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John Rooke - Thinking Out Loud

Saturday, August 02, 2014

 

Thinking out loud…while wondering how the other half lives.  You know, in places like Oakland?

  • Tough to get a real handle on the emotions surrounding Jon Lester’s departure for Oakland.  Overall, I’m left with a feeling of sadness, after watching his growth into a staff “ace,” through his struggles with mechanics, emotions and even with his health.  He’ll be an inspiration to a lot of people, for a long time to come…beyond his accomplishments as one of the greatest Boston lefties ever.  Two World Championships.  Kinda like…we put so much into him, so much sweat and emotional equity…this is what we’re left with?

 

  • Especially with Lester saying last winter that he would accept a “hometown discount,” whatever that might actually entail.  With the Red Sox clearly divided between the idea of keeping him here (even though he’s 30) and not spending the money on a long term deal, the Sox’ offer (4 years, $70 million) was a pitiful effort.  And it apparently helped chase Lester away.  Was his post-season brilliance from last year forgotten?  Probably not…but what would have been nice is at LEAST an indication from his agents of what it would take to keep him in Boston.  To my knowledge, that never happened.  The Sox were stuck here…

 

  • The pleasant surprise in this thing is getting a guy like Yoenis Cespedes in return, rather than a few prospects.  Time will ultimately tell if the Red Sox organization decision here – not to pony up for Lester – will prove to be the right move.  But there’s no doubting in this corner he’ll be missed.  There’s now a tremendous amount of pressure on management to pick up the pitching for next year, in order to return to contender status.  And Jonny Gomes?  Thanks for zaniness and the few taters you hit, bud.  It was interesting.  But time to move on…

 

  • Cespedes for the rest of us.  I want the T-shirt rights…

 

  • Jake Peavy.  Felix Doubront.  Stephen Drew.  Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.  So how come these other teams (Giants, Cubs, Yankees!) don’t see what we do?  Andrew Miller?  Could be wicked, but thought he had a tendency to leave his delivery flat and very hittable at times.  John Lackey?  His comeback was strong, his effort solid and admirable…and the tip ‘o the cap as he came off the mound in Game Six of the World Series last year against St. Louis was memorable…but he’ll forever be stained by “Chicken-and-Beergate” around here…

  • Raise your hand if you thought Clay Buchholz would be the leftover/holdover for the Sox rotation before this season started?  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller? 

 

  • Can’t argue Lester’s durability, for sure.  Even though he successfully (so far) fought through cancer, his only other time on the disabled list came in 2011 for a pulled muscle.  Lester joins Cy Young, Roger Clemens and Luis Tiant as the only Boston pitchers to make 31 or more starts for at least six straight seasons…

 

  • Anybody else wish they could have been a fly on the wall in Billy Beane’s office as he pulled this one off?  No doubt, the A’s have all of their P’s and Q’s in the basket for a run THIS year…it’ll be tough not to pull for these guys, and pull for a sequel…Moneyball II

 

  • Intrigued by Joe Kelly and Allen Craig from St. Louis for Lackey.  Talented, sure.  Maligned?  Maybe.  But it’s very clear the Red Sox don’t look at 2015 as a rebuilding year.  More like, re-tooling.  Ben Cherington has been busy, and perhaps stung a bit by this year’s letdown…

 

  • Over-30 guys signed to long-term deals are a thing of the past for the Sox.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, considering the history (Carl Crawford, anyone?).  You’ll still see guys like Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli come here, but for money over a shorter term.  The philosophy has changed, and it’s part of the reason why Lester has moved on…

  • Speaking of short terms…he was mentioned in some trade rumors this week out of Los Angeles, but I took note of Crawford’s continued whining this week over his time wearing Red Sox.  He says he suffered gray hairs during his time in Boston?  He had stress?  He had $30 million in his pocket for playing 161 games in Boston, while hitting .260.  As Archie Bunker might have once said: “Shut up, you meathead, you…”

 

  • Tweet of the Week I – from @Dan_Shaughnessy: “For all their success, Sox are 221-237 since Sept 2011. Have not won a playoff game in 5 of 6 seasons. This is why fans are worried…”

 

  • Since the Red Sox were in the extra rare role of seller this year, and not a buyer in the trade market, I don’t think I like it…even though as it turned out, the Sox “bought” plenty.  The 24 hours leading up to Thursday’s trade deadline was one of the most extraordinary days I can remember.  But it’s good to see how the other half lives, if you know what I mean.  Which also means what we witnessed this past week, hopefully, we won’t see again for some time to come.  Right?  Right?

 

  • A Red Sox-Rays rivalry?  For what?  Last place?

 

  • Ok, so it doesn’t mean much in the big picture right now…but clearly, David Ortiz has gotten under the skin of the Tampa Bay Rays, hasn’t he?

