Monthly Archives: July 2009

Retire to the nerdery with your calculator, Curt Schilling

What’s the problem? It isn’t enough for you to embarrass us by contributing blog postings to the Web site for WEEI, a sports radio station whose callers routinely lend evidence to the notion that the general population is getting dumber? Are you not sated by your uncanny ability to offer up your opinion (often on said radio station as a ‘caller’) on hot-button topics having nothing to do with you? Are you bored with your trite, exclamation point-riddled Twitter updates that make teenage girls’ Facebook status updates sound like verses of T.S. Eliot by comparison?

Your name means something to fans in this town. You symbolize a refusal to go down quietly in the disgrace of seemingly certain defeat. Simply put, you were a warrior who pitched hurt and won under extreme pressure back in October of 2004. Your Curt’s Pitch for ALS charity work is applauded, admired and worthy of the utmost respect. Hell, you wrote the damn letters on your bloody cleats…we get it.

But there’s nothing heroic or admirable about a retired athlete spending his post-ballplaying days developing a video game centered around slaying fictional creatures in fantastical lands of make-believe. Sure, you won’t be doing much of the actual “creating.” But recent news stories have you playing an integral role in your start-up company 38 Studios‘ development of a fantasy video-gaming franchise, code-named Project Copernicus.

Code-named Copernicus? Is this being developed in your treehouse? Will Shonda be serving you and your colleagues Ecto Cooler juice boxes and Teddy Grahams while you sit on beanbag chairs?

Now, this is not an indictment on video games, video game makers or video game players. This is a criticism of your assumption that your investment in the next World of Warcraft-esque cult/franchise/religion/phenomenon is a perfectly suitable career move for a retired baseball player.

Why can’t you take up fishing like the late Ted Williams and Bobby Doerr? Become a dentist like Jim Longborg. Or go golfing with Fred Lynn? Or become a pitching advisor like Luis Tiant? Or race stock cars and wrestle alligators like Mike Greenwell?

We have tried mightily to keep you in the small fraternity of former Red Sox players with total immunity from any objection or ridicule. But this is the last straw. You’re officially out of the club. Johnny Pesky may have held the ball back in the day, but he spent the next 60 years working for the team, doing manly things like hitting fungoes to rookies learning the ins and outs of the Fenway Park outfield.

You’re just always going to be that member of the family that everybody tolerates but rolls their eyes at as you walk away. You want to become a beta-tester for a video game that will further decrease the already long odds that the more socially awkward members of society ever have sex (with a person). What next?

This is not the way we wanted to remember you. But, frankly, you’re not leaving Red Sox fans much choice. Your awesome 2004 season seems like a long time ago.

Next time you’re invited to Fenway for some old-timer’s reunion or legends appreciation night, have the decency not to stand too close to guys like Rice, Evans, Yaz, Pesky, Ortiz, Wakefield and Lynn. Those guys invoke various feelings of pride and dignity. Lately, all we can manage to do when we look or listen to you is snicker.

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Perspective: Cambridge cop once faced the feared Jim Rice in celebrity softball game

My name is Lieutenant Jonathan Patrick McCarthy, Sr. of the Cambridge Police Department and I’d like to share a story with you about the time I pitched to new Hall of Famer Jim Rice in a charity-run celebrity softball game in 1995.

At the time, Mr. Rice’s post-career reputation as one of the most feared hitters of his era was still being solidified. Let me just say, I never questioned the reputation again after that fateful spring day.

I was one of 15 police local officers selected to do battle against some of Boston’s finest celebrities/retired athletes, including the always scary Jim Ed, former Patriots Tim Goad and Ronnie Lippett, Nancy Kerrigan, Lenny Clarke, film-makers Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the basist from The Cars and several of the Wahlberg brothers.

I’d like to be able to say I didn’t have to change my underwear after pitching to the Red Sox great in the fourth inning on that fateful day. I’d like to be able to say that…

After tossing a shutout over the first three innings of the game, a sergeant from Watertown by the name of Bobby Griggs was struck in the pitching shoulder by a line drive off the bat of Canadian football great Doug Flutie, who wasn’t invited to participate in the game but showed up with a glove, spikes, batting gloves and a Barry Bondsesque elbow pad, demanding a spot on the celebrity team’s roster. Sadly, Flutie’s gritty, compact swing ended poor Griggs’ day.

I was in left field at the time and had dropped a laser beam line drive off of Rice’s bat in the first inning. I guess the error convinced my teammates that I was best suited to replace Griggs at pitcher, a position that would minimize the impact of my suspect judgement in the field.

Growing up in Dover, Massachusetts in the 1975s-1986s, I was obviously a huge BoSox fan. Now, I must say I was always a Dwight Evans guy and, thus, found Rice’s value to those Sox teams of the 70s and 80s to be trivial and mostly forgetable in comparison to Dewey. Nevertheless, my blood pressure immediately skyrocketed when I saw Rice would be leading off the fourth inning. He looked menacing even while just standing in the on-deck circle.

