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Sox/Yanks



Yesterday brought more storybook stuff for the Sox at Fenway. After finalizing a deal yesterday afternoon to reacquire Doug Mirabelli from the San Diego Padres, his returned almost rivaled that of Johnny Damon.

After grabbing a few items Dougie was on a private charter flight from San Diego to Boston’s Logan Airport where he landed at 6:48pm. With a scheduled game start time of 7:15, Doug received a police escort which reached speeds in excess of 80mph through downtown Boston in order to get him to the ballpark on time. After putting his uniform on in the back of a state police cruiser, Mirabelli arrived at the park minutes before the first pitch – he didn’t even have time to warm Wakefield up, Varitek stepped up to handle that task. Nevertheless, he settled in behind the dish in time for the first pitch.

“I hadn’t caught a knuckleball since October, yea – I was nervous”

C’mon, does Boston live and die by its baseball team or what? Where else in the league would a backup catcher receive a police escort during rush hour! It’s terrific.

As to be expected, Damon was booed mercilessly. Sure, there were a few cheers mixed in, but jeers echoed through Boston as New York’s new leadoff man entered the box. In a show of good sportsmanship, Johnny did acknowledge the crowd and even pointed to his ex-teammates as a sign of appreciation for everything Boston has given him. My personal favorite moment of the night came from the fans in the center field bleachers. They were throwing fake $100 bills at Damon with signs that read: “You really are an idiot.”

Poetic justice: Damon went 0-4.

The Sox took the opener from the Yanks and game two is slated for tonight. It’s pouring out here in Boston, hopefully the weather lets up so we can keep this momentum rolling!


This just in...


Doug Mirabelli is on his way back to Boston! The deal, finalized just hours ago, will send Josh Bard, Clay Meredith and some cash-ola to the Padres in exchange for the return of Wakefield's personal catcher.

This article from ESPN has the details.

Mirabelli will be in Fenway behind the dish tonight.


Rivalry



The Red Sox and the Yankees - the GREATEST rivalry in sports. DiMaggio and Williams were great rivals who constantly made each other better on the field. When these two teams get together the intensity level is raised exponentially. They always make each other play better, and we should expect no less tonight.

On the last day of the '61 season, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the year against Red Sox rookie pitcher Tracy Stallard at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees win the game 1-0 and their 26th American League pennant on their way to their 19th World Series title. Maris' record would stand until Mark McGwire would break it in 1998 with 70.

Flash forward to here and now. This past December, Red Sox outfielder and fan-favorite Johnny Damon did the unthinkable and signed with the Yankees. Yes, it's been done before. Wade Boggs did it in '96, Roger Clemens did it in '99, and legendary pitcher Luis Tiant did it in '79. But this one seemed to hurt the worst. Damon was part of history. Not only was he part of the championship team, he was an integral part - an important piece. More than that even, he was one of the most beloved Red Sox players to put on a uniform in 20 years. Fans loved everything about this guy, his hair, his beard, his refusal to compromise himself...then he does just that and goes to the team with the strictest dress code in the league. No facial hair and regular haircuts for all - Steinbrenner robots. Full compromise for Damon, this one hurt. To make it 100 times worse for the fans, he didn't just go to the Angels, or the Indians, or to an NL team - he went to the archenemy. Tonight marks his first day back in Boston since the trade and you can be sure the Fenway faithful will let him hear it.

It's the first game of a scheduled 19 between the two clubs in 2006. It's always exciting, it's always interesting, it always feels like game 7 of the ALCS, no matter what month it is.

Let the games begin!


