Friday, March 30, 2007

Predictions: Pain.



Not only is it a couple hours from the end of the work week, it's less than sixty hours from the start of the season, making every minute longer than in a boring section of Ulysses. To stop crawling out of my skin, I'm putting down my predictions, done as per annual tradition with a couple of my oldest friends. My predictions will prove to suck as badly as anyone else's (other than Steve Phillips or Joe Morgan), but I don't do it for the accuracy. Or the money. I do it for the love. The love of passing about an hour at work.

There's only one prediction I will guarantee. Pain.

No, I mean, like, PAIN:



In reverse order of genuine significance:

AAAA Central*
Houston
Rich Section of Chicago
Milwaukee
St. Louis
Cincinnati
Pittsburgh

(*- This is one big, mediocre division. I'll admit I barely know what the fuck I'm talking about here, but I had to pick someone.)

AAAA West
Arizona
San Diego
Los Angeles/Brooklyn
San Francisco/New York/BALCO
Colorado

AL West
Los Angeles/Anaheim
Oakland
Seattle
Texas

AAAA East
Illadelphia+
N.Y. Dodgers-Giants Replacement Franchise (WILD CARD)
ATL
Florida/Las Vegas
Washington

(+The Mets have bigger problems than people think. Their #2 starter is older than Jesus.)

AL Central^
Cleveland
Detroit
Minnesota (sheds a tear for Francisco Liriano)
Gentrifiying Section of Chicago
Kansas City/Portland, OR?

(^It's all about C.C. Sabathia's health; this could be the best pennant race if the Tigers' pitching is as young as I think it still is.)

AL East
Boston
N.Y. Highlanders nee Yankees (WILD CARD)@
Toronto
Charm/Crack City
Tampa Bay/Las Vegas

(@I went back and forth on this, as I don't think I've ever picked the Red Sox to win the division before, actually. I think the Yankees have bigger SP issues than they think, especially since Hughes isn't going to be ready to be Roger Clemens this year, Roger Clemens [prediction] ain't coming back, and good luck keeping Pavano-Pettite-Mussina healthy at the same time. Close wild card race with the Tigers.)

OCTOBER
--Cleveland beats NYY
--Boston beats LAA

--Arizona beats NYM
--Philly beats Houston

--Boston beats Cleveland
--Arizona beats Philly

Boston beats Arizona

(Note: the Mets make the World Series if Pedro comes back in good form [big if], and Cleveland has a real chance of beating Boston and taking it all.)

MISC.
Cy Young: Oswalt, and why not Santana again.
MVP: Wright-or-Reyes, J.D. Drew. (psych! Grady Sizemore)

Worst team: the Nationals will be bad enough to cause Washington's famed cherry blossom trees to all decay and die in the same summer.

Most likely team I've picked to do good to, in fact, suck: the Diamondbacks. I'm choosing to believe the hype, I guess; if Greg Maddux pitches anything like last year and David Wells is able to stay off refined sugars and take his shots, the Padres could easily win the West.

Predictive note: Last year, I did predict Papelbon would solve the Red Sox bullpen woes, the Cardinals would make the World Series, beating the Mets on their way there. I also gave Josh Beckett the Cy Young, Grady Sizemore the MVP (I only looked at last year's predictions a minute ago; I think I've got almost as big a crush on Grady as the droves of dumpy Cleveland women who hold up MARRY ME, GRADY! signs) and the Red Sox the World Series, but only after talking myself out of giving it all to the A's. In other words, none of this is happening. But wouldn't it be nice?

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Cancer Equation: Hodgkins= Pathos, Lymphoma= Comedy!



Listening to the Dan Patrick show, now cancer-free lefty Jon Lester talks about the humor required to get through lymphoma, or better still, the IMMENSE comic potential yet untapped in cancer. Unfortunately, Lester doesn't really relate much of how they spun tumors into ticklers: all that's really notable is that apparently Josh Beckett was the first to play the cancer card, saying something like, "Hey, some time when you don't have cancer, we need to go hunting."

Now, anyone who's read Bang The Drum Slowly knows that you go hunting with your teammate when he first has a fatal disease, or lie to your manager about having gone hunting with him when really you were at the Mayo Clinic, but that's not the point. The point is, Beckett has discovered a pretty good excuse for putting off anything.

"Hey, Jon, some time when you don't have cancer, we should really give you a contract extension."

"Hey, Jon, some time when you don't have cancer, we should talk about that other guy I'm bonestorming."

"Hey, Jon, some time when you don't have cancer, I should give you a hug. Not before then, though. I know it's not contagious like that, I just think cancer smells like day-old donuts and one of those gross new Doritos flavors. Like, ewww."

"Hey, Jon, some time when we finally come up with a cure for cancer, I'll pay my half of the rent. I mean, some time when you don't have cancer. Whatever."

