Valentine’s Day in Boston

As the resident Red Sox fan here at I95, I feel it is my duty to weigh in on the Bobby V announcement in Boston. That and no one has posted since August and our ad revenue needs to bump up before the holidays.

I’m firmly in the “this is a good thing for the Red Sox clubhouse” camp. Valentine brings with him major league managerial experience (which is important to the owners) and is a self-described Bill James disciple (which is important to GM Ben Cherington and his advisors). But what does he bring to the rabid fanbase that is partially to blame for Terry Francona stepping down, and a number of players to question whether or not playing in Boston is worth the drama.

My take? As fans – we’re in good hands. Valentine not only did a really good job of getting the ’99 Mets to play as a team, but he kept Rickey under control, which is kind of like getting Manny Ramirez to not do steroids for ten minutes. Yes, he called Beckett out this year for taking too long during pitches (which Beckett does)  and yes, he said he was faster than Carl Crawford, but I’m sure it will all be water under the bridge come the spring. [Insert nail biting]
 
What Valentine has done is win. His Mets teams were far less talented (Sorry guys) than the 2011 Sox, he brought the Chiba Lotte Marines their first Japan Series title (which is a big deal), he is LOVED in Japan for harmoniously mixing the American style of training with the fighting spirit that is the hallmark of Japanese baseball (which is an even bigger deal for an American gaijin), he is the Director of Public Safety for the city of Stamford, Connecticut – the man invented the wrap for crying out loud.

Valentine has been criticized for never winning a division title.  Newsflash –  the Red Sox won exactly one AL East title under Terry Francona – arguably the greatest Red Sox manager in the last 75 years – and that was partly due to the fact that the Yankees “only” won 94 games in 2007. Valentine’s Mets won the Wild Card in 1999 and 2000 partly because the NL East was won by a little team from Atlanta led by a starting rotation of Millwood-Glavine-Maddox-Smoltz and had a lineup featuring  NL MVP Larry Jones and NL ROY Rafael Furcal. I know the late-90’s Braves didn’t exactly have the same offensive firepower as the early-2000’s Yankees (insert steroids joke here) but the NL East was the AL East before the AL East was the AL East.  

I think that he has the personality (or ego if you’re so inclined) to be able to go into the clubhouse, lay down the rules and rally this team, all the while deflecting the media spotlight from the players. And after the chicken and beer fiasco, the players could use a little less media spotlight.

Peter Gammons noted that as long as Valentine and Cherington have the opportunity to work together, this partnership will work. HOWEVER – if the Red Sox front office [John Henry/Larry Lucchino] continues to undermine the “baseball people” in the organization by going on talk radio to complain that they were personally opposed to the Crawford signing, and leak information inappropriately – be it about Francona’s pain medication or about hiring a new manager before they tell all of the candidates – it won’t matter who the manager is.

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Night at Nationals Park: Mets-Nats Tonight

After a few weeks of waiting through a busy April, I’m finally making my way to Nationals Park tonight.  I wasn’t anticipating wearing any Mets garb but in light of their recent six game win-streak, I find myself in a bit of a bind.  Wearing blue and orange tonight would go against this mini-boycott I have going.  On the other hand, I’ve got Nats tickets so the Wilpons won’t see a dime.  Essentially, when you see your boyhood team winning (even if they are still under .500), there are times when logic gives way to emotion.

I’m often cynical about the Amazins and their ability to make anything constructive of the problems they now face.  I am unapologetic, as most Mets fans are, regarding my disdain for the Wilpons.  I hope that they will make a wise decision and sell, ending months of embarrassing press that has stained the team’s reputation (what was left of it anyway).  But I can say that Sandy Alderson is not messing around.  He has a vision for this team that is completely his and makes no excuses for it.  Win or lose in 2011, Alderson is convinced he has the right strategy for success in the coming years, whether the money is available or not.  Happy for me, that’s what I’ve always said about the Mets.  They’re better off acting as a small-market juggernaut rather than a Bronx doppleganger.

