Monthly Archives: November 2013

Clay Buchholz’s Love Doctor Mailbag: How to monetize sex appeal in a modern economic world

Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz is several years removed from his roaring days as an eligible bachelor. The Boston starter now lives a quiet domestic life at home with his two daughters and his wife, professional model Lindsay Clubbine. After an injury-plagued but ultimately successful season, Clay took some time to reflect on his future and answer some readers’ questions.

Clay,
You’ve been on the Red Sox since 2007 but you don’t appear in TV commercials, on billboards or within other ads nearly as much as other team veterans such as Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz and Jon Lester. What gives? You dated models galore back before you got married so you obviously have sex appeal. And your on-field results when you’re healthy speak for themselves. (A sub-2.00 ERA in 2013! WTF!) Don’t you want to earn some easy cash, bro?

– Brian from Sudbury

Well, Brian, I’m actually a big believer in professional athletes capitalizing on their prowess and popularity. But, personally, I’ve never really much cared for appearing in those mainstream advertisements hawking diarrhea-inducing, coffee-based sludge or what-have-you. And I’m not going to slap on a generic athletic jersey and unceremoniously tell you where to do your banking. I’d rather aim for something a bit mightier and charismatic.

That’s why this offseason I plan to contact some local sperm banks about getting paid to knuckle off a bunch of samples and officially put myself out to stud. Like you said, back in the day a lot of model types and beautiful babes were into me, but regrettably I was only able to handle so much with my busy schedule as a professional athlete. Now that I’ve fathered a couple of children the old-fashioned way, I think it’s time to avail my superior genetics on a broader basis. With my beautiful wife Lindsay’s blessing, I think it makes sense to get the ball rolling on a future generation of all-star caliber major league starting pitchers. My seed probably won’t be available to just anybody – the price point will be set really high and interested ladies will need to be screened to make sure they fit some specific criteria. And I’d like to keep the records sealed so that the offspring aren’t all over me for money and support from my retirement fund benefits down the road. But my dream is to be able to watch MLB games 25 years from now and see a bunch of right-handers with fantastic curveballs and unknown lineages who could just be traced back to me.

Clay,
Please tell me you’ve already shaved off that upper lip hair that you passed off as a mustache during the 2013 playoffs. You were really creeping me out!

– Sarah from New Haven, Conn.

Sarah, I guess you’re one of those dames who is weirded out by a cool ‘stache? It’s your loss. I have to admit I’m surprised that my decision to grow a thick, Tom Selleck-esque mustache would have elicited any negative reactions from the fairer sex.

Clay,
Tell us the truth, why do you put so much “product” in your hair on days you’re the starting pitcher? Is there some kind of competitive edge to it?

– Cyrus from N.H.

Cyrus, just because I’m married doesn’t mean I want to just tell the whole world that I’ve given up on making women yearn for my bod. A lot of chicks are into a greasier, kind of slippery look that my hair has on start days. I used to read about guys like Jerry Rice being really anal about the uniform fitting perfect and always having the jersey tucked in neat and socks pulled up even and all that. Well, I thrive on the same kind of superstition. I pitch better knowing there are a bunch of birds sitting at home, with their form-fitting pink-bedazzled Buchholz shirts on, just pining for me through the television. I can sense their pheromones pulsing through basic cable and willing me to victory. Any competitive benefits I may get from running my hand through my hair and then gripping the baseball are purely incidental. But if you’re a dame routing for the Red Sox, what you’re feeling, animalistically, when you watch me pitch? That ain’t an accident.

Clay,
I’ve noticed your wife Lindsay likes sitting in those box seats right behind home plate. It looked like she even brought your infant daughter along a couple of times in October to cheer on the team and bring it luck. She obviously isn’t afraid to be out there in front of the camera and in the spotlight. You also dated a number of models and porn stars back in the day. How can I meet a chick who isn’t afraid of a lot of attention?

