Monthly Archives: February 2010

Does Tom Werner know the whereabouts of ‘Boner’?

FORT MYERS, Fla.–Boston Red Sox chairman Tom Werner made his hay as a producer of hit 1980s sitcoms such as The Cosby Show and Roseanne. Andrew Koenig is a former child actor who played the popular Richard Stabone (aka ‘Boner’) from 1985-1989 on the sitcom Growing Pains.

Now Boner’s gone missing, and Fenway Pastoral recently talked to Werner about it in Fort Myers.

Q. You belong to a powerful group of current and former television executives and entertainment bigwigs. A child actor from the ‘80s is missing. What do you know?

Werner: I’m really looking forward to the upcoming season. People seem pretty worried about our offense and the loss of Jason Bay, but I think we’ll be just fine. I honestly think we’ll be contenders for the World Series as the leaves are turning all kinds of pretty colors in New England this fall. We are going to be hard to beat.

Q. How would you respond to all those people out there who are saying The Cosby Show was inferior to Growing Pains? Are they being overly emotional because they may never see Boner again?

Werner: I think those types of discussions are premature. John (Henry), Larry (Lucchino) and myself all plan to be here for a long, long time. Fenway Park will continue to undergo subtle renovations that will improve the fan experience on game day without compromising the integrity and history of one of Boston’s most cherished landmarks.

Q. Was the guy who played Boner ever considered for a guest star appearance on Cosby Show—maybe as one of Vanessa’s love interests? It seemed like she was a bit of a floozy.

Werner: That is a big point of contention with this ownership group. We don’t believe in bridges or “rebuilding years.” We believe in fielding a contender every season—teams that fans can get excited about each spring and will continue to follow throughout the summer.

Q. What about Roseanne? Boner was a bit of a wiseguy type that would have fit in well with the characters on that show. He could have been a nice foil to John Goodman’s role as the fat dad.

Werner: Well, that’s debatable. There are other defensive metrics out there besides UZR and I think Jacoby Ellsbury is a fine defender, no matter which position in the outfield he plays.

Q. Has reality television effectively killed the sitcom format that was so prevalent on network TV during the 1980s?

Werner: There is no right or wrong answer to that question. I think the evolution of statistical analysis over the last 20 years is an important development in how we evaluate talent. As the game changes, we also need to change in how we analyze players. Our organization supplements the hard work of scouts with useful pitch and zone data and other sabermetrics.

Q. Alright, let’s wrap this up. Are you concerned at all about the long-term legacy of the Cosby Show? Scholars have devoted most of their time debating the relative impact the show may have had on African-American culture rather than focusing on the simple brilliance of plot lines like Theo Huxtable allowing his friend Cockroach to pierce his ear.

Werner: I’m not worried. I expect big things out of Big Papi this year. None of his problems last year are anything that can’t be solved by regaining the plate discipline he showed a few years ago.

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Apathetic Boof Bonser already underwhelming his new team

FORT MYERS–Newly acquired Boof Bonser arrived at the Red Sox spring training facility today. Or was it yesterday?

He’s barely had time to unpack his belongings and break in his new glove. His jersey is yet to have a number sewn on the back. Yet his apathy toward Boston and his new team is already clear.

The former Minnesota Twin humors a horde of reporters looking for some sound bytes as he sits down to tie his cleats (one single, loose knot that practically unties on its own).

A local writer asks the 28-year-old what his past impressions of the City of Boston have been when he came to town as a member of the visiting team.

“I don’t know…I’m not sure. We stayed in a hotel and ate somewhere and then came to the ballpark to play. That’s all I remember.”

Asked how different pitching in Fenway Park would be compared to the Metrodome, Bonser deadpanned, “I guess it will probably be different…I don’t know, though. All the pitchers’ mounds seem the same to me.”

Presumably, Bonser is champing at the bit to pitch again after missing the entire 2009 season while recovering from surgery to repair tears in his labrum and rotator cuff. But if this is the case, he isn’t showing it.

“I’m just trying to take it slow, build my arm strength and re-establish rhythm in my delivery,” he shrugs.

