July 2009

Colon Irritation

No need to worry, Bartolo Colon has been located.

 

When I heard the news yesterday that the Chicago White Sox were having a hard time locating the former Cy Young Award winner I was neither surprised nor concerned.  The PawSox saw plenty of that act last season.

 

Colon was Pawtucket’s starting pitcher in the first and last games of the 2008 season and pitched brilliantly in both of them.  In the season opener, Bartolo combined with 3 relief pitchers on a 1-hit shutout.  In Pawtucket’s final playoff game at Scranton/WB, he threw 7.2 scoreless innings in a riveting duel with Phil Hughes, before the Yankees won 2-0 in extra innings.

 

Overall with Pawtucket, Colon was 3-1 with a 2.27 ERA.

 

But with apologies to Austin Powers, Bartolo was the true “International Man of Mystery.”  He missed nearly three months of the season due to injuries and was rarely around to rehab.  Colon was constantly returning to the Dominican Republic to attend to personal matters and barely maintained contact with manager Ron Johnson.  When he was scheduled to start, Bartolo would pop into the clubhouse with a large entourage an hour or two before game time and say that he was ready to go.

 

Bartolo also pitched well for Boston, going 4-2 with a 3.92 ERA, but the Red Sox eventually decided he wasn’t worth the headaches and suspended him without pay on September 19th.  That was the end of his tenure in Boston.

 

Now it’s the White Sox turn to deal with a Colon irritation.  I was amused to read these comments from Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen today in the Chicago Sun-Times:

 

”To talk to Colon, you got to talk to 20 different people,” Guillen said.  “You got to talk to 30 different cousins of his agent who talks to his brother, his brother calls his wife, his wife says he’s with Pedro, Pedro says he’s with Juan. I guarantee you, I’ll call [President] Obama, and we’ll have a talk before Colon answers the phone.  It’s just the way he is. I remember when we signed him. We called the Dominican Republic, and it took three days to get in touch with him.”

Today’s article about Colon’s “disappearance” is pretty funny.  You can read it here.

Bartolo is scheduled to make a rehab start for Charlotte tonight and I bet he pitches well.

Just don’t count of hearing from him again for several days.

 

Winning With Smoke and Mirrors

Wednesday’s 12-0 loss at Lehigh Valley provided the latest evidence that the PawSox are extremely fortunate to be 3 games over .500 and only 5 games out of first place.

 

Here is an incredible stat.  So far this season, Pawtucket has scored a league-worst 278 runs while allowing 333.  That means the PawSox have been outscored by 55 runs this year and have still managed to go 43-40 through 83 games.

 

I don’t claim to be Bill James, but the odds of having a winning record while being outscored by more than half a run per game have to be staggering.  I spent about an hour searching online for a “Pythagorean winning percentage calculator” that would allow me to plug in runs scored and run allowed and find out what the PawSox record should be, but came up empty.  Fortunately, after I originally posted this entry, I received a timely response from redsoxstats.mlblogs.com:

 

The Pythagorean winning percentage for 278 runs score and 333 runs allowed is 42%. That would come out to 35 wins and 48 losses over 83 games. So the PawSox currently have 8 more wins than they are expected to have at this point.

 

Tremendous.  Thanks for the info!

 

Lately, the PawSox have stayed above water thanks largely to Clay Buchholz and a great bullpen, but sooner or later, the team is going to have to score some runs to remain in contention for a playoff berth.

 

As we approach the all-star break, there is not a single player on the team who is hitting within 15 points of his career batting average.  As the old saying goes, the back of the baseball card doesn’t lie – a few of Pawtucket’s good hitters are bound to have better second halves.

 

* * * * *

 

Is there anything better than finding a crumpled-up $20 bill in one of your pockets that you completely forgot about?

 

Actually, there is – getting a paycheck for a job you didn’t even realize you performed.

 

That happened to Travis Denker recently.

 


Denker.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

The PawSox second baseman received a pretty sizable check for appearing in a TV commercial for Kraft foods.  That came as quite a surprise since Travis has no relationship with the company (other than liking their macaroni and cheese) and has done no acting.

 

Travis’s folks e-mailed to say that they have learned the following about his commercial.

 

“It will begin airing on Friday 7/10 nationally. It’s a Kraft singles commercial, some kinda promo for minor league ball I believe. The Ad agency said it can be viewed on Kraft’s website beginning on Friday as well.” 

