Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Be Like Barry

The CHB returns today from a long hiatus, sticks his finger in the air and sees the wind blowing against Barry Bonds. Not surprisingly, the new No. 2 all-time homerun hitter becomes Dan's immediate target.

But first, The CHB has the gall to complain about having to follow the Hall of Fame voting rules (ironic, isn't it?), whining about how difficult it is to navigate the Hall's character clause: "Baseball writers making judgments about a ballplayer's character? Pretty absurd, no? It's never been a comfortable place for this 30-year member of the association."

Ha! Thirty-plus years of snide remarks say otherwise. Do we really need to remind Dan of this?

He critizes baseball for not outlawing steroids ("And what about the fact that baseball did not legislate against most of the stuff during the times Bonds appeared to be juicing?"), apparently and conveniently forgetting that steroid use without a prescription is a violation of federal law.

Then there's some nifty tightrope dancing. Dan is certain of Barry's guilt, saying, "I'm still hoping Barry retires, or confesses and asks our forgiveness." And he's sure of Mark McGwire's too: "McGwire clammed up because he knew he was dirty and he didn't want to face a perjury charge down the road." But while Bonds is a "plague" for which we "hold our noses" (to mix a metaphor), McGwire is simply guilty, and still possibly Hall worthy.

Possibly, because Dan won't say which way he is leaning: "Will I vote for McGwire? Not telling."

To clarify: He'll blare to the world that he's voting for Jim Rice, a lesser candidate if ever there were one. And through the years he has doubtlessly voted for dozens of players who used cocaine, greenies and other such substances. But when it comes to a truly controversial choice, The Bravest Columnist Joe Sullivan Has Ever Known(TM) clams up. Just like McGwire. And just like Barry.

Friday, May 26, 2006

On Vacation

Sorry for the long delay in posting...have been on vacation for 10 days (it's hard to believe myself). Will be back with posts on Sunday.

--The Chief

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bonds and Gagging

Each Sunday the Globe poses a question to its sports department. More often than not, it provides yet more evidence for the maxim that The CHB should be seen and not heard. Today's query: Do you care about Barry Bonds's pursuit of Ruth?

"No," says the lead Globe sports columnist. This despite having previously said "I root for the story," and having in multiple previous columns raved about Bonds, as he did on on Oct. 18, 2002 ("Why does America hate Barry Bonds so much? Is it because he's too good?"). So either The CHB has a short memory, or he's lying.

He adds that "The best opinions on this would be those from the likes of Willie Mays, Frank Robinson, and Hank Aaron -- the guys who did it on the level."

Well, that we have. On Costas Now (May 5, 2006), Costas asked Mays about Bonds' alleged steroid use. Mays replied (attention, Danny Boy):
What you're saying, until it's proven that this is what happened, you got to give the benefit of the doubt. I never asked him [meaning Barry Bonds], I don't think I will. I may not get the right answer.
He added that
When Mark McGwire was hittin' home runs out of every ballpark, when Sammy was hittin' home runs out of every ballpark, I didn't hear this.
It's called the Internet, Dan. Try using it.

Ironically, while Dan claims "It's obvious that Bonds used performance enhancers," in the same piece senior assistant sports editor Gregory Lee points out it's likely that Robinson, Mays, Aaron et al did too:
Yes, amphetamines are a stimulant, but they got many players through the season and helped them pad their stats. If it were not for the stimulants, a player would perhaps play 135 games instead of 150 games.
Note to Dan: Read Ball Four and The Long Season. Both recount rampant use of "greenies." I expect the book reports by noon Friday.

Even better, read this piece on the use of amphetamines in baseball from Will Carroll of Baseball Prospectus, which notes that some claim as one source none other than Shaughnessy idol Ted Williams:
Pilots and other servicemen were given the drugs to keep them alert during marathon sessions, and they brought the usage back to the game after the war ended. Some have pointed to Ted Williams as one of the initial sources, though there is no hard evidence that this is true. Williams was but one of several pilots returning from the war.
(More irony: in his column today Bob Ryan writes on a new book from the authors of Baseball Prospectus.)

