Things seemed to have changed around here.
I’ll confess that as I started attacking the mailbag this week I felt a little bit like Gary Cherone taking over vocals for Van Halen. Just didn’t belong on this piece of real estate. But by the end of the week I truly believe that I was giving off a Hagar vibe. That’s progress, right?
We sort of jump (get it?) all over the place in the bag this week, as we try and find Joe Haggerty, figure out if Drew Bledsoe can match up with Babe Ruth and wonder if Chris Berman is in on the joke.
As always, fire away at email@example.com with anything you’ve got...
No, only A-holes and girly men like ripping people behind their backs. That way they can say something and run to their mommy like a little sissy...kinda like you felger. To bad I could say this to your face, it would be fun.
Scott (actually gave his last name, but decided not to go with it. I’ll just tell you that it does rhyme with “Fakula”)
A: This was the first e-mail I received after I was told by Rob that I’d be pinch-hitting for Felger. I’ll admit, it kind of shook me a little. What bothers me is that the e-mail seems to start in the middle of a rant, as if he were arguing with himself and decided that he had to get the rest of his thoughts on paper before he forgot the “it would be fun” part. But the rest of the emails were 100 percent positive toward both myself and Mr. Felger. Not really, but at least none of the others had me worried that I might wind up in the trunk of an El Camino.
That is some crew that Bradford has put together over there. The only thing I ever read on that site is Felger and now he out for the week? And the best they can do to replace him is some guy I’ve never heard of? I guess Joe Haggerty wasn’t available.
A: First of all, let’s be fair to Rob. Do you know how hard it is to get in touch with the reclusive Joe Haggerty? What, do you think Joe would just jump at a chance to vigorously promote himself in a mailbag setting?
The truth is I was the sixth choice this week to fill in for Felger. I’m free of ego, so I’m happy to provide you with the first five who were approached by Bradford.
(1) Janet Prensky.
(2) Carl Beane.
(3) Ray from Lynn.
(4) Jim Corsi.
(5) Philip Roth (who LOVES the Five Things).
Kirk, (RE: Best Season By a Boston Athlete)
I watched Pedro, every game. I followed Yaz in 1967. I never saw a player have more impact in winning more games than Yaz. Hit hitting stats may not be as impressive as Ted’s ‘41 season vs. history, or even his contemporaries that year, but his play in the field has to be factored in. And, the fact that he impacted far more games than Pedro. Yaz’ very mediocre ‘67 team would not have contended, and Red Sox nation as we know it may never have happened, if it were not for that magical year he had that year....talk about impact!
A: Look, that may all be true. But Yaz’s season, while indisputably great by any standard, has been equaled or bested many, many times. His OPS+ in 1967, 193, is a terrific number, the best Red Sox total ever offered by a player not named Ted Williams. And it is tied for 80th all-time. Nothing to throw back in the water.
But what Pedro did in 2000 blew the doors off of “great.” The best Adjusted ERA+ of the last 130 years. A 1.74 ERA when the league ERA was nearly 5.00. The lowest WHIP of all time, in the middle of the greatest hitters era in history. Just impossible stuff, really.
Maybe this’ll define it better. In 1968 Yaz led the American League in batting with a .301 average. 1968 was the opposite of 2000, a season dominated by pitching. The ERA in the AL that season was 2.98 and the league hit .230. If Yaz had hit .370 that season he would have come close to equaling the dominance of Pedro in 2000.
Give me a British Open sleeper. I’m in a pool at work and we can’t use Tiger. I’ve already used Goosen and Scott (Masters) and Mickleson and Furyk (US Open).
A: I’m big on Ian Poulter, and it’s not because he looks exactly like Rod Stewart circa 1984 (and yes, if I’m ABC I do a shot by shot remake of the “Infatuation” video with Poulter and Judy Rankin). He’s due, plays the tough courses well and has the perfect temperament for the majors. Is he a sleeper though? Probably not, he is ranked 18th in the world ... how about Tim Clark?
(Just realized that this all means nothing because the Open will be underway by the time this posts. So can I just use this spot to wonder why ABC still has to use the BBC feed for the British Open? It’s 2009 -- do we still need to have missed shots and Blair Witch camera work? Count me in as a Peter Alliss fan, though. His effort last year was the best drunk work by a sportscaster since Pat Summerall’s epic 1986 season for CBS.)
