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Sunday Mail: Interleague intrigue?

Posted by Chad Finn, Globe Staff  August 24, 2013 08:59 PM

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LEADING OFF

I don't like interleague baseball as a concept or usually in execution, and I never will.

Don't like interleague play late in the regular season, when a postseason berth is up for grabs and division rivalries should be front and center.

I don't like that it takes the Red Sox' best hitter out of the lineup in a National League ballpark. It's a natural disadvantage to AL teams.

I don't like that it cheapens the All-Star Game and World Series.

I don't like it. But even a conscientious objector to interleague play has to admit that this Red Sox-Dodgers series is pretty damned fun.

I mean, I'd like it better if it weren't so late in the season and the Red Sox didn't have to deal with a team that had entered the series with 45 wins in its last 55 games. I'd like it better if this were, you know, the World Series.

But the Sox and Dodgers are fairly kindred spirits, having dealt with the Yankees bullying through different eras and decades. And the do have a shared recent history, what with The Trade last year and the Dodgers' recent status as Red Sox West, with Manny Ramirez, Bill Mueller, Derek Lowe, and Hanley Ramirez all ending up there in recent seasons.

Plus, there's one real benefit -- hearing Vin Scully call a Red Sox game.

I suppose I'm OK with this series right now. Better yet, here's hoping there's a rematch in October.

THE MAILBOX

Do you see eight teams better than the Celtics in the East. I don't. This could be one of those 35-wins-is-good-enough-for-the-eighth-seed type of seasons. Pretty top heavy.
-- Nick Esasky

foxrickfinn824.JPGWhat you see now is not what you'll see in January -- Danny Ainge is going to make sure they are horrible, even if it means playing his 54-year-old self at shooting guard. The last thing they want, particularly in a year in which the draft is expected to be stacked with talent, is to get lost in that 30-, 35-win purgatory. He's not going to allow that to happen. I'm convinced Rajon Rondo is traded the moment he proves healthy and there's a reasonable deal to be made. As it is, none of the pieces on the roster fit. There are some interesting parts, but they were role players on a .500 team last year that is now without its defensive fulcrum and it's best scorer. It's 1996-97 all over again, I'm telling you. Jared Sullinger is Rick Fox, the dependable role player who will be valuable to a championship-caliber team some day. Avery Bradley is David Wesley, a nice third guard. MarShon Brooks is Todd Day, the inefficient gunner. Courtney Lee is Dee Brown, Brandon Bass is Eric Williams, Jeff Green is Antoine Walker, Kris Humphries is Dino Radja ... granted, all the comps aren't perfect, but you see where I'm getting at. That team had some individual talent. And it won 15 games. I'm putting down this year's team for 22-25, with the temptation of taking the under.

nixonotisfinn826.JPGOne of the dumb NESN polls from the other week was "most memorable Sox deadline moves". The usual suspects (Nomar Garciaparra/Orlando Cabrera, Manny Ramirez/Jason Bay, Victor Martinez/Justin Masterson, Heathcliff Slocumb/Jason Varitek & Derek Lowe) were included. And the Slocumb deal "won". However, I doubt many people remember that deal, just the aftermath. At the moment it did not hold a flame to the hysteria around the Nomar or Manny deals. Disclaimer out of the way, most memorable early/mid-90s Sox trade: Frankie Rodriguez/Rick Aguilera, Jeff Russell/Jose Canseco, or Jamie Moyer/Darren Bragg? In all seriousness, it has to be Canseco right?
-- Neil (DC)

I'll answer any question in which I get to say, "Actually, it wasn't Russell for Canseco. The Sox gave up -- David Caruso-style pause -- Otis Nixon. Of those deals, getting Canseco probably was the biggest deal at the time. He wasn't that far removed from being one of the most charismatic and productive stars in the game, and he was only 29. But people were ticked off at baseball when the deal happened in December 1994, so it didn't generate the excitement it would have had it occurred, you know, when there wasn't a strike going on and the World Series hadn't just just been canceled. Canseco was pretty good in his two years for the Sox -- 52 homers, .960 OPS -- but his act was tired enough by the end that there weren't a lot protests when he was traded for John Wasdin. Canseco's top career comp is Jason Giambi, by the way. Funny thing about the Moyer/Bragg deal is that it happened a year and a day earlier than the Tek/Lowe deal. Moyer went on to win 145 games in 11 years in Seattle, yet I don't think they get credit for that heist like the Sox do for Tek/Lowe.

