Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gammonsesque Thoughts

  • It was a piece of Gammonsesque serendipity that Lastings Milledge made his Major League debut on a night when Alay Soler started. Milledge was a proven commodity. At the time of his call-up, he was leading the International League in on base percentage despite batting just under .300. Soler, a defector from Cuba, is largely an unknown (both talent-wise and age-wise, some would say). In his first start he followed a three-run first with five shutout innings in a no decision. Tuesday night he was not so lucky, giving up 7 earned runs in five innings of work.

  • Aaron Boone was in the lineup a day after tumbling head first into a camera bay. However, had he gone on the DL, it would have been interesting to see what the Indians would have done to replace him. Option one would have been to call up veteran utilityman Ramon Vazquez to platoon with Lou Merloni. Boone's heir apparent, Andy Marte, would have been option #2. Marte has been struggling to keep his average around .250 at AAA Buffalo, but he is 8 for 19 in his last five games. With Marte struggling at Buffalo and Vazquez struggling while at the Major League level this year, the dark horse in this situation is AA Akron third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. Kouzmanoff is currently one of the top hitters in all of the minors with a .410 average. In my mind, asking Kouzmanoff to back up Merloni at third while continuing to let Marte play every day at Buffalo is something to consider.

  • Hey, I found my contact!

  • Sibling Watch: Jered Weaver was dazzling in his MLB debut: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K. Stephen Drew is hitting .310 with 9 HR and 31 RBI for AAA Tucson. BJ and Justin Upton are both batting .297, BJ for AAA Durham and Justin for LoA South Bend.

  • Offspring Watch: Tony Gwynn II is hitting .323 for Milwaukee's AAA affiliate. He appears to be a singles hitter like his dad, with 53 of his 65 hits being singles. Before you know it, the Brewers will be the team to beat in the NL Central.

  • Back in spring training, it was known that Brian McCann would be Atlanta's starting catcher. But the media did quite a bit to hype Jarrod Saltalamacchia (and I'll admit it, I almost took him in my fantasy draft). McCann was near the top of the NL with a .347 average before going on the DL last week. Meanwhile Saltalamacchia is struggling with the Mendoza line at AA Mississippi, hitting .198.

  • Speaking of Atlanta's spring training, the Braves gave prospect Anthony Lerew a few chances to end ballgames, and they didn't go too well. Lerew is currently 1-3 with an ERA of 9.26 for AAA Richmond.

  • The Mets have a pitching prospect named Mike Swindell, who has yet to give up a run in 17 innings of work for St Lucie. He's too old to be a relative of Indians legend Greg Swindell, but I wonder if there's still a connection.

  • The bad news for Jeremy Sowers is that he hasn't been able to keep up his career 4:1 strikeout to walk ratio this year. The good news? Just about everything else. The Indians prospect is 6-1 this year for AAA Buffalo with a sparkling 1.12 ERA. That ERA was aided by a 22 inning scoreless streak that was just recently broken. I wonder how long we'll have to wait to see this 2004 Vanderbilt graduate's MLB debut.

  • Speaking of Indians pitching prospects named Jeremy, it's good to see Jeremy Guthrie back on track. Coming out of Stanford in 2002, Guthrie made 10 starts at AA Akron in 2003 before being promoted to AAA. At Buffalo he promptly fell apart, and he spent the next two and a half years being labeled a bust. Following a decent performance in spring training this year, and aided by a few decent performances out of the Tribe bullpen, it looks like it's time to remove that "bust" label. Guthrie is 3-0 this year at Buffalo with an ERA of 0.53.

  • If the Indians need more bullpen help this season, the Gammonsesque pick is Edward Mujica. Mujica had 8 saves as AA Akron's closer before being called up to AAA Buffalo. Combined, he's pitched 27 scoreless innings this year.

  • Enjoy dining on delicious Rodney Choy Foo while overlooking Bear Bay

  • Just for fun: Which of these Indians minor leaguers has the better name: Bear Bay or Rodney Choy Foo?

  • The one Notre Dame alum that comes closest to the Gammonsesque label this year is Matt Macri. Macri, who passed up an offer from the Twins out of high school to play at Notre Dame, did not always play up to his potential as a member of the Irish baseball squad. Now he's in the Rockies organization, hitting .271 with 6 HR and 26 RBI for AA Tulsa.

Monday, May 29, 2006

My Week of Walkon Tryouts

No opportunity wasted. That was the motto I went with when I decided to try out for the Notre Dame baseball team at the beginning of sophomore year. Sure I was a longshot, but I'd rather try and fail than always wonder what if. I found out that a kid who lived down the hall from me in Fisher - Matt - was also trying out for the team. Matt and I had had freshman comp together the previous year. He was a Cleveland Browns fan from Arizona. The large number of "Browns Backers" in the Phoenix area have roots in the days when Cleveland had its own national TV presence similar to Notre Dame football's NBC contract; their are similar followings in Los Angeles and as far away as Africa.

Matt told me that a third Fisher resident was trying out, a freshman named Greg. I've always contended that baseball players are either the nicest people in the world or the meanest people in the world. Greg convincingly falls into the former category. We met Greg at the ticket window of the football stadium (it was football ticket lottery time) and walked over to the baseball field, Frank Eck Stadium.

The trio of Fisher residents joined the other potential walkons in the bleachers down the third base line. Day one, Sunday, was easy enough: fill out an information sheet and set the practice times for the rest of the week. The form had space for a primary and secondary position. For primary, I scribbled in 2B. It was a fair choice, by that point I had been playing second base for a few years. I had as good a chance there as anywhere else. But what to put in the secondary spot? I had been an outfielder my entire life prior to becoming a second baseman. I started to write OF on the line, then stopped. Generically listing myself as an outfielder implied that I could play centerfield. Implying that I could play center also implied that I had range and was a competent outfielder. So I hastily crammed RF/LF into what little space I had.

The last section of the form was uniform information. It mostly asked sizes, but also included a spot for "Preferred Uniform Number." I took care to write in a perfect numeral 4, my lucky number from high school. Filling out the uniform section, I was reminded of the time Hannigan told me he was given a full set of issue gear, number twenty seven, for touring a baseball recruit around campus. I had delusions of receiving some issue gear of my own for tryouts, but that dream soon faded.

On Monday, I suited up in a uniform from my days in the city league: Henley-style jersey t-shirt, generic white baseball pants, and socks with a vertical stripe running down each side. I dug up the old metal Nikes that someone found for me and my two gloves - a beat up old Nokona for infield play, and a brand new black leather beauty for the outfield. I then set out for the extreme southeast corner of campus, location of Eck stadium.

