Spring and the return of a "Zero TV" home

In the past, I would find myself sitting on my couch during a beautiful spring & summer day and using the excuse of a baseball game on TV to avoid chores or yard work. Today, I didn’t do that. I was doing yard work, on a beautiful spring day, and enjoying every moment of it while listening to the Red Sox on the MLB At Bat 2013 iPhone app.

The benefits of canceling Cable TV for a second time, joining a rapidly growing group of friends and colleagues in my generation, are really starting to show in small ways. In the morning, I seem to have more time to relax before heading to work. At night, I’m usually listening to music with my wife, perhaps watching an episode of The West Wing on Netflix, or devouring books like I used to back in high school.

This is a small step for me to become more minimalist with my life. A little less clutter, frustration (those awful Cable TV boxes), and entertainment on demand the way I want it (instead of being spoon fed it) really seems to be helping me out.

Broadcasters should be worrying about “Zero TV” homes big time.

What I don't get about Manny's suspension

Baseball fans everywhere today were probably either very shocked or saying “I told you so” at the reports that Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games for a banned substance. There is one thing about this that I do not get:

The Los Angeles Dodgers star said he did not take steroids and was prescribed medication by a doctor that contained a banned substance. The commissioner’s office didn’t announce the specific violation by the 36-year-old outfielder, who apologized to the Dodgers and fans for “this whole situation.”

However, two sources told ESPN’s T.J. Quinn and Mark Fainaru-Wada that the drug used by Ramirez is HCG — human chorionic gonadotropin. HCG is a women’s fertility drug typically used by steroid users to restart their body’s natural testosterone production as they come off a steroid cycle. It is similar to Clomid, the drug Bonds, Giambi and others used as clients of BALCO.

“Recently, I saw a physician for a personal health issue. He gave me a medication, not a steroid, which he thought was OK to give me,” Ramirez said in a statement issued by the players’ union.

“Unfortunately, the medication was banned under our drug policy. Under the policy that mistake is now my responsibility. I have been advised not to say anything more for now. I do want to say one other thing; I’ve taken and passed about 15 drug tests over the past five seasons.”

If I were a baseball player these days, if my doctor gave me a prescription or supplement, or anything, I would get signed letter from Major League Baseball saying that this prescription or supplement is acceptable to use, or if it isn’t, some type of waiver in special circumstances.

I just cannot fathom why, if Manny’s story is true, that this had happen. It could have easily been avoided (assuming Manny was given this by a doctor) if it had been cleared by the people who could (and in this case, did) suspend him.

The No-Deal for Teixeira

Imagine my shock when my friend Matt messaged me that Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees. While I wasn’t exactly thrilled with him possibly going to the Red Sox either, Teixeira going to the Yankees was a momentary kick in the gut I didn’t want two days before Christmas.

In the short term, it is a great deal for the Yankees. They get a big upgrade at 1B offensively and defensively over the departed Giambi.

In the long term? I really think they are going to regret that contract. Signing any player at the age of 28 or higher for 8 seasons is insane (don’t get me started on a pitcher getting nearly the same deal, like CC Sabathia was given), especially if it has a no-trade clause involved. Way too much can happen in that time frame. For example, Jason Giambi was better then Teixeira when he signed with the Yankees. Steroids, injuries, investigations, and who knows what else significantly altered him and he was never the same player.

Ok, getting onto the Sabathia deal, it is flat out insane to sign a pitcher for 7 seasons with the workload Sabathia had in his past. He’s a prime candidate to lose at least 2 of those seasons to injuries and have at least a couple more seasons of being an average or barely above average pitcher.

Of course, when the Yankees move from their original plan of developing young talent and being smart spending wise, I am always happy. Whatever resources they have tied up into single players, that makes things easier for the Red Sox, who are becoming quite good at bargain hunting with prospects, diamonds in the roughs, and then occasionally splurging to fill a gap.

Goodbye Manny

With yesterday’s trade of Manny Ramirez, it marked the end of an era in Red Sox history. Gone forever are the self absorbed superstars that Theo Epsetin inherited when he became GM. It took 5 years, but they are gone.

Now we have a team comprised of professionals, many who fit the classic dirt dog type of player that Boston fans love. Players we are proud to say are on our team.

Baseball trade rumors masters

This is a plug and a worthy one at that. If you have any interest in baseball, subscribe to the RSS feed for the fantastic MLBTradeRumors.com blog. These guys are the masters of tracking down every rumor of any remotely possible trade in Major League Baseball, even at the minor league level. They seriously must watch every paper in the USA. They have been right on top of the C.C. Sabathia rumors since day one and are even providing multiple updates the past few hours as the trade nears completion.

Toronto is for real

After this series against the Toronto Blue Jays, I agree that they are a contender in the AL East and are going to be major pests this season for the Red Sox. I am also glad to say they are going to be major pests for the Yankees too.

2008 Fantasy Baseball team

After the past few years (getting out of school, moving in with my girlfriend, getting in engaged to my girlfriend, and of course marrying her), I finally have some free time. Well, after I figure out how to buy this place and how to stay sound financially, but yeah, I have some free time.

Diving head first into my long neglected fantasy baseball team, I had high hopes. Owner of the #1 overall draft pick in the league, I set out to execute my draft plan and I think I succeeded.

