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

Archive for December, 2009

Jose Canseco es muy macho in the boxing ring. How about Sarah Palin ?

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 24, 2009

Jose Canseco es muy macho in boxing ring

Canseco is muy macho in boxing ring (AP photo)

Readers have been asking for photos of Jose Canseco from his recent appearances in New England.

I’ll share two here.

I snapped one of Jose on Sat., Nov. 9 at the Greater Boston Sports Collectors Convention, in Wilmington, MA., where he was signing autographs for $20 a pop.

Canseco was late to the gig.  He was cordial and business-like as he signed from behind a pair of sunglasses that I imagined hid the lines that could tell a tale of debauchery and orgy from the night before.

The man has a reputation to live up to.

He was actually 90 miles West of Boston in Springfield, Massachusetts,  in a boxing ring the prior evening.  He won a decision over Pittsfield, MA. Native, Todd Poulton.  On the same card, believe it or not, civil rights icon Rodney King won a TKO over former hoopster Derek MacIntosh.

All of this was conducted under the auspices of something called the Celebrity Boxing Federation.

I’m not making this up.

You may already know that Jose boxed former child actor Danny Bonaduce to a draw in January.  A lovely body tattoo shirt was donned by Jose for that donnybrook.

You may also already have heard that Jose was knocked silly in the first round by former Philadelphia Eagle kick return specialist Vai Sikahema in July.

His reported appearance fee of $35,000 helped salve the wounds of the beating by Sikahema, who is 7 inches shorter and 40 pounds lighter than the former Bash Brother.

Now comes the news that the CBF has offered Kate Gosselin (Jon & Kate +8) a payday to rumble with one of Tiger Woods ex-paramours.   The CBF hopes to fill the card with Jon Gosselin’s 22-year-old ex-girlfriend, Hailey Glassman, pugilistically matched with another one of Tiger’s former flames.

It’s such an ugly concept you can’t turn away.   Learn more at celebrityboxing.tv, if you dare.

Jose is not the first athlete to use his fame to make a buck in a manner lacking dignity.  Babe Ruth was employed as a wrestling referee in the 1940’s.   Pete Rose sang to us that “a Man wants to smell like a man” while flogging Aqua Velva.  Joe Louis, Mickey Mantle & Willie Mays all worked as greeters in Vegas casinos.

He is not the first.  He won’t be the last.

As for the CBF, we can expect to see any imaginable combination of famed combatants.

Here are a few I would like to see:

Battle of the Major League Bellies:  George Wendt vs. Wilbur Wood.

Management vs. Labor:  Outcast Marvin Miller vs. HOF President Jeff Idleson.  Or Idelson’s Grandfather, whichever Idelson is 90.

The Guilty vs. Sons of the Righteous:  Pete Rose vs. Steve, Bruce & Martin Feller.  May their justice be swift.

Height vs. the Mighty Might: 6 ‘ 10” Randy Johnson vs Pocket Hercules, who is 4′ 6″ & lifts 700 lbs.

The Freak & The Narc: Tim Lincecum vs Acting D.E.A head, Michele Leonhart.  Another bust would do her career wonders.

Party Crashers & Bashers: Tareq & Michaele Salahi tussle with Prince & Chanel Fielder.  The name of that book was “Skinny Bitch”, yes ?

Battle of the Hounds: Tiger Woods & David Letterman on ‘roids in the ring in a race to text their gal pals.

Lastly, Sarah Palin going rogue against the liberal lefty, Bill “Spaceman” Lee.  I can see Lee extending the post match peace pipe now.

In America, anything can happen.  Sometimes it makes you shake your head; sometimes you just laugh out loud.

Love the Tatty shirt, Jose.


Behind the Foster Grants.

Posted in BASEBALL, Jose Canseco, steroids | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Dustin Pedroia : Hear the Proud Papa on WEEI

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 24, 2009

Baby Dylan meets George Kotteras in locker room during 2009 rookie hazing

Sometimes serious, sometimes poking fun, Dustin Pedroia  entertains WEEI audiences every Saturday on WEEI’s The Laser Show, hosted by Mut & Bradford.

Here’s a sampling from the Dec. 19, 12 and 5th shows..

On what’s happening with son Dylan, who born on August 18.