– Terry from Sandwich

Thanks for the question Terry. There are a lot of telltale signs when you’re out in public or at a bar that will point you in the direction of those uninhibited types. And believe me, those are the broads you wanna bunk with. Whether you’re out at a bar or sitting in the bleachers at a Sox game, you want to zero in on the babes who are being hounded and ogled by a bunch of dudes. Because the marketplace doesn’t lie: they’re probably the most attractive and also probably the ones with the experience you’re looking for. For example, when you’re at the strip club – who are paying to see? The talent up on the stage or the skirt that takes your drink order? Aim for fame, my friend.

Clay,
You’ve mentioned in the past that you’re unimpressed by Boston’s non-existent “strip club” scene. What are your thoughts about the recent news that the Glass Slipper was sanctioned for allowing physical contact inside its club?

– Mel from Marblehead

Well, Mel…this is an issue I was surprised by. So basically there’s a club where a bunch of ladies parade around nude out on a big fancy stage and then afterward they’re not supposed to go and mingle with all the dudes spectating? That’s like the Red Sox charging fans a ball park entry fee to watch batting practice and then making everyone exit Fenway Park before the start of the first inning.

Thanks for all the questions, guys. Enjoy the Hot Stove season.

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This Week in Boston Baseballing, November 1 – 7

With the conclusion of the victory parade on Saturday afternoon, the Red Sox officially entered the 2013-2014 Hot Stove Season. The team figures to garner a broader share of the local media’s attention this winter. At this time late last year, the team ranked a distant fourth in the local sports consciousness. The Bruins were enjoying a torrid start to the 2012-2013 season, which ended with an appearance in the Stanley Cup Finals; the 2012 Patriots would make it to the AFC Championship; and the Garnett/Pierce/Rondo-helmed Celtics still had fresh legs and remained in the discussion as Eastern Conference contenders up until early February.

The Red Sox Victory Lap Goes National
The Red Sox disembarked the duck boats Saturday afternoon, but the victory rallies and 2013 Fall Tour continued. First, some of the Red Sox stopped by Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for a ceremony during the Patriots vs. Steelers game on Sunday.

Red Sox in Foxboro

@ShaneVictorino said “every little thing is gonna be alright” if you guys were wondering… Go #Pats pic.twitter.com/3I9ChqTEHH

— Will Middlebrooks (@middlebrooks) November 3, 2013

On Monday night, the freshly shaven David Ortiz stopped by The Late Show with David Letterman.

Ortiz on David Letterman2

Big Papi hung out in New York until Tuesday morning, when he appeared on Live with Kelly and Michael.

Ortiz on Live with Kelly

Tuesday, it was Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino visiting Conan O’Brien.

Gomes and Victorino on Conan

Mike Napoli kept things a bit simpler, opting to roam around Boylston St. shirtless.

The 21st Century Red Sox And Their Place In History
On NBC Sports’ Hardball Talk, Joe Posnanski writes that the post-2000 Boston Red Sox may just be the modern version of a baseball “Dynasty.”

When you think of those dynasty teams, you think of players. You might think of managers — Casey Stengel, Walter Alston, Joe McCarthy, Joe Torre. You might think of a certain style, a certain rhythm, a certain ethos. You might think of the nicknames and rebelliousness of the 1970s A’s, the high mounds of the 1960s Dodgers, the Murderers’ Row lineup of the Ruth-Gehrig Yankees….

This Red Sox team? No. They have none of that. Oh, they’ve had great players. They’re just not the SAME great players.

Posnanski also brings up Bill James’ place in this decade-long run of success.

Finally, Bill James. As mentioned, he seems to be the highest-ranking front-office guy — not counting the executive guys like president Larry Lucchino and owner John Henry — to have been around for all three championships. It’s hard to say exactly what Bill does for the Red Sox. He’s very discreet about it, and he would never take any credit whatsoever for Boston’s success. It was funny to see Jonny Gomes, in the glow of winning a World Series, choose to rip sabermetrics — a word Bill James coined — since I’m guessing it was probably some sabermetric thinking that got Gomes to Boston in the first place.

In a way, it is ironic how difficult it would be to quantify how much James’s post with the team has contributed to the overall success of the team over the past decade. It would be way too simplistic to credit any single member of the organization with the bulk of the accolades. But it’s not hard to imagine that him playing a significant role behind the scenes.