I must say I don’t even remember those warm-up pitches I threw because I was too concerned with the prospect of Rice staring me down. He looked dangerous and I must say, as a young police officer who was fairly new to the force, my cackles stood up as he strode confidently into the batter’s box. I was a bit of a redass in those days and I guess you could say I was on edge.

He pointed the head of his feared bat right at my fearful head and it took all I had not to start visibly shaking out of fear. He seemed to be calling me out…challenging me, personally. I tried not to look scared. My first pitch showed the affect on my nerves as its high arc took it well out of the reach of my catcher, Joe Barry, the only officer in the Somerville police department to score above 75 on his civil service exam.

Frightened, my second pitch/lob bounced thrice in front of home plate before landing in the catcher’s mitt.

I motioned to Mr. Rice to step out of the batter’s box to allow me a moment to compose myself. He would not grant me that courtesy, instead holding the head of his bat over the middle of the plate as if to suggest the spot for my next pitch’s location. Unbelievably, I obliged and he smoked the most wicked line drive down the left field line into foul territory, where the menacing orb bounced off a pregnant woman’s stomach and broke an elderly woman’s nose before ricocheting into the celebrity dugout and bouncing off Nancy Kerrigan’s left knee.

Having no handcuffs readily available, I realized I would need to throw yet another pitch to this right-handed menace. So I did what any good, civic-minded police officer would do when taking the public’s best interest to heart: I threw Jim Rice two unhittable, unreachable pitches so far out of the strike zone Wily Mo Pena would have blushed at the prospect of swinging at either pitch.

Take your base, Mr. Rice, you won’t be hurting any more women and children with your line drives if I have anything to say about it.

 That’s right, I served up an intentional walk to Jim Rice himself in a Boston celebrity-police softball game. And I’ll do it again if I’m ever invited to play in one of those games again and that fear-mongerer is on the opposing team. I was stunned to hear the crowd booing me so heartily.

Fearing a riot, which would have put the public in further danger, I made sure to throw a strike to the next batter, Dewey Evans, who hit a home run that I believe landed somewhere on the other side of the Charles River roughly a year later. Incredible.

That’s my story, folks. I make no apologies for walking Jim Rice that day, but I do grudgingly congratulate him for his induction this weekend into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Thanks for reading and remember: Buckle up, it’s the lawr.

Local man is bored with Heidi Watney

CARVER, Mass.–Heavy rains recently transformed the rectangular plots of Francis Flynn’s cranberry bogs into dark, murky pools of standing water. The cloud cover above is so heavy that Flynn is forced to use a flashlight in mid-afternoon as he checks the engine of one of his tractors–one of several with a hanging Red Sox logo painted onto the front end. There is not much the cranberry harvester can do on rainy days aside from taking refuge in the dryness of his storage shed.
 
With summer’s dog days on the nearby horizon, the rainfall keeps his bogs nourished and healthy. The Red Sox are in first place and it should be a good year for cranberries. Yet Flynn still sighs as he organizes his shed’s tool rack.
 
“I wish I knew what was going on with Heidi. I’m bored with her,” Flynn says, shaking his head. “Last year, every time she was on camera felt like some momentous event. Lately, though? I’ve got to admit she hasn’t been doing it for me.”
 
After expressing strong hopesfor Watney’s sophomore season as NESN’s on-field personality in March, Flynn’s feelings toward the blond-haired reporter have cooled considerably.
 
“Yeah, of course I still think she’s attractive. It’s just seeing her two or three times a game? Every night, all summer long? I never thought I’d say this, but I’m looking forward to the All-Star Break next week. Will Erin Andrews be covering the Home Run Derby for ESPN again?”
 
Flynn is unable to pinpoint exactly what spawned his boredom, but offers some hard criticism of Watney’s wardrobe choices thus far in 2009.
 
“She’s wearing scarves and long sleeves on 70-degree days at the ballpark. That’s just plain wrong,” he said. “And there’s that one blue shirt that she wears about once or twice a week. I wish NESN had a rule where once Heidi wears something on air, it gets thrown away after the broadcast.”
 
Watney’s unchanging hair styling has also miffed Flynn over the first half of the 2009 season.
 
“She wears it the same way every night. I say curl it or put it in a ponytail or braid it or just do something different with it. She’s so stubborn. You know what it reminds me of? Papelbon’s insistence on throwing sliders lately. Maybe both of them have lost something off their fastballs…” 
 
Flynn measures his response carefully when asked if he would prefer Watney be replaced or temporarily spelled by colleague Kathryn Tappen.
 
“It’s not that I don’t think she can do it…I think she’s done a good job working the Bruins games and all that,” he says. “But it just seems like she’s a poor man’s Heidi. If I’m sick of Heidi, what’s Kathryn Tappen going to add at this point?”
 
The possibility of teaming both of them together briefly intrigues the pensive Flynn.
 
