Is it possible that the tears you saw coming from Wes Welker last Sunday were not the result of the pain he was suffering from tearing both the ACL and MCL in his knee just minutes before? Maybe not even the idea that this season (and chance at a Super Bowl) was over — or 2010 as well — was the cause of the sideline ductal issues? Is it not possible, I ask, that we were watching tears of joy because Wes had just found out that Kirk Minihane had proclaimed him the 2009 Boston Athlete of the Year? I’m not saying that it is definitely the reason, I just think the media should have at least considered the possibility.
So I take a few hits this week for putting the “jinx” on Lil' Wes. (Crazy, of course. No other winners from my column last week have had career-threatening injuries. Kevin Faulk won the “Best Season by a Balding Guy” award, and was he hurt in the Houston game? But no one writes me about that, do they?) Belichick also catches some shrapnel on the Welker injury, and the folks aren’t exactly thrilled with the play-calling, either. We also answer a couple of questions about the worst injuries in Boston sports history and solve the mystery of Steve Grogan’s neck brace. And, once again, Jim Rice (my personal Javert) and the Hall of Fame is debated.
So to the 'bag we go (and, as always, feel free to e-mail away to firstname.lastname@example.org, or if you feel the urge to only write 140 characters, send it via Twitter) …
Nice work, jinxy. Do me a favor and just go ahead and name Kobe Bryant the 2010 Boston Athlete of the Year now, would you? The thought of the Mamba weeping into a towel after blowing out his knee is what all of New England needs right about now.
A: Done and done, Scott. I’m even willing to go with Kobe and Peyton Manning as co-winners if that would make things easier for you right now. But remember, if the Mamba blows out his knee, all that means is that 12 months from now you’ll have to sit through a series of interviews with Magic Johnson and/or Stuart Scott that will only focus on how A) Kobe refuses to let anything get in his way and B) he wouldn’t have made it through this without the love of his wife and daughters. Basically the kind of ESPN ass-kiss fest that could cause you to vomit everything you have ever eaten. At least with Manning all you’ll get is another in a series of unfunny commercial that tries to convince us that Peyton is just one of the guys. Even Manning seems bored now during the ads; he looks like the fourth-billed guy in his eighth season on a crappy sitcom.
Thanks for proclaiming Wes Welker Athlete of the Year. Though I agree totally with your pick, it was just like being on the cover of Sports Illustrated; the kiss of death. Couldn't you have named a Red Sox player, since their season is over, or done a column on best sports figure or politician to ruin their image and career in 2009 (I say Tiger Woods over South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford). Now I don't think the Pats will get by Baltimore in the first round. Thanks again, Kirk.
A: I would feel worse about this if there had been a 1A or even a solid No. 2 choice for the Athlete of the Year. But there was no one. Kevin Youkilis? Jon Lester? Rajon Rondo? Come on. In terms of guilt, this is nothing compared to how I felt nine months after naming Bryce Florie “The Pitcher Least Likely to Take A Line Drive Off the Grill” in 1999.
Another brilliant decision by the coach.
After the beating Welker took all season, he should not have even dressed for this game.
Our genius coach has cost us yet another game with bad decisions.
A: I could almost buy this argument if Welker’s injury hadn’t been one of the all-time flukes. I understand that Welker has taken some rough hits this season, but is that the reason he tore his ACL and MCL? Of course not. You saw the injury, he’s made that cut hundreds of times in games or even at practice.
If Belichick thought Welker was healthy, he was going to play him. I think we have enough evidence by now to figure out that the Patriots' philosophy is to try to win every game, regardless of the significance of the actual contest. And while I personally don’t agree with it (for instance, I wouldn’t have played any of the key guys in that final regular-season game vs. the Giants in 2007 — the prospect of losing someone to injury meant more to me than 16-0), I do admire it. And if Tony Dungy or Bill Cowher had done it, you would absolutely read endless stories from the national media heaping praise on them for playing “the right way.” But you and I know that’ll never happen with Belichick.
Listening to Belichick on the Big Show on Monday I was struck by two things. 1) He really let Charley Casserly have it, so much so that I almost believe that Brady doesn’t have the broken ribs. 2) He was pretty quick to criticize the conditions of the field at Houston. If he was so down on the field, why play any of the starters at all?
A: It’s not often that Belichick will actually call out someone, but when he does it’s always pretty good stuff (remember Freddie Mitchell?)
“Who’s been wrong more than Charley Casserly since he left the Redskins? His percentage is like a meteorologist,” Belichick said. “He has no relationship to this team. I’d say less than zero. Based on what? He’s never at a practice, never at a game. … At least he put his name on it, which is more than a lot of guys. But, like he usually is, he was 100 percent wrong.”
Nice (though I hope my boy Harvey Leonard isn’t offended). And bonus points for restraint. To blast Charley Casserly and never once mention his toupee is really an astonishing feat. More impressive than beating the Rams in the Super Bowl or going 16-0. I’m serious. That is some piece. Takes a lot of courage to wear it on national TV every week. Looks like the resting spot for a beaver that has just been waterboarded for a couple of hours. But I do wonder why Belichick was so quick to bite back. You have to wonder if there is some truth to it, don’t you?
And I totally agree with you, Dave, on the second point. Why, if Belichick thought the field was lousy, did he play any of the main guys for a single snap? To win a game that meant nothing in the big picture? I don’t know, I really don’t. So he thought the field was unplayable before the game, lost Welker to an injury that could be field-related, and he still keeps Randy Moss, Brady and the rest of the regulars out there for the majority of the game? Again, I applaud the desire to want to win every game, but there are limits.
Hindsight is 20/20. If Welker only played a quarter and didn’t get hurt, nobody would be complaining.
A: Tough to argue with that point, Sid.
Has the offensive play-calling ever been solid? Even in the Charlie Weis years they were calling passes instead of running two minutes off the clock for their defense.
A: I know what you mean, Mike, but this year seems more out of hand than the others in terms of pass vs. run. And I understand that the league has moved closer to 60/40 pass over run, but 19 out of the last 24 plays in a game you were leading by 14 points with less than 10 minutes left? This is a team that averaged 4.1 yards per carry, by the way. Not great, but not what I would term a weakness, either. And Fred Taylor looked good on Sunday. Give him a few carries, see if he can run out the clock. Just seems that Belichick has had no faith in the running game since the Corey Dillon days.
(Looking at Brady’s career stats, I was surprised to see that he actually attempted more passes in both 2002 and 2007 than he did in 2009. Figured this year would have been his career high. He did shatter his career high, however, in times standing on the sideline looking incredibly pissed off.)
RE: Sports Injury List
What about Jim Rice breaking his hand in the last week of the 1975 season and missing the playoffs and World Series? We very well could have been celebrating a championship 29 years sooner!
A: Could’ve made the list, Ralph, but let’s be fair: The Red Sox had a 3-0 lead after five innings of Game 7 of the 1975 World Series vs. the Reds. Unless Jim Rice was going to come in and strike out Tony Perez, I’m not sure you can blame the series loss on his absence. Plus, I can’t give Darrell Johnson (a name 90 percent of the Pink Hats have never heard of) grief for playing Rice in that final week, even with the AL East wrapped up. [Editor's note: Jim Rice's wrist was broken in a game on Sept. 21, 1975, and the Red Sox actually did not clinch the division title until Sept. 27.]
What about Len Bias? Although not technically an injury since he died, that loss set the Celtics spiraling for 20 years.
A: Listen, I put this list together as kind of a goof. I mean, Apollo Creed is on there. (and some have asked why Apollo Creed is on a list of Worst Boston Sports Injuries. I have an answer for that. Not well known, but he summered in Chatham in 1977 and 1978. So there.)
And “Although not technically an injury since he died” always is a nice way to start a sentence, no? That falls somewhere in the top three if you are ever making a “phrases I should never use at a wake” list.
I think Andre Tippett tore his pectoralis muscle in his chest, Ronnie Lippett tore his achilles tendon and Garin Veris tore his ACL and MCl, so I’m not sure about Lippett presenting the neck brace to Steve Grogan. I think it was worn by Grogan for his own neck injury.
A: Are you trying to tell me that when I wrote on Sunday that Ronnie Lippett presented Grogan with a neck brace in a pregame ceremony before the season-opener in 1989 I was mistaken? I’m almost sure this happened. I think it was right after Ray Berry did a tasteful 45-minute acoustic set that included a powerful version of Neil Young’s “Old Man”.
Jason Varitek runs away with the Worst Athlete of the Year. He STINKS. Anyone who bats .157 over three months has to be a lock for the award.
A: But expectations have to play a part, don't they? If I had told you before the 2009 season that Varitek was going to hit .209 with 14 homers you wouldn't have exactly keeled over from shock, right? If Jason Bay had put up those numbers he would have been the choice, but Varitek? Nah. Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess were maybe more productive than Varitek (OK, they definitely were. In fact, I bet both probably could have hit higher than .157 over the last three months of a baseball season) but they both fell way short of expectations in 2009. More so, in my estimation, than any other athlete in Boston in 2009.
Do you know what the 16 players you mention in your Jim Rice rant have in common? You never saw any of them play, either. Quick: What position did Minnie Minoso play? What was Tommy Heinrich's nickname? Did he bat left or right?
Stick to your fantasy crap, dink. I'm amazed that you're still on this website. Of course you don't get paid, do you?
A: I get paid in something called experience bucks, my friend. And Rob Bradford has promised me it will soon be legitimate currency. Already it gets me 10 percent off of any item at all local Long John Silver's. And Rob Bradford has promised me that there will soon be Long John Silver's locally. So, needless to say, I'm not sweating it.
Look, the last time Jim Rice was a really good player was 30 years ago. So which am I going to have more faith in — the three-decade old memories of guys like Jack or baseball-reference.com? Which is more likely to be clouded or biased? Which is more likely to forget things?
I believe in numbers. If that makes me, to quote CHB from his hideously ill-informed cnnsi.com column on Monday (more on that later), a "stat geek, get-a-lifer sucking all the joy out of our national pastime" that is exactly what I am. Here's the truth, and I know it's going to drive some people crazy: I never saw Dick Allen play. I never saw Jim Rice play in his prime. But I know that Dick Allen was a better hitter, and was a better hitter by a lot. His career slugging percentage is 32 points higher, his career OBP is 26 points higher. I know, I know, Rice was more "feared" than Allen, right? Well, it seems that opposing managers were so scared of incurring Rice's wrath that they were actually afraid to intentionally walk him. Now THAT is commanding respect.
Rice: 9,058 career plate appearances, 77 intentional walks
Allen: 7,314 career plate appearances, 138 intentional walks
Someone tell me what I'm missing. What makes Rice a better hitter? It sure isn't a case of Jim Ed being hurt by his ballpark (Allen's career road OPS is 103 points higher than Rice's, or roughly the difference between Jason Bay and Mike Lowell in 2009). The answer, of course, is that he isn't a better hitter. Isn't it all right to just admit that and move on? If you liked Rice as a player and were happy to see him get into the HOF, great. There are plenty of players who should be voted off the Cooperstown island before James Edgar. But there are also dozens of guys that aren't in that had better careers.
And it's not the worst thing in the world to be just plain wrong sometimes, either. Happens with me all the time. Until 1996 I thought "Danger Zone" was the greatest song ever written. Now I realize that it's just one of the top five.
K-Fed wannabe (Minihane), What exactly is your problem with Jim Rice, anyways? You were skipping around in your Brady Bunch PJ's with your Barbie and Ken slippers when he was mashing the ball and keeping the Sox legit. You can find bad stats on any player in the Hall of Fame if you go looking for them. Get over it. So you didn't start in minor league, or any league I assume ... move on.
A: First of all, my Brady Bunch pajamas had footsies, so there was no need for Ken and Barbie slippers. And this could be the only time that it might even be close to relevant to mention that I once sat next to Ann B. Davis (Alice) on a flight from Manchester to Baltimore. Very nice woman, and I still maintain had I played my cards right the Mile High Club was not out of the question. Sure, she was 82 at the time ,but we are still talking about a legit celebrity, right?
I have nothing left to say or write about Jim Rice. I was happy to see him get into the Hall of Fame, just as I was happy to see Andre Dawson get the call on Wednesday. Do I think that there are others who should be in before either guy? Of course. Is the Hall of Fame in any way worse off because The Hawk and Jim Ed are members? Of course not. That's about it.
And before I get into this next thing, let me be clear: I think the majority of Hall of Fame voters A) view the right to choose who goes into Cooperstown as a privilege and B) put a lot of thought into which candidates get a check next to their name on the ballot.
But then there are the Jay Mariottis of the world (thanks to Baseball Ink for the transcript) …
"I didn't vote for anybody in the baseball Hall of Fame this year. Ya know why? To me ... the first ballot is sacred. I think Roberto Alomar is an eventual Hall of Famer, not the first time. Edgar Martinez, designated hitter, eventually, but not the first time. Same goes for maybe Fred McGriff. As far as Blyleven and Dawson ... If they haven't gotten in for years and years I cannot vote them in now. Ripken, Rickey Henderson and Gwynn. They are true first ballot Hall of Famers, but I didn't vote for anybody, throw me out of the Baseball Writers. I don't care."
This is what happens when ESPN allows people to make a living simply by being a buffoon (keep in mind that he has voted for Dawson and Blyleven in past years). Mariotti knows that this will bring attention and controversy, so he just does it to stay “in character.” Same goes for Woody Paige, who wrote this beaut a few years back…
"Gossage — During a visit to Yankee Stadium in the late 1970s, I wanted to talk to Goose but was told he was cruel and gruff to reporters. I sheepishly introduced myself and said I was from Colorado, his home state, and he talked pleasantly for 30 minutes. We've been good friends since. I would vote for him even if he wasn't deserving”
Perfect. I’m glad Bill James doesn’t have a vote. You know how every year someone completely random gets a single vote in the balloting (this year it was David Segui)? I used to wonder why this happened. Now I get it.
But back to Shaughnessy and his SI.com column from Monday. Let’s take a quick look at a few of his thoughts on the 2010 HOF ballot.