Boston Begins Hot Stove Window Shopping
Boston kicked off the process of building its 2014 roster on Monday. The team offered qualifying offers to Jacoby Ellsbury, Mike Napoli and Stephen Drew. Surprisingly, it declined to extend the same offer to now-free agent catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia. The team appears like it already has a plan that does not include Salty even though some recent reports indicated the team has been in touch with Saltalamacchia’s agent.

ESPN’s Buster Olney on Brian McCann as Salty’s replacement:

Heard this prediction from two rival officials Monday: Brian McCann will sign with the Red Sox. “They need catching help now,” said one official, “and he could do that for a couple of years and then move to DH after David Ortiz finishes.”

Olney further discussed the prevailing assumption within the industry that Boston will sign McCann on Thursday, when he went on Keith Law’s Behind the Dish podcast. To paraphrase Olney, given “reasonably similar offers, a personal endorsement from David Ross” may be the deciding factor in landing McCann. With a guy like Blake Swihart likely at least two years away, McCann could handle the bulk of the duties for the next couple years behind home before moving to a 1B/DH role if/when Swihart continues developing.

The Giancarlo Stanton Possibility
The Boston Herald’s Scott Lauber speculates on how it might happen and who it might take:

Start with an elite pitching prospect. With the exception of Bogaerts, 21-year-old lefty Henry Owens is about as untouchable as anyone in the organization, especially after posting a 2.67 ERA and striking out 169 batters in 135 innings in a season that ended in Double A. But with Brandon Workman having emerged as a full-time major leaguer, and Drake Britton, Allen Webster, Rubby De La Rosa, Anthony Ranaudo and Matt Barnes not far behind, the Sox may be able to make the sacrifice.

Lauber goes on to suggest that Felix Doubront and potentially Will Middlebrooks could be part of a package to lure Stanton out of Miami.

Meanwhile, if you prefer to digest your unsubstantiated Hot Stove rumors from other tabloid publications, the New York Post’s George King claims the Red Sox are hot on the trail of Carlos Beltran.

The Youker Files: An Old Friend Offers Boston His Congratulations

Earlier today, former Red Sox corner infielder and friend of the site, Kevin Youkilis, penned a nice note to his fans and readers at Fenway Pastoral.

(Youker Files diary archives can be found here.)

Kevin Youkilis Youker Files

They did it, you guys. I’m really happy for all my old teammates up in Boston for winning the 2013 World Series last week. I’m sure there are some people out there who think I cheer against the Red Sox now since I got traded to Chicago in 2012 and then played for the Yankees this year. After all, I was one of basically a handful of that really awesome core of dudes who brought glory back to the city back in 2004 and then again in 2007. We were the original grinders. Then it all came to an end pretty quick and bitterly.

But, no. Now that those stupid buttheads in the Yankees’ front office have officially declined to extend me a qualifying offer, I think I can safely come out and say that I still bleed red blood. Type B. Boston B, that is. Brian Cashman can eat my doodoo.

I’ll let you guys in on a little secret, too: As a Yankee, I might not have been able to outwardly show my solidarity by growing a beard along with some of my old buddies in Beantown like Papi and Dustin. I mean, the Yanks have some pretty tough facial hair standards. But I want you guys to know that I still grew some pretty awesome Napoli-like tufts down somewhere that the Yankees couldn’t, you know, regulate. I’m talking about nether regions right now. OK?

Yeah, what I’m probably not saying clearly is that I grew my pubic hair really long.

Anyway, I’m happy there wasn’t another round in the playoffs. My wife Tom Brady’s sister Julie was getting pretty annoyed. I was a big, hot, hairy mess watching these games. And emotionally speaking, I was a wreck too. I was throwing all kinds of stuff around our living room, just getting really intense and into the moment.

