Thursday, July 21, 2011

Smokin' Ells & The Sports Talk Shuffle...

Hmmm, let's see.  The Sox are in 1st place and streaking towards the deadline, there's a full on sports radio war going on in Boston, and the world's biggest poker tournament has finally whittled it's way down to the final nine.  Oh, and a sport called "football" appears to be back in the picture.  Yeah, I'd say that's enough fuel for this fire.  And if it's not, I'm sure I'll think of somethin'.  Maybe I'll just rip The Social Network again.  That was fun.  Or maybe I'll take another shot at the guy who, 3 months ago, said the city of Boston might not see another Championship for quite some time, and is now saying Sox fans were wrong last year when they criticized Jacoby Ellsbury.  Yeah, that's more relevant. I'll probably end up going with that.  Could also en up going with the story of the guys who called the cops on themselves because they were doing too much Meth, too, though.  So I guess you'll have to hang around to find out...

Get your read on, pimps.  And enjoy...
Red Sox Update
Last Week: 4-2
Overall: 59-37 1st in AL East by 1 1/2 games over NY Yankees

*You know who's just "the man"?  Adrian freaking Gonzalez.  Not only has he been the AL MVP to this point in the season, but the dude is refreshingly professional and accountable.  When asked before Wednesday's game about his 2 for 24 start to the 2nd half, he didn't make excuses, didn't blame the Home Run Derby for screwing up his swing.  Nah, he just chalked it up to the vagaries of a 162 game season, and calmly yet somehow humbly predicted that, in no time, the reporters gathered around him would be asking him about his latest 3-hit game.  Well, cue to about 4 hours later, and not only were they talking about his latest 3 hit game, they were talking about his latest 4 hit game.  Guy's just a force, and a class act to boot.  Tow traits that, when you have to deal day in and day out with the negativity and laissez faire attitudes of other big ticket players like John Lackey and JD Drew, serve as a refreshing reminder that there are still big money players out there who are actually worth more than the paper their multi million dollar contract is printed on...

*Another guy that had a great game on Wednesday afternoon, belting home runs #14 and 15 on the season, was Jacoby Ellsbury.  Someone who, no bull shit, could be right there with Adrian Gonzalez in the MVP voting when all is said and done.  Something a lot of Red Sox fans would have believed had you told them that 2 years ago, but a performance that just last season, looked like the furthest thing from a probability.  Physically, it was because he was injured.  And mentally, it was because...well, because he was injured.  And that's where my disagreement with my buddy comes in.  The same buddy who wrote that Boston was likely in for a Championship drought....about 50 days before the Bruins won the Cup...

"You're just a little spider monkey, aren't cha?"
He says, that last year, when Kevin Youkilis was calling out Jacoby Ellsbury for not being around, and being shelved with a seemingly minor injury, and this off season, when much of Red Sox Nation wanted him gone, that he was one of the ones that had Ellsbury's back.  He's of the opinion that Ells was doing what was best for him, and that his current performance bears that out.  I say, that's simply being short sighted, and very results oriented and/or driven...

Hey, I love what Jacoby Ellsbury brings to the table as much as anyone.  Kid's on pace for 25 HRs, 50 steals and a .300 batting average!  All while playing a gold glove caliber center field!  What's not to love?!  Well nothing...right now.  But to say that fans didn't have reason to question this guys dedication last season?  I'd say that's a stretch, and Ellsbury really has no one to blame but himself.  I mean, he had such a sketchy and independent rehab process, that players in a usually drama free clubhouse felt it necessary to voice their displeasure with how he was going about his business.  He just handled things poorly, and I in doing so, gave fans every right to question him as a player going forward...

Don't wanna sound like a hater, but I really do like jousting with my friend, and I just felt he was again coming at a story from an inappropriate and peculiar angle.  We all love what Ellsbury is doing right now, but it won't be til he gets a few more injury free seasons, and shows that he's mature enough to handle his business both on and off the field, that we'll know for sure if it was the right decision to keep him around.  I hope that's what comes to fruition, but until it does, we won't know if the fans were wrong for wanting to send him packing...

This looks weird, and he sure does spit a lot, but I still want him...
*Speaking of packing, the trade deadline is only 10 days away, and I'm still hoping Theo decides to add another high quality starter.  Matt Garza's been a name I'm hearing, and he's someone I'd really like to see them get.  He's experienced, he's pitching well right now, and adding a player of his caliber definitely could be the difference between winning and losing a World Series.  That's my thing.  I don't think Carlos Beltran, or Josh Willingham, or whoever you brought in as an extra bat, would make that same difference.  Help you score more runs, sure.  But last I checked, that wasn't exactly a problem.  You need big arms to win in the playoffs, and with futures of Lester (back Monday) and Buchholz (???) still in doubt so close to the deadline, this is the type of move you need to make.  Ship a high prospect for a rental?  I say yes.  That is if it nets you a top 3 arm the rest of the way, that could either replace one of your injured starters, or provide actual depth heading into the playoffs.  I trust Theo to draft some more young talent, and restock the system.  At least, I trust him more than I trust both Lester and Buchholz coming back healthy and effective...

