Today\’s Puff Piece..

…is about AL Batting Champ Bill Mueller.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A year ago, when Bill Mueller reported to his first spring training with the Red Sox, some fans didn't even know the correct pronunciation of his last name. That was the least of his concerns.

Making the transition from one league to the other wasn't Mueller's only challenge. As he was becoming acquainted with his new teammates, he was trying to take a job from one of them.HEUSCHKEL

No offense to Heuschkel, because there isn’t much to report on right now. Mueller must be the guy to write about today, because there is also an article in the Globe.

Make sure every once in a while you click on the links to find some sites that I check out regularly and find interesting. I haven’t brought over all of the ones that I had on the old version of the site yet; I’ll get to it eventually. If you would like to submit a link so that I have a new place to visit, you can add a link while in there.

Wow. Talk about mailing in a post.

NOW everybody is there…

2/3rds of the outfield showed up yesterday…and boy, does one of them look

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox center fielder Johnny Damon showed up to camp 15
pounds heavier and a lot hairier.

"It's mostly Jesus Christ," Damon said Wednesday about the physical
comparisons he has heard. "And then I got a Charles Manson a couple minutes
ago. I get some Grizzly Adams. It's funny how many people still recognize me
with this. Going around Orlando, people know who you are and they know who you
are because you're a Red Sox player."

Damon, 30, bulked up this winter. He said the weight he added was "solid
muscle" and that it won't slow him down.

"It's not going to bother me at all," Damon said. "In my off-season
workout, I live on a street where there's 25 mph signs and the cops get you
if you go anything over. I'll wait on the side of the street ... late at night.
A car starts coming, I'll race it to my house. So I know I can go at least 25.
I scare the cars to speed up a little more, seeing a caveman-looking guy, long-haired,
running after the car at 10 or 11 at night."

It's a wonder the cops didn't pull him over.

Someone mentioned that he put on weight and Jason Giambi lost it. "But
you know, I'm gaining weight the right way," Damon said. "I'm drinking

photo by Reuters

Manny also showed up yesterday, and Damon relayed this story about him:

Manny Ramirez was standing in a hotel lobby in Texas last season when he was
approached by a teammate.

"I had my cowboy hat on," Johnny Damon said. "I walked up to
Manny and was talking to him. He didn't know it was me."

Damon said Ramirez walked away in the middle of the conversation. Damon learned
the next day that he was a total stranger to Ramirez.

"I was like, `Manny, we're talking and then you just blow me off. I was
the one wearing the cowboy hat!' He's like, `No, no, no, Poppy. That wasn't

Damon said Ramirez recognized him Wednesday underneath a lot of hair.

"But the cowboy hat, no," Damon said. HEUSCHKEL

So now that everybody is there, we can finally get down to the business of
baseball! I believe it rained all day yesterday; last time I checked SoSH around
11:30 last night, there was no Mike F. report, and I can’t view SoSH at work.
So no report until later…


So everybody is there…

…and even the silent ones are talking.

Nomar and Pedro were very verbose yesterday…Nomar especially addressing the
issue of how he felt about what transpired over the winter:

"The seat still fits," Garciaparra said as he plopped down at a picnic
table in front of 15 television cameras and dozens of reporters. "Can you
believe after these three months, I'm still here in Fort Myers? That's pretty
good. I'm glad. I was like, `Man, I wonder if the seats are still warm.' They're
still warm, which is nice."

Garciaparra was uncharacteristically much warmer to the media than to team
management, which was ready to trade him this winter.

"Am I still mad?" Garciaparra said. "Well, I don't know about
all those things. I was definitely hurt by a lot of it. I probably felt like
anyone else would feel after spending their whole career in one organization
and doing what you do and having to find out you've been traded - or you're
pretty much gone - over the television. I probably felt like most everyone else
who was put in that situation. That's how I found out and that's how it is.
But the good thing, the great thing, is I'm right here in front of all of you
guys. It's a familiar chair right here and it's still warm."

He says a bit more in the article. Am I the only one that is hoping against
hope that the media stops focusing on who is leaving after 2004 and starts focusing
on how the Sox might do in 2004?

Pedro was also asked about a contract:

Unlike last spring, there were no demands or deadlines. Martinez, in the final
year of his contract, said the team must decide whether it wants him in Boston
beyond 2004.

"It's not up to me to get a new contract," Martinez said. "I'm
just going to go and compete like I have to, like a professional. ... And if
they don't want to sign me, that's fine. I'm pretty sure I'll probably get a
job with somebody else. But if they do I'll be more than happy to stay here."

Martinez said the sides haven't had any new discussions.