I had gone to a few Irish games freshman year and knew some names on the team. Other than that, I knew virtually nothing of Notre Dame's rich baseball history. Still, I felt a great sense of priviledge stepping onto a college field. Heck, at that time I would have felt priviledged to step onto any baseball field. I descended the concrete steps into the first base dugout (Descended! It wasn't at ground level!), quickly laced up my spikes, and tried my best to mill around and meet the others. Soon an assistant coach walked up with a clipboard and began taking roll. As he neared the K's, I began to wonder how badly my last name would be butchered.



"Did I say that right?"

"Perfect," I replied, with a little more surprise than reassurance. That coach's name, by the way? Wally Widelski.

Our first assignment was to stretch, and our second was to line up for the 40-yard dash. "We're not going to do any conditioning, because you should all be in shape already," a coach yelled. I immediately thought of all the training Rudy, and then of the complete lack of training I had done. Whoops. Well, I was once clocked at 7.2 seconds in the 60-yard dash in high school, second fastest on the team, and equivalent to a 4.8 40 or better. So I wasn't too worried. On the other hand, I was actually in shape back then. It came to my turn and I toed the line in a classic baserunner's stance, as I had been instructed. The whistle sounded and I took off. Yet I felt like I was holding something back. Why? I knew what I needed to do, how I needed to run, to go my fastest, and yet somehow I didn't do it. As I crossed the finish line, I thought I heard the coach with the stopwatch mutter "five flat." At least I hope it was five flat, and not worse. Still, that's terrible for a small guy with no power.

After loosening up to a game a catch, the outfielders were instructed to meet in right field. Being an unnecessarily picky ballplayer, I raced to the dugout to swap the infield glove I used to play catch for my outfielder glove. Somehow, I managed to be first in line among the outfielders for our first fielding test. There's a reason why thje outfielder with the stongest arm plays in right: the throw from right field to third base is one of the longest in baseball, if not the longest. Here was our chance to show off our throwing arms. A fielder was stationed at third, with a cutoff man positioned 40 feet in front of him. The coach rolled a grounder to similate a batted ball. My form was near-perfect: one-handed scoop, crow hop, and throw all in one motion. The throw was a perfect strike to the cutoff man... who then moved out of the way to allow the baseball to continue on to third base. The ball hit the ground and weakly rolled on the infield grass, stopping two feet in front of the fielder on third. Assuming that I had misunderstood the assignment - that the ball was actually supposed to get all the way to third - the coach gave me a second chance. This time I threw a solid one-hopper to third. Any embarrassment from the first throw was erased by this toss. I had never had a great throwing arm, and I was pleasantly surprised that I could even throw it that far. Who cares what the coaches thought, I was happy with myself. Maybe I wasn't such a longshot after all.

Next we were told to line up at our respective positions for fielding practice, to be followed by the start of batting practice. I ran to second, after retrieving my infield glove of course, and got in line behind four or five other prospective keystone sackers. They began to discuss their high school accolades - first team all-county, third team all-state - you get the picture. I avoided mentioning that I wasn't even first team all-high school (that is, I was a bench player). I fielded a few grounders without incident, and soon it was time for the first few potential walkons to take batting practice.

When BP started, I was again at the start of the line at second. The first batter hit a blooper over my head. I never was able to get the hang of fielding a fly ball hit over me, so I simply looked up and followed the flight of the ball as it landed twenty feet behind me. From the bench a coach yelled, "Infielders are allowed to go after fly balls!" Right. Whoops.

The rest of Monday passed uneventfully. At the end of the day, I had to tell Coach Widelski that I may be late for Tuesday's practice because of marching band. I went up feeling like a complete nerd for having to say it, but Coach was totally cool about it. On Tuesday I wore my baseball attire to band practice. I'm sure I got a few odd looks, but I enjoyed the heck out of it. As it turns out, I was on time for baseball anyways. But Tuesday wasn't nearly as memorable as Wednesday's practice.

On Wednesday, I agreed to show up early with a few others for extra batting practice in the cages. The coaches agreed to leave some old bats, helmets, and balls out for us. I looked at the decrepit navy blue helmets, some cracked, all well-worn, and still somehow felt a great deal of pride and honor when I looked at the faded interlocking ND painted on each. I was mediocre at best hitting in the cages; the ND helmet obviously didn't have any magical powers for me. When it came my turn to throw, I was all over the place. I must have apologized thirty times for my wildness.

As it came close to the announced start time of our practice, we walked to the edge of the field to watch the "real team" finish up their practice. On the team was a short sparkplug of a character with the last name Pope. Every time he made a play, he was met with cheers of "Poop!" from his teammates. One of the other guys trying out pointed to Steve Stanley. "That's the guy who led the Cape Cod League in hitting last year. Do you know what that is?" It was obvious that I didn't, so he continued. "The Cape Cod League is where the best college players play in the summer. They even use wooden bats." Needless to say, I was impressed. Here was a roommate of Jason Garza, himself a walkon who stuck with the team for a full month, and he was one of the best hitters in college baseball. (You may be familiar with the Cape Cod League from the movie Summer Catch. If you are, I feel sorry for you. Stanley, by the way, finished second in the country in batting average to Khalil Greene his senior year.)

It finally came to be my turn for batting practice on Wednesday. Coach Widleski stood in front of the mound at about 45 feet to pitch. I've never been blessed with great batspeed, and I was using a heavier bat than I was used to, so suffice it to say things weren't pretty. Greg later came up and insisted on using a wooden bat. I was impressed as he displayed WTP - Warning Track Power. I thought he had a good chance to make the team.

After a day off, we came back for a scrimmage that would be our final test. We would each have one or two at bats and play three innings in the field. I checked the lineup and was scheduled to bat around 27th and spend the 4th through 6th innings in center field. OK, I can handle that, I guess. So much for making a big deal out of not listing myself as a generic outfielder on the information sheet. When it came my turn to step up to the plate, there were runners on first and second and one out. This was the first time we were facing live pitching from one of our peers all week, and I did the one thing I knew I could do competently. I laid down a nice bunt to the right of the pitcher and raced to first. I was out by a mile, but everyone praised me for my "smart" play. Right, smart in the fact that I didn't embarrass myself by trying to swing away.

When it came to be my turn in the field, I grabbed my outfield glove and raced out to center. I was nervous, but I had learned in my high school days how to convert nervous energy into positive energy. I'm sure a few people may have given me odd looks for hopping around (shaking myself up and down, not jumping on one leg like a schoolgirl playing hopscotch) between pitches, but that's what works for me. There were three balls hit to me over the course of three innings. Two were routine base hits that I fielded on the ground. One was a fly ball hit over my head to my right. To this day I couldn't tell you if a "regular" center fielder could have caught that ball.

