At home at fenway

Keeping on eye on Dustin, Papi, Youk & a few good books

Archive for December, 2007

Patriots v Giants : Only one way to beat the Pats

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 27, 2007

Pats fans  have much to be grateful  for.    An unequalled season from Brady.  A receiving corps that is the deepest in NFL history.  The offense may be based on the pass, but Faulk, Maroney & Co. have contributed many of their 1,557 yards just when needed.  

Turnovers are rare.  Records are falling. The Defense is the 4th best in the NFL.

Patriots fans are cranked up and over-the-top.  New England is thinking all-Patriots, all-the-time. 

It’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen, it’s not going to happen.

That’s what I’ve been repeating for the last 6 weeks.  And with good reason.  If you remember the 1985 Bears, you’ll recall how invinceable they looked before they went down.  The Bears were scary-good in a way the Patriots could never be.  Those Bears had a defense that destroyed everything in its path with style and a smile.

I did not expect the Patriots to get this far.  A little bad luck like a a high ankle sprain to you-know-who is all that it would take to give the Pats their first defeat.   

But they are here.  They win big.  They win the close ones.  They are unlikely to  lose this Sunday against a Giant team that has already clinched a playoff spot.  And once they reach the post-season, they won’t lose because they know they’ll be preparing their place in History next to the ’72 Dolphins.

 You know they’ll find a way to win it all.  If they get past the Giants.

It all comes down to Brady staying in the game.    There is zero depth behind Brady — with Matt Cassel and Matt Gutierrez .  The two Matt’s have garnered nearly no NFL experience since leaving USC and Idaho State, respectively. 

Cassel spent all of his time at USC as a backup behind Heisman Trophy winners Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. 

Gutierrez led Idaho State to a 1-7 record after transferring from Michigan, where he tore a labrum. 

The ’72 Dolphins had Earl Morrall.

One head-rattling sack and the Pats could suddenly have the same offensive efficiency as the Chicago Bears.

Tom Brady has missed ZERO games since week #2 of the 2001 season.  ZERO absences in his first 7 seasons.  By comparison, Dan Marino missed 4 games, and Joe Montana missed 9 in their first 7 years.

Is the injury clock ticking on Tom ?    He is almost too good to be true.  Here’s hoping he keeps his streak going and rises above all the physical shots he is taking.   You may have noticed, he’s been getting whacked.   The Giants have 42 sacks and three players high among the league leaders. Brady’s demise is the opposition’s most viable blueprint for victory.  He is the target.

We’ll all be watching for the record breaking touchdown passes.  But the story of the season could be seen by watching how Matt Light, Logan Mankins, Dan Kopen, Stephen Neal, and Nick Kaczur protect their Q.B. against Strahan, Umenyiora and Tuck.

Posted in bill belichick, eli manning, giants, new england patriots, new york giants, patriots, tom brady, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

STAN MUSIAL, the Man’s own story

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 25, 2007

Stan Musial, the Man’s own story.  As told to Bob Broeg.  Doubleday.  1964

This is one of the most entertaining and easiest to read baseball autobiographies in existence.

From the start, Musial writes with intelligence and wit.  Stan met John F.Kennedy when he was running for President in 1959.  Musial met JFK again 3 years later at the 1962 All Star Game .  Stan reminded JFK  that at their first meeting Kennedy had said, “They tell me you are too old to play ball and I’m too young to be President, but maybe we’ll fool them.”   Kennedy chuckled as Stan said, “I guess we fooled them all right, Mr. President.”

That meeting at the “brand new” D.C. Stadium in ’62 was poignant.    JFK, at age 45, was the youngest President ever.  Musial, at age 42, was in the midst of hitting for a .330 average w 19 HR’s.  They both defied the odds.

Musial defied the odds over his entire career with a performance so consistently excellent it may be unmatched  —  in its consistency.   Stan got 1,815 hits at home in St. Louis — and exactly the same number — 1,815  — on the road.  That’s over 22 seasons, friends.  He batted .325 in April, .323 in May, .334 in June, .327 in July, .327 in August, and .344 in September.  Wow !   He left the game with the MLB record in 17 different hitting categories – including most extra-base hits and total bases.

Not bad for a guy originally signed as a pitcher, eh ?

Musial’s story is a link to the past.  He writes how negotiations between Players and Owners after WWII made “tremendous” improvements to the pension plan, and even resulted in bus transportation from hotel to ballpark, meal money increased to $8 a day, two uniforms provided instead of one per season, and families being allowed to travel to Spring Training with Players. Yesteryear’s gritty players bear little resemblance to today’s player-tycoons.