"There's no talk. None," Martinez said. "I'm not expecting it
and I'm not looking forward to it. I'm just expecting to work this year and
actually let them make the move. The ball's in their court.

And there was a nice bit in the paper yesterday about Pokey
, who is thrilled to be here.

\"Great\" West Motor Lodge

One of the members of has a little band, apparently. Anyway, the group is smoking. If y’all dig Americana, or whatever the hell pigeonhole you insist on, I ask you to go to Golden West Motor Lodge
In fact go there anyway, you have nothing to lose but 10 minutes of your time.

The music that Brian and his band put out is so much better than “110 percent” of the crap that the major labels put out that this guy really deserves a bigger audience. yeah, he’s an idiot and a jerk, but so was Gram Parsons.

Now I aint saying that Brian is like Gram, and hopefully he won’t die in some squalid Yosemite motel and get burned up in some funky hippy mystic funeral pyre after spending years shagging Emmylou Harris… I mean he can shag Emmylou, and he can die and get burned up, but later, y’know?

The bottom line is I clicked on this music on my playlist after not listening to it since it got cold in cali and I could no longer barbecue to GWML. yeah, every night while charbroiling dinner I was digging stuff like “Trailer Park Princess”, “Love Song for the Losers” and my current favorite, “My Bar”.

So download Brian’s tunes. Go see his shows if you are in the New England area. I kinda wish I could go see the shows, but I dont like him enough to actually get on a plane and all that….

Just dont tell him I told ya so, ok?

PSF EDIT: You can download his songs here

For fellow Sox fan Peter King

I like Peter King. I try to read his column every Monday during the NFL season, and even though I always skip over the Field Hockey stuff, I get enjoyment out of the rest of the article.

So I’m passing this along to you, the reader. Pass it along to others, and tell them to pass it along to others. I’m the kind of guy that has done these little kind of protests, even though I know it won’t really hurt the company that wronged me…I do it as a matter of principle.

So read this, pass it along, and think about it the next time you are considering flying Delta.

Last Tuesday afternoon, my daughter Mary Beth and I were preparing to fly from South Bend, Ind., to Cincinnati on a Delta Connection flight. We planned to continue on to Newark from there, and then drive home. We got to the airport at 2:45 p.m. for the 4 p.m. flight. At about 3:25, Mary Beth said she was going to get yogurt pretzels. "Hurry back," I told her. Well, she tarried, and finally, at 3:40, I told the agent to page her, which he did, and then told the guy I was running to find her. I found her. We sprinted back, went through security, and arrived at the gate at 3:46. "Flight's closed," the gate agent announced. Rather than explain anything -- you have to board within 15 minutes of flight time or you risk surrendering your seat -- his co-agent commenced putting us on the next flight. The 4 p.m. plane would have put us on the ground in Newark at 7:40; the next flight wouldn't get us there until 12:30 a.m. Mary Beth begged for them to open the door. The two guys said nothing. Stone cold. The second agent just continued typing furiously. I saw how unresponsive they were and knew we were cooked. I knew the flight was full, and there were two standbys, or more, and figured he'd just given away our seats at 3:45 on the nose, even with me running to get Mary Beth.

We'd gotten to bed at 3:30 Monday morning because of a two-hour, 48-minute Delta Connection delay in Cincinnati Sunday night, then Mary Beth stayed with two students in a dorm at Notre Dame Monday night, and heaven knows how much sleep was had that night. She was fried. Anyway, I finally spoke up and said, basically, that you guys saw me run to get her, and the South Bend airport is no bigger than a postage stamp, and, really, you knew I'd be right back, and you gave away the two seats to standbys anyway? "Sir, if you don't want seats on the next flight, you can take your business elsewhere," Idiot No. 2 said. I simmered. He printed out the tickets for the later flight, handed them to me, and the biggest two aviation numbskills in Indiana history walked outside to close up the commuter flight.

An older fellow who was in the waiting area for another flight then walked up to the counter and proceeded to start screaming at my Delta foes, who stopped in their tracks. "What you just did is the worst thing I've ever seen done by an airline!'' Mr. Neutral Onlooker yelled. "I will never fly Delta again! I will tell people I know never to fly Delta again! You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!'' To which Idiot number 2 replied: "Would you like us to call security?" He didn't have to. A female security agent came over and asked what the problem was, and Mary Beth told her how evil the two clowns behind the counter were. At this point, the two agents walked outside, and then the first guy stood behind the plate-glass door and made faces at us -- raised eyebrows and phony smiles, head moving smugly from side to side -- and announced loudly and mockingly, in a sing-song way: "Good-bye! Good-bye! Enjoy your flights!''

