Bulk mail ...
We've got an overflowing mailbag this week, with topics ranging from Papelbon to Dice-K to Manny and back again
The mailbag is back! Starting this week, Boston Globe baseball writer Gordon Edes checks in every week (usually on Wednesdays or Thursdays) to answer your questions on the Red Sox. Ask yours now, and come back next week to see if it was answered.
Gordo, welcome back. If the mailbag is back in operation, Opening Day cannot be far behind. My question pertains to Jonathan Papelbon and his shoulder. With hopes riding high for a great year from Paps as a starter, could you give me some insight as to exactly why he was shut down last fall. I've heard the injury described as a labrum tear and also as a slightly dislocated shoulder. What was it, and what did the medical staff recommend for it? Do you think he can hold up for 32 starts given the routine of starting versus the unpredictability of closing? Thanks Gordo. Here's to a championship in advance.
Larry D, Allentown, Pa.
A: Larry, the official diagnosis, according to team medical director Thomas Gill was a slight "transient subluxation" of the shoulder, which he said is commonly known as "dead arm" syndrome. Basically, what happened is the rotator cuff, the muscles that hold the shoulder joint in place, were so fatigued that they weakened and allowed a slight slippage of the ball out of the joint. The Sox said there were no tears to the cuff or to the labrum, which is the fibrous ring of cartilage attached to the rim of the shoulder. Papelbon was put on a shoulder strengthening program, and he feels terrific. But to date, the Sox medical staff said that Papelbon is better served as a starting pitcher, where he has four days to recover between starts, than as a closer. Terry Francona reiterated today that if not for the medical issues, Papelbon would be the team's closer. Papelbon believes he could close, but for now, everyone is deferring to the doctors.
Hey Gordon ... Just curious: Any word on when the writers and broadcasters who cover the Sox are going to stop referring to Dice-K's supposed gyroball? ... By that I mean, has anyone figured out yet at what point references to a gyroball will officially become old-you know, like a cliche? ... Has anyone circled that date on the calendar? ... Because I gotta tell you, as a voracious consumer of Sox stories, I've about had it up to here.
P. Duggan, Washington, DC
A: PD, Just when you think the gyroball speculation might abate, you get a couple of guys on the Florida Marlins claiming Dice-K threw them the pitch last Tuesday. Seems it doesn't matter that John Farrell said it was his changeup, or that Dice-K told reporters it was a cut fastball. The Red Sox, of course, have no reason to discourage opposing hitters from believing that the gyroball is not a phantom pitch. If it helps Dice-K get in hitters' heads, so be it.
I've waited two seasons too long to see the return of Rich Garces in any form of a Red Sox uniform. Any chance of me seeing him wearing "Boston" rather than "Nashua"? Yes, I'm serious. Your (experienced) take, please...
Joanie Paquin, Norwood
A: Joanie, I'm afraid that if you want to see El Guapo, it's not going to happen in Boston. That ship has sailed. The Sox looked at Garces a couple of summers ago, and Guap was in no condition to win a contract. A few too many arepas over the years. I was always fond of Guapo ... a warm, personable guy in the clubhouse.
Hi. Big Sox fan in New Jersey. I've always liked your work on the Red Sox and when I've heard you with Mike and the Mad Dog on radio. I just wanted to congratulate you for winning two AP Sports Writing awards.
Louis Leventhal, Edison, NJ
A: Hey Louis, Thanks so much for noticing. At some point this month, they'll announce where I placed among the top 10. I always enjoy going on with Mike and the Dog when the Sox play the Bombers.
Sorry Mr. Edes, but this is more of a whine than a question. Or maybe a request, if you could spread the word. For the love of God, can you guys turn down the volume on the Dice-K stuff a bit??!!! I'd already been getting tired of it, but then I looked at the Tuesday's photos section on Boston.com site. It's ALL Matsuzaka! They're not "Sox Photos", they're "Matsuzaka Photos"! Wasn't anyone else on the field that day? Excuse me but there are 30-40 other guys on this team and I want to see and hear about all of them. I love this team. The WHOLE team! Dice-K arrives. Dice-K gets dressed. Dice-K stretches. Dice-K sets. Dice-K throws. Dice-K scratches his butt. Dice-K smiles. Dice-K bends to the left. Dice-K bends to the right. Dice-K jokes with so and so. Dice-K picks his nose. I'm begging you, give it a rest, PLEASE!!!!!! Don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled to have the guy. But the coverage proportions are just absurd. Am I alone here?