This book is a must-read for Cardinal fans.  Musial’s loyalty and affection for his teammates resonate.  He pays tribute to Enos (Bosco) Slaughter,  Harry “The Cat” Breechen, Terry (Tee) Moore , and Johnny Mize.  Stan states that the St. Louis front office pre-empted an extended era of excellence by unloading Mize and others.  The Cards went to 4 World Series between 1942 and 1946.   Musial says they should have gone to 4 or 5 more.   Had they kept their team together, they would have given the Yankees a run for their money as perennial champs.  They were stacked with players, and this book familiarizes us with all of those talented Cards.

Stan has a knack for making and keeping friends.  Dickie Kerr, the little lefty who won two World Series starts for the 1919 Black Sox, was Musial’s first Manager.  That gig was at Class D Daytona.  Kerr and his wife Pep took a liking to Musial and his wife Lil, even boarding them at their rented house in Daytona.  Musial’s first child was named after Kerr, and the two couples remained close until Dickie & Pep’s  death in 1963.  Musial was a fairly erratic hurler when he got to Daytona, but Kerr guided him to 18 mound victories that year, and wisely played him in the outfield  between starts to showcase his batting for Cardinal scouts.   Stan’s life turned on small things, chance meetings, strong influences.

Some say happiness lies in being good at your work and being good at getting along with others.  I think it was Freud and Erickson who said it.   Love and work, that’s what it’s all about.  Clearly Musial is great at both.   Baseball fanatics should do themselves a favor and read this book, if only to appreciate this low-profile superstar.   The book, like the Man, gets an A+.

You can shop and/or learn more about Musial at his web-site,  www.stan-the-man.com/ He will be 88 years young next Nov. 21.

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS, RED SOX, St. Louis Cardinals, Stan Musial, Ted Williams | 3 Comments »

Roger Clemens : time for action, Bud.

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 22, 2007

Dear Commissioner Selig,

You have established a proud legacy, though you don’t get much credit for it.  Your reign has seen the creation of 16 mind-blowing MLB ballparks.  You’ve overseen the expansion of the divisions & playoffs. Under your stewardship,  Baseball revenue has increased to $6 Billion per year.   You have continued development of Latin American players, the world wide promotion of the sport, reached record attendance of 78 Million, and an average team attendance of 2.6 million. 

Even  Pittsburgh drew 1.7 million, a gate that creates about $76 Million before even one beer commercial is aired.

The steroid era is not your fault, Mr. Commissioner.  Steroids are soley the Players’ fault.  Steroids were undertaken & spread throughout Baseball by the players.  And when the problem became too grand to ignore, the Union blocked progress with aggressive, able Lawyers.  And that has made all the difference in the world.

 So, what to do with Roger Clemens ?  Whatever you do, you need to do the same to all others like him.

1.  Complete the investigation on a player-by-player basis.  Make a determination of guilt or innocence, and the degree thereof.

2.  Banish players or dealers/trainers, strip awards, and censure on an individual basis.

3.  Remind Hall of Fame voters that Integrity, Sportsmanship & Character are election criteria that should guide their decisions on a level equal to Championships, Statistics & Records.

 4.  Advise Hall of Fame voters to block the election of men of low character, men whose cheating goes beyond gamesmanship.  Pay no mind to those who would allow a steriod cheat in because the Hall has already welcomed racists and others of low character.  Two wrongs do not make a right.

 5.  Earmark $30 Million ($1 Million per team) for the development of an effective HGH test and apply it, along with other drug tests, on a weekly, mandatory basis to all MLB players.

6.  Publicly request that the Union accept a clause in every contract that states use of Winstrol, HGH and all other banned or illegal performance enhancing chemicals will result in the forfeit of all salary and bonuses.   Play it in public, let Don Fehr and his brother’s be exposed for what they are.

Make them forfeit the MONEY.  That will stop steroid in its tracks.  Money has been the reason the steroid train jumped the tracks to begin with.

Again –  Make them forfeit the MONEY.   The MONEY is their GOD.  Think Roger may have been motivated by the $150 Mill he has earned since allegedly starting to juice ?

Roger could be innocent, there’s a slim chance of that.  So, give him the benefit of the doubt along with a full investigation.  Make the determination, then banish, strip awards, and censure on an individual basis to the degree warranted.

Baseball may have fallen down again.  But it will get up and it will walk straight again if you take action, Commissioner.   And that will be some legacy to leave.

Posted in Barry Bonds, BASEBALL, Bud Selig, Commissioner, RED SOX, roger clemens, steroids | 7 Comments »