When a television reporter inquires about whether Bonser has purchased a home in one of Boston’s leafy, scenic suburbs, the pitcher says he doesn’t care where he lives since he spends half the season on road trips. According to team sources, salary negotiations were alarmingly easy, with Bonser hastily scribbling his name on the $650,000 contract for 2010 as though it were a nuisance.

In a clubhouse packed with fiery guys and bulldog attitudes, Bonser’s trademark dispassion and indifference will undoubtedly be a change of pace this season. It is a demeanor the Red Sox knew was built into the price of acquiring Bonser from the Twins for a player to be named.

“I think people around the league recognize the apathy that this guy brings to the park every day,” says a former teammate from Minnesota. “But I don’t think fans can truly grasp its magnitude until he’s on their team. There is just absolutely nothing burning inside this guy’s gut. I’ve never seen him pump his fist on the mound in the three years I played behind him. When we lost to the Athletics in the 2006 playoffs, he just packed up his stuff and went home…Unbelievable.”

With the passion and intensity of fellow newcomer John Lackey well documented, Bonser’s calm demeanor will almost certainly stand out. At the very least, he will need to get his fill from the clubhouse food spread before Josh Beckett overturns the taco station after a bad outing.

A Twins trainer who worked closely with the pitcher concurred. “Boof’s heart rate barely reaches light aerobic levels even during tight situations. There will be games when the bullpen coach will literally have to wake him up so he can begin warming up.”

To say Bonser is easygoing would be an understatement. He says his friends officially changed his name from John Paul to his nickname, Boof, in 2001 as a prank. But the joke fell flat and the pitcher didn’t even notice people were referring to him by a different name until sometime in 2004. “I haven’t gotten around to changing my name back. I don’t really pay attention to what people call me. Honestly, what does it matter?”

With training camp’s official start days away, Bonser appears similarly unaffected by his presumed status as a long reliever. He is unperturbed that he has been excluded in pre-camp discussions about the fifth starter spot, widely believed to belong to either Clay Buchholz or Tim Wakefield (should someone get hurt).

“Whatever happens, happens. I’ll do whatever they tell me to do.”

Clay Buchholz’s Love Doctor Mailbag: Valentine’s Day Edition

Red Sox pitcher and notorious ladies’ man Clay Buchholz hung up his pimping cleats last November when he married Deal or No Deal model Lindsay Clubine. Now that he’s off the market, he’s answering some reader questions about the fairer sex and dating life.

Clay,
Is it safe to go on a date with a girl who I met through Facebook?

–Doug from Lynnfield

Absolutely, Doug. Back in the day, I took a few birds out who I met through an online alias. Just be careful of women with extensive profiles on social networking sites. They’re usually exhibitionists (which is awesome) but they also tend to be pretty self-involved and will probably have a lot to say even on a first/blind date. To counteract this, make sure you take anyone you meet on MySpace or Ashley Madison or wherever else to a club that plays loud house music. After a couple pours of Grey Goose, her get-to-know-me conversation will just sound like part of the bass line and you can just nod your head along with the beat.


Clay
Please rank the MTV Jersey Shore girls from hottest to ugliest.

–Hal from Somerville

Hal, this one’s easy. Of the four Jersey Shore broads, JWoww is the only one who is my type. She has several tattoos, she likes to party and she wasn’t afraid to upgrade areas of her body that needed work. And I totally related to what she was saying about generally wanting to rip a guy’s head off praying mantis-style after she’s slept with him. I actually had a woman try that on me one time and it’s kind of a turn-on. The other young ladies on the show are too needy (Snooki), too wholesome (Sammi) or too sticky (Angelina). Ranking them would be like comparing the No. 5 starters in the low minors. I’m a professional baseball player–chicks like that might as well be dudes as far as I’m concerned. But I’d let any of them videotape one of my threesomes.


Clay,

Have you ever gone past the point of what would be termed a ‘professional relationship’ with any female beat writers or television reporters?

–Tyrus from Springfield

Those records are sealed, my friend. But let’s just say that last season I began to notice certain reporters seemed to have the night off when I was on the mound.


