Mail bagging it

So, now that the gang’s all together in F-L-A, we need wait a mere 38 days until the first pitch of any significance is tossed.

Thirty-eight days. Enough of this spring training as a sign of spring claptrap. It’s more like a tease, positioned to get you in the mood for America’s pastime, only to suddenly realize the hardball groundhog is pointing his finger back at you giggling in his trickery.

Spring training tune-up games? No, thanks. The World Baseball Classic? Maybe, but still, it’s not like we’re going to hang on every pitch just to say the USA hung on to beat the Italians. I mean, if professional hockey players couldn’t give a damn in the real Olympics (hello, Mike Modano) why should baseball players give a hoot in some ill-timed, hackneyed version of them? And the point is, with the risk of injury such a possibility, should they? Probably not. Just a dumb, dumb, dumb idea.

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Oops, sorry. Apparently Mr. Selig has issued an edict saying that nobody can speak ill of the WBC with so much criticism having come his way over the past few months. So, bully to the WBC, boys. Jolly good, yes?

Speaking of the real Olympics (or not, depending on your opinion of Bryant Gumbel), they come to conclusion this weekend, when Turin hands the torch over to Vancouver (Here we come, Whistler). Here’s wishing NBC could hand its torch over to someone deserving of the Games. Someone set Dick Ebersol’s alarm and tell him it’s 2006, a year when every American viewer can get results on the Internet. Just show the events live. Then, show them again at night, packaged. Please. Do not deny them their pace. My goodness, it was yesterday when I realized there was a racer from India in the women’s slalom. No matter where she finished, I’d liked to have seen that. Thanks for denying it for us. You can deal with two weeks of nasty e-mails from “Days of Our Lives” fans.

Hockey and curling coverage has been top-notch. I’ll give NBC that. But the way it presents its tape-delay, “plausibly live” coverage of the rest of the day’s events is pathetic. I would have liked to enjoy these games a bit more, but thanks to NBC, it was maddening more than anything. Thanks. I won’t be catching the Donald, or that lame-looking prosecution show. Can’t wait for football. Yippee. Hey, Dick, can we carry those games live at least?

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Anyway…a sampling from the ol’ Inbox:


Eric, as a Bostonian following the Red Sox from Barcelona, Spain, I tend to drift in and out of the loop of what is happening in Red Sox Nation (especially since the European Union restricts access to nations beyond its sphere or influence). I’ve heard from my mom that Manny has elected to emulate Jack Clark (hopefully not in automobile-financing strategies) and show up for spring training belatedly so that he doesn’t have to start getting into shape until the at-bats count. My immediate reaction — knowing that Manny’s woman is Brazilian — was, “of course, Carnaval is next week.” In looking through the press, however, I have seen no speculation on this. Most information reaches me here, but there are always blind spots, so I was wondering if it’s possible that this certainty — there’s no way Manny’s wife, and hence Manny — would be anyplace else this weekend, which, in Brazilian style, lasts until Wednesday morning. Just wondering. Cheers.
Mark Schofield
Could you imagine if this story were accurate and it ever got out? I mean, how would the Red Sox continue to apologize for his actions after this? I would love to see Terry Francona try to explain his way out of why they let Manny go for the “good of the team.”
That being said, it just can’t be true. But it’s so outlandish, with Manny, who knows.
Yet another great anti-Yankee article from Mr. Provincial. Be careful or you may take Tom Caron’s place alongside Johnny Most.
Remember your column from last May (or June) when you proclaimed that the Yankees were dead/done? Immediately after that the Yanks went out and played the best baseball of any MLB team (from June first) and took the division from you guys. By the way that’s eight in a row.
There’s an old Brooklyn saying that certainly applies to you and your team: “we may not be that good, but we’re better than you!”

