Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Regular visitors to Fenwaynation will all agree that I’m no baseball genius – I often have to ask someone to explain things to me and today is no exception.  This year’s Hall of Fame voting results have just been released by the venerable Internet Baseball Writers’ Association of America (of which I am privileged to hold membership) and to this Internet Baseball Writer, one result is quite surprising – Barry Bonds received almost 51% of the vote.
Pardon me? 
The Baseball Writers’ Association has a charter and that charter lists the rules for Hall of Fame selection – Rule 5 simply states: Voting shall be based upon the player’s record, playing ability, integrity, sportsmanship, character and contributions to the team(s) on which the player played. 
Winstrol notwithstanding, it can’t be denied that Bonds possessed significant playing ability and it is a fact that he amassed some impressive stats, (including the single season home run record) – and all this crowned by what should have been a most joyous occasion throughout the baseball world – the Career Home Run Record.  But this is not his legacy – nor should it be – the manner in which he attained those hallowed milestones has irreversibly damaged the game and I would expect that any right-thinking writer or analyst couldn’t help but recognize that fact.  Yet, Bonds has received a not-insignificant proportion of the IBWAA vote his first time out and this confuses me.
Take another look at Rule 5.  Right after ability, you’ll see integrity and sportsmanship. In January 2007, it was reported that Bonds had tested positive for amphetamines.  Under MLB’s weak-kneed amphetamines policy, which had only been in effect for a year, anyone testing positive would be required to submit to an additional six tests and undergo counseling. When Bonds was made aware of his test results, his immediate reaction was to blame the whole unsavory mess on a teammate – he asserted that the test results must’ve come from a substance he’d taken from the locker of his fellow Giant, Mark Sweeney.  And even though Bonds later retracted this claim and apologized to Sweeny, it speaks volumes about the man’s integrity – or lack thereof.  Incidentally, this is the same guy who withdrew his membership from the MLB Players’ Association licensing agreement, believing he could make more money elsewhere.  He is, to date, the only player to do this.
I’m sure that Bonds apologists – if they exist – would argue that cheating has existed in baseball pretty much since the Elysian Fields. And that’s true - cheating has even been tolerated to a certain extent, but as far as this writer is concerned, there can be no reasonable comparison between spitballs and sandpaper and The Cream and The Clear. 
I’ve been privileged to visit the Hall of Fame on several occasions and each time, I’ve been mightily impressed with the reverence applied to the true heroes of America’s Game.  There now exists a tenuous, yet tenacious connection between Hall-worthy achievement and the recorded feats of those who used drugs.  Enshrinement of Barry Bonds – indeed, of any player tainted by the steroid era will only serve to strengthen that nexus and weaken the prestige of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, not to mention the Game itself.  And for this baseball fan, that would be a catastrophe, made all the more tragic by being completely avoidable.  If it eventuates that Bonds does do well on the ballot, I would hope that those journalists who understand and appreciate Integrity and Sportsmanship will ask some hard, unvarnished questions of their voting colleagues.  Because, sportsfans, this is one issue that will not simply fade away.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Canyon Of Zeros

Curt Schilling On WEEI:
"Oh, let's all cheer up because A-Rod's come full circle now. He's got his ring, he's complete, blah, blah, blah, whatever. Listen, they’re used to it, and they have to accept the fact that no one outside New York is even remotely happy today. OK, the Yankees won. Move on. When does spring training start? When do we sign free agents?”

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Fans, Not Mainstream Media, Have Long Memories

The adulation showered on Nomar Garciaparra on Monday night at Fenway Park says a lot about the gulf between the Red Sox fan base and the mainstream sports media in Boston.

In stark contrast to the minute-and-a-half standing ovation given by the crowd, the grudge mavens in the local sports media were still spewing the "Moody Nomar" propaganda and insisting that his 2004 departure somehow alienated fans.

Of course, it's always been all about the media on the Red Sox beat. You know, how the players treat them; how their reputations are helped or hurt by the success or failure of the team. They are as clueless today (as they scramble to find some readership on the Internet) as they were in the days when they harassed Ted Williams.

