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Dumb and Dumber

August 20, 2012

I am a huge Jim Carrey fan, so I was as psyched as anyone to hear that a sequel to Dumb and Dumber was in the works.  It is still questionable as to whether or not the film will actually get made, but that hasn’t stopped several professional athletes and sports franchises from auditioning this week.  Who would you cast?

1.  Jason Pierre-Paul and Steve Weatherford

Dumb: Throwing Prince Amukamara in a pool.  He’s your teammate and you could have hurt him.

Dumber: Posting the video online.  If you’re going to do something stupid, don’t leave evidence.  On top of that, it’s a huge distraction, because, instead of talking about football, we’re talking about this.

2.  Melky Cabrera and the Cover-up

Dumb: Taking a performance-enhancing drug.

Dumber: Creating a fake product and website to try to avoid suspension.

3.  The Boston Red Sox and the Washington Nationals

Dumb:   Making the Carl Crawford surgery debate public.  The decision is probably the right one, but the details should have been kept private.   If he went on the DL and it was announced that he needed surgery, fans would have accepted this.   Instead, it looks like the Red Sox are giving up.  To make matters worse, Cherington said today, “This is a long-term contract — he’s here for a long time — so we’ve got to be sure that we’re doing the right thing for him and ultimately for the team, too. This is not a short-term investment.”  To fans this reads, “This season is over and we need to start looking ahead towards next year.”  Again, Cherington is doing his job, but the Sox could have spun it better.

Dumber:  Shutting down Stephen Strasburg.  Crawford is hurt, but, by all accounts, Strasburg is healthy.  Nationals, take it from a Red Sox fan, there are no guarantees.  86 years we waited.  The city of Washington has waited 79.  Please, don’t make them wait even longer.  You have the chance to make history.  Don’t blow it.  Regardless of what happens next year or the year after that, if you sit Strasburg and don’t win the World Series, then you will always ask, “What if?”  Also, this has curse written all over it.  Don’t tempt fate or the baseball gods.  Play to win.

As Harry once said, “Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this… and totally redeem yourself!”  I’m looking forward to these guys redeeming themselves–on the field.  In the meantime, let’s hope Dumb and Dumber To (the working title) makes it to theaters someday.

Bobby V, Manager of the Year?

August 15, 2012

When the Red Sox win the World Series this year, we will look back at this day and laugh.

It’s been a rough season for the Red Sox manager.  When your boss has to come out and say that he’s not going to fire you, it’s probably a sign that things aren’t going too well at work, and, unfortunately for Bobby Valentine, the climate surrounding his struggling team doesn’t seem to be getting any better.  Thanks to the Yahoo Sports report, which claims that several Red Sox players met with owners on a few weeks ago to voice their complaints about Valentine.

This may be the most difficult day Bobby V has had to face, in a season plagued by injuries and bad press, and it will be interesting to see where the Red Sox go from here.  Chances are they will continue along their mediocre path and miss the playoffs.  The owners will then decide if they really want to stick with Valentine.

But, what happens if they turn it around?  Valentine has absorbed a lot of the blame.  It will be very interesting to see if he gets any of the credit.

Johnny Pesky dies at 92

August 13, 2012

This is a sad day for Red Sox Nation.  Beloved player, manager and mentor Johnny Pesky has died at the age of 92.

Pesky’s Poll taken on July 31, 2012

His memory will live on at Fenway.  The influence he had on the franchise and its fans will never be forgotten.

For more on Johnny Pesky, read this article on RedSox.com, the first of, I can only assume, many tributes to the Red Sox legend.

Olympic Fail

August 10, 2012

Watching the Olympics at Fenway = #OlympicAwesome

Missy Franklin on the big screen at Fenway during rain delay

NBC’s coverage of the 30th Olympiad = #OlympicFail

Here is my open letter to NBC’s Jim Bell.  I’d love to hear your comments on what you liked and didn’t like about NBC’s Olympic coverage.

Dear Mr. Jim Bell, NBC Olympics Executive Producer: 

If the US men were to fail to win the gold medal in basketball, it would not be as embarrassing as the quality of NBC’s Olympic coverage. While I applaud your utilization of apps and multiple cable channels to bring us more live action, I’m astounded and angered that the basics of sports broadcasting have been seemingly lost in the shuffle.

