January 2010

Memories With Mondor

One of the joys of being part of the Pawtucket Red Sox family is working for Ben Mondor (shown here with my son Sam).

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 The PawSox owner is extremely generous – as any civic cause in Rhode Island will quickly attest – and he treats the Pawtucket players and staff as if we were family.


He’s also one of the all-time great storytellers.


I love to drop by Ben’s office and throw out names of some of the great players who have worn the Pawtucket uniform.  Here are Ben’s off-the-top-of-his-head memories of five all-time PawSox legends.


Jim Rice: 


“He’s the best.  A great guy and he’s very misunderstood by the media because he’s a private guy.  It’s an insult that they waited 15 years to put him into the Hall of Fame.  This was the most feared hitter in baseball in the ’70’s.  Look at his achievements – they’re unbelievable.  Good God, he won the Triple Crown when he was here and it hasn’t been done since.  Nobody’s even come close.”


Wade Boggs:


“A good friend . . . and a pain in the butt.  He won five batting titles and people used to rave about his bat control.  You know how he developed that?  When he was with us and we had a homestand, he would walk in practically every morning and want to take batting practice.  So I would take a kid working on the ground crew or somewhere else and I’d say, ‘Look Wade, this kid is not going to be able to throw strikes.  They’re going to be high, low, inside, outside,’ and he would say, ‘That’s what I want.’  And he would do that for two or three hours a day.  And when they were finished, they would go pick up the balls and do it again.  That’s how he developed that great bat control – right here at McCoy against kids who couldn’t throw proper batting practice.  He made a heck of a name for himself.”


Nomar Garciaparra:


“He was a great athlete.  When the Red Sox promoted him from Trenton, Ed Kenney called me and said they wanted me to keep an eye on him because they were worried that they were bringing him up to Triple-A too fast.  So we would just sit down and talk.  I tell you one thing – he shot one of baseball’s theories to hell:  Not swinging at the first pitch.  He would always swing at the first pitch and hit about .347.  He was a great fielder, he could turn the double play like nobody’s business and he didn’t toot his own horn.” 


Roger Clemens:


“If want to win a free beer from your buddies at the saloon, ask them this question, ‘What’s the only team that Roger Clemens pitched for where he finished with a losing record?’  It’s Pawtucket – he was 2-3.  He was just a young kid out of the University of Texas and he was only with us for a couple of months.  The guy could pitch.  I used to watch in his later years and think half of it was intimidation.  He threw so hard and was so good that they were never comfortable in the batters box.”   


Manny Ramirez:


“Manny was my favorite ballplayer of all time.  He spent a month with us on rehab and he loved it here.  He lived like a king, didn’t have to worry about all of those major league rules, and he supplied us with a lifetime of stories in one month.  I remember one game, it was about the fifth or sixth inning and I heard the manager say, ‘Where’s Ramirez?’ because there was nobody in left field.  It seems that Manny had been talking to a clubhouse kid whose father had a barbershop on Newport Avenue.  So he hopped in his car and went to get a haircut in the middle of a game – uniform and all.  The manager went nuts, but we thought it was hysterical.  Like him or don’t like him, he certainly entertained us.”


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


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

An Impressive First Impression

Last week’s Hot Stove event at McCoy Stadium gave me my first opportunity to meet Boston Red Sox uber-prospect Casey Kelly.  My first impression is that the 20-year-old pitcher has the maturity level of a seasoned major league veteran.



“I think it comes from being around minor league baseball my whole life,” Kelly told me.  “Having a dad that’s in baseball and a brother (Chris) than pitches in the minor leagues helps me a lot.  I’ve been around some very good athletes and you kind of see what works and what doesn’t work.  I’ve seen what great players do to make themselves successful.” 


Pat Kelly has been a minor league manager for nearly all of his son’s life and has been working in professional baseball for the last 37 years.  That’s given Casey the necessary perspective to handle the attention that comes with being one of the highest-rated prospects in the Red Sox organization.