After the scrimmage we were told to meet in the third base dugout and wait for Coach Paul Manieri to come around and announce his final decisions. Some of the walkon candidates had been grumbling all week that Manieri had been completely ignoring these tryouts. I didn't seem to notice. Then again, I wasn't taking things as seriously as some of the others. Coach Manieri walked over and started to read the list of those who had made the team - at least for now. I recognized some of the names - Johnny Heinz, Zach Sisko - they were good people and solid ballplayers, and I was happy for them. I held out hope for Matt and Greg, and also for myself to some extent. The list ended with none of our names called. I knew I had given a terrible performance, but still I had my fingers crossed.

When all was said and done, the "winners" were told to move over to the first base dugout while the rest of us were left to pack up and head home. A few of those who didn't make it stopped to thank Coach Manieri for the opportunity. I wanted to as well, but didn't. At that point, I was in a great mood. I have a great love for baseball, and that four day experience was one of the best of my life. Somehow, though, I didn't think my exuberance was right for the situation. Still, on the way back to Fisher, I managed to individually talk with both Matt and Greg. Their mood wasn't nearly as chipper as mine. Here were too guys who were used to success and accolades, and for the first time in years, perhaps the first time ever, they were being told they weren't good enough. Both conversations followed a similar pattern. I reassured them that they had another chance the following year, and the year after that. I then went on to tell them how I was the worst guy out there, but still I enjoyed even having a shot. Both Matt and Greg gave a generic white lie that I wasn't the worst guy out there. (I was, by quite a considerable margin.) Then they politely explained that they'd rather be alone to contemplate things on the long walk back, rather than suffer an attempt to be comforted by Mr. Happy to be There. So I split away and headed home, knowing at the very least that I would have a great story to tell from that one week in September. And, as sad as this may sound, that week was the highlight of my baseball career.

By the way, the Notre Dame baseball team went on to be ranked #1 in the nation later that season. So now I can say that yes I was cut, but only from the best baseball team in the country.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Notre Dame Spring Sports Mini-Update

Of course I'll never up to this fine piece of reporting, but I'll try to do my best. (Or I'll just read so you don't have to.)

  • Men's basketball names Gene Cross. Cross, a 10-year college assistant, replaces Lewis Preston, now with Florida. I couldn't find much playing information on Cross, who was a two-year letterman for Illinois in the mid 90s and most recently coached at Virginia. The Irish frontcourt has been disappointing at best in the past few years. Let's hope Cross can effectively develop Notre Dame's young post players. Story here.

  • The top seeded baseball team started the Big East Tournament with a 3-1 win over USF. At the time of this writing, they are playing the 4th seeded WVU Mountaineers in the second round. Tournament bracket here.

  • The Irish softball team was bounced from the Evanston regional 7-4 by Northwestern on Sunday.

  • Notre Dame women's lacrosse is making its first ever final four appearance. After beating Cornell 16-8 and Georgetown 12-9, the Irish are set to face Dartmouth this Friday. The winner will play the winner of the Northwestern/Duke semi on Sunday.

  • The #2 seeded women's tennis team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals, before losing to #7 Miami. In singles play, Carin Thompson has reached the NCAA round of 32 for the second straight year.

  • The men's golf team finished 17th at the NCAA East Regional.

Monday, May 22, 2006

"Never Heard of Him": Year 2

Last year, I unveiled my "Never Heard of Him" theory, basing a basketball player's decision to enter the NBA draft early on his name recognition in a randomly sampled group of people. Here are last year's results. Of course, the more information we collect (both in size of the group polled and the time span), the more we will be able to learn.

So please, take a look at the early entries to this years NBA draft, and let me know who you've heard of in this post on the message board. Even if you've never posted on the message board, we'd be glad to have you. As this is a predominantly a Notre Dame site, data on Big East players is understandably tainted. So, the more the merrier! Not a sports fan? Not a basketball fan? Go for it!

The draft begins on June 28. Please post your picks by 5 PM Eastern on Wednesday, June 14.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

An Essay

Editor's Note: Totally mailing it in. This is my entrance essay for the Sports Guy Intern Contest, which I would have entered had they not stopped taking applications early. I just recently realized that I've never posted this on the blog, so here goes.

I have accomplished much in my life.

Growing up, I spent hours in my back yard trying to shoot free throws like Mark Price, catch first downs like Brian Brennan, and strike out like Cory Snyder. I can sacrifice bunt with the best of them, but my athletic ability can be summed up in the fact that I was made a utility infielder at age 16.

Celebrities I have met include Dave Wannstedt's goddaughter and Ronnie Seikaly's cousins. In pickup basketball games, I play the role of the token Eastern European. I am Shawn Kemp's only legitimate child. I know all the words to Major League - both the R-rated version and the made-for-TV "fffforget you Jobu!" version. Like Rudy, I wasn't the quickest guy on the team, or the biggest, but I led the team in tackles.

I once attended a Raptors-Suns game where both Vince Carter and Tracy McGrady mailed it in so bad, Tony Delk had 50 points. I've read so many sports books, I'm convinced I could step into a pro coaching job. Can you believe that Shea Ralph blowing out her second ACL made ESPN Classic? You can see me in the background when it happened.

In college, I had a part time job as Bruce Dickinson's personal pharmacist. I have read so much Simmons and Gammons, I realize that I may have to legally change my name to Katrimmons to get this job. I helped fulfill a friend's lifelong dream by performing a karaoke duet of "Gin & Juice" in front of a bunch of confused white guys on Panama Beach. is my secondary source of truth. I have 6 Gmail invites and no use for them... yet. Yes, the market's a little over-saturated. That John Katricak? So hot right now.

I live by the motto, "Gimmicks don't pull the train, power pulls the train." I am Mike Jarvis' second-worst nightmare (next to the one where his nephew Will steals his car and wrecks it). I am the only person Tony Siragusa fears more than the Hamburglar. I am a “psycho” Notre Dame grad.

But I have not yet interned at

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Go NBA Playoff Scheduling!

Link dump:

Yes, the current poll sucks. Feel free to leave suggestions on the Message Board.

Speaking of the message board: if you haven't been there lately, check it out. (Wow, Marcus Barlow is tight with LeBron!)

I'll admit it, Deadspin is really growing on me.

If you were a fan of the CPF, be sure to check out To Whom Much is Given. named Kanka's Sports Page a "ND Websites You've Gotta See." Well, theirs is also one you gotta see.

Baby fight!