For example, in the women’s gymnastics all-around final, Gabby Douglas was anxiously waiting, along with the rest of the world, to see if the Russia’s Viktoria Komovacould score better than a fifteen point three-something.  I don’t remember the exact number, because the graphic was only displayed for a few seconds.  The wait was grueling, but, when the score was finally displayed in the stadium, all we saw at home were the reactions of the girls and their coaches.  Komova’s score was never shown or even mentioned by the announcers.  Adding insult to injury, this event was not aired live.  NBC had hours to get it right and they didn’t.

Graphics were another broadcasting basic that was ignored.  In swimming and track especially, it was difficult to tell what race we were watching.  How hard would it be to have a graphic displaying the race type and distance?  For instance, “200M Men’s Backstroke Final.”  Little things like this are annoying, and they detract from the viewer’s experience.

However, the most egregious error, by far, is not showing entire medal ceremonies.  It’s bad enough that we don’t get to see every ceremony, and we usually have to stay awake until 11:45pm to see any, but to only show the gold medal presentation is outrageous.  To only air the ceremonies in which the US wins gold is shameful.   The Olympics are about the world coming together not just about the United States.  When Andy Murray wins the gold at Wimbledon against Roger Federer, I want to see that ceremony.  When Usain Bolt wins gold in the 100-meters and American Justin Gatlin gets the bronze, I expect to see that ceremony.  Olympic competitions are not over when the buzzer rings or when the final scores are tailed.  They are over when the medals are handed out.  You’re failing to tell the whole story and watching the ceremonies later online doesn’t count. 

Also, when I was a kid, heck, even now, I dream about standing on the podium, having a gold medal draped around my neck, and then bravely fighting back tears as the National Anthem plays.  How are today’s kids going to dream about this moment if they never get to see it?

In Sochi, please try to do better.  The US Olympians, the Olympians of the world, their fans and your viewers deserve better.   

Sincerely,

Hollie Mendillo

Nice Things to Say

July 27, 2012

Red Sox Nation, this last stretch of games has left me at a loss for words.  Hopefully, I’ll think of something.  If I do, I can’t guarantee it will be nice.

Questions to Consider

July 16, 2012

Was yesterday’s game against the Rays a must win for the Red Sox?

Yes.  Some people may think I’m crazy for saying that game 89 was a “must win,” but it was, because it was imperative for the Red Sox to start the second half of the season on a high note.  It set the tone and will hopefully help us build momentum. It’s all about momentum.  Mark my words; if we do make the playoffs, we could very well look back on this game and say, “that is where they turned the corner.”

If the Red Sox make the playoffs, will it be as a wildcard or as the division winner?

I don’t care.  Let’s just make the playoffs.  Of course, with the addition of the second wildcard, winning the division has become much more important, but beggars can’t be choosers (this should be our slogan for the season).  We will take what we can get.  Once you’re in, anything can happen, just ask the Giants (my NY Football Giants, that is, or the Packers from 2010).  Plus, if we do make the playoffs, that means the pitching must have gotten better, and, if that is the case, then I’d like our chances in a one game playoff.

Why can’t we pitch in the 1st inning?

Who knows! I’m not a pitching coach, so I am not qualified to answer this question. However, our pitching coach and manager, who are qualified, don’t seem to have an answer or the right answer, so I’ll venture a guess. It’s mental. These guys are professionals. They didn’t get called up yesterday. They know what they need to do in order to prepare for a game. It’s in their heads. Everyday they face the same question, “What’s the problem in the 1st inning?” That right there is the problem. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy and we need to shake it. Probably the best way to do that is to stop talking about it. So moving right along…

Who should start in left: Crawford or Nava?

It’s the 142 Million Dollar Question.  Again, I may be crazy, but I think we should stick with Nava.  He’s earned the right to play in the big leagues with this club.