“I went to the store yesterday and bought him a bat.  He’s already swinging it.  It’s one of those bats for 6 month olds.  He’s 4 months old and he’s already raking with it.  I want to tell you guys a quick story….he was sleeping and he’s starting to roll over, so I heard him on the baby monitor, and I got all nervous, so I go to his crib and he’s got the baby monitor in his hands above his head like he’s bench pressing it, and I’m like, This is awesome. So, I say, hey man, what are you doing ? And he throws the baby monitor at me.  He threw it left handed, though, so I had to start him over, put it in his right hand and had him throw it again.  So, we (Dylan & I) are ruining the baby monitor trying to play catch at 3 in the morning.  He’s getting big.  He’s starting to understand it.  He’s a couple of months away from starting to take ground balls.”

On the Mike Lowell trade that was pending at that time:

“He is one of the closest guys to me on the team…a guy everyone looks up to…a huge clubhouse presence…what he’s done on the field speaks for itself.  He’s played through injuries…he’s made me a better player every year….he’s been my best friend…he’ll be missed (if he leaves.)……I remember my rookie year when  I was just trying to figure things out, get some hits, and I had gotten real close to batting .300, and Mikey looked at me and said, You’re turning yourself into a good player.  Don’t ever stop.  When you get two hits in a game, you’re always going for number 3.  When you get 3 hits, you’re always going for number 4. He had never really talked to me like that before.  He meant business.  He wanted me to be better, and he thought I could be.”

On his own physical condition & stature:

“I am close to looking like Pocket Hercules, the bodybuilder, the guy who’s 4 ft 6” and lifts 700 pounds…yeah, that’s me.  We still have 10 weeks to go before we put the finishing touches on the masterpiece, by the time I get to Fort Meyers, oh yeah, believe it, I’m going to be ready…..(I’ll be) tipping the scales at 168….but it’s a strong 168.”

On Marco Scutaro, starting shortstop for 2010:

“Last year, the (great) year that he had, he was all over us, he killed us all year, always on base, always scoring runs and making great defensive plays…he robbed me a few times and I was like Man, you have got to be kidding me…guys like that frustrate the other team….you hate playing against him, if that guy is on your team you have to love to have him….I’m glad he’s on our side now and I know he’s going to help us win a ton of games.”

On his own value for Fantasy League pickers:

“I see myself going in the first round.  I know that everyone is saying that I had a down year, that my numbers weren’t close to when I had my MVP season, but guess what ?  We are going to get back to that (year in 2008), Fantasy Team Owners.  So tell your friends, First Round, Let’s Rock, we’re ready to win this year.”

On the bat he swings:

“I actually started out with a C243, which is cut similar to an aluminum bat, but I just go on feel and I’ve used the S318 for the last 3 years.  At the beginning of 2009, I used an R161 which has a thicker handle, but I ended up going back to an S318.  You just need to go with whatever bat feels comfortable in your hands.  The more you hit with a bat, the better it feels.”

On what the Sox need for 2010:

“Our first priority in the off season is to sign Jason Bay.  He’s been a huge part of our team the last year and a half, he’s gotten some big hits, he’s a huge bat in our lineup, he takes pressure off a lot of guys.”

On Big Papa in 2009 and 2010:

“David just got off to a real slow start…but if you look at his numbers after the first two months they are some of the best in the major leagues…if you look at his last four months there isn’t a guy who hit as many HR’s or drove in as many runs in the major leagues…I saw him at Torri Hunter’s charity event in Arizona and he just said, I’m ready to start early, I don’t want to get off to a slow start and have to play catch up the whole year, because that is mentally draining….he’ll be the first one to tell you that there were a lot of things that got under his skin last year, and starting slow was the biggest one of them.”

On playing in Beantown:

“The Red Sox drafted me and I want to play here my whole career.  That’s obviously a goal for me.  That’s where I want to be.”

On Jacoby Ellsbury — off the field:

“He’s a great guy.  It takes sometime to open him up, and that’s part of my job, I’m all over him all of the time, trying to open him up, have some fun, put a smile on his face.  Once he starts, he gives it right back.  He’s just a normal guy.  Likes to have fun, loves to play baseball, loves to win.  He’s obviously an exciting player and he’s just coming into his own.”

TUNE IN AND ENJOY

I asked my wife if she had bought me a baseball present for Christmas and she replied, “Oh, I never think of baseball in the off season.”

I don’t understand how that can happen.

Perhaps you, too, are looking for added ways to enjoy the hot stove league.

