September 2, 2010

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LONGSHOTS: Sox in trouble as September arrives
By Dave Long dlong@hippopress.com

With the arrival of September, baseball heads into the stretch run this week. After losing two of three in Tampa over the weekend the outlook for the Sox is bleak. But they are still alive and with games left with the D-Rays and Yanks a miracle finish is still possible. And along with plenty of things to talk about regarding how Tito, Theo and company have prosecuted things the last few weeks, there are many other stories to talk about as well. So here are a few things to chew on before the magic number hits zero or Pats opening day arrives to take your mind off what’s left of the baseball season.

With Boston being the hub of the baseball universe of course Manny Ramirez winds up at Fenway his first week back in the AL when the White Sox are in town on Friday.

Manny going on waivers in L.A. just two years after the Mannywood phenomena is the latest example of how father time catches up with everyone. Here’s the final tally: an unbelievable first two months, two playoff appearances, a 50-game drug suspension and three stints on the DL this year. Was that worth the $45 million Scott Boras squeezed out of the Dodgers for him?

One last thing on Manny: if you see Dick Lombardi ask him how come, even after getting Jose Guillen, his beloved San Francisco Giants, who are 16th in homers and 17th in runs batted in but still just five games behind San Diego in the NL West, didn’t claim Manny on waivers to give them a bat they needed. As an NL team they had dibs over anyone in the AL.

Here’s the stat of the day: even after losing big stars on offense, the Red Sox are still second in runs and homers and first in total bases, while after being put together for the year on a run-prevention bent, their pitching is 10th in strikeouts, 14th in WHIP and 18th in ERA, even though it was not hard hit by injuries aside from Josh Beckett — who was awful BEFORE he went down.

Ubaldo Jiminez has fallen off a cliff since the Sox got to him for six earned runs on June 23. While he got a no decision that day, going in he was 13-1 with a 1.15 ERA. On Monday he was 17-5 with a 2.71 ERA.

I disagree with Rem Dog’s defense of JD Drew’s catch in foul territory Saturday with a man on third. You never let the tying run score in late innings. Most Little Leaguers would have let that ball drop. It was DUMB.

I get why Johnny Damon may not want to again work for the Red Sox brass, who he thinks low-balled him when he left for New York. But if he’s bothered by the Nation booing him, he really is an idiot. No matter what he did here, which was a lot, what do you expect when you leave the Red Sox to go play for the Yankees? Fans don’t care about “good business decisions,” they care about him playing for the enemy.

That being said, I still love the T-shirts that said of him, “Looks like Jesus, acts like Judas, throws like Mary.”

And one more thing: while admittedly letting the first World Series win in 1968 slip through his legs isn’t as bad as becoming a Yankee, fans here gave Bill Buckner a standing ovation the day he came to bat on his second tour with the team.

I like the irony that as Roy Halladay leads the NL in earned run average the guy who Toronto wanted in any deal for him — Clay Buchholz — leads the AL at 2.21. And I’ll ask those in the Nation who wanted to gift wrap Buck in a deal for Halladay: who would you rather have now?

For those willing to give up Ellsbury in a deal for Adrian Gonzalez, doesn’t it make more sense to just sign Adrian Beltre instead and keep Ellsbury? Gonzalez’s numbers are .299, 27 and 86 to Beltre’s .323, 23 and 88.

By the way, Adam LaRoche, who was here for about a week here last year, has one more RBI than Gonzalez while playing for the D-Backs.

It’s been a rough summer for baseball players from the ’50s and ’60s as Cal McLish passed away last week. While he wasn’t a household name for his pitching, he did a have a memorable full name, which was Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish.

How weird is this? There hasn’t been a triple crown winner in 43 years and right now three different players have a legitimate shot to do it in the National League. As of Monday Albert Pujols led in homers and RBI and was five points behind Colorado’s Carlos Gonzales in the batting race. The Reds’ Joey Votto is three homers and two RBIs behind Albert and just a point behind Gonzalez, while Gonzalez is six homers and five RBI behind Pujols.

Baseball 101: How many of the 15 triple crown winners in history can you name? Here are a few hints: three guys did it twice. When Yaz did it in 1967, it was the second consecutive year it was done. And in the 1930s it was done three years in a row and in 1933 it was done in both the AL and NL.

A year after hitting .334 in 2009, Derek Jeter is hitting .270. That’s the lowest of his career by more than 20 points. So with him up for a new deal it must have the Yanks wondering if it is just a bad year or it’s time beginning to catch up to him at 36. And does it surprise anyone else that he’s probably going to finish with around 275 homers and has an outside shot at 300?

After all the hype about Joba Chamberlain — considering he’s now demoted out of being the eight-inning bridge guy — should we now call him JaMarcus Chamberlain after the failed Raiders #1 pick JaMarcus Russell?

Baseball 101 Answer: The triple crown winners are Nap Lajoie (1901), Ty Cobb (1909), Heine Zimmerman (1912), Rogers Hornsby (1922 & ’25), Jimmy Foxx (1932 & ’33), Chuck Klein (1933 NL), Lou Gehrig (1934), Ducky Medwick (1937), Ted Williams (1942 & ’48), Mickey Mantle (1956), Frank Robinson (1966) and Yaz.

It’s possible the Red Sox may finish with the third-best record in baseball and not make the playoffs.

While you can point to bad performances by some big-money pitchers, if you are in the Nation I don’t see how you can’t be impressed with how Darnell McDonald, Daniel Nava and the rest of the call-ups performed in helping them stay in it despite all the injuries.

That’s why even though Tito’s been driving me crazy for over a year now and we have vast philosophical differences, I know he had a lot to do with it. So that’s why I now call him the Manny Ramirez of managers, because the pluses outweigh the minuses.

Dave Long can be reached at dlong@hippopress.com. He hosts Dave Long and Company from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Saturday on WGAM – The Game, 1250-AM Manchester, 900-AM Nashua.


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02/09/2006 Nomar curses from the UL's Sullivan
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A lesson for Leo the Lip and nice guys everywhere

Chop House opening is Berra of good news
Event-filled weekend missed en route to evil empire
Hero’s death lays to rest misuse of the word
Saint Theo ascends to new heights in The Nation
Santa sack filled to the brim with sports
Patriots march through injuries toward threepeat
Sports talk should be on the air
Stars shine brightest when winning is in the mix
The Demonization of Johnny Damon
Thirty-seven topics and so little space
Too many holes in Sox for repeat
Trip to the injured list makes it a long weekend for local scribe
Turkeys and giving thanks take center stage this week
Yanked from the edge of your seat