Sunday, February 25, 2007

Marketing Synergies

The Red $ox are constantly looking for ways to exploit their marketability. And why not, with a hungry fan base demanding $ox merchandise, broadcasting, and information?

Can we help them out in their unending search for dollahs?
How long can it be before the NASCAR logo (above) is plastered on the Green Monster? Is it already there? And it doesn't take much of a stretch to imagine the Red Sox home uniforms going eighties 'Astro-esque' with the NASCAR colors.

Individual players can be 'tagged' too. Jason 'Voorhees' Varitek with a catcher's mask/goalie mask, a promo for the latest horror flick?

Daisuke Matsuzaka is all too natural as a branding aid for Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun, or some Wampanoag casino in southeastern Mass. Tell me that you haven't thought about that?

Down by the Ballyard?
Everybody's gotta eat. A man's gotta feed his family. So let's get Cuckoo for Coco.

There are no ends to the possibilities.
  • A great outing by your young ace? PAP SMEARS YANKEES.
  • Your young closer puts out the fire with energy drinks. HANSEN NATURAL out of the pen.
  • Best career fielding percentage in MLB history, Mike Lowell for ORECK vacuums.
Listening marketing guys. Get on this. Time i$ money.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Big (S)Chill

Red Sox management elected to freeze out 40 year-old ace Curt Schilling from a one-year extension as GM Theo Epstein adopted an "I'm from Missouri" position. The onus is now on the big righthander to have a healthy and productive season and earn the opportunity to cash in again.

On the Boston Globe website, their poll is running 5 to 4 in favor of Sox management over Schilling and a hypothetical one-year 13 million dollar extension. The Sox have rolled the dice a few times, winning with Mo Vaughn, losing with Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon so far.

The Manny Ramirez saga continues with the righthanded slugger absent with authorization, with the usual variety of possible excuses. I guess that falls into the 'from each according to his ability and to each according to his need' rule. Or is it the Golden Rule? "He who has the gold makes the rules."

I always liked baseball practice...AND for the professionals, Spring Training happens in tropical climates, not the frozen tundras of Middlesex or Suffolk County. You got to play a game, with your friends, and experience all the socialization that is baseball. It's not like football where as Bruce Armstrong says, "you beat hell out of 22 of your closest friends." But Manny probably isn't that big on small talk.

If you could have a sit down with anyone on the Red Sox, players, coaches, or management, who would it be? For me, it would be easy, because John Henry could tell me about commodity trading, trend qualifiers, mean reversion, derivatives, 'The Greeks' (option trading parameters), and I'd share some of my theories with him. Trading, not baseball. Baseball and trading aren't so different. Establishing the advantage and execution are everything.

Ultimately, we have to hope that the majority of the Sox squad stays healthy, and that they have enough favorable statistical synergy to reach the playoffs.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Fooled by Randomness?

Not all the news is either 'new' or 'news', but Red Sox and area sports fans get a few earfuls today.

The Sunday Boston Globe had almost three pages of NASCAR information. NASCAR has a lot of fans throughout the US, but the unholy alliance between the Red Sox and the news media seldom gets overexposed. If I'm not mistaken, the New York Times, owner of the Globe is also part owner of the Red Sox. The Red Sox have developed an alliance with NASCAR, and all of a sudden NASCAR has become the fifth sport in town. We can argue about the numbers with the implosion of the Bruins and the Celtics, and the Revolution, but since when did NASCAR get three pages of sports coverage. Watch for this one. Expect a Dan Shaughnessy column on this one - after he reads this rant.

Tom Brady completed another pass, but was he hoping to connect? Fooled by randomness? Erstwhile girlfriend and former FOB (friend of Brady) announces that she is expecting his child. First, it's not news if it's not Brady and Bridget, and second, if it were Paul Pierce, then he'd be vilified as another NBA deadbeat dad. As a role model for the community (and yet desirous of his privacy as well), maybe Mr. Brady could consider that maybe he hasn't set a really great example for area young people here. Yes, he can 'afford' the publicity and the 'child support'. And if he's appealing to the conservative wing of the population, he can renounce birth control. And I still liked "Moving the Chains", the Brady biography. Life is complicated, and it looks like Tom got sacked on this one. Who wanted to be a US Senator anyway?

Manny will be late for camp, according to Julian Tavarez. With Manny, it's always the dog ate my homework, so this is so de rigeur it hardly bears mention. Asking the Oprah Question, I say the fact remains that the Sox are far better with him than without him. Not to mention that he can hit in a dark closet at midnight. And he's a big fan of '24'.