Sox Update


Undoubtedly, there’s always something for me to write about in the world of sports. However, what kind of a guy would I be if I didn’t accept a few topics from you – my loyal readers? Jack, my corporate neighbor and an avid WithoutSports reader commented that he would like to see a piece about the departed members of the 2004 Red Sox and where they are now. Well Jack, ask and you shall receive…




Kevin Millar
Kevin Millar was known more for his mouth than his bat with the Red Sox. However, he did provide some pop during the 2004 season. Known for being a “clubhouse guy” (aka - I really suck but always remain in a good mood) the Red Sox didn't show any interest in re-signing him this winter, and Millar joined the Balitmore Orioles.
’06 stats: 19 G, 2 HR, 10 RBI, .209 BA

Mark Bellhorn
Good Lord – let me first start off by saying I would have personally helped to pack Bellhorn’s bags if it would have got him out of Boston any quicker. The guy got caught looking more than a bum at a peep show! The Sox designated Bellhorn for assignment on Aug. 19, 2005, ending his tenure with the club after a rocky season. He was picked up by the Yankees 11 days later, and is currently on the Padres roster.
’06 stats: 16 G, 1 HR, 3 RBI, .286 BA

Pedro Martinez
PETEY!!! Pedro Martinez famously signed a four-year, $53 million contract with the Mets in December of 2004. Pedro had one of the most dominant stretches of any pitcher ever to wear a Boston uniform, winning 117 games and two Cy Youngs in seven years. In his last start with the team, Pedro pitched seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the World Series. Still miss ‘em…
’06 stats: 26.2 IP, 4 W, 0 L, 3.04 ERA

Terry Adams
Remember him? Didn’t think so – he’s floating around in the Pirates farm system somewhere.

Scott Williamson
The Sox closer during the 2003 postseason was injured for a good portion of the 2004 season and was not on the postseason roster. It’s really too bad, I always liked Scotty’s stuff. In fact, does he even know we won? Scotty doesn’t know, Scotty doesn’t know…
Sorry, Eurotrip reference - it had to be done. He’s with da Cubs, here’s the line:
’06 stats: 8.2 IP, 2 W, 1 L, 5.19 ERA

Bronson Arroyo
Most recently, Bronson Arroyo was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for outfielder Wily Mo Pena. Arroyo was disappointed, calling Boston his "second home."
’06 stats: 35 IP, 4 W, 0 L, 2.34 ERA (He also mixed in a 1-hitter earlier this week)

Curtis Leskanic
Curtis Leskanic went out on top. He retired from baseball after the 2004 World Series.

Derek Lowe
Derek Lowe signed with the Dodgers before the 2005 season. I was never a big D-Lowe guy but I’ll give him his props. Originally slated for bullpen work during the 2004 postseason, Lowe won all three deciding games in the playoffs, including a dominant start in the World Series clincher.
’06 stats: 31 IP, 1 W, 1 L, 3.77 ERA

Doug Mientkiewicz
Mientkiewicz squeezed the final out of the 2004 World Series and didn't let go ... for a long, long time. (Sarcasm alert) The slick fielding first baseman is holding his own in the BASEBALL MECCA of Kansas City.
’06 stats: 18 G, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .250 BA

Doug Mirabelli
Tim Wakefield's personal catcher Doug Mirabelli was traded to the Padres for second baseman Mark Loretta in December. He’s been missed of late as Josh Bard is having a tough time behind the dish.
’06 stats: 12 G, 0 HR, 0 RBI, .167 BA

Pokey Reese
Pokey Reese signed with the Seattle Mariners following the 2004 season, and decided to retire this spring after joining the Florida Marlins. Yea, he’s still the man.

Orlando Cabrera
Cabrera made a significant impact with the Red Sox. He provided spectacular defense and hit .294 with the Sox, and .288 in the 2004 postseason. He was passed over in favor of “Rent-a-Wreck” in the offseason and is currently a member of the Angels.
’06 stats: 21 G, 3 HR, 15 RBI, .289 BA


Dave Roberts
Dave Roberts came to the Sox in a midseason move in 2004. His clutch steal and subsequent game-tying score in Game 4 was the defining moment in the ALCS against the Yankees. Roberts was traded to the San Diego Padres in December of 2004 for cash and players, including outfielder Jay Payton.
’06 stats: 18 G, 0 HR, 5 RBI, .265 BA

Bill Mueller
Billy Ballgame signed with the Dodgers this offseason, reuniting with former Sox mates Derek Lowe, Nomar Garciaparra, and Grady Little forming the Red-Sox-West out in L.A.
’06 stats: 22 G, 2 HR, 13 RBI, .320 BA