“I try not to pay attention to that at all,” Casey said.  “If you don’t perform on the field it doesn’t matter how high you’ve been ranked.  If you don’t go out and perform you’re not going to have a job for very long.  The hype is really nuts.  But my job is just to perform on the field and that’s what I’m concentrating on right now.  You try not to focus on the media attention and the hype so I’m just trying to get into the best possible shape to be ready for spring training.”


Kelly is one of 12 prospects who recently took part in the Red Sox unique rookie development which is geared toward helping minor leaguers make a smooth transition to the big leagues.


“They threw a lot at us over the course of two weeks,” Casey said.  “The biggest thing that I got out of it is how to act when you get called up.  On that first day there’s so much coming at you, but you still have to go out on the field and perform.  So do your job and everything else will take care of itself.”


Kelly is a long shot to make the leap to Boston anytime soon.  This will be his first season as a full-time pitcher after splitting last year between the mound and shortstop.  The Red Sox announced in December that the former first round draft pick had decided to forgo playing a position and concentrate on pitching.


“It feels like a big weight has been lifted off of my shoulders,” Casey told me.  “I wanted to do it early in the offseason so that I could get ready to focus on pitching and gear my workouts toward being a pitcher.  The earlier we did it the better.  They’ve told me that I have a chance to compete for a spot in Portland and that’s one of my goals – to be in Double-A this year.  I think that my training up to this point has got me into a position to start there.  I think my performance in spring training will have a lot to do with that.”


Wherever Kelly winds up, it will be difficult to top his 2009 numbers as he posted a 2.08 ERA in 17 Single-A starts, with a ridiculous 0.85 WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) in 95 IP.  To put that into perspective, Arizona’s Dan Haren had the lowest WHIP in major league baseball last year at 1.00.


“My expectations of myself are a lot higher than anybody else’s,” Kelly said.  “I had a very successful season last year and I’m ready to build on it.  I’m ready to be a better pitcher this year than I was last year.  I think that’s the biggest thing – to try to get better and better.”


Sound like a 20-year-old to you?

New Video Board Coming To McCoy Stadium

McCoy Stadium is best-known for being the home of the longest game in baseball history.  But soon, the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox will have another claim to fame:  A gigantic video board.


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On Friday, Pawtucket General Manager Lou Schwechheimer announced that the PawSox are installing a new video board in time for the 2010 season that will be among the largest in minor league baseball.


“The video board is state of the art by one of the world class leaders, and it really will enhance the game for the fans to a level that we are thrilled to death about,” Schwechheimer said.  “The board itself will be the largest video board in New England, so we are absolutely thrilled.”


The video board is being designed and installed through a collaboration of Lighthouse Technologies of Hong Kong and TS Sports of Grapevine, Texas (you can see an example of their work here).


“You’re going to see a big change,” said TS Sports Vice President Matt Ritter.  “It’s double in size from the old video board, and from wherever you are in the ballpark, you’re going to look up and it will be like you’re looking at the plasma TV in your house – the picture will be that clear.  There are over 580,000 individual LED lamps that make up this board.  It is 22 feet tall and 38 feet wide – one of the largest in minor league baseball.  It’s the latest in LED technology.  When people come to the ballpark, they will absolutely know that the PawSox did something special.” 


“Our fans – through thick and thin in a tough economy – have been very supportive of the PawSox, and our feeling is that every year we should improve the experience for the players and the fans,” Schwechheimer said.  “We have continued to upgrade the playing field, the amenities in the clubhouse and weight room for the players, and now it’s the fans’ turn with what we think will be one of the most profound additions to the ballpark since we did the stadium renovation in 1999.”


The new state-of-the-art video board will be used to show PawSox and Red Sox highlights, historical footage, and interactive elements with the players and fans.


“We want to be creative and to continue to elevate the fan experience without detracting from the game,” Schwechheimer said.  “We have a tremendous amount of respect for the game on the field and we would never think about utilizing the board to detract from what fans are coming to the ballpark to see.  One of the things we are excited about is the ability to develop a little more interactivity with things like a ‘smile cam.’  Our core audience is families and kids and to be able to use a high def screen of that size and magnitude to focus in on fans during breaks in the action in a feel-good way makes the experience at McCoy that much more personal and fun.”


