Thursday, September 28, 2006

Another Reason I'm Rooting for the Tigers

Richard C. worked at the same institution, though with a special program, so our professional paths didn't cross, but our avocational paths did.

Richard, ever smiling, ever cheerful, would pause to talk baseball with me in the hallways. We talked major leagues, minor leagues, collegiate, scholastic, whatever. He kept me posted about his son's team and kept after me to become an umpire for the girls' league.

He was a Tigers fan, the Tigers played in the first World Series game I ever saw, we shared an interest in the same team. I commiserated with him when they were doing poorly, I celebrated with him as they roared this summer.

Richard unexpectedly died this past week. One of my first thoughts on hearing the news was that he couldn't die now, not with the Tigers so close.

I was already planning to root for the Tigers in the Series this year, but it will be with a sense of bittersweet.

Predictions Do Come True

By spring training this year, the Red Sox had divested themselves of half of the championship team. The replacements were adequate players, but not capable of accomplishing what the Idiots had done. The personality of the team was deflated as well.

I do believe in team chemistry; it can be the element that tips a team one way or the other. I'm not saying it's necessary, Mays knows it won't make winners out of also-rans, but it can be integral in some teams' make-up, such as the 2004 Red Sox. Even the prima donnas, the whiners, the so-called baseball diva, were part of the mix that worked.

The Evil Empire has too much influence on the Olde Towne Teame. Theo, under the direction of the owners I'm sure, was/is trying to recreate the team's image, change it from a fun-loving, get-dirty group to a dignified gentlemen. More than any other team, the Red Sox of 2004 resembled the Bronx Zoo of the late '70s, and recalled the Gas House Gang.

The break down of the front office, letting Theo go over creative differences, making deals he probably didn't like before bringing him back, contributed to the break down of the team. Remember, the post-Yawkey ownership of the Sox includes the same brain trust that slapped together a championship team in Miami then stripped it for salvage money.

They didn't have the hitting, they didn't have the pitching. Toronto has been poised to move up in the standing for a couple seasons (their AAA team is the one I read about every morning over my Cheerios).

Friday, September 08, 2006

What happened to this summer?

I knew, going into the season, that I was going to attend fewer B-Mets games than usual, but I have at least 8 unused tickets still in the envelope. Not only was the price of gas an issue, but there were health-related, work, and school issues, not to mention cold, wet, and windy evenings. Yeah, they called me a wimp in the box, but I've been feely creaky this year.

Most of the games I attended, I was with Livianna and her daughters, sitting in the front row (and tracking the thread hanging from John Valentin's inseam) which made this season different. I really enjoyed games in their company, but it meant I wasn't spending time with "my summer family" so it seemed odd.

There were a few high points worth mentioning. All the way back to the All-Star Game, or rather the Home Run Derby. Everyone was ignoring David Wright before the derby began, except the one commentator who said he wouldn't do anything. David did just fine, making it to the final round.

Livianna and I were guests at a skybox in Syracuse and while we had a great view of the pitches, being right above and behind the plate, neither of us liked the location. Too many distractions, too far from the game.

Chase Lambin was back in town, as were a few other guys from the AAA club. Looked like the Big Club was trying to help the B-Mets in their run for the pennant. My Guys clawed their way from last in their division to first in July, but couldn't quite hold on. By the last home game, they had not been eliminated mathematically, but there was a sense that they were not going to win their last four which they would have needed to do to be in the play-offs.

(Sorry, Chase, I never did get a chance to make your oatmeal cranberry cookies.)

As for the majors, I'm predicting a Tigers-Mets Series. My Barista R still thinks the Red Sox can back into the playoffs. Not likely.

Wednesday evening I happened to flip through the channels and come across the ninth inning of Anibel Sanchez's no-hitter. A no-hitter is exciting no matter who throws it, but just last year I was watching this guy, in single-A at the time, pitching well against major leaguers and saw that he had great potential. I'm less adept at picking who among minor league pitchers will make the grade, but this kid obviously had it, has it.