I liked your All-Star story, but you offered no solution as how to fix the game. I thought Bob Ryan had an interesting idea, he wants a 25-player roster. I bet that would bring back strategy and maybe even have a starter pitch five or six innings.
A: No. Sorry. The thrill of watching Roy Halladay throw four innings instead of two doesn’t get it done. You want to know what would bring back relevancy to the All-Star Game?
(1) Eliminate interleague play completely.
(2) Eliminate cable television completely.
(3) Eliminate free agency (this way the players are forced to stay in one league for their entire career and hopefully will lead to some hate for the opposing league).
(4) And make the winner’s share a significant percentage of the average player salary. Say, 10 percent?
And that gets us back to about 1941 or so, or the last year the All-Star Game actually mattered. I’m for naming the team and not playing the game at this point.
Watched the Home Run Derby. Is there anything left to say about Chris Berman at this point? Anything?
A: I’m at a loss. It’s beyond parody now. He’s become the world’s best Chris Berman impersonator. I think he might actually be a wind-up doll. Pull the string and you get one of six trademark sayings. And pity the poor intern that has to type up the 40 suburbs of each city the All-Star Game is in so Berman can tell us that “this one is heading to ... Oakville”.
Who is a better athlete? Tim Wakefield or Phil Mickelson?
A: Tough one. Not sure Wakefield could hit a five-iron 230 yards or shoot 69-69 on the weekend to the win the Masters, but people forget he was a good enough athlete to play minor-league ball as a third baseman. Mickelson thinks he’s one of the three greatest athletes on the planet, if that count for anything. And would his playoff ERA be any worse than Knucksie’s 6.75? I’m going to call it a push, I guess. Speaking of Wakefield...
Oh Objective One, please shed some light for me on why most of the local sports media fawn all over Tim Wakefield like teenage girls at a Beatles concert? Some of these writers practically had tears in their eyes over Wakefield’s selection to the All Star team. Sorry, but guys with 4+ ERA’s don’t belong on the All Star team. Never has such mediocrity been celebrated in this town. Granted he’s probably Good Guy Tim, so apparently being kind and accessible to the media goes a long way amongst the baseball writers. They are complete toadies for this pillar of average performance.
Compare the treatment of Wakefield to Dice-K last year when he was 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. Dice-K was consistently slammed as a 5 inning pitcher who benefited from good run support. Well what is Wakefield with his 11-3 record and 4.31 ERA? That can’t have anything to do with good run support, could it?
Maybe I’m a little more discerning when it comes to my starting pitchers, but the typical Wakefield 6 inning, 4 run performance really doesn’t do it for me. So he “eats innings”. Great, but if those innings are mediocre, it doesn’t always put the team in a good position to win. He’s not good at holding leads and if he puts the team in an early hole and the Sox get some runs to get back into a game, Wakefield will promptly give up a run or two the following inning.
Then there are his postseason numbers. Other than his one start at Yankee Stadium in the 2003 ALCS, where he outdueled Andy Pettitte, he’s been atrocious in the playoffs.
Is there something I’m missing? Give me Josh Beckett who’s a bulldog on the mound, but is a dink to the media and acts like he’s in a hostage video at every press conference any day over Wakefield
A: I’ve written the whole “Hey, guess what? Tim Wakefield is been average for so long that he’s going to break some records soon” bit before so maybe I’ve grown a little tired of this lovefest. If he were on the Royals with a 4.31 ERA his record would probably be, what, 6-8? I’m not offended that he’s on the All-Star team, that’s up to the manager and there is really no guideline. If Joe Maddon felt that a decade and a half of not being quite good enough to make an All-Star Team earned a spot on one All-Star Team that’s okay with me. But you would think this is Bob Gibson with the stories I’ve read this week. I mean, this is a guy that has been left off of postseason rosters, right?
But I don’t think the media likes him or dislikes him more than anyone else. He’s just a fresh story for a few weeks is all. If he had made an All-Star Team just once before you would have read nothing about Tim Wakefield the past three weeks. Plus the media loves Beckett. And by the media I mean Rob Bradford.
