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Monday, August 07, 2006

Sox Slip, Landis Slides and Tiger Takes Another Step Toward History

NO RELIEF IN SIGHT
I would like to preface this article by saying I am not your typical Red Sox fan. What that means is, I don't think we've won the division when we are 3 games up in May, and I don't think we've lost all hope when we suddenly find ourselves 2 games out at the start of August. That being said, things have been better in Red Sox Nation. Forget the fact that Sunday's 7-6 come-from-ahead loss to the Rays was perhaps the worst the team has seen all season, because there are bigger problems. First we have the injuries. In the past week or so Mike Lowell, Jason Varitek, Doug Mirabelli, Tim Wakefield and Trot Nixon have gone down with some type of injury. That right there will kill a team. With Lowell out, we've missed his defense as well as his bat in key spots, and although he should return this week, who knows if he can bounce back like he has in his younger years. Trot's absence would usually be a positive thing because it would allow the Sox to get a better look at Wily Mo Pena, who has had his average in the .300's the entire season. But for once, Trot was having a career year, and so missing him now means that we lose Wily Mo off the bench. With Tek, you lose arguably the best game-caller in the league and not to mention team captain. Mirabelli may not have contributed much offensively, but I think we know how valuable he is after we went through that whole Josh Bard experiment earlier in the season. And with both of them down, the Sox were forced to deal for Javy Lopez, who while he may have a decent bat, he's such a bad in game catcher that Greg Maddux refused to pitch to him while with Atlanta. And finally Wakefield. While it looks like he should be back soon, he also hasn't been injured in a while and it's unsure how he will react to his stint on the DL. Point? All these injuries are taking a toll on not only the starters, but conversely the bench as well. Second, there is the lack of bullpen experience. I'll be the first to admit to falling in love with guys like Del Carmen, Hansen and Papelbon because of their raw ability, but the fact is they have no experience. At the same time, I don't want to see Seanez and Tavarez in their at crunch time either no matter how much experience they may have. Solution? Hopefully it's not too late to go out and acquire a bullpen arm for the stretch. I was happy to see they didn't mortgage the future for some rent-a-player at the trading deadline, but with so much minor league talent, it may have been smart to let at least one or two lower level prospects go in order to sure up the back end of the pen. Lastly, there is that pesky issue of the brutal schedule that remains. It's true that the Sox play more home games than any other team in the second half of the season, but what's also true is they play more than 35 of their remaining 53 games against teams with winning records, including 5 in 4 days with the Yankees in the next week. Not that big a deal right? Well when you consider they are sub. 500 against winning teams so far this season I think it is a rather big deal. So will these problems get the best of the Sox down the stretch, or will these challenges bring out the best in them? I'm hoping that the latter is true, but I'm a realist, not an optimist, and right now I look around the AL and see a bunch of teams peaking while my BoSox are wilting.

Red Sox Update
Last Week: 3-4
Overall: 65-45
Standings: 2 games out of 1st

Diamonds Are Forever
*It's got to be hard for Steve Phillips to sit in Bristol on the set of ESPN and watch as two players he drafted, Jose Reyes and David Wright, come into their own. At least he can take solace in the fact that the Mets were at least smart enough to lock those guys up with long term extensions this past week.

*David Freaking Ortiz is a man beast. Not only did he add to his career total of 15 walk off hits this week, he became the first Red Sox player ever to hit 40 homers in 3 straight seasons. Raise your hand if you still think A-Fraud deserved the MVP last year. Hey Lance Bass! Put your hand down!

*Taking 2 of 3 from Boston over the weekend was merely the beginning of Tampa's wrath against the BoSox. Insistent that Boston made illegal contact with former infielder Julio Lugo, Tampa has said it will put claims in on all players the Red Sox try to pass through waivers in order to have them traded to Baltimore and complete the trade for Javy Lopez. This one could get interesting so stay tuned....