Johnny Damon
Damon signed a four-year, $52 million contract with the Yankees last December, bolting the Red Sox for their biggest rivals. I could go on for days about Damon, but instead I’ll offer you this piece and continue with the stats.
’06 stats: 19 G, 1 HR, 10 RBI, .286 BA

Ramiro Mendoza
A friend of mine always said – “Friggen Mendoza, why doesn’t he just go back to the Yankees!” Well, he did. Mendoza was signed by the Yankees (for his second tour in the Bronx) prior to the 2005 season. He has not played yet this season.

Mike Myers
Mikey was another member of the 2004 World Series Champion Red Sox to defect to the Evil Empire. Myers signed a two-year deal with the Yankees after the 2005 season. Myers was a solid left-handed specialist for us in Boston.
’06 stats: 5.2 IP, 0 W, 0 L, 0.00 ERA

Alan Embree
Embree, who was on the mound when the Red Sox beat the Yankees in Game 7 of the ALCS, signed a minor league deal this season with the Padres after a short stint with the Yankees
’06 stats: 10.1 IP, 0 W, 0 L, 3.48 ERA

Dave McCarty
Dave McCarty was signed to a minor league contract by the Red Sox last spring, however, McCarty has since retired and now works with NESN as a baseball analyst.
’06 stats: Chillin’ with Remdawg, TC and Eck!!!

Nomar Garciaparra
Finally, we come to Nomar. NOOOMMMAAAHHH!!! Sorry, had to get that out another time. The Sox icon was traded in a 2004 midseason move that brought Cabrera and Mientkiewicz to the Red Sox. After playing with the Cubs last season, Nomar is currently manning first base for the Dodgers. Last week he smashed a grand salami in front of his sweetheart Mia Hamm watching in the front row. Oh, and he’s already been injured once this year.
’06 stats: 4 G, 1 HR, 4 RBI, .188 BA





Stats accurate as of 4/27/06


Delmon Young



As my roomate always says: "Get off your knees ump, you're blowin' the game!"

Delmon Young could have said that to the home plate umpire after being called out on a questionable strike three call, instead he just threw a bat at his chest. Young, a Devil Ray's top prospect, lost his cool last night in Pawtucket when he delayed leaving the batter's box after a called third strike. The umpire ejected him, prompting Young to flip his bat end over end and hit the umpire in the chest.

Young, 20, is the younger brother of Detroit Tigers outfielder Dmitri Young. He was voted the Tampa Bay Devil Rays' minor league player of the year last season and the 2005 minor league player of the year by Baseball America. He's also sitting on my bench in my fantasy league. I drafted this guy with a deep pick and have been waiting for him to come to the bigs and do some damage. Actions such as this, sure aren't going to get him here any quicker.

McCoy stadium, home of the Pawsox, seems to be a hotbed for flaring tempers. Remember Izzy Alcantara, the guy who drop-kicked a catcher so he could run unabated to the mound to attack a pitcher. Must be something in the water out there in Rhode Island. I'm curious to see what will become of this Young situation - a penalty will definitely be enforced - but how severe?

Thoughts?...


BLAZED in '06


Miami running back Ricky Williams was suspended for the 2006 season by the NFL on Tuesday for violating the league's substance-abuse policy for the fourth time.



PASS THE DUTCHIE
FROM THE LEFT HAND SIDE!!!!





"I'm disappointed with the decision, but I respect it," said Williams "I'm proud of my association with the National Football League and look forward to returning to the Dolphins in 2007."

"...in the meantime, I'm going to go on tour with Lenny Kravitz and get wicked stoned!"

Okay, so I'm kidding about that last part - kind of. Bottom line, this guy just loves the cheeba. All of Williams' previous positive tests were for marijuana, which he acknowledges using. The latest test apparently involved a different drug. C'mon Ricky, didn't mama always tell you that weed was a gateway drug - haven't you seen the public access commercials - JUST SAY NO MAN!