And by the way, I admire the way Tavarez shook off trade talk, noting that he's getting paid no matter what color the uniform. That's honest.

Daisuke Matsuzaka seems well on his way to becoming the Red Sox most popular player. I mean if you add up all the fans in Japan, he's probably already the Sox' most popular player. The beauty of his situation is that he can't read the papers here or listen to Nitwit Radio, so he's got the best of both worlds.

At least where I work, there's no shortage of Sox chatter already. The atelier is already abuzz about the bullpen, Matsuzaka, Julio Lugo, and several have already scored Sox-Yankees tickets off the ticketing website/abyss.

Competition? It sure looks like most of the roster is set, barring injuries, unforeseen trades, or retirements. Er, sorry, nobody walks away from the money these days, except Keith Foulke, so more props to him.

For whom will I be rooting this spring? I hope that Manny Delcarmen can make the roster, and who won't be rooting for Jon Lester on his comeback trail. I'll be watching (when I can) to see if Dustin Pedroia has learned to turn the DP at second and go to his right. Stay loose, Alex Cora.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

A Day in the Life (Spring Training)

Let's just imagine what it must be like to be a major league ballplayer at spring training. Try to map out your average day, before the games begin at least. Let's be real. We'll use pitchers as our example, and obviously the AA wannabe has a little different outlook than the grizzled veteran.

7:25 AM Wakeup call

7:30 -8:00 Check out Sportscenter while dressing. Anybody traded? Down some vitamins, supplements, 2 cups of coffee.

8:00-8:30 Read Wall Street Journal, Section C. How long do I have to play this game before I can buy an island anyway?

8:30:8:45 Japanese lessons (just kidding)...Xbox

8:45-9:00 Travel to City of Palms

9:00-9:30 Dress, shoot the breeze, blow off reporters (unless atractive women in tow)

9:30 On the field

9:35 Manager's pep talk, plan for the day

9:35-9:45 Stretch, tell jokes, discuss sports news, Tim Hardaway and so on

9:45 - 9:50 Lap around field (optional)

9:50-10:00 Game of catch (before fielding practice)

10:00 - 10:30 Pitchers fielding practice (bunts, covering first base, throwing to bases)...thank God, half of practice is over already

10:30 - 11:15 Long-toss, and pitchers throw to catchers; interspersed are helpful hints from pitching coach...deception, changing speeds, Japanese words for the day, "get on top of the curveball", "bend your back", "leg drive", and so on.

11:15 - 11:25 Sprints...

11:25- 11:30 Manager's end-of-practice pep talk

11:30 - 12:00 Weight room, training room, extra running (optional)

12:00 - 12:15 Shower and shave

12:15 - 1:00 (Lunch, including initial brews)

1:00 - 1:20 (Drive to golf course)

1:20 - 4:30 Golf

Friday, February 16, 2007

Something Old, Something New

Well, it has begun, the 2007 baseball season. You know, "it's a marathon, not a sprint." And 'a game in April means as much as one in September."

But overshadowing the Red Sox current edition is Keith Foulke's retirement announcement. Foulke deserved the World Series MVP. Not that Manny Ramirez was undeserving, just that Foulke merited it more. Foulke's rise wasn't meteoric, as the dart-delivery closer had excelled for years before 2004. But his spearing the Edgar Renteria grounder to end 86 years of frustration and defeatism became THE Red Sox moment of the modern era. Foulke erased memories of Bill Buckner, Jim Burton, and Grady Little.

Sure, Foulke had clay feet, with Johnny Burger King, the WEEI truck, and his personal struggles. And a panoply of injuries ended his major league career. But Sox fans owe Foulke more than a footnote in Sox history. So give it up for Foulke. Fair winds and following seas.

Meanwhile, Fort Myers won't lack for subplots. Let's just list them for now, and later we can rank 'em, chew 'em up, and spit 'em out.

  • Who's up first? To close that is.
  • Will Japanese imports upstage the domestic brands?
  • Will Lugo be The Man at shortstop?
  • Will the real J.D. Drew please stand up?
  • Were injuries the real story behind Coco Crisp?
  • Can Jason Varitek return to form?
  • Can Dustin Pedroia turn the DP? Can he hit?
  • Matsuzaka fever? Catch it.
  • Will Jon Lester complete his comeback?
  • Is this the year for Craig Hansen or Manny Delcarmen?
  • Has Papelbon's shoulder returned to full health?