Thanks for listening.
Bob Lofquist, Danielson, Conn.
A: Bob, considering how my piece in today's paper (Thursday) is how the Dice-K hoohah compares to the Michael Jordan baseball experiment, I guess I'm part of the problem rather than the solution. I suppose that feature I was planning on Dice-K's dry cleaning slips, restaurant tabs and mini-golf scores probably isn't something you want to read, is it? Just for comparison's sake, I went back to check how many times Pedro's name appeared in a headline or first paragraph in Boston-area media back in '98: I came up with 48 hits. And that was before the dot coms were in full swing, when I suspect we would have had Pedro-centric photo galleries and blogs as well. The number with Daisuke? We're already over 80, and we haven't reached the midpoint of March. Is it a ton of coverage? No doubt. Is some of it over the top? No question. Is he the biggest story in camp? Who can say otherwise? We'll try not to ignore the other fellas. There have been over 320 stories with Red Sox in the headline or lead paragraph in the major Boston dailies so far, so someone else must be getting covered, too. But I hear your pain.
Given the new international cast of the Red Sox, with players who speak Spanish and Japanese, has there been any effort on the part of the reporters -- or the Boston Globe -- to have people cover the team (or baseball generally) who speak one of those two? Or at least have a passing grasp? Given the howlers that came from Daisuke Matsuzaka's interpreter a while back, I can't see how this hurts, nor would it hurt your rapport with the players.
Jesse Emspak, New York, NY
A: Jesse, if I had to do it over again, I would gladly trade the five years I studied French in high school for Spanish. With the number of Latin-born players in the neighborhood of 30 percent, I urge anyone thinking of doing this for a living to study Spanish. My colleague Amalie Benjamin and I both have language tapes, and I have some passing knowledge of Spanish, having lived in Miami for six years, but I wouldn't pretend that I'm anywhere close to fluent, and it hurts. We have a Japanese journalist on staff who has assisted us and will continue to do so this season, but in a perfect world, I'd be trilingual.
Hello Gordon, long time no hear. Thanks for your story on Deeb and the Aussie baseball team. We may be small in number but never doubt the passion of the Aussie underdog. I have long believed that the missing piece that finally got the Sox over the line has been the Aussie connection. Craig Shipley, Jon Deeble and myself going crazy madly here in Oz (I believe in my first e-mail to you way back in 2001, it actually lives here I found it the other day, I introduced myself as the curse breaker due to my experiences with other sporting teams who had similar barren periods in their existence!). This year looks very interesting and certainly has that 2004 feeling about it. The lack of a closer is troubling, and I would rather not have to cheer J.D. Drew (the poster child for selfishness) and Trot is gone, but still the Dice man will make things interesting if nothing else.
The nation spreads far and wide. I was at work last year when a new guy walked in wearing a Red Sox warm up jacket. A very rare sight indeed, we are taking the Yetti and Tasmanian Tiger type rare sights. I walked away from the person I was talking to and challenged the young man, thinking it was just a fashion item. Turns out he's the real deal, as in has traveled to Fenway, has seen the Sox play in other cities as well. He loaned me his copy of Dangerous Dan Shaugnessy's "Reversing the Curse" and we have bonded in a way that only Red Sox fans can. It was great over the silly season to be able to discuss all things Red Soxian with someone who wasn't just being polite!
Anyway look forward to a great year and remember that whenever something good happens to the Red Sox it is usually because an Aussie was involved. When bad stuff happens, feel free to blame Canada!
Gavin Butcher, Geelong Victoria, Australia (a bloody long way away!)
A: Gavin, I hope you don't mind that I included this missive in the 'Bag, but it was too good not to be here. I've always gotten a big kick from hearing from Down Under, and if Matsuzaka turns out to be as good as advertised, your fellow Aussies, Jon Deeble and Craig Shipley, will be taking bows for years to come for their role in signing him. I hear very good things about the academy there as well ... I'd love to make a visit one day. I'm sure Dan-o will love to hear that he has fans in your neighborhood.
Where's Amalie Benjamin been? I haven't seen any story from her in over a week. Hope she is OK.
Rich L., Woodbridge, Va.
A: Rich, Amalie is back in Boston for now, working on some other assignments, but she'll be back, and we'll be real happy to have her back. She brings a fresh voice to our coverage, and as she gains more experience, I think you will find her a great asset to your understanding of the club.
I don't know why anyone cares when Manny Ramirez shows up for camp as long as he produces during the season, that's all that matters to the fans.
