Dice-K and his “Spouse”

July 29, 2007

I was watching Red Sox-Devil Rays a few minutes ago, and the sideline reporter said the Japanese media members were all excited because today is the first game Daisuke Matsuzaka has pitched where the catcher has been someone other than Jason Varitek (who is getting a day off after playing 12 innings last night). The reporter informed viewers that in Japanese culture, the catcher is considered to be the pitcher’s “spouse.” Then they go back to the booth, and Jerry Remy says, “So Daisuke today is cheating on Jason Varitek?”

Dice-K and Varitek

I’m guessing the Japanese have some other connotation for “spouse” that gets lost in the translation.


Instant Replay in Baseball

July 28, 2007

I was watching the Tigers-Angels game earlier. It was 3-3 in the 8th inning when Garrett Anderson hit a home run to right field, which was aided by a kid reaching over the railing to catch a ball that otherwise would have been off the scoreboard.  Jim Leyland came out to protest, the umpires huddled, and the home run stood as originally called.

The point turned out to be moot as the Angels went on to score several more runs and win 10-3, but the incident underscored the shortcomings of the current umpiring system. It’s sometimes too hard for umpires standing in the infield to see whether a ball is really a home run or not.

A similar incident happened last Friday night at Fenway Park, when J.D. Drew hit a first-inning home run off the front of the monster seats that fell back into the field of play. The umpires called it an RBI double, Manny Ramirez was out at the plate because he slowed up thinking the ball was gone, and Terry Francona was ejected for loudly disagreeing.

And there are other recent incidents too (a ball off the wall in Cleveland a few weeks back was called a catch, for example). Why not implement some sort of limited instant replay in baseball to avoid these kind of situations? If the announcers in the booth and everyone watching on TV can tell that the call was a mistake, the umpires should be able to get it right too. It’s not exactly like the game’s brisk pace would be upset, as is the common complaint with replay in football; we’re talking about baseball here.

Barry and Willie

July 10, 2007

Seeing Barry Bonds and Willie Mays together at the All-Star Game tonight reminded me of when Bonds passed Mays on the all-time home run list and Mays presented Bonds with a celebratory bong.

Bonds and Mays

Stuffing the Ballot Box for Barry?

July 1, 2007

After a series of “Should Bonds make the All-Star team?” stories a few weeks ago when he dipped into fourth place in the NL outfield voting, Barry Bonds made the starting team in results announced today. The comeback seems a little fishy to me.

The Giants star overcame a 119,000-vote deficit in the final days of balloting and finished 123,000 ahead of the Chicago Cubs’ Alfonso Soriano on Sunday to claim the third and final starting outfield spot for the National League.

Were people really voting a lot for Barry Bonds in these final days? Possibly. Of course, Fox desperately wanted the Bonds angle to harp on throughout the July 10 game too. Just saying…

“Oh my goodness gracious!”

May 11, 2007

As Bill Simmons mentioned yesterday, Suzyn Waldman sounded like she might need an exorcism when she reacted to the announcement that Roger Clemens was coming back during the Yankees radio broadcast on Sunday. Listen to the audio link and you will hear her scary, guttural utterances of surprise.

What is wrong with the Orioles broadcasters?

May 9, 2007

Maybe they’ve all gone insane from the team sucking for so long (the Brewers certainly don’t seem to understand how to handle their new-found success!), but for whatever reason, the Baltimore Orioles broadcasters have been saying more than their share of idiotic things this season. In the wake of Gary Thorne’s dumb comments, now comes Rick Dempsey, who decided to make some tasteless and nonsensical jokes about the hitting slump of Jay Gibbons when Gibbons’ wife visited the booth during Saturday’s game to promote a domestic violence charity.

“Laura, will this kind of help Jay in the domestic violence area? If he doesn’t start getting a few more hits, you might grab him around the neck and rough him up a little bit,” Dempsey said, according to The Baltimore Sun. “[Is] this money going to go to help him a little bit with maybe some of the hospital bills or something like that?”

To that, Giuliani replied, “I don’t know, Rick. I don’t think I’m encouraging that. I’m definitely not …”

“Not going there?” Dempsey interjected.

“Not going there,” Giuliani replied.

“All right, I’ll domestically violate him if he doesn’t start getting some more hits,” Dempsey said, according to The Sun.

Video of this would be classic. The incident reminds me of the clueless Keith Hernandez.

Boston will Boo Bonds Boisterously

May 8, 2007

David Ortiz has made the puzzling decision to come out in support of Barry Bonds (and they call Manny Ramirez the stupid Red Sox slugger?) with comments in today’s Boston Herald.

Barry Bonds is coming to Fenway Park in a little more than a month, and already, David Ortiz can tell that his reception is going to be ugly.

Ortiz believes Bonds needs to be cheered. Loudly.

“He deserves respect,” Ortiz said Sunday in Minneapolis. “People are not going to give it to him because of all the bad things running around, this and that, but people need to realize. I’ve heard a lot of different things about Barry Bonds, but people should just admit it – this guy’s a bad (expletive).”

Whether or not Bonds will be on the verge of breaking Hank Aaron’s career mark of 755 home runs – he’s at 744 with 34 games to play before he arrives here on June 15 – Ortiz expects Fenway Park fans will be making a mistake by focusing on the performance-enhancing drug allegations against Bonds rather than his home run totals.

Ortiz has an almost willful naivete about both Bonds and steroids. He still does not believe in his heart or his head that Bonds took steroids. And even if it were proven to him, Ortiz still would not link it to what Bonds does with a baseball bat.

“To hit the frickin’ ball, the guy makes it look easy, but it ain’t. I don’t know how you can have that swing, consistently. I don’t know how steroids can do that,” Ortiz said. “There are supposed to be guys using steroids in the game, and there’s nobody close to Barry Bonds. What’s that mean? He was using the best (expletive)? Know what I’m saying?”

Clearly Ortiz hasn’t read Game of Shadows, which documents Bonds’ steroid use in painstaking detail. No one denies that Bonds is an outstanding hitter, even without the steroids. The key is that bulking up with the drugs has enabled him to hit a lot more home runs than he would be able to hit otherwise.

It’s as if Ortiz, who is received as a deity at Fenway Park, were testing the waters to see if he could do anything that would make him less popular in Boston. After all, Bonds is the same guy who said, “Boston is too racist for me” in 2004 — not exactly the kind of statement that will endear him to the Fenway crowd.

Barry Bonds will be booed loudly and repeatedly when the Giants come to Boston for three games June 15-17. If he breaks the all-time record during that series, there might not be such a kind reaction to that either.

Curt Schilling, on the other hand, expressed pretty much the opposite view from Ortiz about Bonds in his appearance on the Dennis and Callahan radio show this morning. Schilling said he didn’t want to be the guy to give up the record-breaking homer, and he noted that the Giants will probably try to have it happen in San Francisco anyway so as to minimize the awkwardness.