I was wondering if you could comment on the demise of the sports section
of the Boston Globe. I mean we all know it’s been in decline for years,
but I think today July 14th, had to be the official swan song. I realize
it’s a slow week with the sox being off and the other teams weeks away
from training camp but a 5 page sports section. The front page and all of
page 4 was a gimmick involving Red Sox photos. Page two had an AP story on
the LPGA boss stepping down and the very popular olympic notes section.
Page 3 had an all-star notebook, standings and the conclusion of a Roy
Halladay article from the front page. Page 4 as I said was all photos and
the last page was the scoreboard page, with a little school sports
notebook. I mean there wasn’t one decent thing to read in there, I know
times have changed in the dominating internet era but they need to do
something or maybe they should just shut it down. What do you have to say on this?
Mo in Mass
A: Well, the world has changed. Imagine if I had told you 10 years ago that the Celtics’ beat writer for the Globe (at the time, one of the three or four best basketball writing jobs in America) would leave to take a job at Yahoo! Sports. Would not have seemed possible. Happened last week and nobody blinked.
Sure, the Globe sports section isn’t what it was in the 1980s -- or even a decade ago. But name me a sports page in the country that is. The newspaper has been killed by the Internet, as we all know. And yeah, a newspaper in your hands can feel antiquated, but it’s not just the immediacy of the Internet that has rendered the daily nearly obsolete. The talent pool has been completely thinned out. Basically, it has done to newspapers what expansion drafts have done to pro sports. There are great writers that have never written a signifcant word in a newspaper. Bill Simmons, Will Leitch, Aaron Gleeman, Rob Neyer and a million more. The Globe was stacked in the 80s, but if they were in a 2009 media world there is no way that CHB, Ryan, Gammons, Montville, McDonough and Whiteside would have all been there at the same time. You’d have a couple at ESPN, one or two at a Yahoo! or CNNSI.
But newspapers are dead, and that is depressing. Still nothing better than the Sunday paper. And the Globe is still a decent read when it is going well. Chad Finn is terrific, Bob Ryan is the best, of course. I liked Spears on the Celtics and enjoy Mike Reiss with the Pats. Kevin Paul Dupont is solid. I’m sure once they start covering the Red Sox again they’ll do a nice job as well. Wait, what? Really?
Well, mostly for Felger. The Bruins aren’t going to trade Phil Kessel, will they? Why would they do that? He’s going to score 50 goals a season I bet.
A: Maybe they will, maybe they won’t. I have no idea. I’m a moron when it comes to the NHL, but I try my best to hang in each and every season.
Am I the only one who tried to match a Sutter brother to a Jackson brother during Michael’s funeral last week? I guess Brent would be MJ (most success, plus Brent brought Emmanuel Lewis to the 1985 NHL Awards ceremony), Brian would be Jermaine , Ron-Tito, Rich-Marlon, Duane-Randy and Darryl-Jackie. That makes sense to everyone, right?
Bobby Orr’s 1969-70 season should be on top of your list of best seasons, not Pedro (you have Orr’s next season as 2nd Best).
Orr is the only player ever to win the four major trophies in the same season (a defenseman winning the SCORING championship!!). Plus the scores the Stanley Cup winning goal in the most famous hockey picture ever!!
Pedro would have to win the Triple Crown in batting on top of his pitching exploits, plus win the World Series that year (he did neither) to accomplish what Bobby Orr did.
Please REVISE YOUR LIST!!
A: Total coin flip for the top spot. To me, Orr and Pedro are the two athletes in Boston history that dominated their sports (and positions) to a degree that have never been matched. Guys hit .400 before Williams and have come relatively close since. True, no one has won the Triple Crown since 1967 but his stats for the season have been topped dozens of times in the last 40 years. Finishing with 139 points and a plus-124 rating from a defenseman? A WHIP of .737 in the middle of the steroid era? These are video game numbers, plain and simple. We will never see them again.
The 1988 Cleveland Indians finished 78-84, sixth in the AL East. The cinematic version of the ‘88 Indians, however, fared much better. Of course, I’m referring to David S. Ward’s comedy Major League. My question has to do with the movie: after they win the division in the one-game playoff against the Yankees, does the Cinderella story continue? Did Vaughn, Taylor, Hayes, and the rest of that ragtag Tribal band actually have the juice to win the whole thing?