In another article, Carroll notes that "There is no evidence that anyone can identify a steroid user by sight. It would certainly save time and money if this were the case. Some pictures of suspected steroid users have been taken at times when the players were said to be out of condition. Again, the only way to prove use of a banned substance is a positive test." [itals mine] So while more than 80 baseball players have tested positive, Bonds hasn't, and in the absence of such proof it would seem libelous for The CHB to declare his guilt.

I don't typically discuss other journalists in this space, but I couldn't let this pass. In response to the Bonds question, Alan Miller, the Globe's producer for new media, issued this response:
Many feel he has cheated to get where he is. But until last year, baseball did not have any rules banning steroid use. If there are no rules against it, you cannot call it cheating. So while some may feel Bonds's accomplishments may be tainted, Major League Baseball only has itself to blame for where we are today.
Excuse me, Alan, but which drugs are you on? There is a rule against it: Use or possession of steroids without a prescription is a federal offense. Per the article: "The Anabolic Steroids Control Act of 1990 places steroids in the same legal class – Schedule III -- as amphetamines, methamphetamines, opium and morphine. Simple possession of any Schedule III substance is a federal offense punishable by up to one year in prison and/or a minimum fine of $1,000." It is irrelevant, Alan, whether MLB had previously outlawed the drug.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

All Wet

The Man Upstairs was busy dumping boatloads of the Atlantic Ocean onto Fenway Park last night, but the game was played (sort of).

You recall that on May 4 The CHB bitched about the Sox waiting until after game time before calling a washout, saying that it was just the owners being greedy.

So in the wake of hours of pre-game downpour and a nasty looking forecast, the teams managed to play almost six innings of ball -- enough for it to go in the books.

Oh, and the Sox lost. Good thing they didn't call it.

A day earlier, Shaughnessy posted a head-spinning column that careened from Hideki Matsui's on-field injury in which the Yankee leftfielder suffered a broken wrist to a weird (and out of place) reference to the Patriots to a brief recap of the three-game series to Curt ("inimitable" nee "Big Shill") Schilling's depature from the game to Dan's whack-job analysis that somehow losing Matsui means the Red Sox have gained the upper hand in the rivalry this season.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

No Contract a Bad Sign? Only to Dan

Shaughnessy's report on Theo Epstein's contract status leads with this darn-near accusatory hiss: "Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is working without a signed contract."

A few grafs later, The CHB, whose relationship with Red Sox management has turned vinegar-sour, states: "Last night, Epstein and Henry insisted there was nothing newsworthy about the fact the GM has been working without a signed contract for almost four months."

"Insisted." Nice pejorative. One would almost think it's an editorial. But it's not.

Never mind that the two men to whom this matters -- John Henry and Theo himself -- both emphatically state that there is an agreement in place and that the lack of a piece of paper is irrelevant. The CHB's tone is needlessly harsh, not to mention out of place for a news story.

Let's consider another, neutral way to phrase it: "Boston Red Sox executive Theo Epstein has worked nearly four months without a formal contract, although he and tram owner John Henry agree a 'long-term commitment' is in place." Or something like that.

I'm sure no one in the history of the world has ever worked a high level position without of piece of paper signifying the terms. Only Shaughnessy could be bothered by this. Let's hope that Theo never signs.

A Man of Contra Diction

Using logic that can only be called bizarre, The CHB credits Yankee owner George Steinbrenner for their win over the Red Sox yesterday.

Even Dan seems confused. He claims last night's hero, Alex Rodriguez, was "due," just after telling us that Steinbrenner's tirade against his team -- in which he singled out A-Rod's play -- is proof that "The Boss knows how to motivate."

Yet A-Rod himself said of the criticism that, while surprising, "It doesn't really matter."

Even Joe Torre debunked the idea that King George was fired up: "He didn't say anything other than he was supporting us .... He said he didn't criticize my player."

Say A-Rod: "He can say whatever is on his mind ... but we can't lose perspective because we're playing pretty well."

From the evidence, it doesn't appear that The Boss's rant -- if it even happened -- meant squat.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Holidays in the Sun

Were Sunday and Monday holidays? Because Dan got paid for doing nothing.

