Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gagné Joke In 3... 2....

Look, here's the thing: we've watched more Mets baseball than is probably--okay, definitely--healthy over the past couple of years*, and we're just not sure that picking up anyone who has spent any time in their bullpen is a good idea. Hell, anyone who has ever been cared for by one of their trainers, anyone who played with them in spring training, anyone who has watched an entire Mets game this season is almost suspect at this point. After word that they ignored Johan Santana's** sore elbow for, oh, an entire season came out, how can any other organization trade for a Mets player without the lingering fear that they're getting some dude with post-concussion syndrome or a gimpy elbow or, hell, a severe case of baseballphobia?

Not that we have anything against Billy Wagner personally, of course. We don't actually know him. Sure, he's caused his share of heartache and pain, but so has every other relief pitcher in the history of ever. Mo blew the 2004 ALCS that time, and you won't find any Yankees fans who won't argue--at the top of their lungs, even, until you need to tell them to just "shut up, already, we know"--that he's the best closer to ever close a game. Pap's blown a few himself. Trevor Hoffman, Dennis Eckersley, Goose Gossage: no one has a 100% save rate, which means that they've all caused a bit of the old weeping and rending of the garments action.

And, fine, there are rumors that he's not the easiest guy to be around, though we're taking anything Schill says about someone else's personality with a grain of salt. But, hell, until he actually pisses one of our guys off, we're willing to give him the benefit of the doubt on that front. Because, again, we don't know Billy Wagner, and we don't know anyone who does. Maybe if our dream of hanging out with David Wright and Jose Reyes is ever realized we'll get some of the juicy gossip, but in the meantime we're stuck with Jon Heyman and Buster Olney.

No, we're mostly scared because a) as with any former Mets player, the fear that said player's hand will fall off and run away is a legitimate one, and b) we was in the Mets bullpen that killed all winning during that horrible stretch we call the Post-Endy-Pre-K-Rod*** Period. Maybe he'll be okay? Sure, the move from the NL to the AL is the absolute wrong direction, as John Smoltz would tell us if he weren't so busy blaming his former Red Sox teammates for not noticing that he was tipping his pitches or whatever he's doing out there in St. Louis, and he's less than a year removed from the dreaded John of Tommy. And, fine, Papelbon's already calling him out, and there's been a bit of a war of words going on. But, you know, it's a contract year for Billy, so maybe he'll pull a Johnny Damon and hit a bunch of windtunnel-aiding home--or, erm, he'll kick ass and take names and get lefties out all night long. Who can say? If nothing else, we should--crossing all sorts of fingers--get some sort of draft picks out of these whole experiment, which will already rate it as more successful than our other failed reclamation projects these year.

Of course, ask us again after we find out who the hell the PTBNL are going to be. We've got us some baby baller woobies we don't want to see consigned to a life on the DL.

*Endy Chavez's Catch was the beginning of the end.

**Yes, that Johan Santana. The one they've got millions invested in. The one who--Jason Varitek's freakish ability to hit him aside--is a legitimate perennial Cy Young candidate. The one good starting pitcher they actually have. That Johan Santana.

***We still think K-Rod's overrated, by the way. Or at least not as good as he used to be. But signing him was at least some sort of acknowledgment by Omar Minaya that, hey, having one good starting pitcher doesn't really help if he doesn't pitch a complete game every time he's out on the mound.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Down the road and back again.

Since our neighborhood kids didn't make it to the Little League World Series, we figured we'd put those little punks--er, adorable cherubs--to work. So we recruited them to the official Respect The Tek Graphics Department (they're almost as well paid as our crack research staff). We asked them to document our feelings about Friday's and today's Sox/Yankees showdown, and we must say, they have worked wonders. Here come the pie charts, cut yourself a slice!

* For taking Justin Masterson from us. Bastards.

** For giving us Victor Martinez. Yay!

*** For being a friend.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Jonathan Papelbon is why we need universal health care.

In between bullpen-related heart attacks last night, we were wondering why, exactly, the Red Sox reacquired Alex Gonzalez. You know, since it's obviously not because of his bat. Well, we couldn't let this question go unanswered. So we dug up the truth, and now we bring you the true reason for the Gonzalez acquisition: It's almost football season, and Nick Green needed to reassume his alternate identity as Wes Welker.

Respect the Tek: we do research so you don't have to.*

Now, about that game. All the cliches--a win is a win, even aces need luck sometimes, Jason Varitek is trying to steal Gary Tuck's job, mumblety-mumble--apply. We're especially grateful for this one, not only because The Hour Of The Doc is upon us, but because it might quiet one or two of the doom- and gloom-sayers out there. Look, guys, we know that this season has been hard to watch at times. We know that the Globe is trying to whip us all into a torch-bearing mob. Hey, we're all in trouble when the Herald is Boston's voice of reason.

But we also know that Youkilis' suspension weakened our lineup, that J. Bay and B. Papi are just starting to get their late summer legs under them, and that Pedroia is due for a Daddy Streak. We know that the pitching....well, okay, we don't have the answer to the pitching, just yet, but how can we look at Junichi Tazawa's tiny little childlike face and not feel the love? A lot of love, actually. And a little bit of hope. Maybe even enough to get us through six more weeks of baseball.