*A lot of people laughed at me a few weeks back when I picked Carlos Beltran as my MVP halfway through the season. Well he who laughs last, is me. Sure he hasn't won the award yet. But you take into account that he is probably heading towards a gold glove in CF to go along with being in the top 4 in the NL in slugging, homers and RBI all for a first place team, and you got yourself a recipe for an MVP season.
Tiger Kicks Ass, Takes Names
A funny thing happened on his way to pick up his trophy at the Buick Invitational this week, Tiger Woods set yet another record and it's possible that this one is his most impressive yet. Sure he's lapped the field at US Open's and set course records at numerous shrines to golf like Augusta or Bethpage, but this one tops them all. With his victory Sunday, Tiger became the fastest player to 50 wins in the history of the PGA. Even more impressive, is that he managed these wins in only 196 tour starts, meaning he wins on average more than 1 of every 4 tournaments he enters. That's just mind blowing. Golf is a sport where normally, if you come away with 2-4 wins during a 30 event season you're thought to be having a great year. Not only does Tiger surpass 4 wins every year, he does so playing in roughly 18-22 events instead of the normal 30+. We shouldn't be amazed by anything Tiger does anymore, but that doesn't make it any less fun to watch. I was told recently by a friend that it appears that Tiger is going to come off his latest round of swing changes even more dominant than he did the first time around, when he won four straight majors on his way to the Tiger Slam. Does that mean a true Grand Slam is just around the corner? You have to believe it's possible. I mean who is going to stop him? Phil? HAHAHAHAHAHA. Please.

From Yellow Jersey to Black List
Since I hate cycling, and I no longer want to write about it, I instead came up with this haiku about Floyd Landis since he again tested positive for synthetic testosterone.....enjoy

Parents live in barn
Used drugs to win dumb bike race
Worlds biggest retard

Or, if you prefer, a limerick...

There once was a biker named Landis
They found lots of drugs in his man piss
Got stripped of his crown
And laughed at like a clown
And now he's as gone as Atlantis

Take the Money and (Get) Run
Shocking news out of Division I football. A player was receiving special treatment from a program booster! Ok, so maybe that was about as shocking as when you found out Lance Bass was gay. The fact is, everyone and their brother knows how corrupt the NCAA is. It's hard for it not to be. Huge corporations sit back and collect hundreds of millions while paying their players with "an education". Right, that sounds like a fair deal. I mean I've always been a believer in the "give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, but teach him to fish and he can eat for a lifetime" philosophy, but this is more like "teach the man to fish and then go have him catch you some fish while you pay him less than minimum wage. And when he can't catch anymore fish, cut him loose with no security blanket". All that brings us to former Oklahoma Sooner QB Rhett Bomar. Considered one of the top 3 high school QB's of a year ago, Bomar started all but one game for the Sooners last year and showed great potential both physically and as a leader. The problem? An investigation discovered that Bomar had been paid $18,000 for work at a car dealership that was run by an OU booster. That's $18,000 for work he could have earned a maximum of $2,000 for, and money for work he didn't actually do. Add all that up, and what you get is immediate dismissal from the team, and the possibility that he may never play NCAA football again (he will have to pay the money back before he can even apply for reinstatement). Was it worth it? Bomar says no, and I even give him credit for admitting he was wrong and apologizing, but I don't blame him one bit for what he did. I've always been a supporter of paying college athletes. As long as school's aren't allowed to outbid each other, they have the resources to allow their student-athletes some compensation. Start paying these guys closer to what they are worth (instead of measly stipends) and maybe this problem of corruption in college football can become a thing of the past.

Fantasy Update
Last Week: 9-8-5
Overall: 182-160-54 (28.5 games back)
Week 19 vs Coz's Coalition (156-182-58)

*Pretty much a standstill this week, and I have to admit that I am coming to the realization that I may not win this thing. Why all of a sudden you may ask? Well, my once dependable pitching staff has faltered big time of late. My bullpen has seen the demise of Derrick Turnbow, while my starters like Sabathia and Schilling can't seem to get their teams to play very well when they take the mound. But never fear, as long as it's a mathematical possibility that I can win, I will continue talking smack as if I were in first place. So on that note, I plan on taking Coz's Coaltion and his crappy sub .500 record behind the wood shed this week to start my push for 1st. Yeah I know I've claimed to have started to make moves before, but consider this the last real attempt at making a title run. It's On!

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