Sunday's love letter to Wily Mo Pena included this half-hearted line: "What else can we tell you?" You could almost see The CHB sitting at his typewriter (PCs are a bit beyond him) thinking, "100 more words...I need 100 more words..."

The piece ended with this kiss of death: "He's destined to be big in Boston." Uh oh.

Then today he tells us the Yankees are coming to town and that the Red Sox are starting to hit.


Thursday, May 04, 2006

Water on His Brain

Perhaps The CHB slipped in the wet grass at Fenway and pulled a muscle in his brain, because he is really reaching today.

Seeking yet once again to make a mountain out of a wad of Terry Francona's chewing tobacco, he goes off on the Sox (or $ox, as he uses, apparently ignorant of the cliche) for having the gall not to call the game well in advance of the scheduled gate opening time, a move he claims was made for the sake of a few bucks.

And let's face it: None of these conditions (high cost of tickets and concessions, expensive parking, the advertising around the stadium) exist because Mother Nature decided to deposit a few million gallons of the Atlantic on top of Boston proper. This is a situation that has been brewing for years.

Conveniently, Dan forgets all that. At the season's opening he waxed on about how beautiful the renovated Fenway looked, ignoring that the bandbox in the Fens simply cannot through traditional avenues generate the revenue the team feels it needs to compete (not to mention finance the awesome debt the owners took on).

Dan is clearly trying to reinvent himself as the voice of the little man. Well, he has a little man's voice alright.

Sox owner John Henry took umbrage at the allegation. Dan quotes him as saying:
That's a cheap shot at our integrity. We're not going to make our fans suffer just to sell hot dogs. In 2002, we canceled a game at 9:30 in the morning and then the sun came out. It's very hard to predict the weather in Boston. If we knew we weren't going to play, we wouldn't have sent [Josh] Beckett down to get warm. We heard it was going to be misty. It really didn't start raining until 10 after 8.
The CHB counters by arguing that Sox management could have known what to do simply by heading to the farms:
Henry and Co. should have checked with any local dairy farmer. Take it from one who grew up in Groton, everybody knows it's going to rain when the cows are lying down in the pasture, and the cattle were definitely horizontal Tuesday.
So Dan grew up in a pasture. That explains why he's so full of shit.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

More Yankee? No Thankee

I cringed when Dan's column appeared yesterday, worried that it portended three (or four) straight overwrought pieces on the Yankees-Red Sox series this week.

Thankfully, he didn't write today (maybe there is a God), thus sparing all of us from the episodic narcolepsy his work brings on.

Yesterdays' column was his usual pre-series rundown of all the mindless stats comparing the two teams. Simply mind-numbing.

Just as predictably, he dragged out all the side stories between the teams over the past few years, plus a few that had nothing to do with the rivalry.

Pursuant to the latter, for example, he recalled "Theo Epstein's Machiavellian power play," as if Theo sat around conjuring up ways to trick John Henry into handing his the reins to the ballclub ("I bet if I quit my job, John Henry would have to make me the GM. Wouldn't that be clever? ... [A few months later] ... Oh wait, I already was the GM. Oops!") Is Shaughnessy really Geraldo Rivera with makeup and a perm?

And there was the obligatory discussion of Johnny Damon's departure: "Damon last winter became ... the latest in a century-long line of Red Sox stars who went to New York searching for fame, fortune, and a championship ring." Somehow it escapes The CHB that Damon already had all of that.

It's getting harder and harder to stick up for the guy.

Fuzzy math watch: "New York's lineup is simply spectacular (Bernie Williams batting ninth?)" Over the past two seasons (161 games, 545 at-bats) Williams is hitting a collective .246 with 13 homeruns and an OBP of .317. Yeah, he's another Babe Ruth.) On April 1 last year, The CHB called Williams "decaying," adding, "We expect poor Bernie to calcify in mid-stride sometime this season, much like Artis Gilmore in his final days." Wonder what changed?

Spoke-too-soon watch: "The Red Sox, meanwhile, appear vulnerable, never more than when Josh Bard tries to catch Tim Wakefield's knuckler, as he will tonight." Bard was traded before the game for Doug Mirabelli, who fielded the position flawlessly last night.