Oh, to be a baseball beat writer. There's never enough time to do the beating adequately.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Preseason Predictions

Preplaying the 2007 has special hazards today, with a tremendous amount of unpredictability for computer baseball enthusiasts. Last year's prediction using Diamond Mind were pretty good.

Fan Graphs has individual projections with Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz among the majors' top 5 leading offensive players (by OPS), and disappointingly, J.D. Drew is not among the top 50. Okay, so it's only a computer projection. And another computer projection ranks Drew in the top 20,

Of course, the reliability of projections is more than suspect. Pedro Martinez projects to win 15 games, and isn't likely to get 15 starts coming off shoulder surgery. Daisuke Matsuzaka projects to a 15-8 season with 3.44 ERA.

For baseball starved readers, the Hardball Times always provokes some interest, and Baseball Prospectus (subscription) never stops giving.

Aside from the Matsuzaka circus (and it will be one), I'm watching for the Lugo Effect and the Schilling 'shilling' impact on Spring Training.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Sawx Tawx and Idle Thoughts

Terry Francona expressed reservation about having to use Jonathan Papelbon as a closer because of stress on his arm. A career in baseball sometimes generates interesting medical opinions, and four years in medical school formulated little 'inside baseball'. By the way, Francona does a great job with these nitwits, tramps, and thieves - the media.

The Bears give coordinator Ron Rivera the go-ahead to talk to the Dallas Cowboys. Maybe they oughta give Rex Grossman the okay, too.

The Celtics lose their 16th game in a row, and Beantown exults. It's all about the ping pong balls. Is Paul Pierce the MVP? Two and twenty-one without the captain. And that Rondo kid can motor, huh?

Curt Schilling has gone back incognito about contracts and politics. I'm sure he'll remind everyone, "it's not about me." He gets a lifetime pass for the bloody sock and the World Series victory.

You gotta love Alex Cora, the manager on the field. And how long will it take Gabe Kapler, another good guy, to move up the managerial ranks? Kapler and his wife did great work in the domestic violence area, too.

The NBA has gay guys? We'll call him 'John'. Can you imagine 'John' in MLB? Can you imagine that gay guys can play? Wasn't that long ago when black Americans weren't good enough to play pro sports. Doc Rivers has pertinent comments in today's Globe (link not yet up at

Jon Lester underweight? Jon, just hang around some Dunkin' Donuts in your off hours and you'll be back to fightin' strength sooner than you know. Everyone in America, even the Bomber Boosters, is rooting for you.

John Farrell, new Sox pitching coach, just gives off good vibes. I wonder if he's taking Japanese lessons, too.

Is there any truth that Jeremy Jacobs is thinking of licensing the hockey team's name to Budwiser? They'll be the Boston Brewins.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Spring Training Watch

What will Sox fans watch for this Spring Training? We can hope for Tranquility Base with the biggest issues the selection of golf balls as players sharpen their golf games. Unfortunately, most of these questions won't be answered during the spring.

Catcher. Will Jason Varitek return to form after last year's subnormal performance, partially injury-driven?

First base. Is the Todd Helton deal really dead? Can Kevin Youkilis have a breakout season? Last year Youkilis seemed to wear down over the second half. His July, August, September OPS included .651, .806., .646.

Second base. Will the real Dustin Pedroia be able to turn the double play, go to his right, and actually use the backhand? Will he figure out that contact hitting can keep him in the majors?

Shortstop. Can Julio Lugo provide the offensive production to offset his historical defensive limitations?

Third base. Will Mike Lowell open at the Hot Corner for the Red Sox?

Outfield. The outfield looks set with Manny Ramirez, Coco Crisp, and J.D. Drew and Wily Mo Pena in reserve. Can David Murphy beat out Eric Hinske for the final spot?

DH has no question marks. David Hits.

Starting pitching. With Schilling, Matsuzaka, Beckett, Papelbon, and Wakefield, or any pitchers, the issues become age and health. One who no age issues is Jon Lester, and all wish him the best concerning his health comeback. Will the Schilling extension become a distraction?

Bullpen. Emotions' eleven or twelve? Who's the closer? Will Pineiro be a pinata? Does Mike Timlin have gas in the tank? Are we OK with Okajima? Will the young guns Hansen and Delcarmen break out of mediocrity? Will there be more than two LOOGYs, Okajima and Romero?

Truckin. When does the equipment truck roll? Tuesday the 13th?