  • His three-run homer last Sunday that ended up being the margin of difference in a one-run win – snapping a five-game losing streak for Boston and a nine-game winning streak for Tampa – was followed by a typical Ortiz bat flip and jog around the bases.  Pitcher Chris Archer took exception, just as David Price took exception to Ortiz’ antics earlier this year.  Does Ortiz “milk it” after hitting a tater?  Sure he does…

 

  • Hey Tampa…if you want to stop Big Papi from showboating, stop serving up big, fat pitches he can hit.  Hey Detroit…now that you have Price, can we be rivals with you now?

 

  • There’s a website that tracks home run trots.  Really.  Tatertrottracker.com has Ortiz with six of the 10 slowest trots around the bases this season, and last Sunday’s didn’t crack the list.  Maybe the Rays should consider themselves fortunate…Ortiz has the slowest non-injury related Tater Trot recorded, 33.39 seconds to get around the bases, which occurred this past April 9th against the Texas Rangers…

 

  • Did anyone else find it interesting when the Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy spoke to Carl Yastrzemski recently, Yaz said Ortiz belongs in the #2 slot behind Ted Williams for Top Sox Hitter of All-Time?  Despite being Boston's all-time franchise leader in several offensive categories, including hits (3,419), runs and RBIs and winning a Triple Crown in 1967, Yastrzemski put himself behind Ortiz when ranking the best Red Sox hitters.  Ortiz passed Yaz on the team history home run list for the 2nd slot behind Williams, even though Yaz spent 23 years in Boston.  He thinks Ortiz deserves the nod.  Ortiz, in response, told ESPNBoston.com “yeah, right.  I’m not playing any 23 years…”

 

  • Does this mean Big Papi is a hall-of-fame player?  It’s an argument worth having, especially with Ortiz having the notoriety of being “just” a designated hitter.  His numbers (455 career HR’s beginning this week) place him 35th all-time in MLB history, and Yaz himself endorsed Big Papi for eventual inclusion.  Considering the fact that the DH is a part of baseball, like it or not, Ortiz belongs in the Hall someday, IMO…

  • This may be a little easier for him to achieve, IMO, even with a question of PED-use hanging over his head from 2003.  Why?  With the HOF Board of Directors cutting a player’s eligibility from 15 years down to 10 before they’re handed off by the baseball writers (BBWAA) to the veterans’ committee, players under the PED umbrella will all have to be considered for inclusion…or there just won’t be anyone admitted, eventually.  Ortiz is relatively “clean” compared to, say, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds, right?  Depending on how much longer he plays, he could get in before those guys get their shot…

 

  • And they WILL get their shot.  They should.  I said it last week, and I’ll say it again…players have been drug-users for generations.  We’re cracking down on this NOW?  Fine, but if we keep out players like Bonds and Mark McGwire, then the entire Hall is tainted.  Integrity in the game?  Please.  The game is already stained.  If integrity is all you’ve got as an argument, true integrity is lost by players of different eras being held to different standards.  At least keep the inclusion process consistent.  Baseball is all about numbers.  Put up the numbers, you’re in.  Put an asterisk (*) by their names, or whatever, but let ‘em all in

 

  • Which means Pete Rose also deserves to be in the Hall-of-Fame.  He’s paid his penance for gambling on baseball, he’s done his time.  Is gambling on the sport worse than artificially enhancing it through drug abuse?  Whether it’s Bud Selig or a new commissioner someday (Joe Torre? George W. Bush?), show some leadership and put all-time hits leader Charlie Hustle in the Hall where he belongs…

 

  • Not for nuthin’…but if the new 10-year rule had been put in effect, say, five years ago (for 2009)…Jim Rice would not have been elected.  Rice got in on his 15th and final year of eligibility.  I used to think that if there was a question as to Hall-worthiness when a player retired, he probably wasn’t good enough to be included.  Upon further review from the replay booth, I’m overturning that call.  Sometimes, snap judgments are the worst kind.  Reflection and review are required for true consideration…

 

  • Can You Believe It?  A 2013 Red Sox World Series Championship Ring was lost by the owner of the Lowell Spinners, Drew Weber, as he dined at a New York establishment a little more than a week ago.  The restaurant owner who found the bauble, worth about $30K, is an ardent Yankees’ fan.  And returned it.  But only after a good razzing resulted in Luigi Militello (the restaurant owner and Yankee fan) getting his first-ever trip to Fenway as a reward, to see Derek Jeter’s last regular season game on September 28th…

  • How much is catching a home run ball worth?  Knowing how much they cost these days, if I were the lady who lost her beer to a Pittsburgh Pirates’ home run ball recently, I’d be a tad upset…