 

It must be an ad for Kraft’s Tuesday Night Tickets promotion where you can buy a ticket and get one free with a Kraft singles wrapper.

 


kraft_singles resize.jpg 

 

Maybe Kraft went with Travis thinking they were using actor Richard Grieco.

 

* * * * *

 

Kris Johnson had a rough outing on Wednesday allowing 5 runs (4 ER) in 3 IP, but since the PawSox were shutout on 3 hits, his chances of getting a win weren’t exactly great regardless of how well he pitched.

 

That’s nothing new for KJ.  It was the third time the PawSox have failed to score in one of his outings, and Pawtucket has scored 2-or-fewer runs in 11 of his 15 starts. 

 

* * * * *  

 

Did you read the news that Lenny Dykstra has filed for bankruptcy?

 

PawSox manager Ron Johnson is not among the people who claim that Dykstra bilked him out of large sums of money, but RJ does have a connection to the former Mets and Phillies star – Dykstra’s dad was RJ’s Pop Warner football coach.

 

Johnson and Dykstra both attended Garden Grove High School in Southern California which is also the Alma mater of actor and comedian Steve Martin.

 

According to the PawSox skipper, Martin was a cheerleader at Garden Grove and showed his comedic chops at an early age when he got his hands on an enormous bra and waved it around at sporting events while yelling “Support our team!”

 

That’s also where Martin tried to popularize the cheer, “Die you gravy-sucking pigs!”

 

* * * * *

 

There’s one really cool thing about the late night bus ride back home from Allentown. PA.  It’s seeing the New York City skyline at 1:33 in the morning. 

 

One that that wasn’t cool was the overnight construction going on in New Jersey.  It added two hours to the trip, and the team didn’t arrive at McCoy until sometime after 5 am.

 

The movie selections on the bus were Valkyrie and Young Guns, but I opted to read instead.  Can you blame me?

 

* * * * *

 

It will be good to be home on Thursday night as the PawSox play the first of eight straight home games (4 before the all-star break and 4 after it).

 

Billy Traber – who once threw a one-hitter against the Yankees at Yankee Stadium – will make his first start of the year for the PawSox after 27 relief outings.

 

I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.  And tune in early – we’re planning on running a new edition of “At Bat With Nat.”

Scranton/WB Will Lose Home Games

I guess it’s better late than never.

 

After the “drain out” fiasco over the weekend that saw two PawSox games postponed at Scranton/WB under perfect weather conditions, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs will not have to deal with the same headache.

 

Lehigh Valley was scheduled to play there tomorrow and Friday, but the word here is that those games are being moved from Scranton to Allentown.

 

You can read more about the dismal situation in Moosic, PA here.

 

Also, remember the Where’s Waldo children’s books?

 

Pretty soon, there could be a Where’s Lowrie edition.

 

After being sidelined again last night when the Portland Sea Dogs were rained out, Jed is scheduled to play for the Lowell Spinners tonight in a drastic attempt to get on the field somewhere.

 

He is scheduled to rejoin the PawSox on Thursday night at McCoy Stadium.

 

Weather permitting, of course.

 

The weather is georgeous here in Lehigh Valley as the PawSox go for the 2-game sweep over the Iron Pigs.

 

I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

A Familiar Face . . . And Scent

Prior to Pawtucket’s 6-2 win over Lehigh Valley on Tuesday night, the PawSox and Iron Pigs had not faced each other since April 27th.  Naturally, both teams have made numerous roster changes over the past two months, and I was amused when I looked at Lehigh Valley’s roster and saw LHP Gustavo Chacin.

 

Chacin was the inspiration for a running gag on our broadcasts over the past several years – a cologne named for my broadcast partner called “Hyder For Everyone.”

 

Allow me to explain.

 

When Chacin (pronounced sha-seen) pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2004, a broadcaster in Toronto decided that his last name sounded like a high-brow men’s fragrance and often talked about creating “Chacin For Men” cologne.

 

Eventually, the Blue Jays did. They held a Chacin Cologne Night in Toronto where 10,000 fans received a small container.

 

Here was the promotional poster.

 


Chacin resize.jpg 

The pitcher actually helped design his own fragrance.  Chacin visited Canada’s Leslie Cosmetics where they had him smell essential base ingredients to mix together.  He picked citrus, woodsy, and amber.