I could go on for days, but I've got a headache. (Finish tired Kindergarten Cop joke here.)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Travels With Manny

Buster Olney noted in his blog yesterday that the Red Sox have one of the worst April schedules: 14 out of 26 games on the road, 15 games against teams that finished over .500 last year, including home and away series with the Yankees. (One at the Stadium; wonder if my least favorite Yankee fan will be in attendance.) That's a lot of traveling for the beginning of the year, when the team is getting to know its strengths and weaknesses, finding its footing, and getting Julian Tavarez to stop killing the teenagers of Elm Street in their sleep; maybe some Opening Day field trips are in order?



Kansas City: April 2-5
Good for: BBQ

Sooey! Keep Curt Schilling away and don't let David Ortiz stuff himself into Mo Vaughn/Kevin Mitchell shape! FIORELLA'S JACK STACK is reputedly the best in the area, out in Martin City. And other than groupies, there is nothing else baseball players could possibly want to do in Kansas City. Nor is there anything else for anyone else to do in Kansas City, unless you consider going to a Royals game "doing something." Except when the great Gil Meche is pitching, of course.



Texas (Dallas area): April 4-8
Good for: not much in particular

May as well go for the dumbest event possible: the EDIBLE BOOK FESTIVAL. No, seriously, there is one on
April 4th.
The Stuffed Tortilla(s) Flat are obviously going to be good, but stay away from the Under the (Jalapeno!) Volcano; the combination of molten cheez and peppers could fuck up J.D. Drew's new macrobiotic diet, to the point that he might hit the DL with broken ribs. That's how hot these nachos are, and what a pussy J.D. Drew is. He'll still hit a ton this year unless he discovers Cholula or water skiing.

Additionally, by this point in the trip, the Red Sox may have eaten themselves into a losing streak. It may be time for something more active.




Toronto: April 17-19
Good for: women


I couldn't tell you if SkyDome nee the Rogers Center is good for beaver shooting, but I can say that Toronto, in my couple times there, has an underrated female populace, especially for those who like their women of indeterminate race. National health care does a body good. If downy innocent Dustin Pedroia hasn't lost his cherry yet, this could be the place. I'm just saying, he looks the part. A place named BODY ENGLISH sounds like a place where even non-baseballers get balled.



Baltimore: April 25-26
Good for: thriving drug trade

Just stay the fuck INDOORS, unless you know Avon Barksdale personally. Or at least Emiliano Fruto. For obvious reasons.



New York: April 27-29
Good for: Making a wish?

There's lots to do, obviously, but you never know when you'll run into some asshole in a Jeter jersey out clubbing. To try something off the beaten path, I'd recommend MY APARTMENT in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Hey, Manny, if those dreadlocks don't just signify your sympathies with Rastafarian culture, well, I lost the number to my delivery service, but I know a guy who knows a guy. Future Hall Of Famers have to be careful they don't get glaucoma during their playing days, man; ask Kirby Puckett.

Oh, it soothes glaucoma rather than healing it?

Whatever, man. I'm so hungry I could eat a whole food court.

Monday, March 26, 2007

(Uncontrollable laughter.)

The Chien-Ming Wang injury (it's too bad, by the way, that an export of Chinese Taipei ends up with a name reminiscent of Shaq's infamous "ching chang chong" comments) has reduced the Yankees to this. I can't imagine the Yankees are feeling quite as good about the Randy Johnson trade right now. Phillip Hughes looked nowhere near ready for the majors before he was sent down to minor league camp. I can feel the screaming April headlines already as the Yankees start 3-5 or worse.

Carl Pavano, one may recall, has given the Red Sox many gifts over the years.

Helping to defeat the Yankees in the 2003 World Series, taking some of the taste of blood out of my mouth that horrible October.

Starting a game against the Red Sox in the same year where he gave up 6 runs without recording an out as the Red Sox scored 11 before the first out was recorded (a then-girlfriend of mine got to go to the game; I was so jealous when she called after the 1st inning that I had a brief fantasy of breaking up with her over this; I didn't.)

He dated Alyssa Milano, which gave us the brief joy of saying Pavano-Milano.

He's made the Sox feel almost good for throwing away their 2005 starter money on Matt Clement instead of him by failing to, you know, pitch at all.

Most of all, he helped change the future of the Red Sox franchise. You know, not on his own middling-at-best attributes in terms of stuff, demeanor, and ability to avoid buttocks injuries, but simply being one of the two prospects the Red Sox gave up for Pedro Martinez.

And now he gets to send the Yankees off on the good foot. Provided someone else drives him to the Stadium.

Quoth LL Cool J:

"Uncontrollable laughter."
(The end of this video is the laughter I'm talking about. I feel like I woke up and broke into a safe full of girls in bikinis this morning.)
[Update: apparently the laughter was clipped off this video. Doesn't exactly change the amazingness of it though.]

Friday, March 23, 2007

ICHIRO VERSUS...Don Cheadle!

Apparently Ichiro Suzuki has a TV Show in Japan he tapes during the off-season; it's a talk show of sorts, but more confrontational and awesome. Well, it looks awesome in any case; I clearly don't understand a motherfucking thing of what's going on here:



Because the idea is awesome, we at Vaughn's Bar and Grill are filming our own American edition, potential lawsuit be damned.