 

  • Tweet of the Week II – from @StatsNBCSports (Rob Guerrera): “Amazing old baseball fact ‘o the day: In 1927 Tris Speaker hit .327 at 39 years old. He played 141 games, had 596 PA and struck out 8 times…”

 

  • You go, Vin…LA Dodgers’ Hall-of-Fame broadcaster Vin Scully announced this week he’ll return for a 66th season…that’s right, a 66th season…of calling Dodgers’ games next year.  Scully is 86 years old, and started his career calling the Dodgers’ games when he – and they – were in Brooklyn in 1950.  Scully joked that 65 years at one job is “an awful long time to stay at one job without a promotion”…but I would argue he’s gone from mere mortal, to god-like over that time...

 

  • There’ll be some baseball excitement in Cranston this week, as 11 nine-and-ten-year-old teams from the eastern US will compete in the Eastern Region Championships, hosted by Cranston Western Little League.  New England, Mid-Atlantic and Eastern Regional titles will be on the line…

 

  • I know college football is WAY down the list around here…but I got my fill of media days over the past week and am revved up for kickoff.  Having anchored the coverage of the American Athletic Conference media day from Newport for ESPN3 this past week, I learned that teams had best not sell the UCF Knights (defending champs) or the Houston Cougars short this season.  One of those two teams could find its’ way into the major bowl mix for the first College Football Playoff…

  • This being said, Cincinnati’s Bearcats were the media favorites going into this season, with UCF and Houston right behind.  Former Pawsox voice Dan Hoard is the Voice of the Bearcats, and thinks UC’s schedule could help the ‘Cats get into a big bowl game this season.  Players to watch on a national level include QB Shane Carden from East Carolina, and LB Tyler Matakevich from Temple…

 

  • It wasn’t for football, which seems to be more of a natural fit for drinking, perhaps…but SMU reports over half of their basketball concessions last season came from alcohol sales.  Booze is becoming a new way for athletic departments to generate income…and, perhaps, a way to limit pre-game binge drinking…

 

  • Marquette’s basketball team takes a depth-hit next season, with Todd Mayo’s apparent decision to forego his senior year and turn pro.   Perhaps the arrival of new coach Steve Wojciechowski had something to do with the team’s leading returning scorer leaving…but the timing of his departure sure is curious.  Now, as opposed to three months ago?  Maybe the arrival of BYU transfer Matt Carlino also had something to do with it…

 

  • Here’s a reason tattoo-removal should be something to consider when starting up a new business these days…a 41-year-old Washington Redskins fan recently had the teams’ starters sign autographs on his arms, then headed off to the local tattoo parlor to have the ink stamped in perpetuity…

 

  • So…what happens when these players get hurt?  Or cut?  Or old(er) – like you will?  Stupid is as stupid does

  • It’s tough to be a Cowboy fan these days…Tweet of the Week III – from @BaxFootballGuru (Russell S. Baxter): “Since 1997, 136-136 in reg. season, 4 10+ win seasons, 6 10+ loss seasons, 1-6 in playoffs, 6 head coaches, 15 starting QBs…”

 

  • Pats Fans – you’re not number one.  Oh, you’re pretty good, alright…but not the best, according to a study done at Emory University.  It seems in their analysis, Patriot fans rank #2…behind Dallas…in overall “fan equity,” or the willingness to support your team financially, through thick and thin.  Hey, I know the Cowboys are a billion-dollar entity and haven’t won squat in 20 years.  But did the geniuses at Emory consider the decades of futility in Foxboro spent by Pats fans? 

 

  • Ty Law certainly has earned his place in the Patriots’ Hall of Fame, with his induction this past Friday in Foxboro.  But did you know the former “best ever” Pats defensive back and the possible “best right now” DB share a home town?  Both Law and Darrelle Revis are from Aliquippa, PA, and they also live in the same Florida community.  Law spoke to him in the off season about coming here, even if it meant less money...“I think he made an incredible decision to not go and take the money and have a chance to win because winning (games) are the things that are going to be remembered for a long, long time...” 