So tonight, despite my deepest reservations, I will be wearing #7.  We all anticipate Reyes being shipped out by the trade deadline so I’m going to take this opportunity to wear his uniform perhaps one last time.  Perhaps we can win seven in a row.  Now that I’ve said it, all Mets fans can let me have it when the team falls flat later tonight.  I expect I will do a fair amount of tweeting, in between shoving Ben’s Chili Bowl in my mouth and taking pictures of soon-to-be former Mets.  However, if the Mets are on the verge of ending this streak and it is a save situation, Storen better be on the pitching slab at the beginning of the ninth.

Mets Boycott suspended until the final out.  I reserve the right to reinstate this thing at any point during the game and because I will actually be in attendance, I fully expect I will.  LETS GO METS!

The Anti-1986: Mets and Astros Play Tonight!

With the exception of the Angels, the current Major League standings are the exact opposite of 1986. The Red Sox, in my opinion, will survive their early swoon. The National League’s 1986 division champions, the 108-win Mets and 96-win Astros, however, will not. Twenty five years on, Houston and New York are terrible, for completely different reasons.  Now they face off in a three-game set starting tonight at CitiField. Who could possibly be enthusiastic about two teams, tied for last in the National League, with a combined 10-22?

Look back 25 years.  Literally every Mets fan thought a dynasty was in the making.  Between excellent veterans, young core players and a slew of prospects, the Mets were supposed to reign for a decade.  Of course, none of that was to be.  The Mets would win two division titles and a single pennant (a surprising one) in the following quarter century.  I presume not speak for the Astros, only to say that after many veterans abandoned Houston in droves after ’86 and the Astros wouldn’t see the playoffs again until the beginning of the Killer B days.

It would probably surprise you to know that since 1986 both the Astros and Mets have winning records.  Their winning percentages are .514 and .508 respectively.  Naturally, that doesn’t give anyone who roots for these teams any warm, fuzzy feelings.  Neither has taken home the Commissioner’s Trophy since 1986 (Houston never having done so) and neither could get past Game 5 of the World Series in each’s lone appearance since they met in 1986.

Our histories will always be inextricably linked.  Houston and New York began play in 1962 and though the Astrodome is certainly more iconic than Shea Stadium, both entered service in the mid-Sixties.  In fifty seasons of play, the Astros have a double-digit number of no-hitters (including former Mets pitcher Nolan Ryan’s fifth) while the Mets have zilch.  The Mets record as the quickest expansion team to baseball’s pinnacle has been erased, not once but twice.  The Astros, meanwhile, haven’t won a single World Series game (0-4).  Seems as if 1962 should be known for the Dodgers new stadium at Chavez Ravine and not for the ascension of the Astros and Mets.  Fifty seasons on and twenty five years later, assess these two franchises: Mostly failure.

Good Luck Tonight Boys… In the words of PCU’s Rand McPherson: Doesn’t matter who wins ’cause they’re all losers.

Past Their Prime – Episode 5

We managed to make it through five episodes. Cause for celebration.

This week, Lee and Jesse talk about the most unrealistic finish to a Butler season since Benson became governor. Look it up.

Also, we give our MLB predictions, try to talk Red Sox fans off the ledge and debate which is easier – getting 76ers playoff tickets or hating Spike Lee.

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Want to win a $25 gift certificate? Send your sports-related question to us at PastTheirPrime@gmail.com and following us on Twitter @_PastTheirPrime.The prizes are in the mail – we promise.

Dr. Tagg Says Relax: They’ve Played 3 Games!

Let the overreaction begin!  The O’s are undefeated and the Red Sox are winless.  THE END OF THE WORLD HAS COME!  Let’s psychoanalyze this thing shall we…

The Red Sox Are Doomed? STOP IT!

So Red Sox fans are bumming today after the Texas Rangers swept them in a three-game series in Arlington.  All the nay-sayers are coming out of the woodworks, dooming Boston’s hopes with 159 regular season games remaining.  Nevermind that Texas is the defending American League champions with a terrific offense.  Was it surprise to anyone that Boston’s pitching was lackluster?

The Red Sox rotation is full of question marks but I suspect they will begin to put the pieces together as the season progresses.  All their pitchers are capable of having productive seasons.  I am not so quick to write off Lackey, Beckett and the rest.  Once the offense begins to click and the pitching improves, watch out for the Sox.