Brian Amoroso, Wethersfield, Conn.
A: Brian, explain this to me. Why did Manny's agents tell the club that he planned to report on time, which left everyone scrambling when Julian Tavarez said Manny had no intentions of doing so? If Manny's mother's surgery was going to make him late, wouldn't the agents have said that? What if they had just said Manny planned to show up at March 1, like he did last year, because he wanted to work out longer on his own. Wouldn't that have defused any whiff of controversy? Manny is hardly the only player ever to show up late. Nolan Ryan used to tell the Rangers he had cattle auctions and wouldn't be in camp till March 1. If Manny had wanted to go to a car auction, the Sox wouldn't have had a problem with it.
And if the fans' sole concern is Manny producing during the season, shouldn't fans be concerned about what happened the last six weeks of the season?
Hey Gordon, Kia ora (greetings) from New Zealand. Just listening to the Twins vs. Red Sox broadcast on the Twins Radio Network (via MLB.com -- the only way us kiwis get our daily fix of red sox broadcast) -- is it just me or is that Jerry Trupiano doing the call? Sounds very familiar! Kinda weird hearing him bellow 'TWINS! radio network!' like he needs to remind himself he's no longer with RSN.
Phil Reed, Wellington, New Zealand
A: Phil, Trup has not signed on with another club to my knowledge ... definitely not the Twinkies. Maybe something got lost in cyberspace.
Please say hi to my dad Russ Phelps, who's been an usher for the Sox since they moved to the Fort 15 years ago. He's one of only three remaining originals, 82 years young and right behind the Sox dugout. I'll be there to see games March 20 and 23. My brother-in-law Eric "Whitey" White is from Lunenburg also. Small world! If Jon Lester is healthy, do you think they'll move him into the rotation and Wake to the bullpen for long relief? I think Wake is better in long relief when he comes in after the opposing batters see the heat. Does Wake consider it a slap in the face or would he take one for the team?
Michael Phelps, Westminster
A: Always great to hear from another central Mass. guy. Your dad always beats me to the punch and says hello first. Just one of a great bunch of guys who work down here. It'll be real interesting to see how this all plays out when Lester is ready to go. I think much will depend on how the closer situation shakes out. If the Sox are having trouble at last call time, Lester could always slide into the rotation and Paps could close. But if Pineiro does indeed get ordained as closer, I would expect your scenario is how it would play out, with Wake going to the pen. But that would appear to be a couple of months away.
It's humorous to watch the media, both the print and radio, get all up in arms about Manny, and his schedule, habits, and personality, then say they do not understand why the fans love Manny so much. Most of the fans pretty much watch the games and only the games. What Manny has done on the field for the Sox may be the best performance by an everyday starter in Red Sox history (Teddy barely edges him ... but then again who alive really saw him play?). He does not disrupt the clubhouse, he keeps his mouth shut, is a Yankee killer, and in the biggest moment in the past few years (2004 World Series) he was the MVP. So if he shows up 4 or 5 days late, I don't care, if he does not grant interviews, I don't care, if he forgets to hustle down the first base line once every 100 times, I don't care ... I want him batting fourth for my Sox! Leave him alone.
A: Michael, what did Manny do for your Sox the last six weeks of the season? Is that at all relevant?
Gordon, I love your mailbags and all the articles that you supply us die-hard Sox fans with. With that being said, I'm not a die-hard Manny fan. Yes, I respect his accomplishments throughout his Hall-of-Fame career, but he certainly lacks character. As a United States sailor, I tend to value commitment and honor more than just numbers. This is why I have no problems whatsoever with the tone of the questioning to his stonewalling agents. If the man, and I use that term lightly, himself won't answer any questions, then why should we expect his representatives to?! Obviously this is a rhetorical question. My question(s) for you is this: When does the labor agreement expire and have you heard any rumblings from the owners about doing away with completely guaranteed contracts? I'm all for loyalty between players and teams, but there has to be some sort of an escape clause for owners, and players, when a bad situation arises ... much like the "Manny being Manny" annual dramafest. I'm not a big fan of the unguaranteed contracts like football, nor am I a fan of the guaranteed contracts of MLB. Why can't we find a happy medium?!
Travis Demmons, Chesapeake, Va.