Keepers: 1B Albert Pujols and P Jeremy Bonderman. Pujols is a no-brainer and Bonderman was my best pitcher.

Infield: Pudge, Pujols, Prince Fielder, Dustin Pedroia, Stephen Drew, David Eckstein, Aubrey Huff, Frank Thomas

Outfield: Jeff Francoeur, Aaron Rowland, Mark Teahen, Delmon Young

Starting Pitching: Jeremy Bonderman, Dice-K, Felix Hernandez, Bronson Arroyo, Zack Greinke.

Relievers: Bobby Jenks, Kerry Wood, Okaijima

I think I nicely balanced between young players who are due for bigger seasons, reliable veterans in their prime, and low-risk high reward older players that are injury risks.

If the dice roll right, this team could win the whole league championship for me. The key thing is to avoid too many injuries. The past few seasons my team was built on injury prone stars (Rich Harden? Ben Sheets? Mark Prior?) and roll players. Now at least I have depth (hard for teams to get Pujols and Fielder, nevermind both) and I have strong pitching (Bonderman, Dice-K, and Hernandez can all become true aces).

This should be fun. Or very frustrating.

Thoughts before opening day

There is nothing like opening day in baseball.

You instantly feel like winter is behind you, whether or not you still have snow on the ground. You feel endless optimism as spring all the sudden starts appearing: your first week of 40+ degree temperatures, when the reports of snow remain confined to the north country (sorry pals), those small patches of grass that suddenly appear.

Only baseball makes you get up at 6 freaking A.M. in the morning to watch a kid’s game an ocean and continent away. Heck I am going to attempt to get all dressed and ready for work prior to 6 A.M. so have one and half hours of pure bliss.

I feel good about the Red Sox this year. I go 22-years of my life without a championship and I get two in the past four years. Most of the team is healthy and ready for the grind. I am excited and think we can go far again. Time to repeat. Can’t have those Patriots get all of the accolades in this town now can we? Oh yeah, I said the P word…I swore I wouldn’t say it till August after what happened.

To me it comes down to those young players, the rookies (Ellsbury, Bucholz) and now “veterans” (Pedroia, Lester). If they improve and show they can stay in the big leagues, plus the rest of the team stays as healthy as possible, we will be right back in the playoffs. Once your there, anything can happen (I’m thinking of you 2004 and 2007 Red Sox).

It feels damn good to say that we are the defending champions.

Nothing better then this

After last night, I can’t keep the thought out of my head.

How long is this going to last?

Just 7 years ago, the Boston sports scene was completely different. The Red Sox had a disastrous 2001 season, which resulted in season ending injuries to Pedro and Nomar, Jimy Williams being fired and somehow replaced by a manager who did an even more horrible job, a GM who simply couldn’t handle people or build a complete team, and an ownership who just didn’t care. The Patriots were entering just year 2 of the Belichick era, had just lost Drew Bledsoe to injury, and were starting a 6th round pick Tom Brady that no one had even heard of. Rick Pitino resigned as head coach after completely destroying the Celtics with his ego. The Bruins won their first regular season title, but lost in the 1st round to the Canadians in 6 games.

7 years later?

The Patriots pulled off one of the best ever underdog performances in the 2002 Super Bowl, then went on to win championships in 2004 and 2005. They made the playoffs in 2006, nearly pulled off another Super Bowl appearance in 2007, and are now absolutely destroying their competition as they head to the 2008 Super Bowl. They have the best coaching staff, best offense, best defense, and best ownership. Oh yeah, the fans are among the best and most loyal in football as well.

The Red Sox were bought by new owners who knew exactly what needed to be done to make the team capable of catching the Yankees. They completely revamped the team’s finances, improve Fenway Park every season to squeeze every last cent out of a 95-year-old ballpark, hired the best GM in baseball, hire one of the best coaches in baseball, and make some of the best moves in the history of the game (Ortiz is exhibit A on this). Meanwhile the team was one pitching change away from the world series in 2003, won the World Series in 2004, was retooled in 2005 and 2006, and won the World Series in 2007 with a young core of players and a group of excellent veterans that look like the perfect compliment to each other.

The Celtics had some limited success in the first few seasons of the 21st century, but quickly fell apart amid countless rebuilding plans. Yet in the end, all of the pain and suffering could be worth it. The Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen trades brings us a new Big 3 and the closest chance this team will have at winning a championship in the next decade. Even if they don’t win, it should be entertaining to watch, which is something you couldn’t say about the team since the early 90s.

Finally there is the Bruins…well, no town is perfect. Moving along…

Last night was truly special though for Red Sox fans. For the first 22-years of my life, I never had hope of a championship for the Red Sox. Now within 4 years, I have witnessed 2 championships. You can’t get any better then that.

I am never more proud to be a sports fan then I am today.

Dear TBS

I get the hint. You want us to watch FrankTV. Just in case we miss the commercial, you have kindly decided to play it every freaking’ commercial break, at least once with a few 2 times sprinkled in (heck, I am sure you threw a three-peat in there somewhere). Since this isn’t nearly enough, you decided to have the baseball announcers pretend to be really excited as they pimp the show during the game.

On behalf of baseball fans across the country, I just want to say one thing.

We. Don’t. Care. About. Frank. TV.

End of story.