And Craw Crawford, who is a grinder and a member of the Potomac Gnats (my fantasy team), will be back.  He is pressing at the moment.  Francona recognized that and put him seventh in the lineup.  He went 2-4 yesterday with an RBI.  Relax, he’s on a new team.  Give him a few games to adjust.

The Orioles Are Going to Knock Off the Yankees & Red Sox, or BOTH? NO THEY WON’T.

Baltimore went to Tampa and swept the Rays.  Big deal?  Not really.  The Rays are not what they once were.  I truly believe the Orioles will win more than they lose this year but they won’t sniff 90 wins, meaning they won’t catch either the Bombers or the Sox.  Will they give them fits throughout the year?  Absolutely.  Buck has made it clear that his Birds will be competitive in the East.  The O’s pitching staff will improve while the offense will have inconsistent days.  Baltimore is a .500 team which beat a .500 team this past weekend.  I’m thrilled for the O’s.  A return to past glory will be great for the city and for baseball in general.  It just isn’t happening in 2011.

The New York Mets are 2-1 and they won their first road series right away. Maybe they are better than we thought? NOT LIKELY.

Despite Sunday’s performance of Mets legend R.A. Dickey, the Mets showed their true colors twice this past weekend.  Mike Pelfrey pitched like complete crap for an “ace” and Frankie Rodriguez blew a save in his first opportunity (yeah, he hasn’t pitched in a regular season game since August but isn’t that what a closer gets up for).  Looks like the Mets to me.  And in that last game, don’t give the Amazins too much credit.  Javy is on his last legs as a reliable starting pitcher, if he has any legs arm to speak of.  Besides, Florida Miami committed three errors, leading to three unearned runs.

Pelfrey revealed that his rotator cuff was all kinds of wrong last season.  That makes me very concerned about 2011.  If Pelfrey’s ERA hovers over four and the rest of the rotation does what I expect, then the Mets will go nowhere as I predicted.  Additionally, the Mets have all kinds of fiscal decisions to make when the trade deadline approaches.  We all know Reyes is gone, Beltran will probably be injured, who knows about Bay and Wright will be streaking along and alone.  Does that sound promising?  This little promising start will crash and burn eventually.

Clueless Cashman: I Shall Explain the GM’s Role

Yankees GM Brian Cashman recently stated that the Mets were “abusive” in their usage of Pedro Feliciano during his three years in Queens.  In the off-season, Feliciano signed a two-year, $8 million agreement to join the Bombers.  Now the Yankees have amazingly discovered that Feliciano might not have the goods that warranted the contract.  Feliciano was placed on the 15-day DL by the Yanks, retroactive to March 22, for a strained left rotator cuff.  The Yankees say they are optimistic that Feliciano will return as good as before and contribute as they anticipated but that didn’t stop Cashman from making statements about the Mets.

Brian, we all know how incredibly easy it is to pile on the Mets right now.  As a lifelong Mets fan, I’ve done my level-best to destroy the Mets in my columns any chance I get (if it’s rightfully warranted).  I have serious problems with their front-office management and reservations about recently hired coaches and those retained after Minaya’s departure.  Most Mets fans see our owners as nothing more than incompetent and out-of-touch rich people crying about how they were used during the Madoff scandal.  Given all the misfortune and ineptitude that is pervasive in Flushing, your assessment regarding Feliciano may be accurate but it shows a dereliction of your duty as Yankees general manager.

It was well-know to most savvy Mets fans that Feliciano was being over-worked.  266 appearances in three straight seasons will certainly put a strain on even the strongest arms.  SNY TV broadcaster Gary Cohen even nicknamed him “Perpetual Pedro.”  After his three years with the Mets were up, there was no serious talk in bringing Pedro back in spite of anything leaked for public consumption about a return.  He declined arbitration and the Mets knew he would.  I can’t imagine why the Mets were willing to part ways in that respect?  Could it be that the Mets were actually making the correct decision regarding Feliciano’s arm?  A miracle… They did!

