Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Diary: On The Way To D.C.

Sunday, May 20

“Nice guys finish last.”

Truckin’ along I-95 heading for D.C., and am happy to report that the home teams continue their dominance on this trip, now 6-0, with the Mets holding off the Yanks yesterday 10-7. Darrell Resner was unable to retire a batter for the Yankees, as his day was ended by a comebacker that broke his hand, effectively ending the majority of his season (minimum three months). In a way, I’m almost starting to feel bad for them. It’s like we’re not beating the best that they could give us, but then again, it’s not our fault that we didn’t surround ourselves with a bunch of old guys. David Wright is an animal at the plate. For his second home run, he hit a ball at his feet to dead centerfield, and sure, Johnny Damon helped matters significantly when he dropped the ball over the fence after it hit his glove directly in the palm, but still, to get that kind of power on that pitch was something else. Also, Jose Reyes is a freak of nature. This guy is so fast, and yet, he can hit to all fields for average, and can also provide enough pop to get around 20 homers a year. There’s a reason Endy Chavez is hitting .370, and I think it’s because of pitchers constantly having to worry about Reyes once he gets on. Tom Glavine was sensational in his outing after giving up two early runs. Then, once the bullpen was called upon, they nearly gave it all back, especially Scott Schowenweis, who imploded in the seventh, giving up four runs to make it an 8-6 game, which is closer than it should have ever been. However, the best part of the day had to be in the bottom of the eighth, when 48-year old Julio Franco pinch-hit against Kyle Farnsworth, and delivered with a hit to score two runs, widening the gap, and effectively killing the Yankee rally. On that play, Robinson Cano committed his third error of the day. Earlier in the game, he hit a solo homer, but his mistakes ultimately cost the Yankees the game. Billy Wagner came on in the ninth, and made one of the worst plays you’ll ever see. With one out and runners on first and third, Wagner fielded a chopper back up the middle, bobbled it for a split second, and in that split second, completely forgot everything about the situation he was in, and tried to throw home to get the runner out instead of throwing to first for the easy out. I know sometimes, in the heat of the moment, things go haywire, but that was inexcusable. When you’re up four runs in the top of the ninth, and you already have one out, what difference does it make if one run scores? If you get the out at first, there’s two down, you’re up three with a runner on second and two outs. That’s a pretty nice scenario to have. Now, because of Wagner’s play, there were runners on first and third with one out, and with a team like the Yankees, you never know what they’re capable of. So those were rough times for me, but luckily, all ended well, and the Mets went onto victory.

The Sox played two yesterday, and apparently, they only thought they were playing in the afternoon and decided to skip the night game. Look, I know it’s John Smoltz, but it’s real bad when you go down 14-0 after beating the same team 13-3 in the same day. First of all, this team probably should never give up 14 runs ever. This staff is way too good to let any game get out of hand like that. On top of all that, there was some kind of reverse karma going on, as Devern Hansack got hit in the hand as well, and had to be taken out of the game as well. Hopefully, his injury is not as severe as the one suffered by Resner, because they’re going to need this kid down the road, especially considering you never know when a starter could go down, or someone may need an extra day’s rest, or even if you need a long man out of the ‘pen to kill some innings. However, not everything went south yesterday, as there were some definite encouraging signs from the first game, most notably with Dice-K, Youk and Mike Lowell. Lowell continued his red-hot hitting, slamming another homer and driving in five runs (it might have been four, not sure). This is making me think that Lowell is reverting back to his 2003 season, when he had one of the best seasons that year for a third baseman. Youk is on a career-high 12-game hitting streak, and continues to play solid D at first. I think once you play third base for a while, and get used to balls flying at you, the adjustment to first base isn’t necessarily that hard of a thing to pick up, at least that’s my thinking. Dice-K again did not allow a walk, which is tremendous considering that was the big knock on him in his first few starts. Another cause for concern was his effectiveness out of the stretch, as he was very slow in his delivery to home, which he now seems to have remedied. All and all, we did manage to pick up another half-a-game, and right now, it’s all about getting as much distance is as humanly possible while we are playing this well. From the looks of it, this looks like a 95-win team after all. Also, I’m kind of liking how my prediction about how the season would go is basically clicking…always good to fool people into believing I actually know what I’m talking about.