Studio City, CA
A: Huh. I don’t think this was ever addressed in the sequels, right?
My fast answer to your question would be “no” and here’s why: I don’t think that they recover emotionally in time to even get past the ALCS. I mean, we all saw that celebration. Was that a team that needed to win 12 more games to justify a season? Plus on a practical level (1) that rotation was all screwed up (Harris must’ve thrown 150 pitches vs. the Yankees -- wouldn’t have been ready until Game 3) and (2) that bullpen was a concern. I think they lose 4-1 in the divisional and go 72-90 the next season.
One thing I know for sure (and this is in tribute to Felger) that owner was an early MILF. Big fan. She was particularly frisky in “The Secret of My Success.” Margaret Whitton. Guess how old she was when Major League was released? Would you believe 38? I would have gone with early 40s at least. I can’t tell you if she was ever nude in a film or not, but Mr. Skin probably could. I mean, I have no clue if she bared it all in Ironwood, for instance. No idea. Almost wouldn’t want to know. Beneath both me and you.
Minihane you fill in DB!
In our lives, we all have things that bother us: taxes, commuting, Ryan Seacrest’s continued and unexplainable fame. So naturally there are things on this station that annoy as well. For me personally, the EEI related phenomenon that induces instant audio anaphylactic shock are calls that deal with trades. And ever since the news came out that the Jays were shopping Roy Halladay it seems like whenever I turn on the radio there is another call that has me reaching for my epi-pen. Do they make a belt fed version?
Forget about suggesting that people think before calling. Waiting on hold for 45 minutes to ask if the Jays would do a Lugo and Penny for Halladay swap requires a Gary Busey level of frontal lobe dysfunction. Years ago, it would happen occasionally and everyone would laugh. Now they happen with more regularity than Travis Henry paternity suits, leaving hosts and listeners to wonder if following Frank Pentangeli’s lead is the only path to relief. And why are we subjected to this repeated Medea-esque suffering caller after caller? I have a theory.. You are one of the “fantasy gurus” on the dot com. You know as well as I do that in every fantasy league that there is one owner that everyone likes to refer to as “the donor”. You catch them at the right moment and, unless your league has veto powers, your making a deal that Bernie Madoff would find exploitive. The problem is that the callers think that the 4 major sports have GMs that are just as easy to dupe. With the exception of Chris Wallace, it’s simply not the case. Every time these guys make a deal, their careers are on the line. Look at Bill Smith of the Twins. Everyone was waiting on him dealing Johan Santana and what the Twinkies would get for him. Dealing a superstar like Santana has the potential to be a huge career landmine for a GM. What ended up torpedoing the Twins wasn’t dealing Santana however. It was sending Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett to the Rays for Delmon Young. Here is what Smith said after the deal: “... Delmon Young has been the guy we’ve been targeting since the end of the season. We feel he is the best bat available, and we’re excited to get him.” And after tall that time and research, Bartlett is now an all-star and Garza has shown flashes of being an Ace with an attitude while Young is currently sporting a OPS 47 points lower than Nick Green. You think Smith might like a do over? Damn skippy he would. And he was just starting his tenure as GM. By all accounts J.P. Richardi position as GM is on the ropes? You think J.P. is going to settle for anything thing less than the best prospects and cost effective MLB ready talent a team has? Not a chance.
So please, if your going to call in and propose a trade be forewarned. Unless it begins with “Halladay for Buchholz, Bowden Bard and...” I’m going to send Dino to your house with a sock and a cue ball to give you the Row-tillo treatment.
A: Agreed and agreed, Mike. Fantasy sports has made everybody a GM. I don’t know, but finishing third in a Borders Books fantasy baseball league may not make you the right guy to call in to “Dale & Holley” to discuss Halladay options. I just wish these guys would take a deep breath before they dialed and ask themselves one question -- “OK, I know the Sox would do this deal in a second. But would Toronto trade Halladay for Rocco?”
But my biggest caller pet peeve is the “former athlete preface.” I suspect these guys hope that by letting the hosts know their rich playing history that it will lead to a conversation like this:
Dale: John from Danvers has been waiting and is ready to talk about David Oritz. John?
John: Hey Dale, Holley. I played semi-pro ball for a couple of years. I think Ortiz just needs to relax, he’s forcing it. What I would do --
Holley: Wait, did you say that you played semi-pro baseball?