To enjoy more of DP’s bright and fun loving personality, tune into WEEI on Saturdays at 2 p.m. EST.   The broadcasts are also available on the station web-site.  Follow the link below to the Dec. 19 broadcast:

http://audio.weei.com/m/27990212/the-laser-show-with-dustin-pedroia-12-19.htm#q=pedroia

The real Pocket Hercules

Posted in Dustin Pedroia, RED SOX | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Louisville Slugger : From Pete Browning to Derek Jeter

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 22, 2009

SWEET SPOT, 125 Years of Baseball and the LOUISVILLE SLUGGER

David Magee and Philip Shirley.  Triumph Books, 2009. 182 oversized pages.  Copiously illustrated with archival photos.

This wonderful book blends the histories of the Hillerich & Bradsby company with that of Major League Baseball, starting in 1884, when Pete Browning accepted Bud Hillerich’s invitation to make a replacement for the bat he had just cracked.

John “Bud”  Hillerich was the black sheep of the family, and his love for baseball soon diversified their lines of butter churns and bed posts.

Browning, the hard of hearing Louisville outfielder who refused to slide and caught flies standing on one leg, would soon win a batting championship with Hillerich’s bat.  Hillerich catered to professional players and gained a share of the professional bat market.

In 1884, the business was called J.F. Hillerich Job Turning.  Father would begrudgingly recognize the son in 1897 by re-naming it J.F Hillerich & Son.

It seems Bud Hillerich deserves 99.9% of the credit for creating his legendary family business.  Those who came before him rejected baseball.  Those who came after him were good stewards that recovered from their rare mistakes.

The bat that Bud made for Browning and others in the early days also had a different name.  It was called the “Falls City Slugger” in tribute to Louisville’s location at the Falls of the Ohio River.

Bud Hillerich replaced production of wooden churns & bowling balls with baseball bats -against his father’s will.  Overtime, Louisville Slugger, which Bud trademarked in 1894, became a high quality brand.

Bud conducted business in The Polo Grounds, Baker Bowl, the Huntington Avenue Grounds and their like.  He built relationships and made bats for the best players in the majors.

Company history took a shocking turn in 1910 when a fire decimated their spring stock just as it was to be shipped to retail stores, a niche that drove 74% of their revenue at that time.

Recovered but wounded financially, the Hillerichs pondered whether to fold the business, sell it, or attempt to manufacture something else entirely.

J.F. Hillerich, the founder, decided to sell the business in 1911.

In his 60’s and unwilling to hand over the company to son Bud, J.F. accepted $125,000 for “controlling interests in all facets of the business, including machinery, brand, and receivables, to 33-year old Frank Bradsby.”  The company was renamed J.F. Hillerich & Sons.

Bradsby, a super salesman who helped to build the Simmons Hardware retail chain, “had as much business acumen as he did sales savvy.”.  He knew Bud was the backbone of the bat business, so he sold him back part of the business and made him President of the company.

Smart guy, that Frank Bradsby.

Bradsby collaborated with Bud to sign players to autograph model contracts for retail stores.  This caused total sales to soar by 600% by 1916.  The addition of golf equipment (Powerbilt) that year added even more revenue to the growing company.

Bradsby worked with Bud and his family up until his death in 1937.  Under pressure from rebuilding their flood ravaged LVS facility in the midst of the Great Depression, Bradsby suffered a fatal heart attack aboard a train bound for Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Chicago.

He left behind a company that supplied 80 % of the bats in pro baseball and 60% of all other bats sold in the U.S.A.

LVS would be the dominant brand in bats up until 1970 when a tannery in Tullahoma, Tennessee decided to produce a bat made from Aluminum.

Prior to 1970, Worth had only made leather covered baseballs and softballs at its tannery.  But an employee named John Parish sensed that there was a new market in a very old idea, one that could challenge LVS’s stranglehold on the bat market.

Aluminum bats were first patented in the 1920’s, but players did not then warm to them.  Worth received a completely different reaction when they brought them to market 50 years later.  Little League players quickly purchased aluminum bats, preferring the cost effectiveness due to the bat’s durability.  They didn’t break !

Little League officially accepted the aluminum bat in 1971, and the NCAA did the same in 1974.  Within a year, H & B’s all time bat production peaked…..and then it dropped.

Easton soon entered the aluminum bat market, too.

By 1976, H & B production fell from 7 million to 1 million bats annually.

H & B didn’t see all this coming.  They were slow to react.   8 years after Worth took the first bite out of them, H&B finally bought an old Alcoa plant in California and launched their first all in-house aluminum bat production.

In between the utter domination achieved in 1916 and the cataclysmic losses in 1976, the Louisville Slugger story is packed with fascinating associations with Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, Ted Williams, Mantle, Killebrew and many others.

Page after page details the history of baseball and the H & B company, from Alexander Cartwright to Longoria and Jeter.