I literally cringe every time I see Carl Crawford's numbers. Thank you to whatever divine intervention occurred that made the Dodgers take that contract.
-- Rich

You call it divine intervention. I call it Magic.

If Tim Tebow suffered a concussion, would ESPN cover it?
-- Cy Cranium

Great question. Imagine they would use a euphemism -- he got his bell rung, something like that -- and then Skip Bayless would hiss through his bat fangs that that the guy who hit him should receive a lifetime ban. With ESPN apparently aware of their marching orders regarding concussions -- see no evil, hear no evil, and for heaven's sake, don't ever talk to "Frontline" -- Big Brother Goodell wouldn't even have to send the memo to look the other way. I wonder what their own Steve Young, a bright man who looked like he was dead on the hashmarks after taking a vicious shot to the head on his final NFL play, makes of all of this.

Let's say you are pitched a deal similar to Bill Simmons/Peter King and can start up your own site. You are allowed to pick one writer/blogger to cover each of the following sports --NFL/NBA/MLB/NHL-- for your site, plus someone to write one general sports opinion type column. The only stipulation is that the writers/bloggers have to be considered "up and comer" types, plus current Globe staff are excluded. Folks that the average fan across the country are just becoming familiar with. I think I go with Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com (NFL), Alex Speier WEEI (MLB), Matt Moore of CBS.com (NBA), & Katie Baker of Grantland (NHL). My general opinion column would be Bomani Jones from ESPN. Who you got?
-- Winston Wolfe

Funny, I was thinking about this the other day in terms of how right Simmons and his brain-trust got it with most of their hires. Jonah Keri writes about every team with the insight of someone who covers each daily. Love Bill Barnwell's football stuff. Baker might be my first choice for a hockey writer. That's a hell of a job of building a staff. If I were putting something like that together -- and I was always proud that I used people like Barnwell and Doug Farrar for those old Maple Street Press Patriots Annuals that I used to put together -- I'd probably daydream of something like this:

NBA: Gimme any one of Adrian Wojnarowski, Paul Flannery, and Chris Ballard (he's one of Sports Illustrated's finest takeout writers now, but he's a hoops guy at heart.)

NHL: Baker is a great call. I like Jesse Spector's work at Sporting News (though he's on baseball now) and Sarah Kwak at SI is a pro. If I could have anyone, though, it would be Michael Farber.

MLB: Can't go wrong with Jonah. Speier is great, but I don't know that he could cover a national beat like he covers the Sox and their farm system. (He probably could.) Dave Schoenfield for ESPN is someone who does consistently excellent work without much fanfare. Would love to have Gabe Kapler write an "In My Experience'' type of column; can't exaggerate how insightful his stuff has been for WEEI and Baseball Prospectus.

NFL: I probably have the least amount of knowledge here in terms of up-and-coming writers, probably because it's my least-favorite sport. Barnwell and Greg Bedard would make a pretty good 1-2 punch.

Columnist: Bruce Arthur from Canada's National Post is my favorite read on just about anything. Love pretty much everything Drew Magary does. Bob Ryan can write anytime he wishes. Would love to see Joe Posnanski back in a place that gives him the proper forum and promotion. I think you'd need a fantasy sports writer, and though I've never read a word he's written in his 4,000-word this-is-my-life intros, Matthew Berry really does give smart advice. And that young fella Leigh Montville seems to be quite the up-and-comer at Sports On Earth.

I know, more established writers there than up-and-comers. Man, I'm going to be thinking about this all day now. Let me know who I overlooked.

THIS WEEK IN ANCIENT MEDIA GUIDES

Wasn't in the office this week to snatch an ancient media guide, so it's on hiatus for this week and this week only.

Until next Sunday.

I'd like to lay my weary bones tonight/On a bed/Of California stars ...

About Touching All The Bases

Irreverence and insight from Chad Finn, a Globe/Boston.com sports writer and media columnist. A winner of several national and regional writing awards, he is the founder and sole contributor to the TATB blog, which launched in December 2004. Yes, he realizes how lucky he is.

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