A: Travis, thanks for your e-mail, and for your service to our country. MLB and the players union just reached agreement last fall on a new five-year deal that doesn't expire until after the 2011 season, so you're not going to see any changes in the contract structure. I understand your frustration with the guaranteed contract, but for too many decades the owners held the hammer and did not treat the players as the select group of elite performers that they are, and undercompensated them. I don't have an issue with guaranteed contracts; I look askance at the five-, six-, seven-year deals that have crept back into the industry. But it only takes a couple of teams willing to do so to make the other clubs fall in line.
Having read the first five pages of last week's mailbag, I'm struck by (and delighted to see) the number of people who found the media out of bounds on the press conference with Manny's agent. Just read Silverman's piece on Manny in the Herald and I'm amazed at how little attention Manny's work effort receives. Please do not respond to this post. Please just stop and think about how the media treats Manny. As a fan, I give the benefit of the doubt to the player who carries the team rather than the writer who feeds off the controversies. And one last point -- it was Manny who played beyond all expectations when the Yankees swept the five-game series that effectively ended the season.
Andy Bagley, Boston
A: Andy, too bad that Manny evidently decided the season was over when the Yankees left town.
Dear Mr. Edes, I read your recent mailbag. I think that you as well as some of your colleagues do not understand what you do. You feast on the flesh of athletes. It is true. This is why David Wells could not stand Boston. This is why Manny wants out. This is why many athletes cannot stand Boston. I live in Atlanta. The media would NEVER treat any members of the Braves the way that the Boston media does. It is not just doing your job. It is malignant and vicious. Y'all should come to Atlanta sometime and learn a little bit about "Moonlight and Magnolias."
Donna Callan, Atlanta
A: Donna, gotta admit "moonlight and magnolias" sounds appealing. I don't know, anyone in the Atlanta media whacking Michael Vick around? Seems to me the Sox haven't had any trouble lately coaxing athletes to play in Boston ... but I'll try to be nicer.
I am reading the latest mailbag and noticed one line in particular. You write, "But to criticize Manny in any way is viewed by many of his fans as needless meddling by the media, as if it was the Boston Globe that placed Manny on irrevocable waivers or tried to trade Manny on several occasions." As we all know, The Globe is owned by the NY Times, which owns a share (17 percent I think) of the Red Sox. I'm not saying that the Globe placed Manny on waivers, but what sort of influence does the New York Times Company have on the decision making on Yawkey Way? Thanks for your time,
Judah Rome, Cambridge
A: Judah, not enough to influence any player personnel decisions. If they did, Theo would be long gone. Trust me.
Have you heard anything about any acknowledgement by the team of this being the 40th anniversary of the '67 Impossible Dream team?
Dick Boisvert, Goffstown, NH
A: Dick, the Sox will be all over the 40th anniversary of the Impossible Dreamers. The '67 club is represented on the cover of the new media guide, and word has it there'll be a season-long tribute.
I ask you this as someone who reads almost every article about the Red Sox every day. But, after reading all of the questions from the last mailbag, and assuming they were a representative sample, is there any self-reflecting going on with the media that covers the Red Sox, especially from the Globe? Without naming reporters individually, I'm tired of seeing articles end with snide remarks. I'm tired of the Schilling-bashing. I would love to read an interview with Manny. I see he's been speaking with the Japanese media, and also with the New Yorker. Wouldn't it be nice to read about one of our best players in our own hometown newspaper? But he won't talk to Boston reporters. As a fan, I feel like "covering the Red Sox" has become code for constantly trying to dig up controversy, and I don't think I'm alone in wishing this would change. Thank you.
Bill Urda, Washington D.C.
A: Bill, I understand the New Yorker was working on a Manny profile, but I don't know if he actually talked to the reporter. The Japanese media? If it's gone beyond pleasantries and a brief comment on Dice-K, I haven't seen it. I'd love to talk to Manny, but he informed the PR folks he's not talking.
Gordon, thanks for the columns, blog posts, chats and mailbags! With all the focus on Dice-K, Schill, and Manny, I feel like I'm not hearing as much about the kids this year. Who's really impressive and who's struggling? Gammons raves about David Murphy and John Lester, while I wonder about Hansen's ability to bounce back quickly enough from his injury to make the Opening Day roster.
Miles, Arlington, Va.
A: Miles, Hansen hasn't pitched because of a bulging disk; he's expected to throw an inning tomorrow (Friday). Murphy has had a nice spring, but is expected to start the season in Pawtucket. You're going to love Ellsbury, and the young pitchers are coming along in the pipeline-Bowden, Buchholz and Bard.
Thanks for all your good work, I enjoy keeping up the Sox from West Coast. After reading your first response session, sorry to say this is a Manny question. The world seems obsessed with the guy. But, just curious, did he ever sell that penthouse that was so famously on the block before last season, or is he living there? Or neither?
