Watch. Repeat. Be Happy.
Watch. Repeat. Be Happy.
Before their game with the Chicago White Sox tonight, the Boston Red Sox will retire Pedro Martinez’s number – 45 – two days after Pedro was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. This is a big week for Boston and Red Sox Nation, as evidenced by the sheer number of times the word “legend” has been thrown around lately. (Exhibit A: NESN’s declaration in an article that includes “Absolutely Legendary” in the headline. Random Anecdotal Exhibit B: one of the staff at my physical therapy clinic randomly shouting “Pedro was a f*ckin’ legend for us!” a few weeks ago, context unknown.)
In light of this big week of news, and as I’m someone who was a die-hard Sox fan during Pedro’s heyday, I’ve been asked by the Powers That Be to share my reminiscences of Petey. Warning: rampant nostalgia to follow.
I was a big Sox fan when I was a kid, but my interest all but disappeared as I hit middle school and stopped playing little league. Despite my complete disinterest in baseball at that point in my life, it was impossible to escape the phenomenon that was Pedro Martinez.
I kept hearing about his heroics during the ’99 playoffs, and knew he must be good because of how much my Yankees-loving best friend hated him. I even stood up for him once as said friend went off on a rant about how much he sucked. I hadn’t even seen the guy pitch, yet I somehow already knew how important he was to Red Sox Nation, and knew his honor must be defended.
By the opening of the 2000 season I was watching the Sox religiously, and my childhood fandom was eclipsed by a new die-hard love. Petey was truly amazing to watch that season, which he finished with an incredible 1.74 ERA and 0.74 WHIP, oh, and his second Cy Young award. Any game he started was almost guaranteed to be a win, and you could feel the excited buzz on Pedro Days even way out in the ‘burbs where I lived.
It’s hard to explain the thrill I’d experience as Petey got in The Zone on the mound. He’d get locked in and throw strike after strike, zooming the game along… there was something almost electric about it and it made baseball fun to watch again. Even my mom, who hated baseball, started watching Sox games with me when Petey was pitching.
It wasn’t just Petey’s prowess on the mound that was fun to watch; his goofiness on days he didn’t start endeared him to fans as well. You never knew what he’d be up to when the cameras would zoom over to the dugout… would he be wearing a Yoda mask again? Would his teammates be taping him to a post in an effort to tame his antics for a few minutes? While his pitching made him seem superhuman, his silliness off the mound made him loveable.
The way Petey dealt with Boston’s rival New York Yankees also endeared him to Sox fans… “daddy” comment aside. I remember feeling so pumped when he said in 2001, “I don’t believe in damn curses. Wake up the damn Bambino and have me face him. Maybe I’ll drill him in the ass….” Hell yeah, drill the Babe – and “The Curse” – in the ass! That’s what we wanted to hear!
During the glory years of 1999-2001 Petey seemed to have the Yankees in his back pocket, schooling them on multiple occasions and giving turncoat Roger Clemens a run for his money. In a more divisive moment, Petey literally threw down during the infamous 2003 ALCS brawl, when he introduced the Yankees’ bench coach Don Zimmer to the ground.
Fun fact: remember the Yankees-loving best friend I mentioned earlier? The 2003 brawl caused the longest fight we’ve ever had in our 20-year friendship. She didn’t appreciate that Pedro treated an elderly man with such violence; I was of the opinion that Zimmer got what he deserved. What was Zimmer doing, putting himself in that situation in the first place? If you don’t want to get hurt, don’t jump into a brawl and charge at the other team’s ace. Simple. (Petey later said that this incident is the only thing he regrets from his career.)
By 2004 Petey was no longer quite the magician he had once been. He was still an incredible pitcher, but I no longer enjoyed the cocky feeling that a Pedro start automatically equaled a win. I even remember curling into a ball on the couch as he ran out of the bullpen during Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS; I thought for sure that was the end of Boston’s Series drive. (As a Sox fan pre-2004, you got used to having your hopes and dreams dashed right when they were within grasping distance, and I was scared that Pedro would become our ’04 Buckner. I’m sorry for doubting you, Petey!)
As I’m sure you already know, Petey proved not to be a bad omen and the Sox didn’t implode that night. In fact, they went on to sweep St. Louis in the World Series for their first title since 1918. Petey had prevailed, and I was able to see his goofiness in person for the very first time during the victory parade. My photos came out terribly, otherwise I’d be sharing the one of Petey in a helmet and cape, bobbing off the back of a duck boat. It was wonderful.
I never had the chance to see Petey pitch in person at Fenway, a fact which still bums me out pretty bad. I did finally get to see him pitch in person, but by that time he was a New York Met and it just wasn’t the same… even though it was kind of cool to see him bat.