Feliciano starts the season on the disabled list.  A surprise to no one, including the Yankees.  Cashman now goes on a diatribe about the Mets terrible coaches and training staff.  He rants about Pedro’s consistent use as evidence of abuse by the Mets.  He chastises the Mets for poor bullpen management.  It’s all a set-up, ironically, in case Feliciano’s arm does fall off.  Well, don’t blame me Yankee fans, I may have signed him but it was those evil Mets who shot his arm to hell.  Blame the Mets.

Due diligence, Mr. Cashman.  You are responsible for Pedro Feliciano now.  You were aware of his appearances and despite whether the Mets handled him wrong or not, it is you who gave him a contract.  If the Mets abused Feliciano, then shame on them.  It is irrelevant to you.  I will not stand by while you abrogate your duties.  The Mets may be inept and stupid but we fans are not.  We know what you’re doing and it’s typical Yankee arrogance.  It’s easy to pick on the little kid with all the problems when you’re the behemoth bully.  If Feliciano’s arm is a persistent pain to Cashman’s organization, we all know who he’ll blame and it’ll be the easiest excuse he will ever make.

2011 Pre-Season All I-95 Teams

The start of a new season brings excitement, unlimited possibilities, and the opportunity to make some wild predictions with minimal accountability. In the spirit of the new season, I present the Inaugural Pre-Season All I-95 Team:

Position American League National League
Catcher Matt Weiters – BAL Brian McCann – ATL
First Base Adrian Gonzalez – BOS Ryan Howard – PHI
Second Base Robinson Cano – NYY Dan Uggla – ATL
Third Base Evan Longoria – TAM David Wright – NYM
Shortstop Derek Jeter – NYY Hanley Ramirez -FLA
Left Field Carl Crawford – BOS Jason Bay – NYM
Center Field BJ Upton – TAM Shane Victorino – PHI
Right Field Jose Bautista – TOR Jason Werth – WAS
Designated Hitter David Ortiz – BOS n/a
Starting Pitcher Jon Lester – BOS Roy Halladay – PHI
Relief Pitcher Mariano Rivera – NYY Francisco Rodriguez – NYM

Red Sox Reign: 2011 MLB Predictions SUPERList

It’s been four years since the Red Sox added a world championship banner along Yawkey Way.  Well, they will not need to wait any longer.  I predict that the Boston Red Sox will win their eighth World Series title in 2011, honoring the 100th season of baseball at Fenway Park.

2011 MLB Regular Season Division Predictions

NL East: Atlanta and Philadelphia will battle it out for a majority of the season.  The crucial series between these two clubs will be the last series in Atlanta.  It may well decide the East.  I anticipate a decent showing from Florida Marlins.  I fully expect the Nationals to raise their stature but fall short of .500.  The Mets: don’t trust them.  The Braves take the Wild Card because Philly wins the season series.

NL Central: The Reds will be the class of this division.  St. Louis and Milwaukee will keep Cincinnati honest but won’t play a factor late in the season.  The Cubs and improved Astros will win around 75 games.  Meanwhile, the lowly Pirates will lose 100 games… again.

NL West: The World Champion Giants will fend off Colorado, who will fall a game short of the postseason.  The Giants and Rockies will pull away late, leaving the Dodgers behind.  San Diego and Arizona will bring up the rear.

AL East: The Red Sox will prevail over the Yankees, taking two of three at the Stadium in late September.  The Orioles will surprise everyone by posting a winning record – barely.  The Rays and Jays will take a huge steps backward as intradivision games against Baltimore, Boston and New York will not go there way.  The Bombers will get the wild card berth.

AL Central: Chicago will have one autumn success as the White Sox win the Central Division.  Minnesota and Detroit will both hold first place at points in the season while the Sox explode after the All-Star Break.  Everything settles down, the Tigers fade and the Twins can’t quite win enough.  Cleveland and Kansas City are the cellar-dwellers.  The Royals lose 100 games.

AL West: The team’s in this division will beat the hell out of one another.  Texas, Oakland and Los Angeles Anaheim will end up in a virtual tie toward the end of September.  The Rangers will eek out a division title with a mere 86 wins.  Seattle will enjoy the pain of 100 loses.