Thank goodness Red Sox fans are not so self-absorbed. They appreciate the Hall of Fame caliber career Nomar delivered while in Boston. They recall the spectacular plays in the field, the clutch home runs, the multiple batting titles, the constant hustle. Most of all, they remember the respect he had for the game and the Red Sox uniform.

Thank you, Nomar. We remember, even if they do not.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Road Uniformity

Initially, I hated them. Actually, I hated the idea of them. The notion of changing one of the most iconic road uniforms in baseball was abhorrent to every "stick-in-the-mud" fiber of my being.

Why change the familiar red "BOSTON" script? (Bad enough that we lost the old Blue "blocky" lettering years ago) Why alter the overall simplicity of the road look? And adding a cartoonish "hanging sox" logo on the sleeve? Gag me with a fork-ball!

But then, as I followed the late night adventures of our Carmine Hose in Oakland and Anaheim and Baltimore and Cleveland, the darn things started to grow on me. Especially the "hanging sox" on the sleeve! The way it was set off from the otherwise drab look gave the uniform a colorful dash. What was happening? I still had a little problem with the blue Old English script that replaced the red letters, but not really. Geez, the lettering kinda looks good, too. Uh-Oh!

OK, OK...I'm holding out on the stupid "hanging sox" on the hat. That's going way too far. The "B" is the "B" and will always be the "B". So, I guess if they bag the hat thing, I'm on board with the new look. Now, about those lousy new Fenway Franks.....

Friday, April 10, 2009

Frankly, New Dog Is A Major Disappointment

The Red Sox New Ownership Group (NOG) kept it under wraps all Winter. The Stealth Campaign to usher in the "New Fenway Frank" was an operation worthy of Ian Fleming.

If you're going to go the secrecy route to protect an exciting new idea, it better actually be exciting. Problem is, the product is not very good. In fact, it's pretty bad.

Last Wednesday night, a team of FenwayNation food tasters made a careful sampling of four New Fenway Franks—from different concession sources. This gives our research a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 wieners (at the 95% confidence interval).

OK, let's cut to the chase. The New Fenway Frank is meatier, longer and greasier than its beloved predecessor. However, contrary to the pre-introduction warnings, the taste is not materially spicier or smokier. That is, until you get home, and the spiciness (now coagulated as extra grease) hits you like a lead box full of Hebrew Nationals.

Now, we have nothing against the KAYEM company (local makers of the new dog). In fact, we like the idea of the meat source being closer to the end venue. But, NOG, please, give us back our less meaty, shorter, and cleaner-tasting Old Fenway Frank. It flat out tasted better. Lots better. Sometimes, "filler" is better than greasy substance.

If our Wednesday night test is any indication, your dog revenue is about to take a major dive.

Friday, April 03, 2009

It's The Sox—By A Smidgen Over The Rays

The consensus among the baseball cognoscenti is that the three best teams in baseball reside in our American League East. That may be a bit of an exaggeration—but not much.

For a number of reasons, we are picking the Red Sox to narrowly capture the AL East flag by a single game over the defending American League Champion Rays. The also-rans in the $1.5 billion mausoleum in the Bronx will finish out of the post-season for the second straight year—but will only be 2 games off the pace of the Wild Card Rays.

Our reasoning: First, the Red Sox possess the deepest 1-12 pitching staff in baseball. And, if you count the 2 or 3 slots in their minor league system, they are ridiculously well-positioned with up to eight legitimate starters. This has two benefits in a long, close-fought season. They can call up any of these kids to back-fill injuries or bad performances and they can deal any of them at the trading deadline for bargain-basement "Stimulus Era" help. Second, the Red Sox offense should generate just enough "Post-Manny" run production to complement the dominant pitching. Third, what should be one of the league's best defenses will allow for a lot of 1-run victories.

On the flip side, the Rays—while a wonderfully talented blend of youth and experience—are due for enough of a swoon that they will fall short of another Division Crown. The main reason will be the inability of their bullpen to put up the sick numbers they did in 2008—it just can't happen two years in a row.

Finally, our good friends in Gotham City will suffer from a non-existent bullpen (outside of Rivera), and the weight of the A-Roid fiasco. Add to that the excessive pressure on Teixeira to perform big in New York; the brittle $85 million body of A. J. "Burn-Out" and you have a recipe for splendid disaster. They're just so last century.