“(PawSox President) Mike Tamburro and Lou Schwechheimer are men of great integrity and they have been a pleasure to work with,” Ritter said.  “One of the first things they said when I walked through the door was, ‘We want something that is different from everybody else.  We want it to be the best in quality.  We want it to be crystal-clear.  And we want every fan to come in and know that there’s a difference at McCoy Stadium.’  The average size of a video board at a minor league ballpark is 15 feet by 20 feet.  The PawSox have gone above and beyond for their fans by going 22 feet tall by 38 feet wide.  By sheer size alone it puts them in a category that other minor league teams can’t match.  The only other teams that have something like this are ones that are building brand new stadiums where it’s in the initial budget.  You don’t see a lot of people upgrading to this level.”


It’s just another way that the PawSox intend to give their fans a major league experience at minor league prices.

A Visit With Outfielder Darnell McDonald

Darnell McDonald hopes to be this year’s Nick Green.


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Prior to last season, Green signed a minor league contract with Boston and was expected to be Pawtucket’s starting second baseman in 2009. 


Instead, Nick won a spot on Boston’s opening day roster due to an injury to Julio Lugo, and when Jed Lowrie got hurt in April, Green became the Red Sox starting shortstop.  He never spent a day with the PawSox.


McDonald is a 31-year-old outfielder who will go to spring training with Boston after signing a minor league deal.  Although the Red Sox added outfielders Mike Cameron and Jeremy Hermida this winter, McDonald hopes to earn a spot in Boston.      


“I’ve learned over the years to not focus on the things that I have no control over,” Darnell told me from his home in Arizona.  “I go to spring training looking to make the team and you never know what’s going to happen.  I think that everyone that puts on the uniform has that goal, but I love playing baseball and it doesn’t matter where.  Don’t get me wrong, the big leagues is the place to be, but there are a lot of variables.”


Last year, McDonald not only made Cincinnati’s opening day roster, but he was the Reds starting centerfielder in the season opener against the Mets.  It was the first time in his 12-year career that Darnell began a season in the major leagues.


“When you work so hard and so long to accomplish something and it finally comes true, it’s hard to put into words what it means,” McDonald said.  “To hear my name announced in the opening day lineup and to actually play in that game meant the world to me.  A lot of people probably thought it wouldn’t happen, but I always saw that light at the end of the tunnel and had the belief that I could play in the big leagues.  I’ll always remember what it was like to run out on to that field.”


The former 1st round draft pick batted .267 with 2 HR and 10 RBI in 47 games with Cincinnati and .314 with 9 HR and 40 RBI in 73 games with Triple-A Louisville.  He followed that up by batting .378 with 6 HR and 20 RBI in 19 games in the Mexican Winter League.


“I feel like the last few years I’m just coming into my own,” Darnell told me.  “People develop at different speeds and I feel like I’m in my prime.  I feel like I have a lot of good years left in me, my body feels good, and I feel like I’m becoming the player I knew I could be.”


I got to know Darnell last year while filling-in on some Cincinnati Reds broadcasts.  Before leaving Pawtucket to join the Reds for a few days, PawSox manager Ron Johnson (now Boston’s first base coach) asked me to say hi to him.  As it turns out, RJ was a big fan of McDonald’s (the player and the restaurant) and often told Darnell that he would love to have him on his team.


“We developed a friendship during all of the years that I’ve played against him,” McDonald said.  “I’ve seen how he interacts with his players and I’ve talked to guys that have played for him, and he’s good for the game.  He has a lot of fun and that’s what I try to do when I play.  He’s the type of guy that you want to play for and hopefully I’ll get the opportunity to do that with Boston.”


If Darnell doesn’t make the Red Sox, he’s likely to begin the season as one of the starting outfielders in Pawtucket.  The PawSox would become his 7th International League team having previously played for Rochester, Ottawa, Durham, Buffalo, Columbus, and Louisville over the past nine seasons.