The WNBA tips off May 20, allowing for another
gratuitous picture of Becky Hammon. As Ryan Roberts
would say, "Hey guys, look at the puppy guys!"

The Big East baseball
tournament starts May 23,
allowing for this equal
opportunity gratuity.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Transaction Wire

  • Saints trade Courtney Watson to Miami for LB Eddie Moore. Both Watson and Moore are young linebackers who ended last season on the injured reserve. Watson is still being dogged, in the press at least, by an October drunken driving arrest. Senator Watson may challenge for the spot vacated by Junior Seau's retirement. If not, he will likely back up Zach Thomas at middle linebacker, possibly replacing him when the 32-year-old Thomas retires in a few years.

  • Browns trade Trent Dilfer to San Francisco for QB Ken Dorsey and a 2007 draft pick. Dilfer was becoming quickly disgusted with the situation in Cleveland, especially with Offensive Coordinator Maurice Carthon's playcalling and clock management. He wanted out, and now he will be the veteran backup of top San Francisco pick Alex Smith. Dilfer's replacement, Dorsey, will most be remembered by area fans as the Miami Hurricane quarterback on the losing end of the 2002 Fiesta Bowl. The move leaves the Browns in an interesting situation at quarterback. Charlie Frye will definitely be the starting quarterback entering his second season. The second stringer will be Dorsey, who entering his 4th NFL season will be the elder statesman of the Browns passers. The third string position will likely go to Oregon State's Derek Anderson, a 6th round draft pick of Baltimore in 2005. After that, it's Lang Campbell, an undrafted free agent signed last year. Campbell is currently in NFL Europe. After Campbell are two undrafted free agent rookies, Dustin Almond of Southern Miss and Darrel Hackney of UAB.

  • Lions trade Joey Harrington to Miami for an undisclosed draft pick. With the additions of Jon Kitna and Josh McCown, it was obvious Harrington's time in Detroit was over. It became apparent early that Harrington wanted to go to Miami, but the Lions weren't thrilled with the 2007 6th round draft pick the Dolphins were offering in return. On draft day, a rumor surfaced that the Browns were offering a 2006 5th round pick for Harrington, the first indication that Dilfer was on his way out. I'd take Harrington over Dorsey right now, based on experience, but I'd also take Jerome Harrison or DeMario Minter (Cleveland's two 5th round picks this year) over Harrington. Backing up Daunte Culpepper in Miami should do well to take pressure off of the former Lion, and also possibly turn his career around.

  • Indians trade Kaz Tadano to Oakland for OF Ramon Alvarado. The Indians couldn't find a spot for Tadano. He was used as both a starter and reliever in the bigs, and lately had been wasting away in AAA Buffalo. This move was made partially to save money and partially to give Tadano a chance in an organization that needed him. Alvarado is a 20-year-old outfielder who played at the rookie level last year.

  • Indians trade Brandon Phillips to the Reds for a player to be named later or cash. In the trade where Montreal sent Phillips, Clifford Lee, and Grady Sizemore to Cleveland for Bartolo Colon, Phillips was considered the centerpiece. He was named Cleveland's starter at second base in 2003 due to his talent in the field, but his hitting floundered. He was an up and down hitter in AAA, mostly because he tried to be a power hitter (and sometimes got away with it). When Omar Vizquel left before the 2005, Phillips and Jhonny Peralta had an open competition for Vizquel's shortstop spot, a competition Peralta won. That left Phillips without a place in the organization. This trade was to give him a new start, and he's made the most of it so far, hitting .296 with 25 RBI to this point.

  • With the acquisition of Phillips, the Reds sent 2B Matt Kata down to AAA. Kata, once a super-prospect for Arizona, was born in Fairview Park, OH, raised in Avon Lake, and went to St. Ignatius. He's currently hitting .245 for AAA Louisville.

  • Red Sox trade C Josh Bard and P Cla Meredith to the Padres for C Doug Mirabelli. You can read last week's column for my thoughts on catching Tim Wakefield. Mirabelli was sent to San Diego in the first place in return for 2B Mark Loretta. Bard was picked up as part of the Coco Crisp deal, a deal that also included C Kelly Shoppach. Essentially, then, the Sox gave up Shoppach and Meredith for Loretta. Two AAA All Stars for a starting second baseman isn't a bad deal (and much more even than a backup catcher for a starting second baseman, as was the Mirabelli/Loretta deal).

  • Indians designate P Danny Graves for assignment and recall P Fausto Carmona. Two days later, the Indians trade Steve Karsay to Oakland for cash. The Tribe bullpen has been mediocre at best lately, and Graves was a big part of that mediocrity. When it was announced that there would be changes in the pen, everyone assumed Karsay would be coming up. Instead, it was Carmona. That leaves Cleveland in an interesting situation. Carmona and Jeremy Guthrie are prospects who expect to be in the starting rotation one day. Jason Davis was just moved from a starter to a reliever. Because of their status, manager Eric Wedge will not bring any of these three in in the middle of an inning. That leaves only Fernando Cabrera, who is projected to be a future closer but is in his first full season in the bigs; Guillermo Mota, whose are may still be injured and who has been moved from setup to middle relief out of necessity; and the always inconsistent Scott Sauerbeck to set up closer Bob Wickman.

...and a glimpse of Perfection

May 15 is the 25th anniversary of Lenny Barker's perfect game. If you're a fan of 80s baseball, the box score can be found here. As I'm writing this, the new Indians TV network is replaying the game. Here are some interesting tidbits:
  • George Bell was born in the Dominican Republic. In 1981, he was just beginning to "North Americanize" his name from Jorge to George. From what I've gathered, that was a common occurance back then - my dad has several "Bob Clemente" baseball cards.

  • Indians TV announcer Joe Tait, now the radio voice of the Cavs, noted that the Cavaliers were looking at Danny Ainge in the upcoming basketball draft, but probably wouldn't take him before the 3rd or 4th round. Nowadays, the NBA draft only goes 2 rounds.

  • Buck Martinez went on to manage the Blue Jays and later Team USA in the World Baseball Classic. He also worked for ESPN.

  • Rick Manning went on to be a color commentator for local Indians broadcasts.

  • Mike Hargrove, known as the "Human Rain Delay" for his drawn out routine between pitches, is now managing the Seattle Mariners, after stints with Cleveland and Baltimore.

  • That is Andre Thornton. Apparently he was called "Andy" back then.