 

I told this story one night when Chacin pitched against the PawSox, and we decided that if there was a “Chacin For Men” cologne, then there should also be a “Hyder For Everyone.”

 

The essential ingredients in Steve’s fragrance are three of his favorite aromas:  Budweiser, chicken wing sauce, and the crisp, salty ocean air of his native Rhode Island.

 

You would wear that cologne wouldn’t you?

 

* * * * *

 

Tuesday’s game at Coca-Cola Park was a sellout, and the capacity crowd of 10,000 put Lehigh Valley over the one million mark in franchise history.

 

To mark the occasion, a fan in attendance named Terry Toth was chosen at random and honored as the one millionth fan in team history.

 

He received several prizes including a pair of 2010 season tickets.

 

Not bad, but I was a little underwhelmed by his other prizes.

 

Toth gets one million sips of Coke, one million potato chips, one million swings at a local driving range, one million kernels of popcorn, one million bites of pretzels, and a one-year supply of candy.

 

With all those snacks, they probably should have thrown in one million trips to the gym.

 

* * * * *

 

Poor Jed Lowrie.

 

After back-to-back “drain outs” at Scranton/WB, the Red Sox sent Jed to Portland to make sure he could some much-needed at-bats and Lowrie went 3-for-5 in his first game for the Sea Dogs on Monday.

 

So what happened Tuesday?  Portland got rained out.

 

Weather permitting; Jed will be in Portland’s lineup on Wednesday before rejoining the PawSox at McCoy Stadium on Thursday.

 

* * * * *

 

I wonder if we’re going to see RHP Junichi Tazawa in the near future at McCoy Stadium.

 


Tazawa resize.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Two years ago, Boston promoted then 22-year-old Clay Buchholz to Pawtucket right after the all-star break and he made his Triple-A debut on July 16th.

 

Last year, the Red Sox promoted then 21-year-old Michael Bowden to Pawtucket right after the all-star break and he made his Triple-A debut on July 21st.

 

The 22-year-old Tazawa is 7-5 with a 2.85 ERA for the Sea Dogs. 

 

It will be interesting to see if he follows the same timetable.

 

* * * * *

 

Next week, Philadelphia’s Raul Ibanez will be a starting outfielder for the National League in the All-Star Game, but last night he was in Lehigh Valley’s starting lineup against the PawSox as he rehabs a groin injury.

 

Ibanez got off to an incredible start for the Phillies this year, batting .312 with 22 HR before suffering his injury in mid-June.  Unfortunately, in this day and age, that led a blogger to speculate that Ibanez has used steroids.

 

Ibanez issued a rebuttal in the Philadelphia Inquirer in which he stated that, “You can have my urine, my hair, my blood, my stool–anything you can test. I’ll give you back every dime I’ve ever made if the test is positive.”

 

I asked Hyder is he wanted any of the items Ibanez was offering.  Not surprisingly, Steve declined.

 

* * * * *

The PawSox will go for a 2-game sweep on Wednesday night as they send Kris Johnson to the mound against the Iron Pigs.  I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning with the pre-game show at 6:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

Play Ball!

It’s 72 degrees and partly cloudy here in Moosic, PA and according to the national weather service, there is only a 5 % chance of rain this evening.

 

GAME ON!

 

That’s right, Monday’s doubleheader between Pawtucket and Scranton/WB is a go, as the field has been deemed playable at PNC Field.

 

Game one begins at 5:35 with Michael Bowden on the mound for Pawtucket.  Charlie Zink will go in game two.

 

As I mentioned in a previous post, Jed Lowrie is no longer with the PawSox.  Fearing the possibility of another postponement at Scranton/WB, Lowrie was transferred to Portland and is expected to be in the Sea Dogs starting lineup tonight.

 

However, I have good news for PawSox fans.  It appears likely that Jed will return to Pawtucket on Thursday when the PawSox open a homestand against Buffalo.

 

“I think we’ll probably see him when we get back to Pawtucket,” manager Ron Johnson told me.  “He went down to Portland because we had to make sure he could get some at-bats in.  He’s feeling really good right now.  He got all of his work in here – he’s been running, throwing, and he’s ready to go.  He just needs to play.”

 

I hope you’ll join us for the radio call tonight beginning with the pregame show at 5:20 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

Wake Is An All-Star . . . By George

While reading about Tim Wakefield’s well-deserved selection to the All-Star Team in The Boston Globe today, I was happy to see how much credit was being given to his personal catcher George Kottaras.

