Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Eastern Motors

I watched just enough of the Red Sox game last night to wish I hadn't. They're in Oakland for a three game series with all the games starting at 10pm EST. That means I'll only make it through four or five innings and run the risk of falling asleep with images of Bellhorn striking out or Johnny Damon doing a face plant into the centerfield wall as the A's rack up the score.

Last night started out innocently enough. Bellhorn got a big 2-out hit that scored two runs and Bronson Arroyo was on the mound. Things were rolling along well enough until the 4th when the Sox loaded the bases with none out. First up: Mark Bellhorn. The season's only a quarter of the way through, but I've already resigned myself to expect the worse in any Bellhorn situation, and then feign surprise when things work out. Whether it be an at-bat or a play in the field, I'm pretty sure he'll either strike out or misplay a ground ball. Last night in the 4th inning with the bases loaded and no outs, it was the former.

Next up, Johhny Damon. Four pitches later, he struck out too.

Bring on Edgar Renteria, who's angling for the all-time single season record of most weak ground outs to third base. Honestly, I've never seen one guy ground out more often to third base with absolutely no chance of the ball sneaking through the infield. Of course in this at-bat he hit a line drive to center, so it was a moral victory despite the fact that the Red Sox left the bases loaded. I will say this for Edgar: he seems pretty frustrated with his struggles at the plate (The camera usually doesn't show his face when he misplays his requisite one ground ball per series, but I assume he's frustrated then as well), and if it's any consolation, it's pretty frustrating to watch.

This was all a prelude to the bottom of the fifth, when in the span of a minute and a half, the A's scored four runs on enough hard hit balls to make it look like it was snowing. I decided it was probably time to call it a night (the Sox ended up losing 6-4). And look, I know I sound a bit sardonic as I recount the game, but in all honesty -- at least through the 4.5 innings I watched -- the Red Sox were the victim of good A's pitching and good A's hitting. It's really hard to fault Arroyo for giving up four runs when the guy hasn't lost a game since last August. But hey, I've got to talk about something.

Which reminds me, I was pleasantly surprised to see Tito give Millar the night off and start Youkilis at first base. I've never seen him at the position, but I'd wager he's a better fielder than Millar. The thing is, Millar's fielding -- actually catching the ball -- hasn't been that bad this season. It's is inability to throw the ball 90 feet that's been atrocious -- well that and the fact that he sometimes makes the worst on-field decisions of anyone not named Kyle Boller or Heath Shuler.

But hey, it's early, so there's plenty of time to work all this stuff out. Of course the Orioles are still in first place and the Yankees and reeled off nine in a row. But other than that, there's nothing to get too worked up about.

I like Guy Junker. He's a radio/TV guy in Pittsburgh and also writes for the Tribune Review. But his comment in yesterday's paper about the whole Roethlisberger-not-wearing-a-helmet-gate borders on the insane:
"As Steelers fans continue to debate quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's choice of transportation, here's a statistic to ponder. Motorcycle deaths in Pennsylvania dropped in the first year of the revised helmet law. In 2003 when helmets were required until the law was changed in September, there were 171 motorcycle fatalities in the Commonwealth. In 2004 with helmets optional, 146 motorcyclists were killed."
Junker certainly doesn't advocate not wearing a helmet when riding a motorcycle, but the fact that he encourages Steelers fans "to ponder" that fewer people were killed when the law was changed is ridiculous. I don't know anything about motorcycles, motorcycle helmets or leather chaps, but I'm pretty sure that not wearing a helmet while riding at 60 mph doesn't reduce the number of motorcycle accidents resulting in death.

Using that line of thinking, maybe we can try it out in the NFL too. I mean seriously, if players don't really need helmets, teams can save money on equipment and address other needs (like more trainers with experience in head-related injuries). Dopey.

Finally, yesterday I got this comment concerning the Redskins after I had this post about the Redskins:
So, after all that Redskins' analysis...what's your pick on their record this coming season? Sounds to me like you have them going under .500? true/false?
I'm going to have to pull a Michael Wilbon on this one and say that it's May, there's NBA playoffs going on, and I'm not talking about the Redskins. Actually, I don't really care about the NBA playoffs, but I care less about the Redskins, so that's the real reason why I have no thoughts on their record.

But since I love making predictions, I'll make an exception. The 2005 Washington Redskins will 16-0. Or 0-16. Actually I'm not sure, but I know there's a 16 in there somewhere. Honestly, I don't give a lot of thought to the Redskins, other than the morbid curiosity that goes along with watching the slow-motion train wreck that doubles as the front office. Well that, and those Eastern Motors commercials they show in the DC area with a lot of Redskins players doing goofy stuff.