Here as Ichiro's adversary, to promote his new film
Reign Over Me is actor and general badass Don Cheadle.

DISEMBODIED VOICE
Free association time. Sunrise.

ICHIRO
Time for batting practice.

CHEADLE
Go back to sleep.

DV
Kiwi.

CHEADLE
Good fruit. Shit's like five dollars a fruit at the fucking Whole Foods near me though.

ICHIRO
Jeff Weaver will have a sub 4.50 ERA this year for us, or my ancestors and I will be shamed.

DV
Explosion.

CHEADLE
I played an English explosives expert in Ocean's Eleven. That was a good movie. Oh, and Twelve. That was a good vacation. Thirteen is coming up soon. That was a good paycheck.

ICHIRO
The McDonalds Double Sausage and Egg McMuffin made me violently ill this morning. I purchased it as a curious exploration of America. I discovered that your civilization is savage. But thank you for your beautiful game of baseball.

DV
First encounter.

CHEADLE
I killed a man as research for playing Mouse in Devil In A Blue Dress. People really liked me in that role. That was my first encounter with real critical acclaim. And murder.

ICHIRO
In a dark basement at a party after Spring KĊshien. I exerted great bat control.

Audience laughs.

ICHIRO (CONT'D)
Seriously, it took, like, two hours for me to finish. Then I turned the lights on and discovered what I thought was a woman was in fact a grey velvet couch. I cleaned up very carefully and rejoined my friends.

Audience looks uncomfortable.

DV
Discomfort.

CHEADLE
Yeah, I feel some of that.

ICHIRO
Sometimes I enjoy wearing my wife's underwear during the summer months. At first it didn't feel right, but in fact, it helps air to circulate around my man parts. It is especially importantly to not come down with Sweaty Groin when tracking down fly balls, as I will be doing far more frequently now that they have moved me to center field. The position at which I hope to be an All-Star.

Audience applauds.

DV
Happiness.

CHEADLE
I auditioned for that movie. Todd Solondz is fucked in the head, man.

ICHIRO
Once I fasted before a game against the Devil Rays at Tropicana Field. My senses felt really strong all day long because I hadn't eaten. I hit a high changeup very hard off of Casey Fossum and as I rounded the bases, I could hear the ball as it cut the air, flew over the fence, and struck an eight year old boy in his right palm. He cried just slightly, then picked up the ball with his unbroken hand. That moment was perfect happiness.

Audience hesitates, then applauds. Run credits.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Jon Papelbon/sanity returns to the bullpen.



The Good: Jon Papelbon goes back to closing, apparently for good if he has his way.

“This is something I want to do for the rest of my career,” said Papelbon, who went 4-2 with 35 saves and a 0.92 ERA in 59 appearances last season. “Hopefully, what (Mariano) Rivera did for the Yankees, I can do for the Red Sox.”

The Bad: Tim Wakefield is no longer one of the best fifth starters in the league, but an adequate fourth. Joel Piniero money likely wasted already. Boo hoo hoo.

The Ugly: Julian Tavarez is the fifth starter. (Actually, this isn't so bad. It's ugly in a literal sense. Really ugly. Maybe New England kids will dress up as Julian for Halloween.)

Daisuke Matsuzaka makes me wet.

Video from him pitching against Ichiro in the Japanese leagues. Actually, let me make sure to hit the details: Daisuke Matsuzaka at age 18 pitching in the Japanese major leagues against Ichiro, then one of the biggest stars if not the biggest in Japan, and making him look foolish a couple times. You can get a sense of how clueless a batter can be as to where his pitches will go. (EVERYTHING he throws has movement, man; the fastball can have a nice rightward zig on it too.) Even the sour lemon-flavored rotten egg face Daisuke makes when Ichiro takes him yard is awesome.

The rest of the video is, of course, incomprehensible to me, as a white person with only cursory interests in Japanese culture. But most Westerners I know who are really into Japanese shit are either annoying psuedo-Buddhists or secretly implying this when they speak of "Japanese culture." Translations appreciated. Of the stuff in the video, not of the place Battle Raper has in pop culture.



Dramatic recreation of the inside of Gary Sheffield's head the first time Daisuke strikes him out. Voice of Gary Sheffield's ego played by Lily Tomlin, id by Dustin Hoffman, silent superego by Isabella Huppert:



Japan is fucking weird:

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Born, December 15, 1967; Norwalk, CT.



Introductory statements to begin blogs are fairly silly, particularly in how little anyone wants to read them. My name is Josh. I sometimes post in a different blog. This is a Red Sox blog, generally, hopefully less Masshole and more light-hearted than the usual. It's called Vaughn's Bar and Grill because these assholes took the address I wanted originally, and because Mo Vaughn largely made me a Red Sox fan, in 1993. I still hate Dan Duquette. David Ortiz is his second coming, only David Ortiz is a slightly better first baseman. (As in, in the field.) I also once had an idea for a TV show called Vaughn's that would be, like, the Black Cheers, with Mo as owner, working the bar. It would have a retro soul theme song, maybe something by Eddie Kendricks.

Enough. Let's GO-GO-GO!

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