Sidenote: I had the chance to see Pedro pitch at Fenway in the early summer of 2004, and I still haven’t forgiven myself for passing up the opportunity. Kids, take it from me: when your uncle offers you a free box seat for a game when a living legend is pitching, under no circumstances turn him down. Even if you think you’re doing the right thing by not ditching a new friend for the game, you should know that this new friend will figuratively stab you in the back multiple times in the near future, you will soon loathe her, and your trip to Trident Booksellers on Newbury Street to bond over being book nerds is not worth missing a Pedro game for. You will regret it FOR. EVER.
Pedro left the Sox after the 2004 season, and my love for baseball waned once again. Despite my unbridled glee at the World Series win in ’04, it felt a little like my heart had been ripped out when Nomar Garciaparra was traded, and I never quite recovered. It got worse each time another of my favorite players left, and it was just too hard to watch a team without my beloved Dirt Dogs.
In the years since he retired from baseball in 2009, Petey has returned to Boston many times, and each time his impending arrival has sparked a buzz in the city. Anytime he was spotted, whether he was getting a haircut in Jamaica Plain or handing out free ice cream, you could always count on an outpouring of love and nostalgia for Petey when he was in town.
It wasn’t just Sox fans who recognized his awesomeness; after he left, no one on the Red Sox wore his number again. I remember asking my dad during the 2000 season if he thought the Sox would retire Pedro’s and Nomar’s numbers, and I remember him saying “Pedro’s for sure, someday.”
Clearly we weren’t the only ones who found Pedro Martinez to be deserving of the honor, and today it’s official: the 45 will hang in the spot of honor at Fenway, next to the numbers of Bobby Doerr (1), Joe Cronin (4), Johnny Pesky (6), Carl Yaztrzemski (8), Ted Williams (9), Jim Rice (14), Carlton Fisk (27), and Jackie Robinson (42).
Of all the Sox I got to see play, whether on the TV or live at Fenway, no one is more deserving of this honor than Petey. Reading all the nostalgia pieces that have come out about him since his Hall of Fame election was announced, I feel incredibly lucky that I witnessed him at his prime. Thanks for making baseball fun again, Pedro.
Major League Baseball’s trade season – and the bevy of crazy rumors and speculation that come with it – is officially upon us.
The Mariners and Diamondbacks fired the opening salvo with last week’s six-player swap that was highlighted by the Mariners adding slugger Mark Trumbo to an underachieving lineup in hopes of pushing the club into contention.
Luckily, it seems that this was just the first of many potential early deals before the July 31, non-waiver trade deadline. This evening we’ve been treated to rumblings of two potential deals in the works.
Rumors are swirling today that the Mets and Brewers are in talks to bring the shambling skeleton that is Aramis Ramirez to the Big Apple as a fill-in at third base while David Wright battles spinal stenosis.
Ramirez, 36, would be an interesting addition to a Mets club that has struggled to score runs and could use a potent bat to pair with Lucas Duda. That having been said, Ramirez is a few years removed from being a true offensive threat himself; he’s hitting a meager .213/.257/.390 on the season, but that includes seven long-balls which would be more than Mets third basemen have mustered as a collective on the year.
Ramirez is making $14 million this season, but the Mets are legitimate playoff contenders and might be willing to take on some salary to improve one of the league’s worst offenses in time for a postseason push.
Rounding out our pair of early season trade rumors is someone we talked about over the winter, Jonathan Papelbon.
It’s believed that the Phillies have accepted their fate as non-contenders and are more-than-willing to move Papelbon. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that the Cubs and Blue Jays are the likely front-runners for his services at the moment.
Papelbon, 34, is making $13 million this season and has an almost-sure-to-be-vested $13 million option for 2016. According to Rosenthal’s report, the club is reportedly willing to eat a sizeable chunk of his salary to net better prospects in a trade.
Potentially complicating matters is Papelbon’s limited no-trade clause that allows him to block deals to 17 different clubs, but his comments in the past indicate that he’s ready to join a contender if the opportunity arises.
Despite the financial roadblocks to moving Papelbon, his performance still ranks as one of the top closers in the game. On the season he’s racked up 12 saves (out of 22 total wins for a miserable Phillies team) with a 1.13 ERA, 0.917 WHIP, and 29/6 K/BB ratio in 24 total innings.
It’s still very early in the season and, with the second wildcard, only a handful of teams – Philadelphia, Oakland, Miami, and Milwaukee – appear to be obvious sellers, so it could still take a few weeks for the trade market to truly develop, but if these early rumors are any indication, it could be a very exciting run to trade deadline this season.