Karl Schmidtmann, Sebstopol, Calif.
A: It's my understanding, Karl, that it's off the market.
Just my $.02 on the questions asked of Manny's agents. Some of us saw nothing wrong with the questions asked and if anything, I personally resented the tone I perceived in the agents' responses. Manny DOES act like a twelve year old. His agents DO act as enablers to his idiocy. He has a skill most of us would die to have and we resent seeing it marginalized by his attitude. We see Barry Bonds blaming race. We see Manny blaming the media and the fans. Where's the acceptance of adult responsibility, even while playing a kid's game for millions? I love baseball and the Sox are my AL team (with the Reds my first love). Yet it is an irritant, as an adult, to see someone pampered as Manny is and seeing nothing but excuses. We expect reporters to report HONESTLY, the good or bad and Manny is often indicative in his actions of the bad.
Richard Taylor, San Antonio, Texas
A: Richard, you, sir, are in danger of being diagnosed with terminal sanity. Thanks for writing.
Great to see the mailbag is back this week -- I always enjoy reading it. Just a quick comment on your response re: Wade Boggs not meeting the Red Sox' qualifications to retire his number because he didn't end his career in Boston. Obviously you must know there is precedent for this is Carlton Fisk. While Boggs wasn't exactly the team leader that Fisk was, and he left acrimoniously to go to the Team the Shall Not Be Named, he still is one of the greatest players the Sox ever had, and he was one of the best reasons to watch them during much of the 1980s. I think he deserves the honor of retiring his number at Fenway.
Greg Dorgan, New York, NY
A: Greg, the Sox danced around the issue with Fisk by bringing him back in a front-office role. That was under the previous regime. The merits of Bonds being honored shouldn't be in question. But the Sox are going to have to change their criteria.
Make all the irrelevant excuses you want. The questioning to Manny was inappropriate. It is no one's business when or how Manny's mother became ill. The fact that you think anyone would want that information disturbs me. And your defense of that reporter sours my opinion of you a little. Manny was allegedly showing up late for camp and you hammered him. Then he showed up before the mandatory date and you hammered him more. You looked like a fool. You arrogantly laughed off the notion of a vendetta, yet exposed yourself as the "gotcha" style journalist that you are. I don't need you to admit that you do not like the man. I want you to let you actions speak louder than your words. Manny didn't make a fool of you. You played yourself for a fool. Let's see if you can be a man and learn from the experience. I'll be reading.
T.J. Stevens, Meriden, Conn.
A: TJ, Looks to me like you and Mr. Taylor could have an interesting conversation.
You wrote something in response to a good fan's question that truly angered and dismayed me and made me realize why so many players have trouble with you in the media here in Boston. The fan was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT -- if Manny has stated he's happy, let the story go and move onto to covering the team. Then you have the gall to write that you are not writing to "support the team," but to "cover" the team. Is this the War in Iraq you're covering? What kind of a person or man writes something like that? This is BASEBALL. You're covering the Boston Red Sox. I assume you've chosen to write about this particular team because you care about their fate. If you don't, then do us all a favor and get out. In NYC, the writers write because they CARE about the TEAM and the FANS. It's obvious that several of you have no idea what you're supposed to be doing. I could not believe what you wrote. This is not the White House. You are not an investigate reporter and your idiotic response makes me understand why some players like Schilling get fed up with your garbage. Please let me have the privilege of writing about this team -- you obviously don't understand how lucky you are. I think -- I know -- I could do a much better job. If you don't "support" the team -- then cover another team or get out of sports all together as you've obviously lost all perspective. Totally irresponsible. The fan was RIGHT -- and you were WRONG.
Matthew Gallagher, Norwalk, Conn.
A: Matthew, I'd like to see which New York papers you read that give you the impression they support the team. They care about the team inasmuch as they believe the team is newsworthy and their readers are deeply interested in the club, but they don't "support" the club in the sense of rooting for them to win. The Boston Globe devotes a tremendous amount of space to the Red Sox year-round; they "care" about the club in terms of their newsworthiness and the fans' interest. In the Globe's case, because of the New York Times' ownership stake, their interest in the club goes even further. But I'm sorry, if you think it's my job to "support" the club and therefore should not write something that might possibly offend Manny or any other player, for that matter, you, sir, are misguided. And there isn't a day that I don't recognize how fortunate and privileged I am to have this job.