The 1998 Heisman Trophy winner at Texas and 2002 NFL rushing champion, Williams retired and sat out the 2004 season to "explore himself and the world." Meanwhile, the Dolphins have no clue what to do about their lack of talent at RB and it looks like the team will be high and dry again this season.

My advice: Pick one Ricky - football or the sticky green? You can rip 40-yard runs or you can rip the bong, but you can't do both. Anyway, that's enough for today. Anyone else got the munchies? - I'm gonna go get some cheetos, man!!


Red Sox vs. Indians



Curt Schilling (4-0) and the Boston Red Sox take on Cleveland over at Jacob's Field tonight. Schill is going for his fifth win in as many games while the Sox try to club the tribe in a three game set.

Can I make something clear? If I hear one more person suggest that Papelbon should be moved into the starting rotation I am going to drive my car into a bridge abutment - I swear. At this point in the season I don't even think Foulke would make a case for himself to be the closer. Papelbon has been perfect at the back of the bullpen. He's got his wild-thing Rick Vaughn haircut, he's throwing gas and he's in his element. Why disrupt that? Sure, I would like to see him in the rotation so we can get 200 quality innings out of him instead of 70 - NEXT YEAR! Then, we'll have Craig Hansen (Pawtucket) and Foulke to setup/close games and Papelbon can get into our starting five. Until then, let's leave well enough alone - "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Solidifying your bullpen and having the ability to win close games in April is much more important than having a new #5 starter. Besides, if a $120 million franchise can't go out and get a #5 starter to throw into the mix during some point in the year - the wrong people are in the front office.


Bob Cousy



I’ve spent a lot of time on the golf course. I’ve been playing, no doubt, but I have also notched many rounds under my belt as a caddie. From the time I was twelve years old through college graduation - I spent all of my summers frying under the hot sun trying to make a buck.

There is a private course in my hometown of luxurious Worcester, MA that truly does stand out as a premier Donald Ross design. Due to its exclusive nature, there are a few notable names and “big wigs” that are members and frequent the course on a day-today basis. One of these members is the legendary Bob Cousy.

Enough background, here’s the real story. After a decade of dedicated service to this club, word began to spread throughout the membership that my last day was just around the corner. I had finished college and needed to get a “real job” in order to start my career and pay the bills. Hearing that my last day was near, Cousy took the time to ask my boss exactly when it was and began to plan a little surprise for me. He knew I was a sports fanatic – simply by the daily conversations I used to have with him about the NBA. So, on my final day of work, Cousy came strolling down “the path” with a basketball under his arm. He then nonchalantly challenged me to a game of horse in the nearby basketball court.

I repeat, Bob Cousy, the man who revolutionized the game of basketball, CHALLENGED ME TO A GAME OF H-O-R-S-E.

I was obviously thrilled. “The Cous” and I shot around for about ten minutes, talking hoops and warming up. When the game began, he didn’t miss a shot – no lie. I got smoked: H-O-R-S-E to perfection. I was 21 at the time, and I got handled by a seventy-five year old man. When it was all said and done, he autographed the ball we had used with a nice message and thanked me for all of my hard work over the years.

Needless to say – it was a better tip than any 5 spot I was ever slipped.


Braves vs. Nationals



Sunday Night Baseball Game of the Week! Isn't it nice to just sit back and relax at the end of your weekend and watch some professional stickball? Atlanta was taking on Washington last night (a decent contest) when something happened...something that always happens in these type of feature games and it pisses me off. In the fifth inning, ESPN goes to their mid-game interview with the managers. I don't see the point of this and it must irritate the managers themselves to no end. They interviewed Frank Robinson, who manages the Nationals and is the only person in history to hit 500 HRs and manage teams for 1000 wins. (586 HRs and 1001 wins to be exact)

Here comes the mind blowing question from our announcers in the booth:

So Frank, did you ever think you would become the first person to hit 500+ homeruns and manage teams for over 1000 victories?