______________

Embedded in this book among the photos of knob ends, superstars, and model records are tantalizing nuggets of baseball lore past and present.

Here are a few……….

Babe Ruth & Johnny Bench both used an R43 model.  Babe’s weighed 37 to 40 ounces.  Bench’s weighed far less.  Bench was strong and had massive hands, but he couldn’t swing the same weight as the Bambino.  Time, and the chubbiness of Babe in his later years, obscured just how powerful Ruth’s body was.

Dustin Pedroia, the little guy with the big swing, uses a black finished, maple S318 cupped LVS which is 33.5” long and weighs 30.5 ounces. This web-site has for 2+ years consistently been asked to share what size and weight bat D.P. uses.  It’s a mystery to so many because what they see visually just doesn’t compute.  The bat looks disproportionately large and it is illogical to think he can control the lumber.   Thanks to the authors, we now know specifically what he swings.

Ken Griffey, Sr. was liberal when introducing his young son to different bat brands, even the ones he himself did not use.  Junior tried Cooper, Adirondack, and others.   But Ken Griffey, Jr. chose & stuck with LVS model C271 as he smashed 630 HR (5th All Time) and 1,829 RBI (16th All Time).  He used the C271 to become the only player to hit the B & O Warehouse behind right field at Camden Yards with a bomb.

Red Sox Scout Early Johnson cultivated a relationship with Harmon Killebrew long before he appeared on the radar of the Washington Senators.  Johnson put the hook in Killebrew for good when he gave the teenaged Killer a LVS model W166, the same model that Ted Williams used.  Soon, Killebrew gave the Sox the inside track to match the $12,000 bonus he was offered by the Nats.  Incredibly, the wealthy Red Sox passed on the $12,000 investment and the 573 career HR’s that went along with it.

Two photo pages of model records are eye-poppingMantle swung a K55, but he also ordered M110 and B220 as he went head-to-head with Maris in ’61. Yogi Berra went along with Bench and Ruth in the use of the R43.  Rod Carew ? H185, R161 and C243. Gehrig frequented a 37 ounce A-1 in ’31.

——————–

Bat lovers and baseball historians alike will love this book.  After you read it, you can supplement the experience with a visit to the web-site of the Louisville Slugger Museum at http://www.sluggermuseum.org/default.aspx.

Posted in BASEBALL, BASEBALL BOOKS | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Max Ramirez awaits his shot in the Bigs

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 22, 2009

Max is knocked down, but definitely not knocked out by Jeff Mathis.

Arlington is the hottest place to play MLB Baseball and Boston is one of the coldest.

Max Ramirez & Mike Lowell won’t be going from one extreme to the other after all.

Lowell needed thumb surgery.  The deal is dead.

Max Ramirez would have been valuable in the mix for the BoSox with Victor Martinez and the aging Jason Varitek.

THE FACTS ABOUT MAX

Taking his 55 MLB plate appearances into consideration, Max projects to full season numbers of .217, 19, and 86, if he can ever break through the log jam of MLB ready youngsters the Rangers have lined up behind the plate.

Max is stuck behind Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Taylor Teagarden, who split the catching in Arlington.  Salty projects to .251, 16, and 63.  Teagarden projects to .236, 27, and 87.

Ramirez is 25 years old and a three-time All Star in the minors.  He was traded for Bob Wickman in 2007 and for Kenny Lofton in 2008.

Scouts have compared Ramirez to Victor Martinez.  Like V-Mart, Ramirez is unlikely to become a gold glover behind the dish, but he’s gotten better.

He made a play at the plate on 7.7.08 that made the high light reel for the year.  Jeff Mathis steamrolled Max at the plate, knocking him groggy.  Max held onto the ball and forced Mathis at the plate.  Then Max gathered himself and threw out Casey Kotchman as he tried to advance to 3rd, completing a double play.  Try googling up the video.  It’s worth it.

On Dec. 15, 2009, Peter Gammons commented that Max was leading the Venezuelan Winter League with 11 homers, but was also leading it in the consumption of chicken.

Peter was just joshing.  Max checks in at 5 ft 11” and 176 stones.

As of today, 12.22.09, he is hitting the ball well with the Tiburones de La Guaira in the Venezuelan Winter League, with a .252 B.A., 13 HR’s and 36 HR in 210 AB’s

(Tiburones was the Spanish title of the Spielberg movie JAWS.)

Max was born and resides in Barquisimeto, VZ, the birthplace of the Orioles shortstop, Cesar Izturis.