Here are my most vivid memories from the 2013 postseason run:

Smashing a serving plate into like a million pieces after Joe West screwed the Red Sox during ALCS Game 1. Anibel Sanchez was getting everything called in the first game of the ALCS, huh? I mean, I don’t care about pitch charts and FX stuff. West had it in for the Red Sox. He owes them a bunch of make-up calls next year. You just know that if I were playing in that game, I would have gotten screwed too. Some umps resent that I have such a keen eye. I would have been making my bitter beer face all over the diamond. Some of these guys just have no regard for the rules of the game. If I don’t swing at a certain pitch, it’s because it’s out of the strike zone. I don’t even need you there trying to tell me differently, dude.

Losing my voice from screaming at the TV for Shane Victorino to charge the mound after guys kept hitting him. Shane Victorino got hit by, what, like 10 pitches over the course of three rounds? At some point, someone should have told Shane you gotta run at the pitcher to reinforce your place in the food chain. Hitters don’t get any respect from umps these days. Pitchers are just teeing off on guys and the batters are always being discouraged by the commish’s office from running at these dangerous, irresponsible headhunters with bats and fists raised. I always assumed The Flyin’ Hawaiian nickname was an homage to the WWE or at least had something to do with Victorino being a good wrestler. So I was surprised he never just took off for a good old-fashioned brawl after one of those fastballs to the ribs. I gotta say, if I were on base when Victorino got nailed, I would have made a beeline for the pitcher and delivered a Brian Urlacher bone-cruncher to make sure his team knew I wasn’t messing around. Every little thing BAM! Is gonna be alright POW!

Flipping my coffee table over in sheer joy when Ortiz hit that grand slam. Oh my god, what a comeback and what a classic moment from Papi. I probably would have worked the count full to mess with the pitcher a little more, but that bullet that David hit into the Sox pen was just exhilarating to watch on TV. Maybe TOO exhilarating: My wife Tom Brady’s sister Julie had just poured herself a glass of burgundy from a pretty expensive bottle. The whole thing wound up on our white sheepskin rug when I got carried away in my sheer glee and launched the living room table up in the air. It did like a full 360-degree flip and dented the flooring. I left D.O. a message Saturday when he was at the parade asking if he’d maybe help pay for the damage. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a check within the next few days. He knows my address.

Receiving a letter from the lawyers representing Fox Sports after having several choice-worded phone calls with producers. Fox’s refusal to show the pitch tracker box like TBS did during the ALCS finally had my blood boiling by the time the World Series began. Craig Breslow’s throwing error in Game 2 had me in a pretty weird place, and in the aftermath of that, I just lost my usual cool, calm, collected self in a sea of expletives that involved a few phone calls that I guess people took literally. I mean, idle threats delivered over a phone? Who takes those seriously.

Screaming like a little schoolgirl when David Ross was called out at the plate during Game 5. OK, fine. So the play didn’t cost the Red Sox the game in the end, but Ross clearly slid under, around and then over Yadier Molina’s mitt. Seemed like a black-and-white call to me. Should have been reviewed. Ross seems like a nice enough guy, but I think what might have been better is if he got up after the play and got up in the ump’s face and asked very politely for him to reconsider. I mean, just because the ball beats the runner by a couple of steps, the ump should assume the catcher will still bungle it. Catchers are oafish klutzes and us baserunner types are graceful enough to know how to get around their mitts using smoke and mirrors and voodoo and stuff.

Anyway, I’m just gonna say congratulations again to all the fans of Boston. Seems like you guys had a pretty awesome season. Now that I’m a free agent, you never know maybe I’ll wind up back in Boston. Probably a long shot, but you never know. I’m going to shop around and see what’s what.

Thanks to Boston’s success this year, I think a lot of front offices are realizing now you need some hard asses who work counts at the plate and who aren’t afraid of growing fistfuls and fistfuls of facial hair. I’ve already started growing my beard out and you guys know better than anyone from back in the day when I had my goatee, I know how to do it right. I also know how to win so I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a bit more interest in my services this year compared to last. Especially when I have an full-fledged afro growing out of my chin by December.

I don’t know, I’m just super-pumped about this offseason. This is going to be the winter of the hairy 30-something free agent who has a chock full of the intangibles. Damnit, I can’t wait.

