL. Let's be careful out there.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A Little Noon Music...Thanks Harry

Hello and please enjoy. Just put the sound on and click this post's title. Thanks.

Red Sox Start Communications

I read these two news blurbs in the Boston Globe's EXTRA BASES. It seems the Red Sox brass visited Houston and established communication with outfielder Carl Crawford. They're not wasting any time. They want him. And it also now appears the Red Sox have scheduled a meeting with Scott Boras before the Winter Meetings. Boras represents Adrian Beltre and Jayson Werth, among others. If they sign Crawford and retain Beltre (long shot), their lineup would look something like this. Thank you Extra Bases...

Ellsbury CF
Pedroia 2B
Crawford LF
Youkilis 1B
Ortiz DH
Beltre 3B
Drew RF
Scutaro SS
Saltalamacchia C

I still have my sights set on a certain slugging first baseman. Youk would shift to the hot corner and that new first baseman whose initials are AG would man first and be a huge addition to the lineup. But having Beltre at third would be sweet, indeed. Oh yes. By the way, Pedey Pedroia is doing just fine.

And now, courtesy of the Boston Herald, is the Boston Red Sox complete spring training schedule...

Feb. 26 Boston College 1:05pm ET
Feb. 26 Northeastern 6:00pm ET
Feb. 27 at Minn. 7:05 p.m.
Feb. 28 Twins 1:05pm ET
Mar. 1 at Minnesota 1:05 p.m.
March 2 Braves 1:05pm ET
March 3 Phillies 1:05pm ET
Mar. 4 at Yankees 7:10 p.m.
March 5 Marlins (ss) 1:05pm ET
Mar. 5 at Bal. (ss) 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 6 at N.Y. Mets 1:05 p.m.
March 7 Orioles 1:05pm ET
Mar. 8 at St. Louis 1:05 p.m.
March 9 Orioles 7:05pm ET
Mar. 10 at Tampa Bay1:05 p.m.
Mar. 11 at Minn. 1
March 12 Marlins 1:05pm ET
Mar. 13 at Pitt. 1:05 p.m.
March 14 Yankees 7:05pm ET
Mar. 15 at Detroit 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 16 at Atlanta 1:05 p.m.
March 17 Mets 1:05pm ET
March 18 Tigers (ss) 1:05pm ET
Mar. 18 at T.B. (ss) 7:05 p.m.
Mar. 19 at Pitt. 1:05 p.m.
March 20 Cardinals 1:05pm ET
Mar. 21 at Phila. 1:05 p.m.
March 22 Rays 7:05pm ET
Mar. 24 at Florida 1:05 p.m.
March 25 Blue Jays 7:05pm ET
March 26 Twins 7:05pm ET
Mar. 27 at Baltimore 1:05 p.m.
Mar. 28 at Toronto 1:05 p.m.
March 29 Rays 1:05pm ET
Mar. 30 at Houston, 8:05
Mar. 31 at Houston, 1:35 p.m.

If you're lucky enough to be in Fort Myers, Florida, check out the new Red Sox facilities there. It's a great town. My parents used to live in nearby Naples. And if you like baby back ribs, go to Michelbob's. There's one in Naples and another in Fort Myers. They have the absolute best racks of baby backs I've ever had. Hey, their onion rings hold a candle to no one and the beer is ice cold. My goodness, it's just 5am EST and I have a craving for ribs now! I'll whip up a couple eggs for a more sensible breakfast.

I have to leave you right now. I hope your Thursday will be tremendous. Click on this post's title for more baseball news and as always, be well.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Big Papi Golf And Auction In The DR... Jeter Talks On?

Big Papi David Ortiz will hold his Celebrity Golf Classic and on his website are all the details of the unbelievable items you can bid on and win. It's all for the benefit of the kids and guess who will be there with a bevy of Boston Red Sox players. Why, none other than Adrian Beltre. You can bet there will be much talk hinting on this...Yo Adrian, come back. Please click on the title of this post to be linked to Papi's auction site. The golf tourney is being held in the Dominican Republic, where my best friend lives six months of every year. He's there right now. My mind is percolating (hey, so is the coffee!). The DR in December is so great. So please click on that title. Do it for me.

In other more comical developments, the talks between Derek Jeter and the Yankees seem to have resumed. It was only a matter of time. The two sides will eventually agree to terms higher than the Yankees offer and much lower than Jeter's, but still a bunch of coin no matter how one looks at at. When asked how he would feel if Jeter is not a 2011 NY Yankees, one top MLB general manager said these "immortal" words...

"That would be one of the biggest shocks I've ever seen in sports."

I would have to agree with his statement, somewhat. Games seven losses for the Red Sox in '67 and '75 were all the shocks I ever wanted. FOREVER! I hope your Wednesday will be a terrific one. Its a rainy day here in north central Connecticut with more rain to come...a ton of it. Hey, it could be 31 degrees and it would all be snow, about twenty inches of it. But the temperatures are in the mid-fifties, even before the sun peeks over the horizon. For December first, that's unusual. Since it is the first day of the month, I want to say this to every one of you. RABBIT RABBIT RABBIT GOOD LUCK.

Click on this post's title for a link to Big Papi's web page and all the details of his celebrity golf tournament and auction in the Dominican Republic. As always, BE WELL. And remember, let's be careful out there.