Hey, I think the offense is good enough to do the damn thing right now, as constituted.  I think they've proven that.  And while I know we all love adding a nice big bat, this team needs an arm so they can come as close to guaranteeing that they'll have 3 big arms to start in the playoffs as humanly possible.  If it's not Matt Garza, I'm all ears, but that's the move that has to be made.  Think of it like this.  Who do you trust more? Andrew Miller and John Lackey OR Josh Reddick?  We all know the answer, so it's time to make that deal...

Josh Reddick: Yet another reason why need an arm more than a bat...

Probably a few too many negative statements for a team that's one of the best in baseball right now, but that's mostly due to the fact that I think they're right on the cusp.  I just don't want to see a primed opportunity go by.  Especially when I know this team has the talent and the means to make a serious run at another World Series Title.  I just hope Theo Epstein feels the same way, and has enough confidence in himself to pull that trigger, and get the Red Sox the piece they really need to continue to be a viable threat from this point onward...  

This Week: vs SEA, @ KC

*Oh and let's remember this a soft part of the schedule coming up, with Seattle, KC and then the White Sox. SO, to use the term again, let's not be too results oriented over the next week+.  These are below average teams that the Sox should be beating, anyway, so just because they continue to string together a few wins won't mean they still don't need to improve...

Somethin's Bruin in Boston Sports Radio...

Could they compete?  I gave 'em a sporting chance.  But Dear God, I don't think anyone saw this comin'.  In the latest ratings, not only did 98.5 TheSportsHub best long time powerhouse, WEEI, but they beat 'em like a drum.  By the tune of 3 to 1 across the board, matter of fact.  A swing that would even make even Adrian Gonzalez stand back and take notice.  The questions are, "How did they do it?" AND "Can they keep it up?"  Well, naturally, I that the answers...

Not my thing, but you gotta respect the ratings...
1) How Did They Do It?

The answer is two fold, for this one, with the first chunk of responsibility lying with the Boston Bruins...

Is there anything this team can't do???
WEEI mocked and ignored the Bruins for years, so when they finally became relevant, and there was another outlet to go to for possible Bruins news, the listeners went in droves.  Especially since TheSportsHub is the Bruins' flagship radio station.  And it's become rather obvious that WEEI knows this, too, as witnessed by their behavior in the ratings aftermath.  Just 2 days after the ratings were released, Big Show co-host, and WEEI grand poo bah, Glenn Ordway, inexplicably led off his show by saying something to the effect of "I want to be clear.  We never didn't like the Bruins, we were just upset with their inept management."  Hmmm, why would he say that, I wonder?  Right, because they know that's the big knock on them right now.  And while I don't doubt that Glenn believes what he says (I happen to feel the same way) after years of mocking the Bruins and their fans, even if just out of disgust and disappointment, well that's just a bunch of bells that can't be un rung.  At least in the ears of the listeners.  Hey, WEEI went out of it's way for years to make fun of hockey and the Bruins, and now those chickens are coming home to roost.  Guess that aspect of it isn't all that surprising when you think about it...

The second part of the answer is rather surprising, though, and it comes from the management end.  Here's where WEEI has really dropped the ball, and TheSportsHub (despite not hiring me) has seemingly had all the answers.  Starting with their daily lineup...

They offer a comedy based show (Toucher & Rich) opposite a more serious news based program in WEEI's, Dennis & Callahan, giving them a chance to grab a unique audience.  Which they've obviously been doing.  Their midday tandem of Gresh & Zo are the best football analysts around, and do well to transition from laugh heavy T&R to content heavy Felger & Mazz in the afternoon.  It's just a really smooth format, that never really gives the listener reason to change the station.  WEEI, on the other hand, hits a brick wall @ 10 with the virtually un-listenable Mutt & Merloni, and thanks to some knee jerk talent changes, never really recovers...

At least Merloni "sounded" drunk on air the other day...
That's the part of this that really surprised me.  Even before 98.5 officially (if albeit temporarily) stole the throne, WEEI blew things up after 20 years of dominance simply because they could now see their competitor in the rear view.  And while it still might be a little early time wise to make the call, my ears, and apparently the ears of the region, are telling them that they might have panicked, and made a couple poor decisions.  Their midday show, for one, with the reformatting of The Big Show probably being the other.  Oh and as mentioned in the linked piece above, it probably won't have hurt their cause to utilize one of their networks Boston based FM signals when they're new FM rival came to town, either.  Probably wouldn't have saved them from the pain they're experiencing right now, but I can't imagine it would have hurt.  And at least then we'd actually be able to understand all the callers on the Whiner Line...

So, 2) Can They Keep It Up?