John: Uh, yes.
Dale: Is there any way we could get you to quit your job and just join our show?
Holley: Please? Maybe we could even talk to some of our Red Sox pals and get you on the bench for home games.
John: That could work. I do have a few ideas to get Papelbon back on track...
(By the way, I am a little bitter because this guy flat-out stiffed me last week on an All-Star column, but I have no doubt that if he had never been able to throw a fastball more than 80 MPH that Curt Schilling would be one of these guys. I can see him closing the door to his office at the car dealership, waiting 45 minutes to get 90 seconds with John and Gerry. And maybe, maybe, if he’s good they’ll let him talk a little politics.)
Dear Mr. Minihane,
I’m a huge fan of your writing, and look forward to reading your column every week. Your unique topic choices and sense of humor are truly refreshing, and last week’s column was insightful as always. But, I must admit I was a little confused by a couple of your selections on the list of which Boston athlete can stake a claim to the best individual season.
First of all, I was surprised by the inclusion of Randy Moss. Statistically, 2007 is arguably not even the strongest year of his career. Second of all, while everyone knows that Babe Ruth once donned a Boston uniform, aren’t there too many other Boston athletes, truly representative of their teams, who deserve a chance to make the list?
For example, did you consider Milt Schmidt’s 1946-47 season? 27 goals, 35 assists. Or how about Bob Cousy in 1956-57, his MVP year? How about Drew Bledsoe’s 1994 season, setting records for attempts, completions and total yards (If you’re debating about a best individual season, how can these numbers be ignored?) These all seem like better choices than Moss in 2007 or Ruth in 1918. Clearly, you’re the expert in statistics, so tell me what you think.
Best wishes, and keep up the good work!
A: I agree that Moss was a shaky 10th pick. If I could do the list over I think I’d take him out and put Cam Neely’s 1993-94 season (50 goals in 49 games) in. Let’s be honest, does anyone think that Moss’ TD record won’t be broken over the next five years? I’ll own up to a miss on that one. And sure, Cousy and Schmidt are fine candidates and would land somewhere in the top 40 or so.
But Drew Bledsoe in 1994? Really? I would place that season 926th all-time, ahead of Mark Clear in 1982 but behind Craig Janney’s 1991-92 season.
OK, he set an NFL record for attempts and led the league in completions. That’s swell, but I’m not sure he deserves to be rewarded for the staggering ineptitude of Marion Butts. I get that passer rating isn’t an exact indication of how a quarterback performed in a season, but it’s pretty close, I think. Know where Drew Bledsoe ranked in passer rating in 1994? Tied for 19th. Maybe I’m being picky, but any season where Jeff Blake, Craig Erickson, Jeff George and Steve Walsh finish ahead of you in a major statistical category probably isn’t going to wind up on many top 10 lists. Throw in his playoff performance vs. Cleveland (a 21-50, three-pick stinker vs. Belichick) on top of a 25-27 TD/INT rate and there’s no argument for inclusion. I could live with 1996 (4,086 yards passing 27-15 TD/INT) or 1997 (28-15 TD/INT, career-best passer rating of 87.7). Those were solid, Pro Bowl-type seasons. You could put both of those seasons on the back of Tom Brady’s football card.
(Bledsoe has now been away from the Patriots for nearly as long as he was a Patriot. We can stop taking sides now and agree that he gave New England a decade of solid play at a position that can be an albatross for a franchise. He’s the second-best QB in Patriots’ history and I think proved to be good value as a top overall pick, which is no small feat. You know what? He’ll probably never get it, but he deserves a night like the one Nomar had at Fenway last week. At his peak Nomar was clearly a greater performer, but,at least Drew never quit on his team and sulked on the bench like a nine-year old who didn’t get his Pizza Hut. You think in 2004 if Nomar had been benched he would have stepped up and delivered an effort like Drew did in the AFC Title Game?)
Nice job on that Red Sox report card last month. Was that an F for Ortiz? How’s that going now? Care to try again, halfwit?
A: I know “halfwit” isn’t the new “d-bag” but it has a ring to it, right? Could be a keeper.
I’ll have a column up Tuesday (Jim Rice, beware!) and the mailbag will be back again next week. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what you think.