The later flight began its taxi to the runway at 3:55. Western civilization was saved. Gold stars to all involved! You were five minutes early!

You know, when you fly a lot, as I do, you need to have thick skin. Things happen. I waited out a five-hour delay in Orlando last summer because the crew didn't show up. I didn't make a peep. Things happen. But 99 percent of the the time, you're treated with some kind of common decency, even in the longest of delays. And here are two uncommunicative, unresponsive, totally unprofessional slugs, who can't spend 10 seconds explaining what happened but who can threaten to call security and mock our anger. All they had to do, even one of them, was to explain exactly what happened, which they never did, and say they're sorry, but rules are rules, and we had to be there at 3:45, and we weren't. I would have been angry, but not volcanic. Things happen, but in 24 years of flying for my job, I've never been treated like this, and I will not accept being treated like this.

The only thing you can do in a case like this is to not fly the airline. And so my little protest will be just that, a little protest. But it will be real. For the next year, until Feb. 23, 2005, I will not fly Delta. My guess is that will cost them maybe $5,000 in business. If Mary Beth goes to college in a town serviced by Delta, she will not fly the airline for one year either. I'm sure Delta will get a chuckle out of this protest. My only hope is the airline disciplines the two numbskulls -- I just wish I'd gotten their names, but Delta can figure out easily enough who they are -- for costing the company a few G's.

Monday Morning Quarterback

Mike F is in business!

For those of you that either don’t visit Sons of Sam Horn, or have only started visiting recently, you’re going to thank me. This is the first official Mike F spring training report, which I will link to daily. I have set up a link at the top of the page that will contain links to his daily reports.

Mike is a retired gentleman, I believe from Vermont, who goes to Spring Training every year. I think it was the 2001 season (all his archives are on SoSH) when he started submitting these fine daily reports. Here is an excerpt from the one linked above:

The pitchers divided into 4 groups and partook of different ST exercises, covering 1st, etc. They rotated around 4 fields and took their turns at the different routines. I licked in on the Comeback hits at the mound, fielded (most of the time). Interestingly the batters hot (hit?) rubber baseballs so there were some bobbles on medium grounders as the ball was quite a bit bouncier than horsehide. Terry Francona did the LHH and I couldnG??t recognize the RHH (Sveum??) Again I found it interesting that all pitchers got about 1/23 (1/2?) the balls hit at them from LHH and -+ from RHH. I remember the late Football Coach, George Allen had a punting machine for his return men to practice and he insisted that it be able to apply the reverse spin if they were to play a Left-footed punter the next game. Ninety minutes into the ST season and I am immediately impressed by TFG??s organization and thoroughness. The pitchers had 5 come backers; changed thru the rotation then 3 then stay in until they missed. After the group made it through, they then set up a catcher near the screen backstop, started the pitcher on the mound and pretended that a WP went to the screen with a runner on 3rd (no real runner.) Pitcher now charges to cover the plate and the catcher snaps off a throw. Pitchers are trying to catch the ball and get a tag down on the 3rd base side without getting their legs and feet chopped up by the imaginary runner.

Mike always mixes fine analysis with a little bit of humor…and is always an enjoyable read. And as I was creating this post, Mike uploaded Sunday’s Report:

Tomorrow I plan to spend the entire practice making sure I see as much hitting from the regulars and the catchers as possible. Wonderful day in the sun and I hated to leave early but you know how it is with a spouse.

G?Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.G?
This quote would have been so perfect for last year.

Joyus day, right?

Pitchers and catchers…the day we’ve all been waiting for since the wee hours of October 18th. The day where Sox fans’ optimism starts annually building.

Thank goodness we have the Hartford Courant and the Boston Herald to put things in perspective for us with articles entitled “Theo Tells It Like It Is” and “Theo: Sox can’t have it all: Some core players will go in 2005″. Just what I was hoping for on the dawn of the 2004 campaign; telling me what the Sox won’t have in 2005!

At least in the Courant article we learn that Pedro is going to be late, [sarcasm]which I’m sure won’t garner a single bit of overblown criticism [/sarcasm]. Gordon Edes has the lone article that doesn’t dwell on postseason player movement; but this could be because the article was apparantly written before Theo met the press yesterday.