I do admire Carl for putting the team first, but I think his plan is going to back fire.  He wants to be the hero and prove that he is “worth” the money, but the risk doesn’t outweigh the reward.  If Carl doesn’t play well, which seems more than likely given what we know about his injuries, then he will only end up reinforcing the argument that he’s overrated.  Even worse, he could hurt himself further and affect his ability to play next season.

Getting back to Nava, his stats are better than Crawford’s (from 2011).  In clutch moments, he has come up big, for instance, he hit the go-ahead (winning) home run in yesterdays “must win.”  And, he hit a grand slam on his first at bat. I mean what does a guy have to do?

Seriously though, this isn’t about talent.  It is about money.  We wouldn’t be having this conversation if the Red Sox weren’t paying Crawford $20 million this year.  The Sox are just as anxious as Crawford is to prove that signing him to that huge contract wasn’t a huge mistake.  Benching, demoting or, worse, trading Nava would be.  Let’s not compound the mistakes, especially with our injury prone outfield.  Keep Nava at all costs.  The motivation may even help Crawford.

Should the Sox try to make some moves before the trade deadline?

Ben Cherington recently said on WEEI, “If we play to our capability with the guys we have here our hope is we don’t have to make a lot of moves.”

That’s it in a nutshell, the Red Sox, especially our starting pitchers, are not playing to their best.  On paper, this team is good, and that leaves the front office damned if they do and damned if they don’t.  There is no right answer for this team, no obvious fix for what we need with who’s out there and what we are willing to pay.  If anything big goes down, I guarantee we aren’t going to like the price (Nava, Shoppach, or even Jon Lester).  I wouldn’t rule out anything.  After all, this is the team that traded Nomar Garciaparra and Kevin Youkilis (Welcome Home Youk).

At the end of the day, there is no one trade or one player that is going to be the magic fix.  The key to making the playoffs is exactly what Cherington alluded to: our current players need to start playing to their capabilities.  If that were to happen, then there is no telling what this team could do.  With that in mind…

Will the Red Sox make the playoffs?

I may be the only person left on this planet that thinks that they have a chance and I’m wavering.  If there is anyone else, please let me know.   Email me, tweet me, anything, just let me know that you’re out there.

I was watching ESPN on Friday, I think, and I can’t remember who it was, maybe Karl Ravech and John Kruk or someone else from Baseball Tonight team, regardless of who it was and which show or network it was on, I remember the numbers: one analyst gave the Red Sox a 13% chance and the other one gave us a 10% chance of making the playoffs.  The number 13 stuck out, I think they were trying to be funny.  While it is sort of funny, it is not a lot of faith.  What do they know that we don’t, or am I in denial?  The latter is certainly possible.  However, considering that we are about to be almost 100% healthy (knock on wood), I think if the offense gets on a role, the starting pitching staff may follow suit.  Momentum breads confidence.  Another reason why winning a series, like the one against the Rays, becomes so important in the second half.

But you want a number, don’t you?  Okay, let’s say, a cautiously optimistic 51% chance that the Red Sox pull this out.  This team has talent, and I have to believe that they are slightly more likely to find it than not.  Even if they do, will it be in time?   That, Red Sox Nation, is another question for another day.

If you have questions you would like me to answer in an upcoming post, please send them via email or tweet.

Tony Romo vs. Eli Manning

July 9, 2012

The Debate: Who is the best quarterback in the NFC East?

The Candidates: Tony Romo and Eli Manning

The Stats:

Career statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com



 

For your reading pleasure, the comments made by Amani Toomer that got this all started.

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/thehuddle/post/2012/07/amani-toomer-tony-romo-eli-manning/1

http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82a616f7/article/amani-toomer-tony-romo-over-eli-manning-is-just-numbers

Bright Future

June 22, 2012

The Red Sox are no longer in last place.  Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!

They are also three games above .500 and only five and a half back of the Yankees.

The future is looking bright for the Red Sox.  The future of this team, the young guys, Middlebrooks, Nava and Kalish came through big time last night giving us a glimpse of what’s to come.  A bit of welcome relief, in the midst of a season that is going who knows where.  It has been a bumpy road, full of ups and downs, but the Red Sox have a winning streak going.  Five games in a row and it all started on Sunday night, in Chicago, in the presence of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein.