Nobody bitches and moans like a Red Sox fan.** But nobody rocks a stretch drive harder. So keep your torch in one hand, but keep the other one free for fistbumps. As last night proved, we can't lose 'em all.

And if we actually do, well, who's up for doing shots and singing a sad chorus of Kum-Ba-Yah?

*And yet we didn't bother to dig up pictures of Green and Welker. But you can trust us. Have we ever lied to you? Except for the 'research' thing?

**Keep on practicing, Mets and Cubs fans.

Friday, August 14, 2009

It's Beckett's world and we're living in it. Until he aces us.

Wednesday night, we met perhaps the rarest of the People You Meet at Fenway, the nice guy who, when noticing that he may be blocking the short chick who is kind of diagonally behind him in standing room says, "You tell me if I'm blocking your view at all, okay, and I'll move." (During the same game, we also spotted Dude in an Unadulterated Damon Jersey, multiple Kotsay shirts(?!?!), Guy in Babe Ruth Jersey, a custom Dom DiMaggio road jersey, and so much more. Definitely a successful outing to Fenway, people-watching style. And don't get us started on the security guys in our section--hi-lar-i-ous, people, and pretty much made of win.) Props to you, nice guy! We will always remember you and your nice guy ways!

Mostly, though, the night was memorable for Beckett Being Beckett. Which is to say: hot. Filthy. Nasty. Totally jinxed by those two yahoos--one of whom read Jennifer's twitter feed over her shoulder and wanted us to call Texas Gal over so he could tell her all about the superiority of the Sooners*--who kept saying, "Oh, hey, doesn't Beckett have a NO-HITTER going? Wonder if he's going to keep NO-HITTING them."

Sure, Mikey Lowell's third home run in two games was fun, as was the whole offense clicking on all cylinders (okay, fine, so the Tigers were featuring a bullpen guy because their actual starter went down with strep or whatever, but still; you have your delusions, we have ours), but Beckett's Beckettocity was the true star of the game. Yeah, he made those two mistakes, and the Tigers didn't miss them, but he was slicing and dicing through that lineup like they were the San Diego Padres.** It never felt like this was anything but his game. His field. His mound. And it took roughly four minutes for him to walk from that mound to the dugout. Now that is swagger.

This morning Jennifer's off to the land of Orioles, where she'll celebrate her birthday, Dustin Pedroia's, by watching Matt Wieters face off against Mike Napoli. Caroline's off to the land of, well, Red Sox and Yankees, true battlefield territory. We'll be back next week. Here's hoping the Red Sox grab some of the Fenway dirt and bring it with them to the Kingdom of Nolan Ryan.

*We didn't invite you, Texy, because we didn't want to deal with their crying and sniveling when you masterfully destroyed their wills to live. Sorry!

**Or whoever the most inept lineup in baseball is this week. Is it the Royals again? It's probably the Royals, isn't it?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Newsflash: we won tonight's game. It's a miracle! Wake up your children!

The plan was simple: go to Fenway, watch some Red Sox prospects and a few major league retreads duke it out with the Orioles' prospects and organizational filler, and steadfastly ignore the major league scoreboard. And, hey, were it not for our perverse preoccupation with the outcome of the epic Barry Zito-Bronson Arroyo duel going down in the NL, we would've very probably succeeded. Still, Futures at Fenway is, bar none, one of our favorite baseball experiences every year, and even though we think it works better when the Lowell Spinners get the invite (no offense to the Paw Sox, but both they and the Norfolk Tides are littered with guys who were playing in the bigs only a few weeks ago), it was an awesome time yet again.

We sat in what we lovingly call the "rich people's seats," up close and personal with the visitors' on deck circle. We cheered for our favorites--no, they weren't all catchers, though we obviously shouted extra loud for Expo and Brownie--and avoided sunstroke due to a fortuitous combination of SPF 75 and some timely shadows. We decided that Ryan Kalish and Ryan Khoury should be best friends forever based on nothing more than their names. We ate ballpark food. We tried to keep score (an unfortunately timed bathroom run killed that plan), and we took a few pictures.

And we needed those simple pleasures, to remind us that baseball games aren't always the terrifying experiences that have happened to certain parent clubs in recent times.* Sometimes you can even sit through nine whole innings and still have enamel left on your teeth at the end.

Futures helped us to remember that, though baseball is famous for for its yesterdays--its segregated, dead-balled, spike-sharpened, mob-rigged, amphetamined and roid-raged yesterdays--there are always tomorrows. There are 21-year-old kids who get to hit a home run over the Green Monster, and keep that story forever. There's Josh Reddick making the most of things (and sacrificing his Mohawk in the process, oh, woe). There's tomorrow, and Junichi Tazawa's second chance to make a first impression.

And then there's the day after tomorrow, when we'll be back in the standing room saddle, resisting the siren song of frozen lemonade and cheering for the guys in the biggest, reddest socks of them all.** And reminding Dustin Pedroia that we expect to see a laser show. We may grow weary, but we never turn our backs on our boys.

Because we're afraid of getting hit with a line drive foul. That would hurt!

*Hey, as long as no one gets diagnosed with cancer, we're counting this season as better than 2006. Knock on wood!

**This means you, Tek.