 

Kottaras resize.jpg

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

“George has done a tremendous job all year long so far,” Wakefield told reporters, “and I look forward to him continuing to do the kind of work he’s done the whole first half. He’s really filled some very big shoes that have been here in the past and I’m very happy and proud of him.”

“That’s a pretty big compliment to George,” said manager Terry Francona. “Takes Wake right out of the chute and it’s the first time Wake ever makes the All-Star team. I think George should be proud of himself.”

The Canadian-born catcher was with the PawSox in 2007 and 2008 and was out of minor league options this year when he won the job of catching Wakefield in spring training.

Having the opportunity to catch Charlie Zink the last couple of years undoubtedly helped Kottaras, but his ability to handle Wakefield’s knuckler has been remarkable – especially considering that George did not play baseball until he was 15 years old.

My favorite George Kottaras story involves a photograph.  George was a member of the Greek Olympic baseball team in 2004 and met boxer Evander Holyfield at a party in Athens.  After striking up a conversation with the former champ, George asked Holyfield if he would pose for a picture with him.  Just before the photographer snapped the photo, George grabbed Holyfield by the head and pretended to bite his ear.

He says Evander got a big kick out of it.

I wish I had that photo to post on the blog.

No Game Means No More Jed

It’s an absolute joke – and a disgrace.

 

Trust me when I tell you that the weather has been absolutely perfect for the last two days here in Moosic, PA and due to the poor field conditions, the PawSox and Scranton/WB Yankees have not been able to play the first two games of their series.

 

They’ll attempt to play a doubleheader on Monday night at 5:35 pm, and a twinbill has also been scheduled for August 1st.

 

The substandard drainage system at PNC Field has not only cost the PawSox two games under ideal weather conditions – it has cost the team Jed Lowrie.

 


Lowrie SS resize.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

Sunday was the 14th day of Jed’s 20-day injury rehab assignment and he’s only had 14 at-bats so far.  Fearing the possibility of another postponement at Scranton/WB on Monday, the Red Sox are sending Lowrie to the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.

 

“We’re going to make a move with Jed,” manager Ron Johnson told me.  “He got his work in today (Sunday) and he’ll be heading to Manchester tonight to join the Portland team because he’s on a timetable and the clock is running.  I got a call from (Red Sox farm director) Mike Hazen and Theo Epstein while this whole thing was going on, and they were already putting the wheels in motion to get Jed to Portland so that he can get his at-bats in.  I hope to God it doesn’t rain there.”

 

The situation here is bizarre.  I walked around the outfield today and I honestly don’t think it’s that terrible.  Plenty of PawSox players agreed and told me that they can’t believe the games have been cancelled.  Yes, the grass is mushy in spots and someone could twist an ankle, but I honestly don’t think it’s more dangerous than playing on a wet field (which every team in the majors and minors does on a frequent basis).

 

But then again, I’m just a radio guy.

 

Manager Ron Johnson is in a difficult spot because if the home team tells you that their field is unsafe, it’s hard to argue.

 

“I’ve known their manager Dave Miley for 30 years and have a tremendous amount of respect for him and he knows their field better than I do,” RJ told me.  “When you go out there and all of their folks are saying it’s unsafe and unplayable, your choice is really easy.”

 

Sunday marked the 4th time in the last few weeks that Scranton/WB had to cancel a game under sunny conditions.  According to the local newspaper, if the situation continues, the International League could arrange for alternate sites such at Syracuse or Lehigh Valley for Scranton/WB home games.

 

(If there’s one good thing about this fiasco, it’s knowing that the Yankees front office must absolutely be going ballistic)

 

We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Monday night.  According to weather.com, the temperature is going to be in the mid-70′s with no chance of rain during the day and only a slight chance at night.  Not that nice weather seems to matter much.

 

* * * * * 

 

While the PawSox lost one shortstop in Jed Lowrie, they’ve added another as Ivan Ochoa has finally come off of the disabled list.  Ochoa went on the DL on May 1st with a hamstring injury and only recently starting playing in a few games with the Single-A GCL Red Sox where he batted .438 in 5 games.

 

To make room for Ochoa on the active roster, Enrique Gonzalez has been placed on the disabled list with a calf strain.  His spot in the rotation will be filled by Billy Traber, who is expected to make his first start of the year on Thursday at McCoy Stadium.  Traber started 2 games last year for Scranton/WB (tossing 5 scoreless innings) and has started 129 games in his pro baseball career.