Tito was a sight for sore eyes.  As expected, he was loyal and supportive of his former team especially Pedroia.  I don’t think it was a coincidence either that Dustin had one of his better games, since the injury, with his buddy Terry in the house.

However, I was surprised at how complementary Francona was of Theo Epstein.  Of course, I expected him to be fair, but he went out of his way to praise Theo.  It got me thinking have I misjudged Theo Epstein?

It has often been said, not just by me, that we won in spite of Theo Epstein.  Yet, he is the one that drafted Middlebrooks, Nava and Kalish.  On the other hand, he signed Crawford, Lackey and Dice-K.  Still, he got us Big Papi.  Interesting, I thought, how does it all add up?

I needed a more empirical approach so I created a report card, of sorts, grading Theo Epstein on his most significant acquisitions and trades.  Let’s see how he did.

It’s no surprise that Carl Crawford and John Lackey did not get him the best marks, where his work to sign David Ortiz and Curt Schilling earned him A’s.

The tipping point is the farm system.  The headlining trades and the multi-million dollar contracts get all the attention, but they can also distract from what really builds a good team and that’s homegrown talent.

What struck me the most about what Francona said was that Theo Epstein was the one who told him to believe in Dustin Pedroia.  Theo saw talent in him.  He knew, before most people, the kind of player Dustin would become and that deserves credit.   Therefore, he gets an “A+” for drafting and developing quality players, like the guys who shined last night.  Not to mention Jacoby Ellsbury and Jonathan Papelbon.  The “plus” is for believing in unlikely heroes like Dustin Pedroia (although pluses and minuses don’t technically factor into the calculation).

Add it all up and Mr. Epstein’s grade point average is a 3.14.  A “B” average not excellent but more than satisfactory.  Add in breaking the curse and the two World Championships and that number goes up astronomically.  Of course, the gorilla-suit-get-away does drop the average back down to Earth.

Based on these highly scientific calculations, I have concluded that I should be a little nicer to Theo Epstein.  As a matter of fact, all I really needed to hear was that he believed in Dustin Pedroia.

I think I’ve done some healing here.  After everything that happened last year and the poor start this year, I have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.  Fear not fans, whatever happens this season, the Red Sox have a solid system in place and that is thanks, in large part, to Theo Epstein.  The future is bright.

Plus, I’m not so sure we won’t make a run of it this season.  I’m just saying, I wouldn’t count the Red Sox out yet.  We’re in 4th place and climbing.

Last Place

June 13, 2012

When the Red Sox began interleague play with their series against the Nationals, they were above .500 and only 3 games out of first.  Then, they got swept.  To make matters worse, the Yankees swept the Mets.  The Mets were only a game back of the Nats, when interleague began, and today they’re 5 out, and we’re 6.5 behind Tampa and the Yankees.  It’s amazing to see how 6 games can have such an impact on two divisions, in two different leagues.

What’s even more astonishing, and certainly more terrifying, is that we are only four weeks away from the All Star Game, and, while the Yankees and the Rays have each found their way back to the top of the division, the Red Sox are still at the bottom.  Last place.  At this time last year, even with the horrendous start, we were in first place.  This year, we can’t seem to get in a groove.   The team is frustrated, but instead of airing that frustration out on the baseball, they’re arguing balls and strikes.  Whining is going to get us nowhere.   If we keep going like this, we might not have to worry about another collapse.  We may be too far down in the standings to fall.

What a Weekend!

June 8, 2012

Interleague baseball is back.  Cue the foreboding music.  Actually, hold off on that for a minute.  It’s no secret that I’m not Interleague’s biggest fan, but that is mostly because of how it’s implemented.   The games themselves are usually fun.  I promise, I won’t bore you with another story of watching Manny and the Dodgers at Fenway.

However, speaking of the Dodgers, a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to check out our competition first hand.  I was hanging out one Saturday morning watching Friday’s episode of Intentional Talk on the DVR, and they mention that Bryce Harper is going to be making his MLB debut against the Dodgers on Saturday.  I say to myself, “That’s today.”  I look up the game, it’s at home and Strasburg is pitching.  I call out to Joe in the next room and say, “Hey, do you want to go to the Dodger game today?”  Ten minutes later, we’re printing out our tickets.