  • Duane Kuiper is a remnant of a lost breed: a good-glove, no-hit second baseman. He was in fact a great fielder, and is famous for hitting only one career home run, off Steve Stone no less. He's currently the play-by-play announcer for the Giants. Yes, that's Kuiper with the now famous "He hits it high! He hits it deep!" on the Barry Bonds home run calls.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Baseball Rants

  • It's bad enough that batters wear those elbow guards, and that they keep getting bigger and bigger. But then they get pissed when they get hit in the guard with a pitch! Suck it up! And if you don't think elbow guards give you an unfair advantage around a pitch, try playing third base without a cup. Protective hard plastic = confidence.

  • While we're on or near the subject, how would I pitch to Barry Bonds? I'd walk him anyways, so I might as well hit him in the elbow guard (it's hard to miss) and save myself three pitches. Yeah, I'd take the retaliation in stride.

  • Jim Thome was booed in his return to Cleveland with the White Sox. Genius manager Ozzie Guillen made up defenses of Thome's flight to Philadelphia. Ozzie came out with the old "he had to feed his family" line (cue the homeless people). In reality, Cleveland offered about $14mil to the Phillies $16mil. At the time, Thome himself said that once you get above a few million dollars, the salary is just a number. Ozzie claimed there was drama behind the scenes in Cleveland. I can't confirm or deny that, but I do know that at the time Thome's back problems were getting worse and worse. The Indians had just started to rebuild at that point, and Thome felt the Phillies gave him a better and sooner chance at a World Series ring.

  • I don't understand the Cleveland fans who want to see CC Sabathia traded away. Coming into the season, he was the winningest active pitcher under the age of 26. Sure he's inconsistent at times, and sure he loses his composure ever so slightly, but he just turned 26! Trade him away now, and six years from now you'll be complaining that Tampa Bay's new ace is taking his team deep into the playoffs year after year while Larry Dolan "still isn't spending any money." (Don't get me started on that one.)

  • I really feel for Buddy Bell. He's a great baseball mind, but he always gets stuck with the crap jobs - Colorado, Detroit, Kansas City. Fortunately, it looks like this time the blame will be put on GM Allard Baird and not Bell. I'll tell you one thing, though - Bell sure knows how to beat the good teams. He started his tenure with the Royals last year with a sweep of the Yankees, and this year his team has won 8 of 9 from the White Sox and Indians (as opposed to 2 of 15 against the rest of the league).

  • What's the deal with statheads hating Peter Gammons? For that matter, what's the deal with statheads hating anyone? They just come off as bitter nerds trying to compensate for not making their high school team. Too often they forget the human aspect of the game. The psychological side of things is not something to be ignored. Move Omar Vizquel to second because you have a young up-and-coming shortstop? Closer by committee? Hot and cold streaks don't exist? Mark Shapiro gets it. Billy Bean(e) hasn't gotten it yet. Theo Epstein won a World Series... after he scrapped pure stats and "got it."

  • On the other side of things, you can't just ignore the numbers. Like all things in life, you need to compromise and find a happy medium. When Steve Stanley retired a few weeks back, one columnist used it as another chance to scoff at the failure of Moneyball. Not so fast, my friend. Stanley was only a "Moneyballer" because he was too short by traditional measures. He didn't quit because he wasn't good enough. He quit because he realized their were more important things than baseball.

  • Delmon Young, hot prospect and younger brother of Dmitri, was recently suspended for throwing a bat at an umpire to protest a third strike call. In case you haven't heard, the regular Minor League Baseball umpires are on strike. This replacement ump was unharmed, as the relatively soft end-over-end toss hit him in the chest protector, so that wasn't the tragedy in this situation. Tragedy number one is yet another young, talented athlete who think's he's above the rules, and hasn't been told otherwise to this point. Tragedy number two is the fact that a representative of the umpire's union turned a situation with the potential for serious injury into a bargaining chip. The rep argued that Young was traditionally a pleasant person who was driven over the edge by an incompetent scab. Well, then, why was Young suspended in 2005 for bumping an umpire? And before you use this rep's attitude to argue that all unions are bad, remember that you're getting paid more in an hour than your grandpa did in a week to sit in an air conditioned office and read KankaNation all day.

  • Call it Patterson's Boner. Corey Patterson was on first with less than two outs. Fly ball to left field is caught by Kevin Mench, who collides with the wall and sits on the ground dazed for 19.3 seconds (SportsCenter clocked it). Patterson wasn't sure whether the catch was made, so what did he do?
    a) Tagged first and went to second. That way he's OK, regardless of whether the ball was caught.
    b) Tagged first, went to second, then used those 19.3 seconds and his speed to continue on to third.
    c) Ran aimlessly between first and second, touching neither base, waiting for someone to tell him whether or not the ball was caught (and likely ignoring the third base ump signaling "out" and the batter running back to the dugout), and then getting tagged out because he was standing right next to the shortstop when the ball was thrown in.
    If you guessed (c), you're right.

  • Believe it or not, there were a few years where Major League Baseball banned players from hanging batting gloves out of their back pockets. Fortunately, they're making a comeback this year.

  • Much was made of Josh Bard's troubles with Tim Wakefield's knuckleball. The Red Sox even went to the trouble of trading away Bard to reacquire Wakefield's personal catcher Doug Mirabelli. Where was Red Sox "Captain" Jason Varitek during all of this? I realize he needs days off here and there, but how about catching Wakefield once or twice? If he can do it well, great. If not, he'll show the fans how hard it is, and hopefully catch Bard a break. Or, he could have just come out to the press and talked on behalf of Bard. Oh well, too late for that now.

  • What's the deal with A-Rod's Jack Parkman sunglasses?

  • Has Derek Jeter ever turned in a spectacular defensive play? He makes a play any Major Leaguer should, and people everywhere act like he channeling Ozzie Smith. He's even gotten two Gold Gloves out of it!

  • Speaking of Jeter, Dave wanted me to throw in this rant: What's the deal with girls who wear Jeter jersey-tshirts and the guys who date them (but really want to get with Jeter)?

  • While we're on the subject, haven't Yankees fans noticed that the players don't have names on the backs of their jerseys? In other words, if you buy something with a name on the back, you're probably getting ripped off.

  • Furthermore, the Yankees colors are white and dark navy blue. They don't have yellow, or red, or baby blue, or pink jerseys or hats. Good Lord, I almost got caught up in this the other day. I spotted a white baseball cap with an orange 'B' on it. "That's a pretty nice Browns cap," I thought, until I realized it was supposed to be a Boston Red Sox hat. What?

  • Not a baseball rant, but I needed to throw this out their: Aflac, if you're looking for the perfect place to take a date, take her to a pool hall. If she can handle all the "that's what she said" jokes inherent in your average game of 8-ball, she's a keeper.