So, in case you haven’t been reading this, or don’t know me very well right now, you have to know that I’m so excited for the 22nd, which is when the NBA Lottery will take place. Again, if you’re not looking forward to this, you’re probably not a C’s fan, because mark my words, if the ping pong balls go our way, and we end up with #1 or #2, the franchise will change entirely. I mean we’re talking about laying the foundation for what could be a playoff contender for years to come. I’m dead serious on this one folks. If the Celtics get Oden or Durant, you’re looking at one of the most formidable lineups in the Eastern Conference when healthy (again, that doesn’t happen too often). With Telfair off the team, it leaves the door wide open for Delonte West or Rajon Rondo to come in, both of whom are very capable of accomplishing this task. Then, Tony Allen will be returning to handle the 2-guard role, and will split some time with Gerald Green, who will also get time from Paul Pierce in the role of small forward. Pierce will be entering his eleventh year (I believe?), so it remains to be seen if he has enough left to play the kind of minutes he was playing two or three years ago. What is known is that this team goes nowhere without Pierce. He is their anchor, but the past few seasons, he was asked to do too much for the team, and ultimately, it put a strain on him mentally and physically. I say mentally because you could see how bad he wanted to win, and when you have a team that’s struggling, and you’re the go-to-guy, you’re going to be taking those losses a lot more personally because, in some way, it feels like you let the team down some. That has to build up over time, and it really showed up over time with Pierce, as towards the end of last season, he seemed to be overly frustrated that he couldn’t get his team more victories, and swirling reports surfaced about the team “tanking” on purpose. If Pierce gets another guy like he had with Antoine Walker, it makes him so much better of a player, because I really don’t think Pierce is used as effectively as he could be if he is the only offensive weapon on the floor. I think this guy has more dimensions to his game than that, and he simply needs someone to take some of the load off of him. The rest of the frontcourt is solely dependent on who the C’s draft. With Oden, you will see Big Al shift to the power forward spot, and Oden would take over as center. This guy’s game is so polished, and he’s only 19. The potential for his growth is impossible to calculate. All I know is that this guy is going to be great, it’s just a question of how long it takes for him to develop his game in the pros, and from the looks of it, it doesn’t seem like that will take too long. If the Celts get Durant, it will be up for interpretation on who should start at power forward. Durant is bigger than Pierce, but Pierce has already played that position, and knows how to bang in the NBA, something Durant will have to get used to over time. Personally, putting Durant at the #3 slot will help his development a lot more. He will cause a ton of personnel mismatches for the opposing team, and this will help build his confidence so that his eventual move to power forward will be a lot smoother. Not that this kid doesn’t have confidence already. His game is even stronger than Oden’s, and that’s saying a lot considering me, and every member of the breathing population, thought that Oden was going to be #1 all along. Now, when I look at it bi-partisanly, I can’t help but think that Durant would be as good, if not, an even better pick at #1, than Oden. Durant’s game mirrors that of Tracy McGrady, and when you talk about an inside-outside threat at the forward position, you can’t do a whole lot better than T-Mac. Whoever the C’s end up with, as long as it’s one of those two guys, I don’t care. Both would add another dimension to the Celts that they desperately need. Oden brings the big man they’ve been searching for since the departure of “The Chief,” and Durant would bring the kind of inside/outside threat that would take a ton of pressure off of Pierce and Big Al, which they desperately need. I personally think Jefferson can be a center in this league. If you look at what he did last year, it’s clear to see that, despite having a majority of his team (Allen, Wally, Pierce, Perk) on the sidelines, he could still be a presence down low.