 

Traber is 5-3 with a 2.19 ERA in 27 relief appearances this year, and has not allowed a run in his last 16.2 IP.

 

* * * * *

 

You might not be a fan of his work on MSNBC, but Keith Olbermann writes a terrific baseball blog and I strongly encourage you to check out this entry regarding the warm welcome Manny Ramirez has received since returning from his steroid suspension. 

 

Olbermann nails it.

 

* * * * *

 

If the doubleheader actually takes place on Monday night, I hope you’ll tune in for the radio call beginning with the pre-game show at 5:20.  Hoard and Hyder are certainly well-rested.

No Rain, But No Game

The PawSox have just had their first “sun out.”

 

That’s right, it is 75 degrees and sunny here in Moosic, PA and according to weather.com, there is a 0 % chance of rain on Saturday night.

 

Unfortunately, the outfield grass is in such bad shape at PNC Field that tonight’s game between Pawtucket and Scranton/WB has been postponed.  The two teams will play a doubleheader on Sunday night at 5:05.

 

Let’s hope there isn’t any more rain while Pawtucket is in town, because terrible drainage is the reason why the S/WB Yankees are having so many problems.  Unless this area enjoys several consecutive days with no rain, the headaches are going to continue.  S/WB had 6 home games postponed in June, and this is the third time that they had to call a game on a beautiful night for baseball.

 

You have to wonder how that’s going over with the front office folks at Yankee Stadium.  Their development deal with Scranton/WB runs through 2010, and if the field isn’t torn up and fixed in the near future, I can’t imagine the Yankees keeping their top minor league prospects in this market.

 

* * * * *

 

There’s an episode of Seinfeld called “The Handicap Spot” where at Kramer’s insistence, George parks his father’s car in a handicap parking spot.  After a woman is injured because of it, Kramer tries to help the woman by purchasing a wheelchair.

 

The funniest line is when the wheelchair salesman – sounding like a used car dealer – makes the following pitch:

 

Salesman:  This is out best model.  The Cougar 9000.  It’s the Rolls Royce of wheelchairs. This is like … you’re almost glad to be handicapped.

Kramer:  So now, what’s this got?

Salesman:  Inductive joystick, dynamic braking, flip-up arms, it’s fully loaded. I put Stephen Hawking in one of these two months ago, he’s lovin’ it!  It’s rated number one by Hospital Supply and Prosthetic Magazine.

 

I thought of that episode this morning when I boarded the team bus to Scranton because we were given the “Cougar 9000″ of buses by our friends from DATTCO bus lines.

 

We were in a brand new bus with flat-screen TVs, wireless internet, and power outlets at every seat.

 

Throw in a refrigerator and microwave and I might move in.

 

Now all we need are some new DVDs.  The team watched Gran Torino – AGAIN.

 

* * * * *

 

Bad field conditions did not prevent us from broadcasting “PawSox Insider” on Saturday afternoon and we enjoyed some great laughs courtesy of my pal Ken Levine, the comedy screenwriter who currently hosts “Dodger Talk” on KABC radio in Los Angeles after LA Dodgers games.

 

Ken was in attendance in San Diego on Friday night to see Manny Ramirez return from his 50-game drug suspension, and was amused by Manny’s interaction with the media.

 

“Manny had a press conference before the game – it was like four hours before the game, so I guess he was hoping the media throngs hadn’t arrived but we were all here,” Levine told us.  “He said he would discuss anything at all – except for his suspension, steroids, drug use in general, who is doctor was, or the Sarah Palin resignation.  But everything else was fair game.  He did mention that he was looking forward to the game and that he’s one of the greatest players to ever put on a uniform, so it was a press conference filled with revealing information about Manny Ramirez.”

 

Dodgers fans have welcomed back Ramirez with open arms, and Levine admits that fans in Los Angeles don’t seem bothered by his steroid use.

 

“The truth of the matter is, the average baseball fan just wants to be entertained and cares a lot less about steroids and inflated statistics than we (the media) do,” Levine said.  “They just want to see the home runs.”

 

Ken will be following Manny and the Dodgers on a road trip to San Diego, New York, and Milwaukee and is sure to have some hilarious observations.  You can read his blog here.

 

* * * * *

 

I was surprised to see my photo (and Sam’s) on the MLB blog home page.