.

Max was born on October 11, the same date as 3x World Series Champion Orlando Hernandez, and the not-so-immortal Jarvis Tatum, Mike Fiore and Buttercup Dickerson.

Max is the 22nd Ramirez to play in MLB

Maximiliano is his full first name.  As in Belliard, Soto and Hudgson

245 MLB players have hailed from Venezuela,  including  Bobby Abreu, Luis Aparicio, Tony Armas, Asdrubal Cabrera, Miguel Cabrera, Chico Carrasquel, Dave Conception, Vic Davalillo, Alex Delgado, Andres Galarraga, Alex Gonzalez, German Gonzalez, Luis Gonzalez, Carlos Guillen, Ozzie Guillen, Felix Hernandez, Victor Martinez, Melvin Mora, Dioner Navarro, Magglio Ordonez, Juan Rivera, Francisco Rodriguez, Johan Santana, Cesar Tovar, Ugueth Urbina and Omar Vizquel.

Not bad.

Max’s career is an unfinished canvas.  Had he come to the land of Dirty Water, he would have fit right in.  But I doubt this is the last that we will hear of Max Ramirez.    Catchers that are ready for Prime Time are a rarity.   This 25-year-old backstop should get shot somewhere.  Expect him to make the most of it.

He's a contact hitter.

Posted in BASEBALL, Mike Lowell | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The HOF bar is set higher for Charlie Grimm

Posted by athomeatfenway on December 6, 2009

Grimm at work heckling the enemy.

Monday, Dec. 7 is an important day for Baseball Fans and historians everywhere.  The Veterans committee will announce which, if any, executives, umpires and managers will be inducted into the HOF in July 2010.

Billy Martin, a manager who won everywhere he went, may be elected.

Danny Murtaugh, a manager who directed the Pirates to STUNNING World Series Championships in 1960 and 1971 may go in.

Gene Mauch, who managed over more victories than 99% of all managers but did not win a Pennant or a World Series also stands tall on the ballot.

And then there is Charlie Grimm, a man with an outstanding record as a Manager, a professional hitter with 2299 hits, and 35 years in the Chicago Cubs organization.

Grimm took the Cubbies to three World Series, winning none, but establishing himself as the best Chicago pilot before or after Frank Chance.

He was in the dugout in the 1933 World Series when Ruth supposedly called his shot.  There are those who maintain that Ruth was pointing to Centerfield and telling pitcher Charlie Root that the next one was going to fly out of Wrigley Field.  Grimm maintained that the Cub bench had been riding “the big monkey”, insinuating a thing or two about Ruth’s heritage, and Babe was merely pointing his bat toward Root and telling him he would be out there soon to turn him inside out.

Charlie was also present in 1961 when the Cubs unveiled their College of Coaches, he being one of 11 Managers who sequentially rotated through Wrigley and the minor league outposts to develop the talent, one of the craziest episodes in MLB history.

Charlie was “traded” for a broadcaster in the 50’s, Lou Boudreau taking his place in the dugout while he ascended to the booth.

Charlie was tight with Bill Veeck, and was on hand as the Master Hustler planted Ivy on the Wrigley walls after the big bosses’ new shrubbery died.

Charlie was also on hand in 1933 when the Cubbies passed on picking up the PCL contract of a kid named Joe DiMaggio.  Can you imagine how the Cubs would have done with Joe D. on the roster ?

Joe DiMaggio played 13 years, registered a .325 BA, got 2,214 hits, 361 HR’s and had that 56 game hitting streak.

Joe went into the HOF in 1955, 4 years after he retired, with 88.5% of the vote.

Had Joe played for the Cubs, had he not won all those pennants and Championships, what year would he have made it into the HOF ?

1958 ?

1962 ?

Gee, Riggs Stephenson has a .336 career B.A. in 14 seasons and he isn’t in the HOF. Most of us do not know who he is.

Then again, Riggs didn’t play for the Yankees.  He played mostly for the Cubs.

We’ll never know how long Joe D. would have waited to go into the HOF had he been a Cub.

But what we do know is that the HOF is located just a three hour car ride from NYC, an international media capital.

When it comes to getting in, the bar is set a little higher if you played or managed in the Midwest.  And it’s set a lot lower if you played in NYC.

Grimm is an icon in Chicago Cubs lore.  We Easterners are largely ignorant of him.

Whether he goes in or not, he has three pennants in his back pocket and handled the most talented, and craziest, group of Cubs ever.

Don’t be surprised if he goes in.

Posted in Hall of Fame | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »