Tuesday, July 26, 2005

One Week Later...

I've been out a week, and in that time the Red Sox split a four-game series with the White Sox and are currently down a game to the new power in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Yep, that's right, the Devil Rays swept the O's and beat the Sox in 10 innings Monday night. Anyway, despite by absence, I've kept track of a bunch of stuff I wanted to talk about in the last seven days, but obviously didn't (until now).

... During last Thursday's opening game against the White Sox, MLB Extra Innings cruelly forced me to watch the Chicago feed. Which means I was treated to the likes of Ken Harrelson and Darrin Jackson. Now I remember Ken Harrelson from back in the day -- his nickname was Hawk and he worked with Wimpy. Apparently Wimpy didn't make the switch from WGN to Comcast because now Jackson is Harrelson's yes-man. And I might suggest that Harrelson change his nickname to Wimpy since he did a lot more crying during the game than whatever it is that Hawks do.

And don't get me wrong, I'm all for hometown announcers, but if it's not my hometown, I shouldn't be forced to listen to it. It's one thing, as the play-by-play guy, to passively pull for your team; it's something completely different to say things like, "Get foul!" on a ball down the line hit by a Red Sox player that may lead to a run scoring. (Of course, I was watching part of the Pirates - Rockies game and I actually heard a Colorado commentator say on a ground ball hit back to a Pirates pitcher, "Throw it away!", so I guess it could be worse.) Not only that, but Wimpy Harrelson had a very annoying habit of saying "He gone!" on the occasion that Boston players struck out, and he and Jackson would do a little cheer every time the White Sox hit a jack.

I know, I know. What about Myron Cope, isn't he, ahem, the ultimate homer? Yep. But I'm not forced to listen to him (because instead I'm forced to listen to the network idiots, but that's a different story). And don't get me wrong, I'm sure White Sox fans love Harrelson; the only problem is that I'm not a White Sox fan, and would prefer instead to listen to, uh, Red Sox commentators.

Still, the funniest thing to come out of game 1 of the White Sox series was how the game ended. In the top of the ninth, Harrelson and Jackson were happy in the fact that it looked like Chicago would win, and both were very talkative as Boston looked like they were done for the night. And then Manny hit a very routine foul ball to third base which 3B Crede promptly dropped. The next sentence out of Jackson's mouth was something like: "Well, Crede should've made that play, and you can't give guys like Ramirez extra chances to hurt you, so let's hope this doesn't come back to haunt the Whi..."

Before he could finish his thought, Manny but the very next pitch in the left field bleachers. It couldn't have been quieter in that booth if they had unplugged their microphones. It was like Harrelson and Jackson were the victims of a 2-by-4 to the gut Houdini style and they were both currently doubled over trying not to throw up. When Harrelson finally did speak, it was in that voice you expect to hear at your pet's backyard funeral (solemn, but kind of ridiculous given the circumstances).

Given that the Red Sox won, it was a funny experience. Still, if I have a choice, I'd prefer to listen to Remy and Orsillo.

... The great thing about the trading deadline is that whatever you read in the papers -- at least as far as speculation goes -- usually never materializes. Still, there was some mention last week that the Sox might send Mueller and Millar to the Twins for Joe Mays and J.C. Romero, and then turn around and send Mays and Bronson to the Marlins for A.J. Burnett. First of all, since I only watch the Sox and whoever they might be playing, I really don't know much about Mays, Romero and Burnett other than what I read. That said, I'm not crazy about sending Mueller anywhere primarily because he's a very good third baseman and he's having a solid (although quiet) season at the plate. Of course I got to thinking about getting rid of Millar, and after a few seconds I concluded that Mueller might have to be collateral damage in this scenario if it means getting rid of the chubby guy masquerading as a first baseman.

[Quick aside: After my freshman year of high school I attended baseball camp at Clemson University primarily because I got to hang out with my buddies for a week away from home and also because I got to play some baseball. Anyway, I'm sure I struck out a lot and made some untimely errors during the week, but the one thing that sticks out from that camp is that one of the assistant coaches from Clemson made the following observation about a friend of mine after watching him hit a lot of ground balls to the opposite field during batting practice (and who also was, shall we say, Millar-esque in body type): "Uh, yeah. We don't need 230 lbs. singles hitters."]

The point of this long-winded stroll down memory lane is that's exactly what the Red Sox have. The only difference is that Millar hasn't been 230 lbs. since probably his freshman year of high school. And anyone who argues that Millar is hitting in the .270s and Olerud is currently hitting in the .260s should be made to listen Ken Harrelson for the remainder of the season. Millar has four home runs. Four. As in one more than two three (I wonder why no one takes me seriously) and one less than five. And lest you think he's been spending more time working on, you know, actually catching and throwing the ball, let me disabuse you of that notion too. As far as Olerud goes, the fact that he's hitting lower than Millar doesn't change the fact that he's a better hitter. In fact, he's been hitting the ball pretty hard during his brief, late-inning appearances, but he's been a little unlucky.

You know, like when a base runner is too slow to get out of the way of a ground ball and actually gets nailed by it. Yeah, that's what happened to Trot during Monday night's game and it probably cost the Sox a chance to win the game. Now how in the hell you get hit by a ball while standing 120 feet from home plate, and when the ball is bouncing -- not a line drive -- is hard to fathom. Of course Trot has made a regular practice of doing goofy stuff on the base paths. A few weeks ago he got picked off second base with the bases loaded and the Sox went on to lose that game against the Orioles. He's also been thrown out at home plate on a couple of occasions this season, but when Dale Sveum is the third base "coach," it's hard to blame Nixon; in fact, you're really at the mercy of whatever the little voices inside Sveum's head are telling him to do.

... Finally, here's what I think is really funny about Jason Giambi having his little renaissance. First, let me say that I don't think he's back on the juice. Second, since he's no longer using, doesn't this mean that he was actually a legit power hitter before he let Canseco shoot him up at the Oakland Shoney's. Couldn't he have saved himself a lot of headaches by not ever using steroids, since it seems like he can still hit home runs with some regularity? Just asking. (Although, after seeing the Sammy Sosa-light -- who's rapid weight loss I can only assume is because he's currently on the South Beach Diet -- might be well advised to go back on the juice, because in his current state, he sucks. Real bad.)