 

There’s a story about which MLB blogs had the most hits in the month of June, and “Heard it from Hoard” ranked 43rd in its category (which appears to be pretty good for a minor-league related blog).

 

You can read the story here.

 

Thanks for putting me on the list!

 

* * * * *

Pawtucket and Scranton/WB will play a doubleheader on Sunday night at 5:05.  I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning with the pregame show at 4:50 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com. 

Angel in the Infield

It’s too bad they don’t award Gold Gloves in the minor leagues because Angel Chavez would be a shoo-in at third base.

 


Chavez resize.jpg 

(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

“It’s been unbelievable,” Clay Buchholz told me.  “I’ve told a lot of people that he’s the best I’ve ever seen.  I haven’t been in the big leagues for that long, but during the time that I’ve spent up there nobody has surpassed the way he’s played in my eyes.”

 

In Thursday’s 4-3 win over Scranton/WB, Angel made four outstanding plays beginning with a sliding stop to rob the first batter of the game. 

 

“Every time there’s a ball hit within 10 feet of him we expect him to make a great play,” Jeff Natale said.  “I’ve never seen a guy who makes two or three diving plays a night, so it’s fun to watch.”

 

How does PawSox Manager Ron Johnson describe Chavez’s defense at third base?

 

“Cartoon-characterish,” RJ said with a laugh.  “He makes web gems every single night so it becomes the norm.  He’s as good as I’ve ever had – he’s saved us.”

 

Shortstop Gil Velazquez has enjoyed the best view of all, as he’s lined up next to Chavez in 45 games this season.

 

“He’s been a big reason why we’ve been winning even though we’re not hitting the way we should be hitting,” Velazquez told me.  “The play that I love watching him make is the diving play where he throws off of his knees from third base.  I don’t think I’ve even seen a third baseman do that as consistently as he does – he has an awesome arm.”

 

Brooks Robinson won 16 consecutive gold gloves and is generally considered the greatest defensive third baseman in baseball history.  I’m not about to suggest that Angel Chavez is that good – but he’s the best I’ve even seen in the minor leagues.

 

* * * * *

 

I haven’t seen Saturday’s weather forecast for Moosic, PA but it appears that Pawtucket’s game at Scranton/WB could be postponed regardless of the conditions.

 

Scranton/WB replaced an artificial turf field with natural grass a few years ago and the drainage is awful at PNC Field.  I’m told that they’ve had rain in that area on 18 of the last 20 days and that the outfield is in terrible shape.

 

The Yankees had 6 home games rained out in June and it looks like their first home game in July could be in jeopardy.

 

Thank heavens there’s a movie theater close to the team hotel in downtown Scranton.

 

* * * * *

No opposing hitter in the International League scares me as much as slugger Shelly Duncan of Scranton/WB.  Duncan belted 4 home runs in 4 games the last time the Yankees were in town, and ended Pawtucket’s season last year with a 10th inning walk-off  HR in the clinching game of their playoff series.

 

So, do his eyes light up when he sees “Red Sox” on the opposing uniform or is it just a coincidence that he posts huge numbers against Pawtucket?

 

“I’ve gotta believe it’s just a coincidence,” Duncan told me.  “McCoy Stadium is a fun place to play.  It’s a unique stadium and city and I think I can speak for everybody on the team when I say that it’s a lot of fun to come here.  The fans are into it, the atmosphere is great, and I think it gives us a boost of energy when we come here.”

 

* * * * *

 

Pawtucket could pull within 1 games of first place with another win over the Yankees on Friday night.  I hope you’ll join us for the radio call beginning with the pre-game show at 6:00 on the PawSox radio network and PawSox.com.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

 

The Power of 33 (or lack thereof)

So why is David Ortiz only hitting .225 with 8 HR and 36 RBI after 71 games?

 

Because he’s 33 years old.

 

(notice that I DIDN’T say it’s because he’s really OLDER than 33)

 

Could it really be that simple?

 

Papi resize.jpg 

(photos courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)

 

There’s a fascinating story on Sports Illustrated’s website written by my favorite sportswriter Joe Posnanski in which he talks to Boston Red Sox senior advisor Bill James about the significance of the age of 33 in baseball history.

 

You can – and should – read the article here.