“I tell people that I’m tired of that league,” Darnell said with a laugh.  “I know all of the clubhouse guys, a lot of the fans that you see every year, and that’s a good thing that baseball has done for me – it’s allowed me to establish a lot of friendships all over the world.  It doesn’t hurt to see familiar faces in different places that you go, but hopefully I won’t spend too much time in the International League this year.” 


His goal is to wear a Boston uniform at some point.


“I’ve always been envious of players with the Boston Red Sox because there’s so much history and the fans are so great,” McDonald told me.  “I remember when I was playing for the Orioles, when the Red Sox came to Baltimore it felt like we were playing in Boston because there were so many Red Sox fans there.  When they called me this winter it was difficult because the Reds gave me a great opportunity last year and it was tough to leave, but getting the opportunity to play for an organization like the Red Sox is something I couldn’t pass up.  I just look forward to putting on that uniform.  It has a different ring to it when you tell people you play for the Boston Red Sox.”


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


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

My Guide To Buying and Wearing Jerseys

I love authentic jerseys.


They weren’t readily available to purchase when I was a kid, and my folks wouldn’t have allowed me to shell out the big bucks anyway.


The only jerseys you could buy back then were the cheap replicas and so I did.

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In the baseball season, I had a Lee Mazzilli New York Mets home jersey.


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My choice in hoops was a Larry Bird Boston Celtics road uniform.


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For football, I was the only kid in my school that had an O.J. Simpson San Francisco 49ers jersey (it was a form of protest by this broken-hearted Bills fan after they traded away my childhood hero).


When we travel around the International League with the PawSox, we see dozens of Red Sox jerseys in the stands every night wherever we go.  For the most part, I think it’s great, but I have come up with a few basic rules for proper jersey-wearing etiquette.


There are essentially three types of acceptable jerseys for a fan to wear:


1.  Any Current Player.  That’s right, from the superstar to the utility man, if he’s on the current roster it’s OK by me.  For example, if Boof Bonser makes the Red Sox and you can actually find his jersey, feel free to shell out your $175.  But if the player you have chosen is traded or released, the jersey has to go unless he’s a . . .  


2.  Team Legend.  Ideally, the style of the jersey should match the look of the player’s era.  This category is open to some interpretation.  For example, in my book Nomar Garciaparra doesn’t qualify as a Red Sox legend, but you might disagree.  However, if you bought a Coco Crisp jersey and are too cheap to get rid of it, you can’t try to claim that he’s a Sox legend.  One additional note about the “legend” category – if the player does something really bad, the jersey is no longer wearable (see my O.J. Simpson jersey).


3.  Wild-Card Category.  This can be an up-and-coming prospect, a memorable character in team history, a guy with a bizarre last name, a player that was just obtained in a trade or through free agency, or a former Pawtucket player that I really like (these are my rules after all).


Since spring training is just around the corner, perhaps you’re considering purchasing a new jersey to wear in 2010.  Here are some Dan Hoard-approved choices from all 30 MLB teams.


TEAM                CURRENT             LEGEND                WILD-CARD   

Baltimore             Matt Wieters          Cal Ripken           Rick Dempsey

Boston                  David Ortiz             Ted Williams         Kevin Youkilis

While Sox            Mark Buehrle          Carlton Fisk          Gordon Beckham

Cleveland            Grady Sizemore      Bob Feller              Justin Masterson

Detroit                  Justin Verlander     Ty Cobb                 Mark Fidrych

Kansas City         Zack Greinke          George Brett          Dan Quisenberry

LA Angels           Torii Hunter            Nolan Ryan           Brandon Wood

Minnesota           Joe Mauer                Kirby Puckett        Justin Morneau

NY Yankees        Derek Jeter              Lou Gehrig            Mariano Rivera

Oakland            Andrew Bailey         Reggie Jackson      Craig Breslow            

Seattle                Ichiro Suzuki          Ken Griffey Jr.       Jay Buhner

Tampa Bay          Evan Longoria        Carl Crawford        Carlos Pena

Texas                 Josh Hamilton         Nolan Ryan            David Murphy

Toronto               Adam Lind               Roberto Alomar      Marc Rzepczynski

