Short hops

Bouncing here and there while taking a break from madly penning the script for “Boogie Nights 2.” Julian Tavarez has first rights.

  • Interleague baseball! Are you psyched?

    The Atlanta Braves sure aren’t. Chipper Jones let loose on the situation earlier this week, and today it’s Jeff Francoeur, who rightly points out that the Braves are getting jobbed this season by having to play the AL Central, as well as six against the Red Sox, their “natural rival.”

    “I don’t think it’s all that fair,” Francoeur told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “They say it all works out, but shoot, [we’ve] got the Red Sox, the Twins, the Indians and the Tigers. It’s not exactly the easiest schedule in America.”

    Much ado about nothing? Not really. Consider the last time the Red Sox got off to a start this good, you have to go back to 2002, when they were 40-17 entering interleague action. But that squad went just 6-13 against the NL and ended up finishing 10½ games behind the Yankees in the AL East, six games behind the Angels in the wild card standings. After that hot start, the Sox went just 53-52 the rest of the way, but was 47-39 against AL opponents. Interleague play didn’t keep the Red Sox out of the playoffs on its own, but it certainly didn’t help.

    Of course, it would also help if the Braves could beat arguably the worst team in baseball, but that’s a story for a more convenient time.

  • This might not make too much sense, but let’s try anyway. If you add up the leads that Cleveland, the Angels, New York, Milwaukee, and the Dodgers have in their respective divisions on second-place teams, you come up with a grand total of 14 games. Or just 4½ more games than the lead Red Sox currently enjoy on second-place New York in the AL East. Did that work? I’m not sure.
    The New York Post’s George King writes, “Nineteen days ago, George Steinbrenner gave Joe Torre and Brian Cashman lukewarm votes of confidence when the Yankees were 5½ games behind the Red Sox. Now, the Mets and Red Sox are poised to kick more dirt in the Boss’ face and you wonder how much more he will take. Especially since the Yankees were 5½ games out when Steinbrenner OK’d a pro-rated $28 million for Roger Clemens and are now on the verge of facing a double-digit deficit.
    If one of the stipulations in landing Clemens was that Torre would be in the dugout, then where do the Yankees go from here? It’s a disaster, and nobody should hold back saying so. The lead is now 9½, New York’s pitching is in shambles (Torre even had to weigh pitching Chien-Ming Wang on short rest and it’s not even Memorial Day), and Clemens alone isn’t going to save the bullpen from being taxed on a nightly basis.
    That’s not to say the race is over. But the only reason we’re not saying it is because 9½ still sticks with us as the pivotal number in the 1988 summer of Morgan Magic.
  • The Orlando Sentinel’s Dave Darling goes out on a limb and writes that Red Sox-Yankees is the best rivalry in sports. I’m going to need time to digest this.
  • While Bud Selig had all the presence of an elderly grandfather trying to corral a group of rambunctious toddlers at Chuck E. Cheese when he was asked about Barry Bonds and the home run chase yesterday, former Sox lefty Bill Lee offered a decidedly different response to the Nashua Telegraph’s Tom King.
    “Steroids? I see that our cows in Vermont are being injected with too much BST . . . There are more drugs in our food supply than there are in Barry Bonds. A red herring. It’s wagging the dog, because we don’t want to address that the drug companies control our thing. And the fact that BALCO is the little guy, being squashed by Merck and Upjohn and all the big companies. As they say in Deep Throat, follow the money.”
  • In other steroid news, Jason Giambi admits to taking them in a piece today in USA Today. Or, at least he took “stuff” which frankly is a lot more definitive than his “apology” from years back in which he expressed his regret for much of nothing.

    “I did what I had to do,” Giambi says, “but it’s like it wasn’t enough. There were some articles that were personally attacking me. It was like, ‘Am I that bad of a guy?’ I always had time for the media and respected the media, but it was so hard to go through. I just kept telling myself that you can’t take it personally.

    “In hindsight, it helped me. I was wrong for doing that stuff. I know that. But (apologizing) is the best thing that happened. I got it out of the way so that people stopped asking me about it.

    “I think now, with everything else that has gone on (in the steroid investigation), you hardly ever hear my name mentioned now.”

  • We’re just going to guess that with the weather forecast on tap for tonight in Boston that Sunday’s TBA will actually be tonight’s scheduled starter Devern Hansack. Hot dogs will go on sale as planned though.
  • Tecmo Bowl is making a grand return to a video game system near you. That is not a typo. Tecmo Bowl. Now if I were only in college, had unlimited…sorry, I mean scant extra time during studying periods, and a general unawareness of how far video games have come in the past 15 years, this would be the best news ever.
    Here’s a look at the best Tecmo players from over the years. Bo Jackson gets top billing, but it was always hard to lose with Barry Sanders storming to the right side.
  • The friendliest player in baseball? No surprise, his fellow players choose Tigers first baseman Sean Casey, who just blew out of town, in a Sports Illustrated survey. Also making the list is David Ortiz and, perhaps indicative of the 2003-‘05 Sox, Kevin Millar, Johnny Damon, and Dave Roberts also make the list. The least friendly? Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson make the list (topped by Guess Who?) along with Atlanta’s Jones.
  • Tom Brunansky has to be wondering where the left field camera that caught Eric Hinske’s catch last night was 17 years go.
  • And seeing as it’s already been on CNN (yes, really) already, there’s little doubt you’ve already caught Jerry Remy channeling his inner Trey Anastasio (or seeing as Remy’s a big Beatles fan, his inner George Harrison). But here’s the footage anyway of the NESN color guy taking a spill in the booth. With pizza-tossing, Manny Ramirez’s pat-down of Julian Tavarez and now this, I think it’s safe to say Remy and Don Orsillo are well on their way to conquering YouTube.
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