Scrollable Photo Gallery: The start of the 2013 World Series victory parade at Fenway Park

2013 pennant on Yawkey

Early November sun rises up over Fenway Park.

Fenway duck boats

The final from Game 6 lingers on the Fenway Park scoreboard.

Fenway Scoreboard Final Score 2013 WS Game 6

Mayor Thomas Menino says a few words in what will likely be one of his final acts as an employee of the City of Boston.

Menino at Fenway

The view from Grandstand Section 12.

View from Section 12

David Ortiz takes the microphone.

Ortiz speech at Fenway

After a long summer of pitch counts and situational splits, there is only one statistic left to post on the center-field scoreboard.

Red Sox 2013 Champs

The 2013 World Series trophy boards the owners’ duck boat.

The trophy boards

The NESN crew and that moment when Dennis Eckersley realized people could see into the duck boat just as well as he could see out of the duck boat. Don Orsillo offers a tentative wave.

NESN crew

And then there’s Jenny Dell. What a ham.

Jenny Dell strikes her pose

Xander Bogaerts, Stephen Drew, Mike Carp and, well, they had to put Pookie Jackson somewhere.

Drew and Bogaerts

The three top guys in Boston’s bullpen: Koji Uehara, Junichi Tazawa and Craig Breslow.

Koji Tazawa and Breslow

John Lackey, Clay Buchholz and Daniel Nava.

Lackey and Nava

David Ortiz shows off his Series MVP trophy.

Ortiz with MVP trophy

The Red Sox alumni paced themselves for a long afternoon.

Red Sox alumni

Will Middlebrooks and David Ross.

Ross and Middlebrooks

And of course, bullpen cop Steve Horgan, who may never put his arms down again at this rate.

Steve Horgan

This Week in Boston Baseballing, October 25 – 31

Boston’s weekend in St. Louis started off pretty rudely Saturday night thanks to a baserunner obstruction call against Will Middlebrooks that gave the Cardinals a 2-1 lead in the 2013 World Series. However, that loss would prove to be the team’s last defeat of the season. Boston would come back to win a tight game the next night thanks to a gutsy effort from Clay Buchholz on Sunday. The Red Sox managed to beat Adam Wainwright for a second time on Monday before heading home and clinching its third World Series championship in the last 10 years on Wednesday night. It was the first time the team had clinched a world title at Fenway Park since 1918. There will be a parade in Boston on Saturday.

Game 6 itself wasn’t much of a game in the HOLY SHIT GAME 6! way that some other Game 6’s in the team’s history have played out. Shane Victorino hit a double off the wall with the bases loaded in the 3rd inning off Michael Wacha. John Lackey made the lead stick from there. The Red Sox had a 99% win probability by the 7th inning and Carlos Beltran’s RBI single only moved the needle down to 97%.

Game 6 win probability
Source: FanGraphs

Koji The Man On Front Pages
Boston Sports Media Watch had an exhaustive rundown of all the daily newspapers’ headlines on Thursday morning. Eleven out of the 15 papers featured on BSMW opted for variations of photos of Koji Uehara celebrating in the arms of catcher David Ross and other teammates. The Red Sox closer went from one of the least appreciated, recognizable guys on the team in his middle relief days to one of the most popular players on the team. But surprisingly, it was The Boston Herald coming through with maybe the best and most unique front page.

Herald Front Page 10/31/2013

The timely shot was taken after Jonny Gomes slid in safely at home to give the Red Sox a 3-0 lead on Victorino’s wall ball. Our favorite part is on-deck hitter Xander Bogaerts joining Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz to help synchronize the safe call on Gomes along with the umpire. It is perfect and – as good as Uehara has been this year – this is the more appropriate lasting image of the 2013 team and its incredible season.

David Ortiz Wins World Series MVP
In almost any other year, Jon Lester’s two shutdown starts to beat one of the NL’s best in Wainwright twice would have earned him the MVP. But thanks to his well-documented, otherworldly performance, Big Papi had the MVP honors wrapped up pretty early.

Going into Game 6, Dave Cameron pointed out that:

Ortiz has played in 13 World Series games. In six of them, he has either scored or driven in a run on the play with the largest win probability added in the game. In other words, he has scored a run or had an RBI on the most important play of the game in almost half of his World Series games.