Arizona               Brandon Webb        Randy Johnson       Mark Grace

Atlanta              Chipper Jones         Henry Aaron           Tommy Hanson

Cubs                     Derrek Lee              Ernie Banks            Kosuke Fukudome

Cincinnati            Joey Votto               Pete Rose                Jose Rijo

Colorado              Todd Helton            Larry Walker          Troy Tulowitzki

Florida                 Hanley Ramirez      Dontrelle Willis      Dan Uggla

Houston                 Lance Berkman      Jeff Bagwell            Chris Johnson

LA Dodgers         Manny Ramirez      Sandy Koufax         Clayton Kershaw

Milwaukee          Prince Fielder         Robin Yount           Alcides Escobar

NY Mets              David Wright          Tom Seaver             Ed Kranepool

Philadelphia        Chase Utley             Mike Schmidt         Roy Halladay

Pittsburgh            A.McCutcheon       Roberto Clemente   Brandon Moss

San Diego            Adrian Gonzalez     Tony Gwynn           Trevor Hoffman

San Francisco     Tim Lincecum         Willie Mays            Pablo Sandoval

St. Louis               Albert Pujols           Stan Musial             Matt Holliday

Washington         Adam Dunn             Gary Carter             Stephen Strasburg


By the way, not everyone agrees that wearing jerseys is cool.  I caught a female comedian named Whitney Cummings on the Tonight Show last week who questioned why so many guys wear jerseys while watching their favorite teams play on TV.  As she pointed out, she doesn’t put on scrubs to watch Grey’s Anatomy.

Sox Sign Two More Potential PawSox

On Friday afternoon, the Boston Red Sox sent out this press release to announce that they have signed seven free agents to minor league contracts and invited them to major league spring training camp.


Some of it is old news.  If you read “Heard if from Hoard” on December 14th, you already knew about the possibility of Fernando Cabrera, Gil Velazquez, Darnell McDonald, Edwin Moreno, and Angel Sanchez playing for the PawSox in 2010.


But there are a couple of names in the Red Sox release that I haven’t blogged about previously:  pitchers Brian Shouse and Jorge Sosa.


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Shouse is a left-handed sidewinder who pitched for Boston (and Pawtucket) in 1998.  He was 29 then – he’s 41 now – and hoping to stick with the Red Sox as a “situational lefty” in the bullpen.  Brian pitched in 45 games for Tampa Bay last year, going 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA, and has a career 13-10 MLB record with six saves, and a 3.72 ERA in 467 relief appearances over parts of 10 seasons with the Pirates (1993), Red Sox (1998), Royals (2002), Rangers (2003-06), Brewers (2006-08) and Rays (2009).


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Sosa, 32, was 13-3 with a 2.55 ERA for the Atlanta Braves in 2005 and started a playoff game against the Houston Astros.  He hasn’t been able to replicate those numbers since, while pitching for the Cardinals, Mets, and Nationals.  Jorge has a career 42-50 big league record with seven saves and a 4.72 ERA in 272 games (88 starts) over parts of eight seasons with the Rays (2002-04), Braves (2005-06), Cardinals (2006), Mets (2007-08) and Nationals (2009).


* * * * *


It was great to attend the annual Boston baseball writers’ dinner on Thursday night with PawSox President Mike Tamburro and several friends from the Pawtucket staff.


The biggest names at the head table were Terry Francona, Kevin Youkilis, John Lackey, and Colorado Rockies manager Jim Tracy, but the speaker that got the biggest laughs was former PawSox manager Ron Johnson – especially when he informed Francona that he has terrible vision and will probably get a bunch of guys thrown out while coaching first base this year for Boston.


Don’t worry folks, RJ was joking.


I think.