C'mon...what is the guy supposed to say - yes, I absolutely always knew that I would accomplish such an amazing feat!! Please, these mid-game interviews are horrendous. They provide no real insight into the game and distract managers from doing their jobs. Let's leave all of the intellectual questions for after the game and just play ball!


NFL Draft


Spring is supposed be a chance to turn everything around. The weather is nicer, the air is crisp and flowers are beginning to bloom. For the NFL teams that struggled the most in the fall, spring is supposed to be filled with promise as well. A horrible 2005 season means a terrific pick in the 2006 draft - which is just days away.

A top three pick in the draft can cure a lot of ills, reset a team’s course, have an impact for a dozen years or more. The stat guys have more information on some of these players than anyone could have thought humanly possibly. College players entering the draft have had their personalities analyzed, their drills watched and all of their sprints timed again and again. Scouts want to be certain they have every piece of the puzzle before inking a rookie to a huge contract. But, as NFL personnel executives constantly remind the media and fans, drafting is an inexact science.

This article sums it up great...

"Right up there with Newton's Law, Pythagoras' Theorem and Beethoven's Fifth comes this sports principle: The louder someone talks about the NFL Draft, the less they understand it."

Looking back 20 years, the top three picks have included at least one certifiable bust in 15 out of 17 drafts since 1986. (I'm looking at you Ryan Leaf!) Some players have had hard luck with injuries while others simply have work ethic issues. Although you can never be 100% sure that your new guy will be the next big thing, it’s fair to expect a top-three pick to be a permanent fixture in the lineup and the league, anchoring a position and garnering Pro Bowl invitations.


Swoosh!



It's no secret that Ray Allen can shoot the rock. When he steps behind the arc he drops 3's like a bad habit. In the final game of the season against the Denver nuggets, Allen dropped seven 3-pointers, setting a new NBA season record with 269 shots from downtown.

The six-time All-Star shooting guard erased Dennis Scott's 3-point mark of 267 set in the 1995-96 season for the Orlando Magic.

Did You Know?
The NBA introduced the Three-Point Shootout competition during the 1986 All-Star Weekend and for the first two years of the competition, it was no contest. By winning the first two years, Larry Bird proved himself to be the best long-distance shooter in the league. Out to three-peat(no pun intended), Bird asked before the contest: "Who's finishing second?" But Bird faced considerable competition from Seattle's Dale Ellis, who established a final-round score of 15. Needing to hit his last three-pointer to win, Bird let fly the money ball. With the ball halfway to the hoop, Bird raised his index finger, turned and walked away - still the king.


Closing the Door



After yesterday’s game Jonathan Papelbon is 7 for 7 in save opportunities. Fans have gotten a nice surprise from the kid as he transitioned from starter to closer because of the uncertainties of Keith Foulke. Red Sox analysts are saying that not since Roger Clemens came through the Boston Red Sox farm system have they seen a pure fastball pitcher like this. And his confidence, he acts like he's been playing for 10 years.

”Whenever Tito gives me the ball, I just go out there and throw my heart out.”

He sure does, throwing nothing but filthy cheese. Presently, he’s an absolute rock out of the bullpen. But let’s not forget to keep in mind the big picture - someday he'll start. The Sox envisioned him as one of their seven potential starters during the off-season. Now, of course, there are only four of those starters because Bronson Arroyo was traded, David Wells is on the disabled list, and Papelbon is too valuable to be released from bullpen duty - for now.

One more quick note: Adam Stern made an unbelievable catch last night to save the game for Papelbon. All I hear on the radio today is that Stern never should have went for that ball because if it gets by him the game will be tied. PLEASE…outfield is a very instinctive position. I understand the Sox were positioned to protect against a double to keep the runner on first from scoring. That being said, when Stern made a break for that ball it was obviously because his instincts told him he had a pretty good chance of making the catch. Let’s not overanalyze this play – Stern took a little bit of a gamble and it paid off big for the Sox – ‘nuff said.