St. Louis finally decided not to pitch to Papi on Wednesday. Ortiz walked four times – three intentionally – and scored two runs. So to amend Cameron’s note:

Ortiz has played in 13 14 World Series games. In six seven of them, he has either scored or driven in a run on the play with the largest win probability added in the game. In other words, he has scored a run or had an RBI on the most important play of the game in almost half of his World Series games.

The Obstruction Call and the Role of Intent
Sam Miller at Baseball Prospectus summed up the Will Middlebrooks obstruction issue pretty soundly in a piece posted Sunday morning. Many Red Sox fans have argued over intent – or more specifically the absence of clear intent to obstruct. But the rulebook, as it stands now, basically goes out of its way to exclude the need for interpretation of a fielder’s intent.

…At the end of Rule 2.00 (Obstruction) Comment, it lays out this exact scenario: “For example: if an infielder dives at a ground ball and the ball passes him and he continues to lie on the ground and delays the progress of the runner, he very likely has obstructed the runner.” It’s so specific. It is as though this play happened and they wrote the rule immediately after with a play exactly like this one in mind. And the rule they came up with is… ambivalent! “He very likely has obstructed the runner.” Not “he has,” but “he very likely has.” Probably. Maybe. Up to you to decide. Use your best judgment. What am I, God?

The guess here is that come next year, sufficient language will be written into the rulebook to ensure that the grounds for the call made against Middlebrooks will either be set in stone with some less ambivalent, more specific parameters. Or, if MLB really wants to keep things interesting, it could open up such plays as judgement calls that are reviewable on replay.

Jacoby Ellsbury Is Probably A Goner
ESPN’s Buster Olney wrote in the wake of the euphoria Thursday morning that the Red Sox center-fielder is probably headed elsewhere, based mainly on how far away the team and his agent were two years ago.

According to sources: After the 2011 season, for which Ellsbury finished second in the American League MVP race, the Red Sox offered him a deal that fell slightly short of $100 million. The counter-offer from agent Scott Boras, according to sources, was for a deal of about $130 million. The gap in the negotiations was too large to bridge at that time.

There is a possibility that with GM Ben Cherington now fully at the helm, the gulf may narrow. But odds are that gap is even larger now, especially with Cherington coming off the high of a World Series in which several bargain bin guys contributed. He may very well be licking his chops at the chance to find this offseason’s version of Shane Victorino.

Cardinals Play-by-Play Man’s Laughter Turns to Misery
As Marc Normandin on Over the Monster wrote, the best part about Kolten Wong being picked off first to end Game 5 was that Cardinals play-by-play guy Michael Shannon took the Red Sox to task for even holding the runner on first base. Shannon even began laughing, calling the whole thing “silly.”

(From the Washington Post)

(From the Washington Post)

John Henry Explains His Newly Purchased Newspaper Project
John Henry said all the right things in an editorial from Saturday in which he explained his purchase of The Boston Globe and Boston.com. The piece is chock-full of lofty language and platitudes regarding civic responsibility and encouraging influential thinking and being a catalyst for activism. The Red Sox principal owner even went so far as to cite his political idealism that budded in the 1960s when he joined the civil rights movement and volunteered to assist in presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy’s campaign.

John Henry globe

It’s still difficult to get a good read on Henry’s angle here. But the guy deserves some credit for outlining in such detail his intentions for acquiring an embattled business.

I soon realized that one of the key things the paper needed in order to prosper was private, local ownership, passionate about its mission. And so decisions about The Boston Globe are now being made here in Boston. The obligation is now to readers and local residents, not to distant shareholders. This, ideally, will foster even bolder and more creative thinking throughout the organization, which is critical in an industry under so much stress.

Meanwhile, Henry’s plans for Boston.com are vaguely grandiose. But, unfortunately, the continued polarization of pay-worthy content and the garbage people will only read for free likely means more moronic stories such as a local woman finding a green pepper that looks like a Red Sox “B” as she prepared a taco prior to Game 6.