The event did get me fired up for spring training and the start of the season.


Opening night at McCoy is 83 days away!


Chuck the Knuck Signs With St. Louis

The St. Louis Cardinals hitting coach has been getting a ton of publicity this week.


I don’t know about you, but I already had a hunch that Mark McGwire had dabbled in steroids.


But here’s some news out of St. Louis that I hadn’t heard until Wednesday:  The Cardinals have signed pitcher Charlie Zink to a minor league contract with an invitation to their major league spring training camp in Jupiter, FL.



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(photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor)


The 30-year-old knuckleballer had spent nearly his entire pro baseball career (except for four games in the Independent Western League) with the Red Sox organization, including parts of the last five years with Pawtucket.


“It’s a little nerve-wracking because I don’t know anything else,” Charlie told me the day after signing with St. Louis.  “Spending eight years with the Red Sox has been amazing and they’ve given me a lot of opportunities, but I’m excited to go somewhere new and I’m really excited to work with (pitching coach) Dave Duncan.  I know how good he is with pitchers and I’m hoping he can do the same thing with me.  I hope he can make miracles happen with me, and I get to be around one of my childhood idols who is in the news these days – Mark McGwire.  It should be interesting.”


Zink says he’s devoted himself to getting into peak physical condition this winter after his disappointing 2009 season with Pawtucket.  After being named the International League Pitcher of the Year in 2008 (14-6, 2.84 ERA), Charlie led the I.L. in losses last season, going 6-15 with a 5.59 ERA.


“(Getting into better shape) has been my main priority,” Zink said.  “Last year I was coming off a big year and I didn’t take it for granted because I still worked hard, but I didn’t work as hard.  I’ve gone back to the mentality of having to prove something again.  I knew I would get a shot somewhere – I didn’t know where it would be – but I knew whoever it was going to be with, that I needed to impress them and that’s what I plan on doing.”


The Cardinals currently have an opening for a fifth starter, and Zink hopes to be given an opportunity to win the job in Florida.


“They have a big payroll and they’re definitely willing to go out and buy pitching,” Zink told me.  “But it looks like they’re looking to fill the fifth spot in their rotation and are open to the possibility of giving it to someone that doesn’t have a lot of major league experience.”


Charlie has pitched in one big league game – a start for the Red Sox in August of 2008 that has to go down as one of the strangest MLB debuts ever.  Charlie was handed a 10-0 lead in the first inning on a pair of 3-run HR by David Ortiz and led 12-2 after four innings.  But in the fifth, Texas scored eight runs off of Zink and a pair of Boston relievers and Charlie left the game before being eligible for the win.  The Rangers eventually took a 15-14 lead in the sixth inning, before Boston rallied to pull out the game 19-17.  The 36 combined runs tied the American League record.


Charlie was sent back to Pawtucket after the game, and has not returned to the majors since.  He hopes that will change with his new employer.


“It’s going to be weird,” Zink told me.  “Honestly, I wish I could have stayed in the Red Sox organization for my entire career.  I would have loved to have been one of the guys who was lucky enough to do that.  But it’s a business and only works out like that for very few people.  I loved my time in Pawtucket and everybody was amazing to me.  I wish I could have given them a better year last year, but that’s baseball.”

You Want Me To Sign Where?

One of the most amusing moments of the 2009 season was the June night in Indianapolis where your humble PawSox radio announcers Hoard and Hyder were approached by a fan who wanted us to autograph our picture from a McCoy Stadium game program.


The timing was perfect because as we were signing, Jeff Natale and Chip Ambres happened to walk by.


Natale said, “You’ve got to be kidding me,” while Ambres said; “Now I’ve seen everything.”


Not by a long shot Chip.


On New Year’s Eve, I had the opportunity to serve as master of ceremonies at a University of Cincinnati pep rally in New Orleans on the day before the Sugar Bowl. 


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I have no idea how many people were there, but there had to be several thousand.  I felt like Bruce Springsteen on the stage – without the talent or wealth, of course.