Robert E. Whelan
I think that’s also Team Canada’s hockey mantra to the US.
Eric, Looks like Joe Thornton took his great playoff disappearing act to Team Canada, successfully sucking all the life from its offense. If by some fluke San Jose makes the NHL playoffs, I bet we see more of the same.
Chris
I like Joe Thornton. I really do. But the next time Kevin Paul Dupont labels someone “soft” I’m going to listen to him.
Dear Mr. Wilbur: God knows I’m not a Foulke apologist, but this comment just made my jaw drop:
“How exactly should the fans take that then when he’s on the mound with a one-run lead and a runner on third in the bottom of the ninth? I mean, if he’s bored with all that, why should they give a damn?”
How on EARTH could you equate Foulke’s comment that he gets bored *watching* baseball with being bored *playing* baseball? He even said he loves to pitch. Looks like the guy is right — no matter what he says (hell, he could draw a picture and it probably wouldn’t work), he’s going to be misinterpreted. No wonder he gets so pissed off at the media.
For the record, Troy Polamalu was quoted in Sports Illustrated not too long ago as saying he’s never in his life watched a game of football. It’s … boring! GASP! Of course when Polamalu says this it’s a charming character quirk. When Foulke says it, he’s the devil incarnate.
Believe it or not, not every athlete likes to watch his sport, or any sport for that matter. If they did, they probably would have grown up to be couch potatoes, not professional athletes. Foulke can catch cat-naps in the bullpen for all I care, as long as he pitches the way he’s capable of pitching.
The only advice I’d give him is to not bother saying anything to the media. The guy can’t win.

C.A. Marks
I think we have Massachusetts’ next Ted Kennedy in Foulke. Can do no wrong, apparently.
Dear Eric: In The Shawshank Redemption, Andy Dufresne at one point asks of the warden, “How can you be so obtuse? Is it deliberate?” I am asking the same of you regarding your use of Keith Foulke’s recent interview (baseball is boring, blah blah). He clearly said that he enjoys pitching. He clearly stated that he prefers to be in the game rather than watching 9 innings on TV. Wouldn’t any player prefer playing to watching? Wouldn’t any player find watching boring compared to playing?
Your problem is that you print his entire comments, then presume to tell me how to interpret them. You must grasp the notion that someone could find being out of action for an extended period of time and sitting around his apartment a very boring proposition.
You must think the average Sox fan to be really dense, but you are the fool, deliberate or not.

Jeff Hamilton, Los Angeles
I’m bored with this email.
See, I bet you took that out of context, right? I just mean I’m bored reading it. Please don’t interpret that the wrong way.
What is it with you sportswriters? Does your wife beat you? Why all the hate? Who cares if Foulke says, ‘I’m actually sort of bored watching baseball’?
You need to read your own company’s website. There’s an article you and the rest of that hate-filled crew in your sports section that can’t seem to let bygones be bygones. You think us fans care about this stuff? If you do, you’re an idiot. And obviously you do, so…no big deal. I normally don’t respond to fools, but hopefully you’ll wise up.
The article is called, ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff‘. You really need to read it. And live it.

That’ll work out well when I start writing for the Oprah Magazine.
Dear Mr. Wilbur, Your most recent acerbic diatribe on K. Foulke contains an expression that you would do well to avoid, to wit “if you ask me.” Rest assured that neither I nor anyone with whom I communicate would ever ask you anything unless I or they were seeking to fall into a deep depression. Your offseason columns have been consistently negative and frequently misinformed.
Emmett TenBroeck
I smell a Prozac sponsorship …
Are you insane? I usually agree with most of what you have to say, but you are way off the mark here. Go back and watch Game 6 of the Yanks/Marlins World Series game and get a clue about what Alex Gonzalez is capable of being with the bat and glove, on the largest stage there is. This guy is going to be another O.C. I’ll be expecting you to eat your words about one month from now!
David Nelson
Is this why he was still on the free agent market up until a few weeks ago?
Eric,
Question I haven’t seen answered in the sports page today: Did Lindsey Jacobellis manage to hang on to her Dunkin Donuts Iced Coffee when she took that nasty spill? I was so worried about it I nearly forgot that Visa will protect me if someone steals my credit card.
Best,