Within two days of Opening Day, the San Francisco Giants witnessed injury after injury. The comeback bid of Matt Cain fell short with a strained flexor tendon causing him to join Hunter Pence and Travis Ishikawa on the DL while Jake Peavy continues to battle back issues with a locked sacroiliac joint. The icing on the cake came on Tuesday’s game in Arizona when Brandon Belt suffered a minor strain in his right groin during a routine play. Before Wednesday’s game, the vexing ‘odd year curse’ was attributed throughout the baseball sphere for the Giants string of bad luck.
The Giants had the option to start Yusmeiro Petit, but elected to call up the 26-year-old right-hander Chris Heston, who would be doused with cheap domestic beer by his teammates after a much needed performance Wednesday night. Something that Giants skipper, Bruce Bochy said was a “shot in the arm.”
Heston shook off his rookie jitters in the first inning after he unintentionally plunked Arizona Diamondbacks A.J. Pollock on the back. Then a wild pickoff throw to Buster Posey, at first base, allowed Pollock to scurry to third base. Pollock then scored off a groundout by Chris Owings.
What followed was the magic of ‘Hesto Presto’, who hurled a sinking fastball, curve and nasty changeup to hold the Dbacks to three hits and a pair of unearned runs in six innings. Heston was given the nickname ‘Hesto Presto’ by Double-A Richmond announcer Jon Laaser for his ability to escape innings. He lived up to his catchy nickname in the fourth, after getting the third out when bases were loaded.
There is rumor that Heston will start the home opener next Monday when the Giants face the 3-0 Colorado Rockies. The question remains, how long until we see magician hats and wands at AT&T park.
Let the magic rumpus begin!
It seems like ages ago that we were debating whether or not Alex Gordon could have scored in game seven of the World Series (he couldn’t), but in reality it was just a few short months ago that baseball went into hibernation for the winter.
Since then, however, a lot has changed; the Giants and Royals are unlikely to meet in a rematch this October, Pablo Sandoval – that big guy who caught the final out of that classic game seven – is now in Boston, Nori Aoki left the Royals and will be leading off for the Giants this year, and James Shields – the Royals ace last season – is now plying his trade in San Diego.
That’s just a tiny sampling of the many changes we saw this offseason.
The San Diego Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Miami Marlins all underwent major turnover to compete this season. Both Chicago clubs, the White Sox and Cubs, spent big bucks in hopes of bringing another World Series trophy back to the Windy City. The Boston Red Sox reloaded on offense and reshuffled the rotation in hopes of pulling yet another worst-to-first championship run this season.
There was plenty more, but at this point, all anyone cares about is that tonight there will be real, live, honest-to-goodness baseball on national television and it’ll be a game that actually means something.
It’s Opening Day and that means we – like all sports blogs – are contractually obligated to make some predictions for the upcoming season.
Without any further ado, here are our 2015 Cheap Seat Chronicles’ staff predictions:
|Jeremiah Graves||Steven Kunkel||Justin Kunkel|
|American League East|
|American League Central|
|American League West|
|American League Wild Card|
|American League Wild Card|
|National League East|
|National League Central|
|National League West|
|National League Wild Card|
|National League Wild Card|
|American League Champion|
|National League Champion|
|World Series Champion|
Quick Prediction Analysis:
In the American League, the biggest stand out here – in my mind – is the lack of agreement across the board. The American League seems wide-open this year with no clear-cut favorite. All three of us have a different team representing the AL in the World Series and the Cleveland Indians are the only club selected by all three of us to make the postseason fray in the AL.
Surprisingly absent from all three of us are the defending AL Central champion Detroit Tigers who come into 2015 having won four division titles in a row. Also missing was the very popular sleeper pick in many circles, the Toronto Blue Jays.
In the National League, we all appear to be basically on the same page with the Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Dodgers getting a clean sweep in the NL East and West, respectively. After that it’s a little more all over the place.
The surprise here is the lack of the defending World Series Champion San Francisco Giants on anyone’s radar, even as a wild card contender. It also appears that none of us are buying into the Chicago Cubs offseason activity as a sign that the club is ready to return to the postseason.
If that wasn’t enough to get you excited, we also took our turn at trying to project some individual awards for the upcoming season, take a peek.
|American League Comeback Player||Prince Fielder||Matt Moore||Prince Fielder|
|National League Comeback Player||Jay Bruce||Matt Harvey||Joey Votto|
|American League Rookie of the Year||Carlos Rodon||Rusney Castillo||Ruseny Castillo|
|National League Rookie of the Year||Joc Pederson||Kris Bryant||Jorge Soler|
|American League Cy Young||Felix Hernandez||Carlos Carrasco||David Price|
|National League Cy Young||Clayton Kershaw||Clayton Kershaw||Clayton Kershaw|
|American League Most Valuable Player||Mike Trout||Mike Trout||Mike Trout|
|National League Most Valuable Player||Andrew McCutchen||Carlos Gomez||Bryce Harper|
Quick Prediction Analysis:
So, there you have it. Mike Trout will continue to be the greatest hitter on the planet and Clayton Kershaw will continue to be the greatest pitcher on the planet.