Clay,
I was recently getting ‘intimate’ with a girl one night when I realized she was wearing granny panties. It would be one thing if she was some 40-year-old cougar, but this girl was only 19 years old.

–Thomas from Sudbury

Wow, ace, that’s a tough one. If you ask me, it’s a disappointment when a girl decides to wear underwear at all. It seems so old-fashioned. I have to assume this girl was on the dreaded 5-day disabled list. But either way, I’d say this can’t be a good sign. I hope you have a solid left-handed relief specialist in your bullpen…


Clay,
Have you ever seen Amalie Benjamin with her glasses off?

–Martin from Kingston, R.I.

Hahahahaha…Next question.

Clay,
Which American League city has the most attractive female fan base?

–Adam from Southie

There’s usually a lot of ladies ready to party in Anaheim whenever we’re in town to play the Angels. Most of them are “aspiring actresses” looking to take a ballplayer home or at least get one of their boobs signed. It’s harmless fun and I always look forward to our trips out west. Of course, when you’re in LA, you gotta make sure Brad Penny didn’t get to the girl first. They’re never the same after he’s through with them. There are also lots of women who throw themselves at me down in St. Petersburg, although most of them are old enough to be my mother. I’ve gotta say that Toronto is the best city, though. The girls are pretty hot, they’re foreign and the Rogers Centre has those hotel rooms attached to the outfield so you don’t even have to leave the ballpark to get lucky. As for women from Kansas City, well, I’d rather ride all the way down to Ft. Myers in the back of the equipment truck than take one of those slam pigs out to some expensive steakhouse. Maybe I’ll feel differently after I’ve played through my arbitration years.

Click here to read last October’s edition of Clay Buchholz’s Love Doctor Mailbag.

Herald’s Silverman: If not this year, Sox won’t win until 2093

Boston’s professional sports columnists love to pretend every game, every season, every tiny parcel of history they happen to be covering is bigger than it really is. Bearing that in mind, this is either poorly constructed sarcasm or extreme hyperbole from the Boston Herald’s Michael Silverman:

The Red Sox went two whole seasons without winning a championship between 2004 and 2007.

Beginning next week in Fort Myers, we get to find out if the 2010 team looks capable of sticking to that same schedule — or plunging this region into another unimaginable 86-year swoon. We all know there is no in-between.

The fact that  Silverman’s angle isn’t clear here goes a long way in explaining the rift between intelligent readership and local newspaper sports coverage. At the very least, failed sarcasm (the lowest form of humor) should be buried somewhere below the lead graf. This is obviously meant as either a dig at fellow media members or a shot at a passionate, reactionary fan base. Neither helps sell more newspapers.

Open Letter to Stupid, Sexy Nomar

What are you doing here, Nomar?

C’mon, it’s late and pitchers and catcher report next week. You’re too old to be showing up like this. I’ve told you already in the most Draperian way possible–life moves in one direction: forward.

Let’s face it, your pride wouldn’t let you accept a minor league contract or an invitation to spring training even if the Red Sox were to extend an offer. And there’s no money left, anyway. Mr. Epstein and Mr. Henry aren’t going to further stress the luxury tax threshold by signing a washed up veteran to a guaranteed deal. We had our time together, but it’s over now.

Stop saying those awful things about Marco Scutaro. Your jealousy is so transparent. It’s over. You need to go home. And don’t purposely leave those batting gloves behind just so you have an excuse to come back tomorrow.

You’ve only played in 120 games total over the past two seasons due to numerous injuries. When healthy, you weren’t particularly valuable to the Dodgers in 2008 or to the Athletics last season.

No, those pre-at-bat gyrations won’t work this time. We’ve all moved on.

Stop tapping your toes in the dirt like that. You can’t stay. What if Tug Hulett wakes up?

And don’t talk about Bill Hall like that. What’s he ever done to you? I know he’s not the sexiest utility guy out there, but he can play the infield and the outfield. And he hit 35 dongs a few years back. Don’t you dare bring up his 2009 OPS. He wasn’t well. You know that. You only started 17 games in the field last season.