A few hours later, we’re sitting in our seats taking in the view.

View from our seats at Dodger Stadium

Interesting side note, Dodger Stadium is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year.  An impressive accomplishment, which is not getting a lot of attention, perhaps it’s being overshadowed by Fenway turning 100.  Regardless, since I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it out to Fenway this season, I figure, at least I can say I was at Dodger Stadium in its 50th year.  That’s half as good, right?

Seriously though, it really is a beautiful place.  If you haven’t been to a Dodger game, I suggest you put it on your list.  Even if you don’t like baseball, you cannot beat the view.  There is nothing quite like sunset at Chavez Ravine.  Here is photographic proof.

Isn’t that pretty

Back to the reason why we went to the game in the first place, to see these two guys.

Harper on deck

Bryce Harper’s first Major League at Bat 

Strasburg on the mound facing Andre Ethier

I watched Strasburg’s first major league game on TV and he was incredible.  He was equally impressive in person.  It will be interesting to see how he fares against our lineup.  Would it be too much to ask to have Papi take him deep?  Strasburg will also get a start or two, maybe even three, if the Nationals want to get creative with off days, against our AL East brethren.  It goes without saying we’ll be rooting for Stephen on those occasions.

Harper also shined that night getting his first major league hit and RBI.  I’m sure he will be able to scatter a hit or two against us, but I’m more interested to see how he manages Fenway’s outfield.  I’m hoping they’ll put him in left, and we’ll get to see how the kid handles the wall.

The flashbulbs will certainly be popping tonight, but, what we can’t afford to lose sight of, in all the excitement of Interleague play, is that the Sox are within striking distance.  We’re one game above .500 and only 3 games out of first.

We also have Dice-K returning on Saturday.  Okay, now you can hit the music.  Da da da duh.  Da da da duhhhhh.  Don’t get me wrong Dice, I’ll be rooting for you, but I don’t see any reason to think positively.  In my opinion, the second Bard’s confidence is back, he’ll be back.   Feel free to prove me wrong.  The best thing that could happen to the Red Sox right now would be to have too many solid starting pitchers.  That is a problem that we would gladly welcome.

Also, if Matsuzaka can pitch even remotely well, he may be able to prevent the seemingly inevitable trade of Kevin Youkilis.  Even I must admit that this might be the best and only option for the Sox as the trade deadline approaches, but, you know what, I don’t want to think about that right now.  Instead, let’s focus simply on what should be a great weekend of baseball, not to mention, a great weekend in sports.

In addition to Sox vs. Nats, we’ve got the Celtics in Game 7 against the Heat.  Who knew he had it in him?  What a performance last night from LeBron James in a must win situation, not just for his team, but also for himself.  He single handedly staved off elimination and humiliation.  The Celtics certainly won’t be able to bank on the Heat choking.  They are going to have to step up their game, and, with their backs against the wall, I think the will.  Win or lose, it should, at least, be more exciting than last night’s drubbing.

Also, we have the Kings one win away from hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time.  With the Bruins out and me not being a huge hockey fan to begin with, I’m pretty excited to jump on the Kings bandwagon.  They haven’t lost on the road yet in these playoffs, and all the pressure is back on the Devils to keep this going.  Red Sox fans don’t fear the Devils are not going to pull off a down 0-3 comeback.  The Kings are going to wrap this up in Jersey.

Assuming the Kings do eventually win and the city survives the ensuing riot, I’ll be back next week to discuss everything from this weekend.  Maybe I’ll throw in a little about The French Open or the Belmont Stakes.  Unfortunately, the bid for the Triple Crown is no more, it’s a shame, but that might have just been too much to ask for, too much excitement for a weekend that is bursting with it already.

Just in case you’re keeping track, here are where my loyalties lie for this weekend.

Go Celtics!

Go Kings Go!

Go Sharapova!  (She’s looking to complete her career Grand Slam.)

And, of course, Go Sox!

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