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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.

Gordon Edes (still at the Boston Globe, at least for the time being) had a quick observation about Julio Lugo:

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.

15 Responses to “Random Thoughts on the Red Sox, midget-heads, blow-up dolls, and other sundries”

  1. People Eating Tasty Animals?

    GoVeg.com?

    How droll.

    Something along the lines of petakillsanimals.com seems more appropriate.

    Besides, we are talking about DC. With all the lawyers, GoVeg.com lacks a certain . . .bloodthirstiness.

  2. Sarah Green says:

    An update: it appears that the Tigers have remembered how to score runs. They’re in Chicago today and it’s 5-5 in the bottom of the 5th. (That’s a lot of fives!)

    Unfortunately, we’re also getting a good look at just how craptastic the back end of their rotation is, as Nate Robertson has given up 7 hits and 2 walks in five innings, along with those 5 earned runs.

  3. Lyndsay says:

    I love the randomness of this post, Sarah.

    another random note: I hate Magglio Ordonez’s stupid fucking hair. it makes me wish he would just get it over with and do the Slater dance while he’s hanging out in the outfield.

    also, is it me or does Dennis Eckersley have the biggest fucking mancrush on Clay Buchholz right now? watch his post-games – it doesn’t matter who pitched the game, he’s like “nevermind Wakefield, I could just watch Clay Buchholz pitch forever and ever! sigh…”

    he’s as giddy as I am every time Jacoby comes up to bat. I have seen none of the blogs post on this yet, but I would like it duly noted.

  4. Lyndsay says:

    I mean, Tom Caron literally has to cut him off. I’m starting to suspect that the Eck and Clay Buchholz are dating.

  5. Sarah Green says:

    Yes, Lyndsay, I have noticed it too. The Eck has a huge mancrush on the Buck. (That’s the first time I’ve tried out that nickname, and I don’t think I like it…it sounds dirty.) In fact, if he’s doing the postgame show tonight I expect a lot of “Well, he only when four innings, and yeah, he gave up some runs, but he’s still so young. I mean, did you see those three changeups in a row? He really owned Curtis Granderson. He’s just got such great aggressiveness, he’ll throw any pitch in any count, and that’s just a great thing in a pitcher. He’s got such a presence on that mound. It reminds me a little bit of me, heh heh…” [fluffs mullet with hint of pride]…”he’s just got such a great future ahead of him.”

    PS—Agree with you about Magglio’s hair. Even worse is the raging hat-head when he takes off his batting helmet. WTF?

    PPS—JULIO LUGO IS GOING TO LOSE THIS GAME. OH MY GOD. TWO ROUTINE PLAYS! TWO BOBBLES! TWO ON, NONE OUT IN THE NINTH! SOX ONLY UP BY ONE RUN! Papelbon is going to make him eat his jock after the game.

  6. Sarah Green says:

    Ugh. Tigers walk off with a gift win after Lugo can’t turn a single routine play in the bottom of the ninth. Papelbon walks all calm-like back to the dugout, walks over to the bench, turns around, and then suddenly kicks the ever-loving crap out of two Gatorade coolers sitting on the dugout steps.

    I just know he was imagining they were Julio Lugo. It’s okay, Pap. I know he’s your teammate but you’re only human.

  7. melissa says:

    To the Chi-Sox the clubhouse is like Vegas, what happens in the clubhouse stays in the clubhouse. That seems to be the reaction of most of the players and Ozzie. It’s too bad that they think bizarre facial hair and playing with blow-up dolls can actually make them better at baseball. What I find interesting is that this was not a story in Chicago until after the Toronto papers wrote about it. None of the Chicago beat writers gave it any ink at all so evidently they thought it was Vegas as well.
    Placido Polanco looks like he needs to have holes drilled into his temples to relieve the pressure created by his wide forehead. He has to be in the top 5 of the most bizarre looking players in baseball. Jorge Cantu of the Marlins is the only guy I can think of that looks scarier.

  8. Melissa, it’s not unusual that none of the Chicago beat writers were eager to write about the blow up dolls. Those writers need access. If they start blogging about every little gossipy item from the clubhouse, it won’t be long before players stop talking to them.

    Toronto reporters, on the other hand, don’t need to talk to White Sox players on a regular basis.

  9. Sarah Green says:

    Well, it’s also not really clear to me whether this was a continuously appearing “shrine” or just a stunt they pulled in the visitors’ clubhouse in Toronto. Either way, it was clearly more offensive to Canadian sensibilities than Chicagoan ones.

    What I find kind of sad is that neither the players nor the manager seemed to see anything at all lame about it. I cannot really see Jim Leyland or Terry Francona or Joe Maddon letting things get that far.

  10. Lyndsay says:

    hehe, I was just about to ask, Sarah, how ’bout everyone’s favorite team liability last night, ay? I know how much you love him.

    The Eck surprisingly held back his feelings toward the Buck last night. he seemed overly concerned though about Buck’s “injured” ankle – “can someone please check on him? please? is he ok? can you guys fly me out to Detroit tonight so I can personally ice it? I think the kid needs Dr. Eck right now.”

    all in all a very entertaining game though…what with Youk all mumbling and angry at the ump most of the game. that was one of the more hilarious things I’ve seen on the basepaths in a while.

  11. Lyndsay says:

    Melissa, I always vote for Allan Embree on the bizarre-looking player scale.

    But yes Polanco’s head I noticed is definitely wide, like someone smashed it down into his neck from above. on the other side of the head size spectrum…Clay Buchholz’s head is way too SMALL for his body. it looks like at the end of “Beetlejuice” when B’s head starts shrinking (I really hope someone remembers this!) so that was interesting matchup last night.

  12. Lyndsay says:

    also, I would really like for once one of the reporters in the post-game press conference to come out and ask Tito, “when is the team going to address the issue of how much Julio Lugo fucking SUCKS?” props for balls if it’s Heidi Watney that does that (probably not though, she’s still kinda clueless).

  13. Sarah Green says:

    I think the Buck looks like a sort of desert lizard, that loooong neck seamlessly conjoined to that small, pointy head, the heavily lidded eyes….even the darting, flickering way he moves when he shakes off Varitek. It’s very reptilian.

  14. melissa says:

    Coley,
    You are definitely right about beat reporters trying to stay in the good graces of the players and manager. I don’t think they were afraid to talk about it though, I just think they didn’t see it as a big story. Sunday before the game Sun-Times beat reporter, Joe Cowley actually mentioned it in passing when he was on the radio with the White Sox pre-game host. He said that the Sox had erected a shrine including blow-up dolls in an effort to break their hitters’ slumps. He and the host just laughed it off as if it was a non-story. They also mentioned that the day before players had shaved the 3rd base coach in an effort to bring good luck, I find this more horrifying personally. On Monday it was mentioned on local sports radio that Toronto papers had written about it and Tuesday is when it became front page headlines on the Sun-Times. That’s also when all of the columnists started their finger wagging and tsk-tsking. So in this instance I don’t think the writers thought twice about it being offensive just that it was typical juvenile clubhouse behavior. I would also add that it was in fact a one time incident from everything that’s been reported in Chicago. The other factor that might have played into the reporting is the fact that it occurred on the same day that Ozzie went into an obscenity filled tirade against the fans and media in Chicago before the game. Had Ozzie’s tirade not occurred they might have used this story to fill space.

  15. Lyndsay says:

    hmmm lizard. yes. I noticed last night that his eyes kind of bulge out, like when he was being interviewed in the clubhouse after the game, and it pretty much scared me how big his eyes got.

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