 

  • Brandon Browner sounded the alarm this week at camp by getting physical on the practice field.  And he and receivers’ coach Chad O’Shea came close to having more than just a verbal exchange, before teammates moved in.  Bringing that “Legion of Boom” swagger from Seattle is one thing, but if the results aren’t what’s expected of him…methinks Bill Belichick will ask him to re-think his strategy.  A few flags might be tolerated.  Repeated penalties and getting beat by receivers won’t be…

 

  • Houston’s Arian Foster must have attended the Belichick School of Interview Techniques during the off-season.  During a 90-second interview this week following a training camp practice, he gave virtually the same answer to every question asked of him.  Don’t know whether to applaud and praise his clever wit, or call him a jerk…

  • Beast-mode must run in the family…think the Seattle Seahawks can still win without Marshawn Lynch in the backfield?  His mom thinks not.  DeLisa Lynch responded to ESPN’s Terry Blount by, well, responding in the comments section of his recent treatise.  Maybe mom either negotiated her son’s new deal, or perhaps told her son “a deal is a deal,” and not to hold out.  Lynch showed up, finally, at camp late this week…

 

  • File this under “things I didn’t know” – the Pittsburgh Steelers will finally retire “Mean Joe” Greene’s famous #75 this year.  Before you wonder, like I did, what took them so long…the Steelers don’t traditionally retire jerseys.  The only other such honor in franchise history belongs to Ernie Stautner, who played in the ‘50’s and early ‘60’s, and had his #70 retired in 1964.  Seems to me that if you’re going to do such a thing, the very fabric of the “Steel Curtain” deserves to have his laundry hanging from the rafters…

 

  • One thing that seems a little hard to believe…but in just a little under a month, almost 1200 pro football players will be out of a job, as NFL rosters are trimmed to 53 players.  They’re good enough to be there now…but not good enough later.  And as pro football popularity continues to rise through the roof…there’s no interest, no market at all, for an NFL “D-League?” 

 

  • The San Antonio Raiders?  Last week, there was some buzz surrounding Oakland possibly moving back to Los Angeles…and this week?  The San Antonio Express News reports Raiders’ owner Mark Davis had meetings with city officials about a potential move there.  Which doesn’t make the Houston Texans or Dallas Cowboys terribly happy, because of their proximity to San Antonio and their fan followings in the Alamo City.  Seems to me, this is exactly the type of thing Al Davis would like to see happen…

 

  • I like to see or hear Stephen A. Smith silenced as much as the next guy…but suspending him for something he didn’t really say is over-the-top.  What he said: "Let's make sure we don't do anything to provoke wrong action ... we got to also make sure that you can do your part to do whatever you can do to make, to try to make sure it doesn't happen again."  Sure sounds like he might be blaming women for provoking sexual abuse or domestic violence…but did he?  Too many people are reading between the lines.  And he was swallowed up by it all.  Smith said it wasn't his intention to say that “women could be responsible for their own abuse. Yet the failure to clearly articulate something different lies squarely on my shoulder."  Better advice, SAS – when it comes to non-sports items, just don’t go there…

  • Smith’s comments came on the heels of Baltimore’s Ray Rice receiving a two-game suspension for clocking his then-fiance-now-wife Janay and dragging her from a Las Vegas casino elevator.  Perhaps NFL commissioner Roger Goodell really messed this up, or maybe Rice is just really, really sorry he did it – and simply convinced the commish he was sorry.  Hmmm.  Don’t know about you, but this whole thing kinda makes the NFL’s support of breast cancer by wearing pink during October seem a little hollow, doesn’t it?

 

  • Come on Cleveland.  This is just too funny.  You mean to tell me the newspaper business is so robust, you can afford to say NO to full page ads?  Apparently, this is indeed the case…especially when they take shots at your erstwhile-turned-homie hero, LeBron James

 

  • My buddy Statbeast sez he asked the Little Beast recently if he knew what to look for in a woman when it comes to deciding who to marry someday.  “Well, you’ve got to like the same stuff,” he said.  “Like, if you like sports, she should like sports, too.  And she should keep the chips and dip coming…”

 

  • Here’s what you’re up against…it’s great that the Providence basketball coaching staff is scouring the country in an effort to bring the best talent they can into Friartown.  But consider the “plight” of someone like Kentucky’s John Calipari, who took $100K worth of chartered, private jet flights last summer, and another $100K+ last September in an effort to lure the best-of-the-best to Lexington.  That’s a different ballgame, right there.  A different stratosphere, and one the Friars will get to experience a bit this next season playing at UK…

  • But it’s nice to know that every once in a while, the littler guy gets his day in the sun.  Bling was delivered this week to the Friars for their Big East basketball championship…congrats to the players, coaches and administrators for their hard work and dedication toward the goal.  Now, for the encore…

  • From the mailbag this week – Friar fan Paul sends this note via email: “Any news or rumors on where former Friar Gerard Coleman will land for his final year of eligibility?”  Paul:  I don’t believe Gerard has an official landing spot for his senior year, after leaving Gonzaga…although a few people I’ve checked in with say that Northeastern might be a possibility for him.  I don’t believe a return to Providence is in the works.  Wherever he goes, he still has to sit out the upcoming year before he can play one more…

 

  • I’ll be away for a few weeks – hope to return this column after Labor Day.  Sure appreciate your reading, your comments, your support and your social media follows!

 

 

 

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