Joke of the Day



The Golf Confessional

A man walks into a confessional and says, "Forgive me Father for I have sinned..."
The priest replies, "What is it that brings you here?"
"Well father, I used the F-word over the weekend."
"Oh is that all? Say five Hail Mary's and may the Lord be with you."
The man replies, "but I really need to talk about it."
"Let's have it then," the priest says as he leans back on the hard wooden bench.
"You see Father, I was playing golf this weekend and on the first tee, I was lining up my drive and proceeded to hit a horrendous slice into the trees."
"And that's when you cursed aloud?" the Father queried.
"No, not yet. As luck would have it, I found my ball and had a clear shot to the green from a nice lie; when all of a sudden, a squirrel scampered out of some bushes, picked up my ball by its teeth and darted up a tree."
"That must have been when you cursed, right?"
"No, because just as the squirrel had climbed to the top of the tree, a bird swooped out of the skies and grabbed the squirrel with its talons. The bird flew out the trees and back out over the green. Then, the squirrel dropped my ball from its mouth landing 5 inches from the cup!"
"And that's when you cursed aloud," the priest said assuredly.
"No, no.." The Father interjected, "Don't tell me you missed the f-ing putt!"


Clutch



Bottom of the ninth, two outs, one man on and your team is down by a run...

It's the scenario that is played out by kids in their backyards all over the world. It's also the scenario that played out yesterday in Fenway Park - Boston's proverbial backyard. The city was overflowing with excitement. Between a close Sox game and the 110th running of the Boston Marathon, the city had plenty to celebrate.

Mr. Clutch, David Ortiz, had already homered twice in the game and was waiting in the on-deck circle with everyone asking - "Could he possibly do it again?" As it turned out, he would never get the chance. With two out in the bottom of the ninth, Mark Loretta jacked a two-run bomb to win the game and spark the first home plate jumping fiasco of the 2006 campaign.

Fenway erupted, bars erupted, the city erupted. This was the type of game that gets a team rolling on a hot streak. The victory will simply go down as another notch in the win column in the record books - but to be in Boston yesterday, it was much more than 'just another game.'


Baseball Heaven



Ask any baseball fan about his or her favorite experiences and sure to rank high on the list is a visit to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. For me as a fan - the Hall of Fame has provided much satisfaction and enjoyment over the years.

The 100th anniversary of baseball was celebrated in 1939. Four years earlier, plans got underway to mark the baseball centennial with festivities in Cooperstown, the alleged location of baseball's birth. The main idea of the celebration was the establishment of a permanent Hall of Fame to honor the game's giants. The baseball graceland is located today where it was 63 years ago, on Main Street in the heart of Cooperstown. Next to the town's single streetlight, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is one of the country's major tourist destinations. It also has bragging rights as the best-known sports shrine in the world.

Also, Cooperstown touts Doubleday Field, the oldest baseball diamond in America. I can remember being a kid and running the bases at Doubleday Field - sliding into home avoiding the fake tag my dad was applying at the dish.

Cooperstown is a place every baseball fan should visit at least once in their lifetime. If you have never been there - GO! The little town is a marvel.


Trick Plays


Ah yes, the facet of sport which gets very little attention and is usually regarded as useless, unless you can actually pull it off. If you do, prepare to be hailed as a genius and peppered by reporters after the game. That's right, I'm talking about a little thing called the trick play. From the fumblerooski to the hook and ladder to the hidden ball trick, trick plays are designed to catch your opponent off-guard because of its level of ridiculosity. My personal favorite: The Barking Dog Trick.

We've all seen the highlight from that high school basketball game on Sportcenter. This kid was on the right baseline and suddenly he bolted for the door, ran through the lobby and came back into the gym through the door on the left baseline. Last second of the game, the kid drops down on all fours and starts barking like a dog. Opponents can't help but watch, and the dogboy's teammates take advantage of their disinterest to score the winning basket.


It's pure genius.




I always felt bad for the kid who had to bark - if your coach tells you to assume a canine position at a pivotal point in a game, that's pretty much an indication that you are the anti-clutch player. (Much like Mr. March - Arod. Oooh, nice Yankee jab there)

Keep your eyes peeled on 'D'...you never know what's coming.


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