Beyond that, however, it’s safe to say that the only other unanimous prediction is that we’ll spend all season arguing about pretty much everything else.
Love these predictions? Hate these predictions?
Give us your feedback and share your predictions in the comments!
Talkin' Giants Ball.
It is no secret. When a pitcher losses velocity and relies on a fastball and pitching catalogue of his former days, he is asking for a ticket home. More often than not, these starting pitchers are put into the bullpen. Then there are those rare moments when the reinvention process catches on. In Jake Peavy’s case, he has Hall of Fame quality catcher Gerald Dempsey ‘Buster’ Posey III or as we all like to call him, ‘Posey’ or ‘Buster’, behind the plate.
When Posey was up to bat against Angels left-hander C.J. Wilson on Sunday’s game, he found himself intrigued. What Posey discovered was Wilson’s nasty four-seam changeup, which looked like a four-seem fastball off the hand. It is a well-known fact amongst San Francisco Giants fans that Posey is an artful catcher and a heck of a hitter too (#MVPosey 2012). Peavy confirmed this when interviewed a day ago with Giants beat writer Chris Haft: “If you have one of the best hitters in the league as your catcher, and he acts like he’s batting when you’re facing the opponent…. He’s a special talent.”
Peavy is no rook though. A three-time All Star with two rings to brag, Peavy has been around the block and has seen pitchers reinvent themselves. Like those pitchers who lose velocity, Peavy took to experimenting. Oftentimes, these undertakings can range from a new pitch rotation and even sometimes, a new pitch to boot. Mechanics can be reworked. A new superstition adopted. The efforts are exhaustive and many times done with a pitching coach or a trainer.
But this native of Mobile, Alabama is not your average Joe. Posey came up to his right-hander the day after facing Wilson and described what he had witnessed and simply asked, “Can you throw one of those?” to which Peavy replied “I don’t know.”
“Can you try?”1
Was all Posey had to ask to trigger Peavy’s impulse of trying the new four-seam changeup on Monday’s Royals-Giants exhibition game; does the match-up sound familiar Giants fans? The result? Striking out Kansas City Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain to end the fifth, stranding a potential run at second base.
Peavy later told his catcher. “The changeup, I think we found something there.”1
Until next time,
Giants-Royals Recap: http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/gameday/index.jsp?gid=2015_03_23_kcamlb_sfnmlb_1&mode=box
Last week, Adidas announced it would not seek a renewal of their contract to produce NBA-licensed product.
For now, this means nothing. The current contract runs through the 2016-17 season, meaning jerseys and on-court tee shirts will continue being made by Adidas. Starting with the 2017-18 season, things could start to look a whole lot different (or, really the same for a bit. Change happens incrementally, even with new vendors). Before then, however, there could be a battle.
Nike and Under Armour are both ahead of Adidas in market share in the United States, and early speculation is on those two vying for the NBA contract. Nike already has the on-field contract for the NFL (excluding headwear) and the undershirt contract (a real thing) with MLB. Nike is winning the player shoe endorsement competition far and away over Under Armour, with stars such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant wearing their shoes. Under Armour has a small amount of players that wear their shoes, with Stephen Curry being notable, but the rest are generally afterthoughts.
Not that Under Armour hasn’t tried to work its way into the shoe market. Besides signing Stephen Curry, Under Armour made a big play to sign Kevin Durant when his Nike contract was set to expire. Nike outbid Under Armour and ended up retaining Durant.
Nike and Under Armour both make quality products. Nike, however, has the advantage of time and the balance sheet of a corporate titan. Under Armour is the underdog of the two, as much as a company with a market capitalization of almost $17 billion can be. Nike and their over $83 market cap can outbid Under Armour at each end to retain their dominance.
Nike’s largest advantages over Under Armour are in the footwear market and the international market. The NBA is growing in popularity worldwide and could potentially overtake the NFL in time, due to the simplicity of basketball as a game and the long-term health concerns of former NFL players.
If Under Armour is going to be stymied by Nike in the footwear market, it makes sense for Under Armour to go all-out and even overpay for the rights to make NBA uniforms. Getting their name and image out to a worldwide audience would do wonders to establish themselves not only as a player in the United States, but worldwide.
On the other hand, what would American professional sports look like with Nike creating jerseys for two of the big four (Majestic Athletic makes MLB uniforms and Reebok, now owned by Adidas makes NHL uniforms)?
A decision on the new on-court provider could be announced as soon as next month. Either way, things are going to get very interesting.