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.

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.

As if running 26.2 miles weren’t painful enough…

April 14, 2007

The crappy DC weekend weather will be heading up I-95 and ruining one of the annual rites of spring in my native state, the Boston Marathon. Reports the Boston Globe:

With a nasty brew of heavy rain, cold, and headwinds forecast for Monday, authorities are scrambling to mitigate the misery of 23,000 runners in what could rank among the worst conditions in the history of the Boston Marathon.

Meanwhile, Boston.com continues to chronicle the dementia of Red Sox fans by running a series of photos like this one.

Red Sox dogs

Dice-K v. Ichiro: The Overkill

April 11, 2007

Can’t get enough Dice-K v. Ichiro info in anticipation of their meeting at Fenway tonight? Check out the Boston Globe, which has a graphic on every at-bat Ichiro ever had against Matsuzaka back in their Japan days. That should satiate.

Ichiro and Dice-K

Should be fun tonight (ESPN2, 7pm).

Bench-Clearing Shenanigans at Fenway Opening Day

April 10, 2007

Because I didn’t see the game on TV this afternoon, I may not be fully understanding exactly what happened in the incident described in this Red Sox-Mariners recap.

The only life the Mariners showed after their long layoff was when Jose Guillen gave reliever Brendan Donnelly a menacing stare after striking out at the start of the eighth. The two have a history dating to 2005, when they both played for the Los Angeles Angels and Guillen was suspended for a clubhouse tantrum.

Guillen was ejected and the benches cleared, but no punches were thrown. Donnelly hit the next batter, Kenji Johjima, and was ejected.

Say what? First, a “menacing stare” from Jose Guillen, after he strikes out, is enough to warrant an ejection and to clear the benches? Did Guillen say anything or do anything that was threatening? And why did Donnelly respond by hitting the next batter? Stupid, stupid.

It occurs to me that I have said absolutely nothing about the baseball season thus far, something I’ll try to remedy in the coming days. I will actually be able to watch the Dice-K Fenway debut, against Ichiro no less, on ESPN2 Wednesday night.



… OK, I see another account saying that Donnelly and Guillen exchanged words and Guillen tried to charge the mound. The scene looked like this.

Guillen gets angry

That’s what happens when Jose Guillen has too much pent-up aggression from four days of snow-outs in Cleveland. Also, very classy way for Brendan Donnelly to make an impression before the new home fans. You can chalk up my previous confusion to poorly edited AP copy.