On another note; it seems that according to Gammons on WEEI yesterday, Boras was ready to sell Tek down the river…just before the Yankee deal, ARod was trying to get here:

"It was interesting, the Yankee people were telling me that, I don't know if you guys saw Tom Hicks' press conference, but A-Rod's first... A-Rod asked if they could revisit the Red Sox and that Hicks said after the nights and days of dealing with them, he didn't even want to talk to them again. And it was interesting because the Yankee people were telling me that indeed, Scott Boras was trying to work the Red Sox angle, he was trying to do the same kind of deal, get Manny out of the equation, get a guy that makes $6-7 million and then work it down to the $16 million to make it all palatable, they would have traded Nomar for pitching or whatever and according to the Yankee front office, when Boras tried to do that deal (A-Rod to Boston, but getting Manny out of the equation, a week and a half ago), the player, because it's his client, that was going to go to Texas in exchange for A-Rod, Jason Varitek, which, as they pointed out, they felt, the Yankee players and front office feel that Jason Varitek is the absolute soul of the Red Sox but, and I found that interesting, I hadn't heard that, but the Rangers, Buck Showalter loves Varitek, but Hicks didn't want to deal with the Red Sox, according to him, and according to the Yankees."

Thanks to SoSH poster CR67Dream for the transcription. (EDIT: he let me know that he got the transcript from Boston Dirt Dogs, so credit him instead.)

Sour Grapes?

It may look like it; but in all honesty, I don’t believe so. I’d accuse him of poor timing at most. Henry seems to be taking a beating in the press, and of course from Steinbrenner…but is it deserved?

In perusing articles online locally, Henry is slammed by Jeff Jacobs, Dan Shaughnessy, and Howard Bryant. Art Martone presents an article without criticism or praise.

This Hartford Courant article shows more of the text of Henry’s original email than I’ve seen in other places. (EDIT: Entire text of the email can be found here) This quote in particular:

"More often than not $50 million, on average, will not allow a MLB franchise to field a highly competitive team. Every year there will be an exception, but that is really the baseline number. So what has meaning are the dollars spent above $50 million. Most clubs can perhaps afford to spend $10 million to $25 million above that figure trying to compete. A few can spend as much as $30 million to $60 million above that. But one team can and is spending $150 million incremental dollars and at some point 29 owners and their players say to themselves, we can't have one team that can spend 10 dollars above the baseline for every incremental dollar spent by an average team. One thing is certain the status quo will not be preserved."

People are claiming sour grapes because the Yankees are the ONLY team that outspends the Red Sox. And for the most part, I see that point. But why does nobody seem to bring up that the Sox are almost forced to spend like this to be competitive within their own division?

Yes, you can roll out the “Look at the last 3 teams to win the World Series” argument…but the fact of the matter is, the Sox also have a revenue advantage, and they would be crucified by their own fans and media if they spent like they were the Oakland A’s and pocketed as much profit as possible. Can’t you just see it? ‘See, I told you this group was in it for the money…they don’t want to make a winner..blah, blah, blah”.

Yes, the Red Sox have a simliar advantage to the Yankees. But that doesn’t make Henry (or a Red Sox fan) a hypocrite for pointing out that this advantage is unfair to the rest of baseball. This quote comes from the above Projo article:

The Yankees' yearly revenue stream -- estimated at approximately $290 million -- means that even with a payroll exceeding $180 million, they can still operate profitably.

"What the Yankees have been able to do," Rodney Fort, a Washington State University economist told the Washington Times, "is continue to grow their local revenues to the point where it makes sense to pay the [luxury] tax and continue to acquire talent."

What frustrates Henry -- and the rest of baseball's owners -- is that it's impossible for most teams to approach that level of revenue.

What can be done about it? There are smarter people than I that can figure out such a thing…but it is plain as the nose on Steinbrenner’s face that something needs to be done.

Georgie Porgie

Well, I have to say this was not unexpected:

"We understand that John Henry must be embarrassed, frustrated and disappointed by his failure in this transaction."

Also THIS was pretty good:

"Unlike the Yankees, he chose not to go the extra distance for his fans in Boston," Steinbrenner said of Henry. "It is understandable, but wrong that he would try to deflect the accountability for his mistakes on to others and to a system for which he voted in favor. It is time to get on with life and forget the sour grapes."

As inflammatory as these comments may be, I find it pretty amusing actually.

I tend to agree with the sentiment that JWH et al went after ARod on their terms, and rejected the trade on their terms, and have nothing to feel “embarassed” or “frustrated” over. After all, it was a damn good offseason before the ARod talk even surfaced. Extra distance indeed…

I just wish JWH had kept his mouth shut and waited for George to spout off unprovoked (as he usually does) — now it really does look like sour grapes

gotta love that preseason smack talk though..

EDIT: This was submitted last night, and I just noticed it now…I didn’t see it before I composed the above post. But chronilogically, it fits just fine right here…