I do try to control my raging Boston homer impulses here on UmpBump, but there’s only so much a girl can do. I’ve just got all these BoSox-centered thoughts rattling around in the old bean, and I’ve got let some of them out! But if you stick it out for a few paragraphs, there will be some assorted MLB-wide random thoughts towards the end.
Curt Schilling may be an opinionated guy, but he’s not afraid to admit when he’s wrong. He played catch yesterday, after what he described as his longest period without throwing a ball since he was five years old. And he admitted that the course of rehab recommended by the Red Sox doctors—which he fought tooth and nail—is working. And the weight bonus has been dropped from his contract. Bartolo Colon is pitching for Pawtucket on Saturday. And yesterday, Boston’s other old man, knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, threw 8 innings of shut-out ball in Detroit. Good times for Boston’s venerable hurlers.
Julio Lugo began the day ranked at the bottom of all defensive categories for big-league shortstops. He had the most errors (9), the lowest fielding percentage (.919), was last in assists per nine innings (2.36), and last in range factor (3.49). The rest of the Sox infield? Mike Lowell, Sean Casey, and Dustin Pedroia have one error apiece, Kevin Youkilis none. Most of Lugo’s errors have come on routine plays, an indictment of his fundamental skills more than his athleticism…
This jibes with what I’ve been observing. Lugo gets to the ball and then bobbles it, or lets it go under his glove, or even snags it and then throws it away. It just seems like he’s not focused, as if he’s thinking too many steps ahead instead—he looks like he’s taking his eye off the ball when it’s coming to him and then getting rid of it before he gets his feet under him. Basic stuff. Lugo has called himself an aggressive shortstop and has admitted that sometimes, his enthusiasm results in mistakes. I wish he’d get a little more Zen-master-like focus.
Anyway, compare Edes’ observation, above, with this sentence from Nick Cafardo, the man who took over the Sunday Notes column from him:
Is there a shortstop alive with more range than the Angels’ Erick Aybar (please, no “range factor” stats)?
Ugh. For the record, Erick Aybar is leading MLB shortstops in range factor this season. He’s 13th in fielding percentage. Or, if you’re Nick Cafardo, in “‘fielding percentage’ stats.” Cafardo also interviewed Johnny Damon, who sounds like a bit of an ass:
You’re 34 years old with more than 2,100 hits. Do you ever think about playing a long time and getting 3,000 hits and possibly making it to the Hall of Fame?
JD: “I’m starting to think about it. I never thought about it because it’s a team game and there are so many pitches I took to try to work the pitch count to make it easier on people like [David] Ortiz, Mike Sweeney, and Manny [Ramírez]. I mean, what if I just swung and got the hits and all the times I played when I shouldn’t have to make sure other guys stay fresh? If you think about that over seven or eight years, how many would I have had? I’m starting to think about it more.”
Apparently, Johnny Damon could have had a lot more hits by now, if he hadn’t been trying to selflessly help the team. (Whaaa?)
At a recent game in the Fens, we were sitting right behind the Boston bullpen. We watched Hideki Okajima rub the parrot for good luck before the game. We watched Julian Tavarez flirting with the girls seated next to us. Billy the bullpen cop saw an adorable little boy walk up to the metal fencing and peek down into the pen; Billy got Jonathan Papelbon to walk over to the fence and say hi. The little boy’s eyes widened to the size of catchers’ mitts. We saw the guys trying to throw pumpkin seeds into a plastic cup. (Only one seed went in, by my count, but some unseen hand was throwing those seeds with a lot of great, biting movement on ‘em. It would really dive in against a righthanded hitter, with good downward break as well. Wonder who that was?)
Boston’s now enjoying a 4-game lead for first place in the AL East. The Rays are 4 back, the struggling Yanks and the Jays a game behind them, and the Orioles are back in the cellar where they belong.
Other MLB randomness:
Have you ever noticed how Placido Polanco has a head like a midget? It’s a midget-shaped head on a regular-sized body. Strange.
Barry Zito will return to the starting rotation without making any appearances out of the bullpen. This seems less like a return to sanity on the part of San Francisco management than like they utterly and completely lack for any sort of plan, at all. But then, we knew that.
The players’ association is investigating suspicions of collusion regarding unsigned veterans like Kenny Lofton and Barry Bonds. But old is old and indicted is indicted, no?
MLB looked into the blow-up doll incident in the White Sox clubhouse and decided it was a “team issue.” GM Ken Williams has been assured by Ozzie Guillen that it won’t happen again. Yet the skipper has told the press he sees nothing offensive, immature, or otherwise pathetic with having lewdly positioned blow-up dolls in the clubhouse because it’s a clubhouse, and what happens in the clubhouse should stay in the clubhouse because it’s the clubhouse, goddammit, and if grown men want to play with dolls in their clubhouse than that’s their clubhouse-given right! Clubhouse. (Note to self: rename office cubicle “the clubhouse;” purchase opium; hire harem boys; acquire a quantity of mead, one of those roasted pigs with the apple stuck in its mouth, and a cake; send Outlook invites for Friday afternoon orgy.) Now, it should be noted that there was, at one point, a naked blow-up doll in my freshman year dorm room. I have no idea how it got there, but one day I woke up and saw it, lo and behold, perched atop my roommate’s wardrobe. And a couple of months later, it vanished. I offer this anecdote just by way of saying, random and tasteless blow-up dolls could happen to anyone, anywhere, at any time.