“You know, maybe. Heidi’s in a rut. The Sox’ bats are in a rut…It’s drastic, but maybe that’s what we need,” Flynn says. “A shake up of the lineup, so to speak.”
 
Still, the cranberry bogger hints at a clear departure from the ethnic diversity NESN once boasted. The Filipino-born and Canadian-reared Hazel Mae, former SportsDesk anchor, left the station last year and has since landed a gig with MLB Network.
 
“After Hazel left, they basically replaced her with some white guy who gives in-game updates,” laments Flynn. “I think I was less upset when Theo tried to replace Pedro Martinez with Matt Clement. You mean to tell me there haven’t been any other female Asian or Spanish television reporters looking for a job over the last year?”
 
A thunder shower moves through the area and drizzle gives way to a steady downpour. Flynn puts on his red rain jacket and fastens its hood around his head as he exits his tool shed. As the rain becomes heavier, Flynn realizes he has left the window to his tractor open and the driver’s side has become flooded with incoming rainwater. Cursing like a longshoreman, he angrily slams the door after rolling up the window.
 
“I hate to say it,” Flynn says as he peers up at the sky, “But I think Heidi’s time may be up.”

Fans bracing for Nomar’s imminent return

BOSTON, Mass.–The looming return of beloved former Red Sox shortstop Nomar Garciaparra drew strong feelings from fans this past week.
 
A key member of the 1998, 1999 and 2003 playoff teams, Garciaparra returns to Boston as a player for the first time since being traded in July 2004 on Monday when the Oakland Athletics visit for a three-game set.
 
Passing through Kenmore Square on Thursday while wearing a red-colored bracelet indicating his membership in ‘Red Sox Nation,’ Peter O’Malley, 20, of Sturbridge expressed visible anger. “I can’t believe he’s gonna show his face here again. After what he did trying to ruin the 2004 team? You gotta be kidding me. The minute he left town and Orlando Cabrera came in was the minute I started believing. I bet Nomar was real pissed off when Dave Roberts stole that base.”
 
Mary Richmond, 48, of Manchester, N.H. shared similar bewilderment at his popularity. “He was a clubhouse cancer and never cared about the fans. I used to scream my lungs out until I was hoarse cheering for him. And God forbid he ever stop eating dinner long enough to sign a napkin or one of my boobs. What did Nomar ever do for the community? This current group of Red Sox is a much more likable team with guys like Josh Beckett running that annual bowling tournament–what’s it called–Beckett Bowl?” 
 
Sporting a “Coco 10” jersey tee, Diana Timothy, 52, of Winchester, similarly suggested Nomar’s fidgety routines and malcontent status grew tiresome. “Even the local media turned on him by the end and he’s white..ish. That tells you something right there.”
 
Sitting in a Land Rover SUV outside Twin’s Souvenirs with her two young sons, ages 3 and 6, 34-year-old Matilda Mattern of Wellesley had little to say about the former All-Star shortstop’s prowess a decade ago. “Nomar Garciaparra…You mean Mia Hamm’s husband? He was on the Red Sox, wasn’t he? That was like, 15 years ago or something. Do you know if it’s going to be sunny outside tomorrow?”
 
Joseph Zimmerman, 35, of Brookline, took the jilted lover’s route when asked to analyze Garciaparra’s impact on him as a fan. “Most likely Nomar goes his way and I go mine,” he responded quickly without breaking stride as he walked down Beacon St.
 
“I’m sorry, I really don’t think I can talk about it,” said ‘Jeff White,’ a season ticket holder from Cambridge who asked that his real name be withheld. “I gave my seats away for the three games against Oakland.”
 
After walking away, White circled back and began reading off Garciaparra’s statistics, which he had drawn up on his iPhone. “Look at his wOBA from 1998-2000. And his isolated power stats in the late ’90s and early 2000s read like Jason Varitek’s monthly batting averages over the last couple years. Look at it! Win Shares, Runs Created, RAR, Wins Above Replacement …”
 
White began to choke up reciting the last stat and, blinking away tears, quickly walked away after threatening violence and a defamation lawsuit if his real name were used for this article.
 
Derek McCormick, 29, of Lynn, lamented Garciaparra’s less-than-sociable reputation within the clubhouse, as reported ad nauseum by the Boston media in his final days as a Red Sox. 
 
“Dustin and Francona are always playing dominoes together before games and having a good time pulling pranks on each other,” said McCormick. “I don’t think Nomar even knows how to play dominoes or put a teammate in a playful headlock. He just didn’t fit in anymore I guess.”
 
McCormick, however, didn’t rule out a return to the Red Sox for Garciaparra later in his career as a utility man.
 
“If the money’s right and he learns how to play dominoes and is willing to Irish jig to ‘Shipping Up to Boston,’ I think it could make sense. How cool would that be if he came back? They’d have to put those Coke bottles back up over the Monster so he could dent them with his home runs. Geez, just thinking about that gives me chills…”