Paul
I love the “Congratulations Lindsey” signs they’ve erected at Stratton to welcome Jacobellis back, too. That’s about all you need to know about that Vermont resort.
What a sob story Nomar G. is turning to be. Remember when either he or his agent in spring training 2004 called the $60 million, 4-year contract offered by Boston an insult, more or less. Traded away for Cabrera who helped Boston break the World Series jinx, Didn’t want to move to 3B so A-Rod could come to Boston. Bounced out of Chicago to LA LA Land. He’ll soon find Dodgers and other teams won’t sit still for a corner position like 1B hitting in the teens home run wise, 70’s RBIs and below .300 average. He has no arm yet, and he and Mia are crying the blues. No double digit millions in salary will be forthcoming for rest of his career.
Jack Borenstein
I can’t understand his constant insistence about how happy he was here, because he quite obviously was not. I’ll tell you what though, the day my agent tells me to turn down $60 million, calling it an insult, is the day I get on the horn for a new agent.
Hello Eric, I never raced at the college level, but I’m not clueless, either, having seen my share of vertical while at Middlebury College and Jackson Hole. A lot of us were taught as collegiate and club athletes (University Division soccer & lacrosse, in my case) that in order to be the best when the pressure’s on, talent wasn’t enough; you had to prepare harder and better than the rest. Bode Miller looked out of breath and out of gas at the finish line of the slalom run where he DQ’d in the combined. Earlier, he couldn’t hold his tuck in the lower part of the men’s downhill course, and that’s where he lost his lead and the race. Anyone who’s spent any time around ski racing will tell you that standing up in the lower flats of a downhill course is a classic indicator of the ol’ burning thighs, but you know that, right? In addition, where’s the preparation in using a virtually untested pair of skis?
It seems to me if you’re going to represent your country, the least you can do is prepare to the best of your ability. Excuses like “That’s just Bode being Bode” don’t cut it. He’s probably the most talented male downhill skier in the world, but I have to wonder about his conditioning and overall preparation.

Philip S. Wheelock, Jr.
And to further illustrate your point, he looked absolutely gassed after the giant slalom on Monday. I mean, he was breathing like Louie Anderson after a half-mile jog. I mean, walk.
Hi: I agree completely with your blog comments about how silly the Bode critics are being. Now here’s another thing: WHY don’t these same critics call Michelle Kwan a failure because she hasn’t won gold? Actually, with her, it’s the other extreme; she’s the most decorated US skater ever, so what does everyone do? Feel sorry for her! “Oh, the poor thing hasn’t got a gold to go with the rest of her many prizes-awwww, what a tragedy!” She’s had a fantastic career, but all we hear is “oh, the poor thing…”. Geez!
Paul Dyer
On the flip side, Oksana Baiul has a gold medal. Whose shoes do you think Kwan would rather be in? Hers, just signing a lucrative deal with Disney, or Baiul, whom I suppose could always sign for similar numbers with Ketel One?
Eric, Normally I’m on your side, but the way you wrote about Bode Miller and Keith Foulke today made me throw up my hands. To cut to the point, Foulke and Miller are awfully similar. Both are coming off All World performances on the biggest of stages, and were expected to continue their elite status with more championships. Both have little tact with the media and spew offensive remarks that get them in trouble resulting in the appearance of an aloof attitude. Recently, both failed to deliver and are being fried by the press. Yeah, there are differences, but please focus on the similarities for a moment.
I’m just really surprised that you are treating them as polar opposites. You’re making excuses for all of Bode’s blemishes, yet riding Foulke for having the nerve to take a vacation during the offseason, even though he’s one of the first players in training camp. Please take a step back and a deep breath before you react to this message sent by one of your loyal readers. Let me put it this way, as unpopular as your stance is on Bode Miller, I think you’re right on target…

Chris
There’s a lot of truth here. The difference is though, Foulke has made his comments in a forum in which millions of fans react to his every word on a daily basis throughout the year. Miller, on the other hand, is in a sport which most of the country watches two weeks out of the year. Foulke has insulted his own fans. Miller just hates dealing with the media.
I’m not exactly a Bodeist, but I do like Miller. As for Foulke, I think the Burger King ad reps really dropped the ball on a new TV spot. Imagine a baseball version of the fantastic NFL/King ads that ran during football season, with the King superimposed over NFL game footage. Now imagine, the “This Week in Baseball” theme song playing in the background, Foulke on the mound, preparing to make his pitch to the plate. He finally unloads, and…flash to the King swinging for the fences, slamming a homer off the Sox closer and running around the bases superimposed over a 1975 Carlton Fisk.
Now that would be worth seeing, It would even save my TV from my foot with the prospect of six more months of endless Foxwoods ads.