I’ve told you a million times: you can’t platoon with David Ortiz. Yes, Mike Lowell is still here (he’s getting treatment in the trainer’s room right now). He’s going to know someone was sitting in his chair if you don’t get up.

You’re kidding, right? Left field when the team plays at home? Fenway Park’s outfield is small, but it still has some lawn out there. You hardly fielded your position at a stationary first base last year.

Watch you take batting practice? We both know that would just be a cheap thrill and we’d both regret it as soon as it was over.

I have to stop you before you again bring up CHONE projecting you for a 0.9 WAR this season. There aren’t 365 plate appearances for you on this team right now–even if you do stay healthy. I wish there were, but we just can’t go through all the questioning again.

The injuries. The reclusive personality. The pop-ups. It was a lot of stress.

Don’t you remember what everyone was saying about us in 2004? You hated the idea of “us.” You lost interest in our team. You never went out in our city like you used to in the old days. We had a fine time together last July, but we both knew it was temporary. A meaningless mid-week tryst.

This is all too much for this early in the season. We’ve got all these new guys that should make the team a contender well into the fall.

Don’t take it personally. Pedro’s been calling here, too, lately. I haven’t answered yet, though I doubt I’ll be strong enough to ignore him come May or June.

Fine, if you promise to leave, I’ll admit it. It would be grand if you found a way to play relatively well and bring value to the 2010 Boston Red Sox. You could get a few hundred at-bats and get the occasional spot start in the corner infield. It could be your swan song and a tidy bookend to an often misunderstood career. Yes, isn’t it pretty to think so.

Fourth-grader suspended for discussing Jacoby Ellsbury’s Ultimate Zone Rating during math lesson

Milford, Mass–In a sign of the times, 10-year-old Thomas Griffith has been suspended for a week from Milford Elementary School after attempting to relate basic addition and subtraction principles to his classmates using Jacoby Ellsbury’s career UZR in center field.

According to the boy’s teacher, 41-year-old Mary Banks, Griffith caused a ruckus by suggesting Ellsbury had been less-than-stellar over the first two full seasons of his career. The boy pointed out that when combining the center-fielder’s positive output of ‘range runs’ to negative ‘error runs,’ Ellsbury’s reputation as a great gloveman might be somewhat exaggerated.

Naturally, the cited data angered the fourth-grade class’ large contingent of Red Sox fans, who asked to further delve into the numbers. However, Banks gave the boy a stern warning that he would be sent to the principal’s office if he continued to disrupt her lesson plan.

An avid learner, the boy attempted to avoid banishment from class by explaining that the statistic could be normalized by adjusting the stat for runs prevented per 150 games played at a given position (often referred to as UZR/150).

“We haven’t made it to the division unit in the textbook yet,” explained Banks during a special school committee meeting held to address the situation. “And his usage of both positive and negative integers was just confusing. I’m a fourth-grade math teacher, not Alfred Eisenhower.”

District Superintendent Bruce Whalen confirmed the boy’s suspension, citing strict teaching guidelines laid out by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to prepare students for the upcoming 2010 MCAS exams.

According to the teacher, the boy was ultimately sent to the principal’s office after ignoring his teacher’s plea to return to an MCAS-supplied practice problem, which contemplated the cost benefit of replacing a duel-cassette-tape boombox with a new portable CD player equipped with 10-second skip protection.

“We can’t afford these types of distractions from the normal, accepted curriculum that has become status quo,” said Whalen. “We are determined to outperform last year’s MCAS results and we happen to like the system we have in place for keeping our district competitive.”

Asked for an example of a more appropriate math lesson that followed state curriculum fourth-grade standards, Banks cited Ellsbury’s recent jersey number change, “Jacoby used to wear number 46, but this year he will wear the number 2, which is 44 less than his old jersey number.”

The boy’s parents, Harold and Marcia Griffith, believe their son may have heard about UZR from some older kids in their neighborhood or perhaps from troublemakers on the bus.

“He’s already been grounded and told to stay away from the middle-schoolers on our street,” said Mrs. Griffith. “The next step may be home-schooling…We don’t want him growing up into some maladjusted teenager with a brain polluted by a bunch of useless formulas.”