 

Posnanski and James make a compelling case that 33 seems to be the age when many great hitters decline.  Here are a few examples from the article:

 

Hall of Famer, Duke Snider
1959, age 32: .308, 23 homers, 88 RBIs
1960, age 33: .243, 14 homers, 36 RBIs

Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle
1964, age 32: .303, 35 homers, 111 RBIs
1965, age 33: .255, 19 homers, 46 RBIs

 

Hall of Famer George Brett
1985, age 32: .335, 30 homers, 112 RBIs
1986, age 33: .290, 16 homers, 73 RBIs

 

This year, the 33-year-olds in major league baseball include Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez (.239), Alfonso Soriano (.230), and Edgar Renteria (.266).

 

Posnanski and James point out that there are exceptions – including current 33-year-old Torii Hunter (.305, 17 HR, 59 RBI) – and note that many of the all-time greats who had bad years at the age of 33, bounced back and had good ones when they were older.

 

Still, it certainly makes you wonder with Big Papi.

 

* * * * *

 

Manny Ramirez returns from his 50-game suspension on Friday night as the Dodgers open a weekend series in San Diego.

 


Manny jersey resize.jpg 

 

We’ve lined up a great guest to discuss “Manny Mania” on Saturday’s edition of “PawSox Insider” – my buddy Ken Levine who co-hosts “Dodger Talk” after every Dodgers game on 790 KABC in Los Angeles.

 

I’ve blogged about Ken before – he’s the guy who wrote a character named Dan Hoard into an episode of The Simpsons.  (If you missed that entry, here it is)

 

He also wrote an episode of Cheers in which a comedy bit for Norm and Cliff was inspired by something he watched me and former PawSox broadcaster Gary Cohen do.

 

Here how Ken described it on his blog:

 

One night in a sports bar in Syracuse, New York, I saw the greatest thing. Gary Cohen (now the TV voice of the NY Mets) and Dan Hoard (the voice of University of Cincinnati football and basketball) started reciting the lyrics of 70′s chart topper “Hot Rod Lincoln” real fast, in perfect unison. The entire song in less than a minute. When they finished the bar exploded in applause. I thought, this would be a great bit for Norm & Cliff on CHEERS. I laid it out for my partner, David who also thought it might be kind of novel.

So we pitched it the CHEERS producers a few months later when we were about to write a script. They looked at us like we were nuts. I said, “Trust me. This will work. This will become one of those classic CHEERS teasers.”

The producers shrugged, and I guess out of respect to our then-prestigious career said, okay, try it.

When they saw the finished draft they still had reservations. It seemed kind of stupid and pointless but so convinced was I that we had struck comedy gold that I made this offer: David and I would perform it at the table reading. We would show all these skeptics. Again, they said go for it.

Everyone assembled for the table reading. The cast, writing staff, some crew members, the studio, and the network. We took our cue and launched into “Hot Rod Lincoln”. And we were great. Having practiced diligently for a week we kicked some serious ***. Truly awesome! And when we were done….

Nothing. Nada. Dead silence. A vacuum. You could hear crickets from a field a mile away.

Just fifty faces staring at us with a mixture of bewilderment and sheer pity.

The embarrassment of that table reading was of course, just the beginning. Back in the writing room, David Lloyd got it started by saying, “So the ‘Hot Rod Lincoln bit – that worked.” Others said they were still not convinced, would we do it again for them? Next week could we perform “Stairway to Heaven”? These jokes continued…for four years. I’m hoping to out live them all because if not I just know they’ll reprise it at my funeral.  

Note to young writers: NEVER guarantee a bit will be a classic. And second note to young writers: NEVER EVER make it worse by trying to prove it.

 

I’ll make this guarantee – Ken will be funny when he joins us this Saturday afternoon at 2:00.  I hope you can catch the show.

 

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Congrats are in order for Clay Buchholz and Fernando Cabrera who were named to the International League roster for the Triple-A All-Star game on Thursday.  The game will take place on July 15th in Portland, Oregon — one day after the MLB All-Star game.

 

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Let’s hope the weather cooperates on Thursday night as a standing room only crowd will see Pawtucket face the first-place Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees with Clay Buchholz on the mound and fireworks after the game.

 

I’ll join Bob Montgomery for TV coverage on Cox Sports throughout Rhode Island.  If you don’t have tickets to the game, I hope you’ll tune in beginning with the pre-game show at 6:00.

 

I’d love to hear from you.  The address is dhoard@pawsox.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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