So today will mark my first visit to RFK stadium, and also, the first time I’ve seen a ballgame in a “made-for-football” stadium. I hear that there’s all kind of things that are screwed up about the place, but I’m reserving my judgment until I actually get there and check it out for myself. I heard Shea wasn’t a good place to check out a game, but I loved it. Then again, I probably could have watched Mets/Yankees from Three Mile Island and loved it, so you never know. As always, if you’ve made it this far, and actually put up with all of my rantings about the Celtics, then you guys are awesome, and I really do appreciate you checking in with this. I’ll be in D.C. for the next three days (RFK today, Bowie, MD tomorrow, and Camden Yards on Tuesday). Today, we have a matinee game between the Nats and the O’s. There’s a bit of a buzz going on because a couple of people or from the D.C./Virginia area, so they get to see both their hometown teams in action, and also, Bowie is an affiliate of the Orioles, so if you’re an O’s fan on this trip, you get to see that franchise three days in a row…not bad. After the game, I have no clue what’s going on. I was so wiped out last night that I just crashed instead of going out clubbing (I mean seriously though, can you see me clubbing? If you know me…I mean really…so not my scene). Maybe things will change today, but again, I am a cheap bastard, and am totally content on staying in and catching up on some Z’s. Hey, I know that this is an experience of a lifetime, but to be perfectly honest with you, baseball is doing it for me, and the other stuff…well, if it happens, then that’s cool, but really, I’m all about going to the games, writing about all of it, and calling it a day. The bars aren’t going anywhere, the sights aren’t either, and I’ve already been to most of these places, and the thinking here is that right now, I don’t have the kind of coin to be dropping to have a “real good” time in some of these places, like Philly, NY, or D.C., so I’ve been taking it easy for the most part, which is good, because I need all the money I can get, because yes, I’m still jobless, and yes, it’s embarrassing to say that considering I’ve basically just finished four years at one of the best business schools, and the job market is huge for my field. To be honest with you though, I think that my complete resistance to really want to get into this has plagued me a little. I mean, right now, I’m applying to Carmel Country Club, and if I get on there, I will be a server/bartender/kitchen guy. Yeah, this isn’t what I went to school to study, but really, I think school was almost an experience on what I really don’t want to do with myself for the rest of my life. I mean, I did learn a lot, but I think I learned more about myself than I did in terms of anything finance-related. I learned that I’m a numbers guy, but I’m a numbers guy in terms of sports, and other things like that. Frankly, I just don’t think I have the kind of aggressiveness that you need to be really good in the financial world. I’m too laid back for that kind of stuff. I mean it pays well, but I’m cheap as it is, so really, I don’t need all that much to get by. I’ve been scraping my whole life, so if I have to scrap some more, then I don’t really have a problem with that. Will I be waiting tables my whole life? No. But right now, I want to enjoy myself, enjoy my job, and enjoy the people that work with me. Also, I still haven’t ruled out music yet (remember, there was a time in my life that it was looking like that may be it for me…most of you don’t know that, but…yeah, there was). I mean, eventually, I’ll probably end up getting a job with the benefits and the 401Ks and all that good stuff, but right now, I feel like I have a lot of living to do, and that me in a suit and tie is not the right route for me, although I do look good in it, but considering the way I’m usually dressed (yes, I’m wearing a jersey right now, and yes, I don’t care how “ridiculous” it is for someone my age to have a jersey on in a “non-game” situation…we all do things that make us who we are…I just do a lot more than most people), that should come as no surprise. So for now, consider me a freelance writer, a USC grad, and a guy who is wicked happy at all he’s done so far, and looking forward to changing the world in whatever kind of positive way I can. Alright, I have more out-the-window looking to do, so you guys take care, and enjoy yourselves…for all I know, this is the one shot you have, so be you, and have no regrets doing so. Peace.


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