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Weekend in Review

A few quick stories from this year's Lorain Sports Hall of Fame Enshrinement banquet.
  • Keynote speaker Bob DiBiasio (Indians director of public relations, and no I didn't think to bring a resume) shared a story of Bill Clinton throwing out the first pitch at the opening of Jacobs Field in 1994. One of Clinton's representatives was talking to DiBiasio about the agenda for the day. "Well," DiBiasio started, "a young woman in a blue suit will walk President Clinton out to the mound, and then he'll throw a pitch to Sandy Alomar." The representative replied, "There will be no young woman in a blue suit walking the President to the mound. You will walk the President to the pitcher's mound."
    Later, DiBiasio was giving President Clinton a tour of the facilities. When they got to the batting cages behind the dugout, President Clinton confided that he was a little nervous about bouncing the ball into home plate. So, DiBiasio suggested using the batting cages to warm up. He spotted 15-year-old Andy Hargrove, Mike's son, and asked young Andy if he wanted to play catch with the president. Now, Mike Hargrove is a staunch republican and devoted Rush Limbaugh follower. Knowing his dad's political views, Andy declined the offer to play catch with the president. Bob DiBiasio asked two more times, and two more times Andy said no. Finally, DiBiasio spotted third base coach Jeff Newman's son, and got him to warm up President Clinton.
    It came time for the President come out, and as they were standing on the top of the step, Bob DiBiasio asked Clinton how he was feeling. "Well, I'm still nervous. I'm afraid I'll throw the ball over the catcher's head." "Don't worry," DiBiasio replied, "Sandy Alomar is 6'5. You're not going to throw it over his head."
    When they got to the mound, DiBiasio again asked the President how he was feeling. "I'm nervous. I'm afraid I'm going to bounce the ball into home plate." Trying to lighten the mood, DiBiasio thought about where Clinton would be going next. "Mr. President, this must be some sports day for you. You're throwing out the first pitch in this beautiful new ballpark, and afterwards you're flying to Philadelphia to watch your Arkansas Razorbacks play in the NCAA basketball finals. Hey, do you think there's any room on Air Force One for me?" "Not a chance." At that point, DiBiasio was very tempted to reply, "Well, here's the ball Mr. President. Good luck and don't bounce it in."

  • Raymont Harris was very fired up to be there. He told the story of when, as a third string running back in eigth grade, he was told he would never be as good as the previous eigth grade team's star running back. Harris rushed home, pulled out a sheet of paper, and titled it "Lorain's Greatest Athlete." He started listing every Lorain sports great he could think of - grade school stars, high school stars, family members... and ended the list with his name. Well, long story short, he proved he was good enough for his 8th grade team, and eventually good enough for a 1000 yard season with the Chicago Bears. He ended his speech by sharing that he always tells everyone how proud he is to be from Lorain, Ohio.

  • One of the inductees was Army Colonel Virgil Williams. He spoke not in a Lorainite accent - generic midwest with a splash of hoser - but in the closed tooth, protruded-jaw, drill sargent draaawl that they obviously teach you in boot camp.

  • How fitting is it that this year's class included a bowler? Lou Facsko bowled two lifetime 300 games at a time when 300s were very few and far between. One person at my table commented that bowling was the perfect sport: You throw the ball, and it comes back to you! If you get thirsty, you push a button and someone brings you a beer! If you do happen to get tired or sweaty, there's a little air vent to cool your hand!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

NFL Draft Recap II

Earlier this week, I took a look at Notre Dame players who were drafted or signed as free agents. Now we're going to look at it from a different angle: how team's draft picks affect Notre Dame alumni already in the NFL. This list doesn't include all Irish in the NFL, just those possibly affected by their teams picks.

Arizona Cardinals

Alumnus: Carlyle Holiday, WR
Competition: Todd Watkins, WR, 7th round, BYU
Like Carlyle, Watkins has all of the talent to be a professional receiver, but not all of the polish. Unlike Carlyle, Watkins isn't a returner.

Atlanta Falcons

Alumnus: Allen Rossum, CB/PR
Competition: Jimmy Willams, CB, 2nd round, Va Tech
Adam Jennings, WR/KR, 6th round, Fresno State
Rossum fought injuries and inconsistent play in 2005. He isn't one of Atlanta's primary corners, so losing playing time there probably won't be a concern for him.
Jennings is basically a returner masquerading as a wide receiver. He will likely be Rossum's replacement, but will that change be made immediately or eventually?

Baltimore Ravens

Alumnus: Ced Hilliard, DT
Competition: Haloti Ngata, NT, 1st round, Oregon
Now that he's a veteran, Ray Lewis' weaknesses have been exposed. One of his biggest weaknesses is... drumroll please... being blocked. Well, duh. To pacify their star, the Ravens traded up to draft Ngata. Baltimore's defensive borrows from baseball philosophy - strong up the middle - with Ngata, Lewis, and Ed Reed. Hilliard, meanwhile, isn't currently listed on the Ravens website.

Buffalo Bills

Alumnus: Mike Gandy, G/T
Competition: Brad Butler, T, 5th round, Virginia
Terrance Pennington, T, 7th round, New Mexico
Aaron Merz, G, 7th round, Cal
After being released from the Bears before the 2005 season, Gandy was picked up by the Bills. He started in all 16 games last year. Some argue was was too good to have been released in the first place. If Buffalo was looking to replace its versatile starter, they would have done it sooner than the 5th round.

Cleveland Browns

Alumnus: Darrell Campbell, DL
Competition: Kamerion Wimbley, DE/OLB, 1st round, Florida
Babatunde Oshinowo, DT, 6th round, Stanford
Wimbley will play a Willie McGinest-style role: lining up primarily at outside linebacker, and only occassionally dropping down into a three-point stance.
Darrell is listed as a tackle, but many have said he would be a good fit as an end in a 3-4 defense. If he can play both, he can be a valuable member of this team. Oshinowo is said to be only a tackle, and perhaps the nose tackle of the future, but is at most 10 pounds heavier than Campbell. Therefore, Darrell will definitely need to be versatile to make an impact.

Dallas Cowboys

Alumnus: Rocky Boiman, LB
Competition: Bobby Carpenter, OLB, 1st round, Ohio State
Boiman has primarily played inside linebacker in the NFL, while Carpenter is listed as an outside linebacker. The Cowboys official website is already selling Carpenter jerseys, so there's little chance of Boiman unseating him. However, he can once again serve as a valuable backup.

Houston Texans

Alumnus: Tony Weaver, DL
Competition: Mario Williams, DE, 1st round, NC State
Houston's big free agent pickup this offseason was defensive end Anthony Weaver. So, with their first pick overall, they passed up Reggie Bush for... a defensive end. But wait, Houston has 8 defensive ends and only 1 defensive tackle listed on the roster. Is a position change perhaps in order?