I think they can.  Once people change their radio habits, it's tough to break 'em.  Sure, these numbers are skewed by the Bruins, and some people will go back to regularly listening to WEEI, but I think enough inroads have been made to maintain a more than healthy rivalry between the two going forward.  Which is great.  Not just because competition brings out the best in people, but because fierce competition also leads to people getting hired and fired.  Something someone in my position definitely has to appreciate.  Ya know, as long as I'm the one being hired and not fired...  

Can We Play Yet?

I was hoping this would be where I could tell you that football was back, but as I'm typing this, there's no such news coming across the wire.  Still sounds promising, from what you hear, but I'm a "believe it when I see it" type of person when it comes to stuff like this, so I'm going to choose to...believe it when I see it.  When it does happen, though, we're going to see a flurry of activity unlike any other in NFL history.  Team's will have 3 days to deal with their own free agents, another week to sign other free agents, and only another week on top of that to stock the now 90 man pre season roster.  Yeah, I'd say things are going to get pretty interesting pretty damn quick.  Makes me wonder if the NFL will even bother to looking into any tampering charges that may arise from the quickness and back alley manner in which a lot of guys will most likely end up getting signed.  That adds another quirky element to an already dizzying equation that's sure to keep the news wire burnin' up from now until the opening kick off...

Should be good times.  Ya know, when they finally get this fucker done!!!

The 2011 WSOP November Nine
Benba In Novemba...

I was definitely curious when I found out the ESPN would be doing LIVE coverage of this year's World Series of Poker Main Event.  Now, I'm just impressed.  Their 30 minute delay, allowing viewers at home to see hole cards, will change the way the event is broadcast from now on, and should change the way the average viewer looks at poker.  No longer is a poker telecast just a series of player bios and coin flips.  With this, you get the whole game.  You see all the skill involved, dozens of great hands you would have never seen on TV before, and you get to follow players for the full tournament, rather than just getting snippets here and there before seeing them at the final table.  All great things, and all things that I believe will help poker draw an even larger audience moving forward...
Know online as "Benba"

I myself became a big fan of Ben "Benba" Lamb, while watching the coverage.  The 26 year old cash game and tournament pro from Tulsa, Oklahoma, was already #2 in the WSOP Player of Year race before the tournament began, and has shown across the 8 days of this grueling event that he is indeed one of the best players in the World.  Sounds nerdy, I'm sure, but it's really been a pleasure to watch him play and listen to him speak (says humbly that he's in it for the "life changing" money), and I look forward to seeing if he can cap off one of the best World Series in history by taking down the Main Event, and the $8 milly that goes along with it...

If you like poker, or if you've been thinking about getting into it, definitely check it out.  These guys won't be playing the final table until November, anyway, so you still have plenty of time to get up to speed on the action.  Even though I just ruined a bunch of it for you.  Oh well, you have ESPN, too.  Not my problem...

"Curious" doesn't even begin to describe him...
In my bashing last week of The Social Network, I forgot to give my review of HBO's, The Curious Case of Curt Flood.  To put it simply, it was amazing.  Well produced, of course, by HBO, but I had no idea Curt Flood was such a freaking enigma!  Dude's the definition of it, in fact.  I obviously recommend it, so check it out.  I'm tellin' ya, baseball was just one small piece of this guy's screwed up world, and the rest is so bizarre, that I'm beginning to wonder how in Hell Denzel hasn't starred in a movie about him yet.  Curt freaking Flood.     He was one of a kind, for better and for worse...

Mrs. Pittsnogle, I presume???
That's it for me this week, friends.  Oh, and that Meth story?  Yeah, it's as advertised.  Feel free to Google it.  Dudes just did too much Meth, became paranoid, and called the cops because they thought someone was breaking into their crib.  Cops showed up, probably laughed a bit, probably found a make shift meth lab in their basement, and probably hauled them off to jail.  The end.  I think it was in Georgia, if that helps.  Although I'm sure you could find about half a dozen comparable stories in today's edition of whatever the major paper in West Virginia is.  The Daily Squirrel, perhaps?  OR maybe The Toothless Tribune?  Whatever it is, I'm sure the stories there will be equally hilarious, and involve just as much, if not more, crazy behavior and meth amphetamines.  Because what else is Meth good for if not for ruining people's lives in what's usually an absolutely hilarious manner?  Nothin', that's what.  And I'm pretty sure you all know this to be true!...

Somethin' else that's true, is I'm really gone this time.  Have a great weekend, friends.  And I'll catch you on the flipman...

Teddy Williams...




Ktomasso said...

Call out your friend! I need character names on

Derek said...

Good article Rooch. Now start talking football football football. If I was ordering breakfast. I want the triple football pancake wtih a side of delicious free agency and extra Patriots talk. Don't stop bringing the coffee & bacon. Yea, i'm an addict. Actually just saw a study on Google that if you have an addictive personality your probably a leader. Atleast many of us have that goin. Now give me some Hayensworth commentary fellow Teds!!

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