In 18 seasons, all with the Seattle Mariners, Edgar batted .312 with an on-base percentage of .418 and a slugging percentage of .515. This makes him one of 20 players in hardball history with lifetime numbers over .300, .400 and .500, respectively. He has a higher on-base percentage than Stan Musial, Wade Boggs and Mel Ott.
Okay. Nice. Like me, it seems pretty clear that Dan thinks Edgar Martinez should walk right into the Hall of Fame. That paragraph is the best case you can make for his induction. A no-brainer. So let’s move on and see who else he is voting for.
The Mariners have campaigned madly for Edgar and it pains me to withhold my vote, but I just can't bring myself to put him in Cooperstown alongside Ted Williams, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.
Uh, what happened? When did the three greatest hitters in baseball history become the standard for the Hall of Fame? Does he belong alongside Ray Schalk, Tony Perez and Joe Tinker?
Well, at least Dan has his standard and sticks to it. Only hitters that can put up the numbers of Ruth, Williams and Gehrig. This explains why he has never voted for a single player in his quarter-century as a HOF voter. Look at his blank HOF column from 2008 …
But he belongs in the Hall. He could hit for average and he could hit for power and he finished in the top five in MVP voting six times. Twenty other players have gathered between 70 and 75 percent of the vote and every one of them ultimately made it to Cooperstown. Now it's Rice's turn. Just in time.
Uh-oh. Javert returns.
OK, I’ll bite, Dan. Why is Edgar Martinez (.312/.418/.515) not a Hall of Famer and why did Jim Rice (.298/.352/502) get your vote? Did you stumble upon a new statistic that makes up for Edgar’s 135-point career edge in OPS in neutral parks. I’m ready for it, Danny. Here we go….
Some guys just strike you as Cooperstown-worthy and others do not. Edgar Martinez was a very fine hitter, but I never said to myself, "The Mariners are coming to Fenway this weekend. I wonder how the Sox are going to pitch to Edgar Martinez?''
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how one of the country’s best known sportswriters makes his choice for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
And then there’s this, of course ...
It was different with players like Eddie Murray and Jim Rice. They were feared. Murray got into Cooperstown in his first year of eligibility (thanks to 500 homers, no doubt), while it took Rice 15 years to finally get the required 75 percent of votes. Both were feared sluggers who spent a lot of time in the field before becoming DHs as elder statesmen.
When you have not a shred of statistical evidence to back up your case, play the fear card. Works every time! I mean, that’s why Rice has 40 times the career IBBs that Edgar has, right?
Rice: 77 IBB in 9,058 plate appearances
Edgar: 113 IBB in 8,672 plate appearances
Yeah, but did Edgar ever make Joe Altobelli soil himself in the dugout? Huh?
Wait. It gets better. He votes for Bert Blyleven (good choice), Roberto Alomar (good choice) and Jack Morris (not my favorite candidate, but not a terrible vote). Would’ve liked to have seen Tim Raines and Edgar on there, but not an embarrassing ballot by any stretch. Leave it alone and call it a day, right?
Not CHB. He just can’t help himself.
Morris won 254 games in 18 seasons and pitched one of the greatest World Series games of all time, a 10-inning, 1-0 Game 7 victory over the Braves in 1991. There's already support for Boston blowhard Curt Schilling, who won't be on the ballot for another three years, but Morris has to get in before Schilling gets in. Morris was better.
“And Credibility Airlines is now departing. Please have your personal animosity stored in an upright position.”
Seasons with an ERA under 3.30: Schilling eight, Morris three.
Seasons with a WHIP under 1.10: Schilling eight, Morris none (Morris never had a season with a WHIP as good as Schilling’s career number of 1.14.
Yep, Morris pitched maybe the best single World Series game in history. And he was a really good postseason pitcher. A 7-4 record with an ERA of 3.80 is nothing to send back to the kitchen when it comes to October. Is it Schilling’s 11-2 record with a 2.23 ERA? Nope. But still not too shabby.
I have to think Dan knows that Morris isn’t in Schilling’s league. So why does he write that stuff? Simple: He doesn’t like Schilling as a person. If Schilling had never pitched in Boston there is no way Dan claims that Morris was better.
But hey, now I know that Roberto Alomar was as good as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. Thanks, Dan.
Thanks for the mention in your story today. It's fun to see things like this. But there was a little error. I broke this record in Plano, Texas. Not Maine.
A: Anytime the world record holder for most strawberries dipped in chocolate in one minute (53) AND longest drum roll (four hours, 10 minutes, 12 seconds) feels the need to correct the facts, he is welcome to do so. This seems as good a place as any to call it a day, doesn’t it?
I think the Pats make enough plays to win a close one on Sunday. Call it 24-17.