Indianapolis Colts

Alumnus: Gerome Sapp, S
Competition: Tim Jennings, CB, 2nd round, Georgia
Antoine Bethea, FS, 6th round, Howard
TJ Rushing, CB, 7th round, Stanford
Sapp is primarily a safety, and has already proven himself as a valuable special teams player. Rushing is mainly a returner, and it would be unusual for a 6th rounder to unseat a veteran. It will be interesting, however, to see how Jennings is used this year.

Alumnus: Kurt Vollers, T
Competition: Michael Toudouze, G, 5th round, TCU
Charlie Johnson, T, 6th round, OK State
Vollers, who came to the Colts as a free agent, has some starting experience under his belt from his time with the Cowboys. It's doubtful he would be replaced by a late round pick.

Kansas City Chiefs

Alumnus: Jordan Black, T
Competition: Tre Stallings, G, 7th round, Mississippi
Black played all 16 games for the Chiefs last year, starting 10. He won't be replaced by a 7th round pick playing out of his natural positionn.

Miami Dolphins

Alumnus: Deke Cooper, S
Competition: Jason Allen, CB, 1st round, Tennessee
Cooper can play both safety positions, and it looks like he may have a chance to crack the starting lineup. He's not an NFL corner, though, so if he is made a backup it won't be because of Allen.

New Orleans Saints

Alumnus: Jeff Faine, C
This offseason, the Browns signed G/C LeCharles Bentley, who had been a Pro Bowler for the Saints. This made Faine expendable. So, Jeff was traded to New Orleans for their second round pick.

New York Giants

Alumnus: Luke Pettitgout, T
Competition: Guy Whimper, T, 4th round, East Carolina
Pettitgout has been entrenched at starting tackle since the 2000 season. As a 4th round pick, Whimper is more likely his future replacement than his current one. Oh, I also hear Pettitgout likes football or something.

Alumnus: Justin Tuck, DE
Competition: Mathias Kiwanuka, DE, 1st round, BC
Things were looking good for Tuck. Even despite the emergence of Osi Umenyiora, Tuck looked to be Michael Strahan's successor. And he was playing well enough to earn it. Now, despite having the best defensive end combination in the league, the Giants used their first round pick on another end. It will be interesting to see how Tuck is used in this coming season.

Oakland Raiders

Alumnus: Grant Irons, DE/OLB
Competition: Thomas Howard, OLB, 2nd round, UTEP
Irons finished his Notre Dame career and started his NFL career as a defensive end. When Oakland switched to the 3-4 last year, the man with biceps the size of my head (and I do have a big head) was named starting outside linebacker, a position he played earlier in his Irish career. That experiment only lasted one game. Irons did play in 15 games last year as a Raider, but only made 4 tackles. It looks like he's back to defensive end now, so Howard may not cut into his playing time.

Philadelphia Eagles

Alumnus: Paul Grasmanis, DL
Competition: Brodrick Bunkley, DT, 1st round, FSU
LaJuan Ramsey, DT, 6th round, USC
Grasmanis has played a combined 8 games over the past three seasons. It looks like Bunkley may be more replacement than insurance policy.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Alumnus: Ron Israel, DB
Competition: Anthony Smith, FS, 3rd round, Syracuse
Isreal didn't play in any games for Pittsburgh last year, and he isn't listed on their website either. Things don't look good for him.

San Francisco 49ers

Alumnus: Arnaz Battle, WR/PR
Competition: Brandon Williams, WR, 3rd round, Wisconsin
Michael Robinson, QB/WR/RB, 4th round, Penn St
Delanie Walker, WR, 6th round, Cental Missouri St
Battle and new acquisition Antonio Bryant are San Francisco's two top receivers. If the 49ers were looking for a new starter, they would have picked someone up before the third round. It looks like these picks were more for depth. It also looks like Robinson will see more time at running back than receiver. All three picks are capable returners, so it will be interesting to see how they and Battle will be used.

St. Louis Rams

Alumnus: Jerome Collins, TE
Competition: Joe Klopfenstein, TE, 2nd round, Colorado
Dominique Byrd, TE, 3rd round, USC
Well, it looks like the Jerome Collins experiment is over. Collins was taken in the 4th round last year, based mostly on his potential and raw talent. He then spent most of the year on the practice squad. With new coach Scott Linehan comes two new tight ends, so it looks like Collins' time may be up in St. Louis.

Alumnus: Mike Goolsby, LB
Competition: Tim McGarigle, ILB, 7th round, Northwestern
Goolsby was an undrafted free agent last year, and did see action in two games. These two could dogfight for a roster spot.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Alumnus: Carlos Campbell and Dwick Ellick, CB
Competition: Alan Zemaitis, CB, 4th round, Penn St
Justin Phinisee, CB, 7th round, Oregon
Neither of these former Irish players got any playing time last year. Zemaitis presumably has a better chance of making the team than these two, but they should have a fair fight against Phinisee.

Alumnus: Sean Mahan, G
Competition: Davin Joseph, G, 1st round, Oklahoma
Mahan started every game for the Bucs last year. Glancing at Tampa Bay's roster, Joseph will likely be playing across from Mahan.

Tennessee Titans

Alumnus: David Givens, WR
Competition: Jonathan Orr, WR, 6th round, Wisconsin
Givens was one of the top free agent receivers this year. After shelling out the cash, the Titans won't bench him for a 6th rounder.

Monday, May 01, 2006

The Weekend in Review
Bo Knows Edition

NFL Draft Recap

More to come later this week (hopefully), but here's a quick rundown.
  • Anthony Fasano was taken in the second round, 53rd overall, by the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys only have one fullback on the roster, so it looks like Fasano and Jason Whitten will be used by Bill Parcells in a variety of two tight end and tight end/h-back sets.

  • DJ Fitzpatrick was signed by the Jets as an undrafted free agent. Fitzpatrick will challenge Ben Graham for the punting job. Graham came over from Australian Rules Football and averaged "only" 43.7 yards per punt. I doubt Fitzpatrick will challenge OMG!!1 super-awesome Mike Nugent for placekicker.

  • Brandon Hoyte was signed by the Colts as an undrafted free agent. As I mentioned last week, the Colts usually build around speed on defense, but were only average when it came to run defense.

  • Mark LeVoir was signed by the Bears as an undrafted free agent. LeVoir has a great chance of making the team as a backup tackle.

  • Corey Mays was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent. Mays is joining a linebacking corps that is becoming more and more "veteran" each year. His contributions on special teams, and the potential that many scouts see in him, should help him make the club.