Interleague Play: AL 130NL 122

All-Star Game: AL 4NL 1

Awards:

Award National League American League
MVP Albert Pujols, STL Josh Hamilton, TEX
Cy Young Tim Lincecum, SF C.C. Sabathia, NYY
Rookie of the Year Craig Kimbrel, ATL Jeremy Hellickson, TB
Manager of the Year Fredi Gonzalez, ATL Buck Showalter, BAL

2011 MLB Postseason Predictions

ALDS: Red Sox over Rangers; Yankees over White Sox

NLDS: Giants over Braves; Phillies over Reds

ALCS: Red Sox over Yankees

NLCS: Phillies over Giants

World Series: Red Sox over Phillies in 7 at Fenway Park. MVP – SP Jon Lester, BOS

2011 Major League Baseball Predicted Standings:

National League 122-130 IL
American League 130-122 IL
East W – L East W – L
Phillies 93 – 69 Red Sox 100 – 62
Braves* 93 – 69 Yankees* 97 – 65
Marlins 83 – 79 Orioles 82 – 80
Nationals 76 – 86 Rays 79 – 83
Mets 74 – 88 Blue Jays 72 – 90
Central W – L Central W – L
Reds 90 – 72 White Sox 91 – 71
Cardinals 83 – 79 Twins 89 – 73
Brewers 82 – 80 Tigers 84 – 78
Cubs 78 – 84 Indians 67 – 95
Astros 73 – 89 Royals 62 – 100
Pirates 59 – 103
West W – L West W – L
Giants 95 – 67 Rangers 86 – 76
Rockies 92 – 70 Athletics 85 – 77
Dodgers 83 – 79 Angels 83 – 79
Padres 72 – 90 Mariners 61 – 101
Diamondbacks 66 – 96

Past Their Prime – Episode 4

This week Jesse and Lee discuss the Final Four that only an Uncool Dad from New Jersey saw coming and college basketball coaching jobs for those of us under 35.

We also get an East Coast baseball preview, Lee tips his hand about parenting and Jesse comes clean about his addiction to the Grandaddy of Them All – Wrestlemania!

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You too can win fabulous theoretical prizes by emailing us at PastTheirPrime@gmail.com or following us on Twitter at@_PastTheirPrime .

There’s No “I” In “Team”, But There Is An “If” In “Mets”

The start of a new baseball season brings excitement, opportunity, and hopefully, warmer weather. As the Mets head north from Spring Training (I guess they technically go south to play the Marlins), they bring with them something a little different- a whole lot of “if.” The 2011 season for the Mets will revolve around that one word, that one intangible characteristic that will shape the success or failure of this season.

Call me naive, optimistic, or flat-out insane, but if a few dominos fall the right way, I think the Mets can be good this season. Let me put together the projected lineup and my estimated stats (based on career stats, trends, the past few seasons, injuries, etc):

  1. Jose Reyes (.295, 95R, 12HR, 62RBI, 41SB)
  2. Angel Pagan (.292, 85R, 11HR, 67RBI, 29SB)
  3. David Wright (.283, 87R, 30HR, 106RBI, 18SB)
  4. Carlos Beltran (.264, 66R, 18HR, 76RBI, 8SB)
  5. Jason Bay (.276, 82R, 25HR, 86RBI, 10SB)
  6. Ike Davis (.277, 81 R, 26HR, 87RBI, 2SB)
  7. Josh Thole (.295, 52R, 6HR, 57 RBI, 3SB)
  8. Brad Emaus (.282, 48R, 8HR, 51RBI, 6SB)

This is where the “if” theory comes into play. If Carlos Beltran can get 400+ at-bats, if Jason Bay returns to being Jason Bay, if Ike Davis wasn’t a fluke, if Jose Reyes plays for that big payday, if Johan Santana comes back in July, if, if, if. Ownership issues aside, the 2011 Mets do have the opportunity to see success on the field. Ollie Perez and Luis Castillo are gone, a new manager has shown he can motivate his team, and the re-built bullpen has a solid group of guys who throw strikes.

Should the New York Mets be looking for a marketing slogan for the 2011 season, maybe it is as simple as “If…

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