Which leads me this:  The photo that I should keep in my wallet in case any of the PawSox players give Hyder or me a hard time if we’re spotted signing autographs again.

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That’s right; I signed a dude’s head.


It’s actually the second year in a row that Cincinnati fan Bud Westendorf has asked me to autograph the top of his dome before a Bearcat bowl game.  He said it was for good luck, but after back-to-back losses in the Orange and Sugar bowls, my signature hasn’t exactly been a four-leaf clover.

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Still, Bud has already requested another cranial autograph at next year’s bowl game.


I wonder what Natale or Ambres would say about that?

I Want Names

You probably saw the news on Wednesday that Andre Dawson was the only player who received enough votes to earn induction into the Hall of Fame this year.


But did you go through the balloting with a fine-tooth comb?


I’d like to know what writers voted for Eric Karros, Kevin Appier, and David Segui.


Karros was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1992 and had five outstanding seasons for the Dodgers.  But he was a .268 career hitter (.325 OBP) and his 284 home runs ranks 144th in baseball history.


That doesn’t exactly scream Cooperstown.


Appier was a one-time All-Star who finished his career with 169 wins – good for 181st in MLB  history.


Perhaps the dude that voted for him figured that he had four more wins than Sandy Koufax so he had to be a Hall of Famer (ignoring the fact that Koufax retired at the age of 30 after winning 27 games in 1966 due to constant pain in his left arm).


Then you have David Segui.  His career average (.291) and OBP (.359) were respectable, but he was never an All-Star, never led his league in a statistical category, and never made a playoff appearance in his 15 big league seasons.  Furthermore, after being named in the Mitchell Report, he admitted using steroids while playing for the New York Mets.


I guess the person who voted for him is all for a “steroid wing” in the Hall of Fame.


I know a couple of people who didn’t vote for Karros, Appier, or Segui:  Jay Mariotti and Lisa Olson.


They reportedly turned in blank ballots.


Mariotti, who frequently appears on the unwatchable ESPN show “Around the Horn,” explained his rational on Tuesday’s show.


“I didn’t vote for anybody in the baseball Hall of Fame this year,” Mariotti said.  “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.”


Five voters reportedly turned in blank ballots.  Remove them from the 539 ballots cast, and 287-game winner Bert Blyleven would have had the necessary 75% for induction.


Voting for the Hall of Fame is a privilege and should be taken seriously.


Get me the names of the clowns who voted for Karros, Appier, and Segui.


And while you’re at it, find out who voted for Rick Dempsey – a career .233 hitter – in 1998.


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


And if you Twitter, you can follow my tweets at http://twitter.com/Dan_Hoard

Happy New Year Edwin Encarnacion!

Did you hear about Edwin Encarnacion’s New Year’s Eve adventure?


The Toronto Blue Jays third baseman was hospitalized with minor facial injuries caused by fireworks during a celebration in the Dominican Republic.  According to published reports, Edwin’s brother lit a rocket firecracker and instead of flying into the sky, it hit Encarnacion in the jaw and exploded.


“Thank God everything is OK with my face. I don’t have any fractures or serious injuries and I won’t need any kind of surgery,” Encarnacion told ESPNdeportes.com.


Edwin joins the list of the most bizarre off-field injuries in baseball history:


Glenallen Hill suffered cuts and bruises when he stumbled out of bed and crashed through a glass table after having a nightmare about spiders.


Wade Boggs strained his back while putting on his cowboy boots.


Adam Eaton stabbed himself while trying to open a DVD container.


Steve Sparks dislocated his shoulder trying to tear a phone book in half.


Daric Barton suffered a head injury while diving into a pool that was too shallow.


Joel Zumaya strained his wrist from playing too much Guitar Hero.


Chris Brown strained his right eyelid by “sleeping on it funny.”


Oddibe McDowell cut his hand attempting to butter a roll at the Texas Rangers’ Welcome Home Dinner.


I hope 2010 is off to a great start for you.  I’m pretty confident that we are all doing better than Edwin Encarnacion so far.