  • Rashon Powers-Neal was signed by the Broncos as an undrafted free agent. Denver likes to use one back sets, or put a converted running back like Mike Anderson in at fullback when necessary. Now that Anderson is gone, can converted RB Powers-Neal step into his role?

  • Mike Richardson is returning for his 5th year. I'm an idiot.

  • Matt Shelton was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent. Well, he already knows the offense. With a stable of talented receivers, like Bethel Johson (Bethel's such a nice receiver) and top drafted WR Chad Jackson, Shelton will have to find other ways to contribute to the team.

  • Dan Stevenson was drafted by the Patriots with a compensatory 6th round pick, #205 overall. Stevenson, who started his career as a tackle, should be the next low-profile lineman to flourish in the New England system.

  • Mo Stovall was taken in the 3rd round, 90th overall, by the Buccaneers. Stovall was originally a possibility in the late first round, but receivers didn't seem to be in high demand this year. His scouting report didn't seem to help either. (I can just see Charlie Weis ripping the nerds from GM JR Scouting, LLC, a new one.) Stovall should, hopefully, beat Ike Hilliard for the 3rd receiver spot behind Joey Galloway and Mark Clayton this year. When Galloway, entering his 13th NFL season, is ready to hang up his cleats, Mo should be ready to step into the starting lineup.

Notre Dame 2, Purdue 1

Men's Baseball

I got to catch this one on ESPNU (at the same time as an Indians game and the Cavs playoff opener; exciting night for me). Here's the abbreviated version of how it went down.
Wade Korpi is Notre Dame's "midweek starter," the guy who gets stuck with the random Tuesday night games. It's more or less the equivalent of a major league fifth starter - the lowest guy on the totem pole. Well, how's this for a midweek starter: coming into the game, Korpi was 4-1 with an ERA under 2. The staff as a whole had an ERA under 3.40, phenomenal in the college ranks. Their then-20+ game win streak had vaulted them into the top 20 in most major polls.
Korpi gave up an unearned run in the top of the first, but Notre Dame got the lead back in the bottom of the second when a two-out double over the outfielder's head scored two. From that point, Korpi went to work. He retired 17 straight and ended with 11 strikouts. One of those strikeouts was punctuated when the Purdue hitter lost his bat and it was flung directly behind home plate.
An interlude came when the announcers called former GM Steve Phillips to discuss the pro prospects of Jeff Samardzija. Phillips pointed out that Samardzija could go in the first round of either this year's baseball draft (players are eligible after their junior seasons) or next year's football draft. However, Phillips opined, teams may be leery to waste a high pick on Samardzija until he decides which sport he wants to play. He may also not reach his full potential in either sport if he chooses to play both. Of course, if there's one thing I learned from Steve Phillips' tenure with the Mets, it's this: never listen to what Steve Phillips says (unless you're Kaz Matsui's agent).
After Mike Dury pitched an uneventful 8th, freshman closer Kyle Weiland came on in the 9th. (For those of you who remember 7'1 closer Ryan Doherty, he's now playing with Justin Upton in the Arizona organization - back home with the Class A South Bend Silver Hawks.) Weiland's save was highlighted by a wicked breaking ball - the pitch was in the dirt and three feet outside, and the batter swung as if the ball was right down the middle.

Indians 15, Red Sox 3

Some observations from the club seats (ooh, look at me):
  • After Ben Broussard hit a grand slam in the first, the video scoreboard in the left field wall flashed the phrase "Brou-SERVED." Sounds like a catch phrase for the upcoming softball season.

  • Broussard had a day and a half: the grand slam, a solo homer, two singles, and 8 RBI. The 8 RBI are the most by a Tribe hitter since Manny Ramirez did it in the late '90s.

  • Speaking of Manny: a few years ago, a Cleveland sportswriter suggested the local fans boo Manny each time he comes to the plate as an opponent (as if they needed to be told to do so). To this day, Manny still glares up into the Jacobs Field pressbox before each at bat.

  • How intimidating is Travis Hafner? He's slumping, and he was still walked 4 times.

  • How intimidating is Victor Martinez? Hitting .386 at the end of the day, he was walked three times and had a 3-run homer.

  • This was my third straight year going to an Indians-Red Sox game. Boy was I getting sick of the travelling Boston fans. Two years ago, in his first game as the cleanup hitter, Victor Martinez hit a 2-run home run as Jake Westbrook outdueled Curt Schilling 2-1. The next year was ugly. CC Sabathia gave up a 6 run inning. The Tribe battled back, but a late Johnny Damon solo shot was the difference in a 10-9 game. This year, instead of being surrounded by a raucous split crowd (it seemed like the place was about 50/50 loyalty-wise), it was nice having the only Red Sox fans in the area being two calm but clueless middle-aged men.

  • But maybe the Red Sox fans weren't travelling as far as I thought. There was a video segment on the scoreboard between innings where a guy was pulling aside fans in Red Sox garb before the game and asking them to recite certain phrases in their best Bostonian accent (I pahked the cah in Hahvahd Yahd, Nomahhh, He hit the ball wicked hahd). No one could do it! That could only mean two things: 1) these were all local bandwagon jumpers, or 2) people from Boston don't actually talk like that. I'm going with (1).

  • Typical of our section of seats, there were two couples of 20-somethings that came in the 3rd and left in the 7th. Good, good.

  • It was college night, and the section next to us was going to make sure they would have fun no matter what. Their catch phrase for the night was "Cotton Candy!" (with Sandler-esque emphasis on the second syllable of each word). They asked for cotton candy until the stadium ran out. Then, when the vendors returned with peanuts and popcorn, they were booed and told to return with more cotton candy. Rough crowd.

  • One of the college night activities was a Boston Cream Pie eating contest, broadcast on the big board. The contestants were a guy and a girl from Lake Erie College (I've never heard of it either), two guys from Ohio State, and two girls from Cleveland State (Cleveland isn't a state). After the contest was over, the pair of girls hugged and looked as if they were going to - shall we say - swap pie crumbs without using their hands, much to the delight of the mostly male Cotton Candy Crew next to me. Slider, the Indians mascot, made a big deal of weighing the remainder of each contestants' pies... and then just declared the "friendly" girls the winners.

  • Wow, I can't end on that note, can I? Let's see. The food was very good. My grandma gave me her nachos. Paul Byrd gave up two runs, lowering his ERA to 8.03. Brousard's performance earned him a share in AL Player of the Week honors with Kevin Mench, who homered in 7 straight games. Oh, and I think Jhonny Peralta is still engaged.