Friday, March 18, 2005

Mailbag time!

All the great sports writers have to have a mailbag. It's kind of like the chicken and the egg deal. What comes first? Being great or having a mailbag? In my case, I'm having a mailbag column before I turn great. So greatness must be the next step, eh? I didn't get too much in the way of mail, so this may be a one and only time deal. But we'll see.

Megs asks - "Now that the "curse has been reversed" will you (and/or other fans) be as superstisious as they have been?"

Superstition has been a big part of baseball for as long as I can remember. From my earliest favorite player, Wade Boggs, eating chicken before every game, drawing in the batter's box before every at bat, and having an exact routine he followed every game day to Nomar's glove ritual before every pitch, players have always been superstitious. And that won't change a bit. As for the "curse", I've never been a huge believer in it. I've done things to try to break the curse (dropped holy water in Yankee Stadium, destroyed two Babe Ruth bobbleheads, named fish after Yankee players then fed them to the turtle, etc), but I never really believed in it. All those things were just in case. Now we will never have to hear about the Red Sox being cursed. We will, however, still have to hear about the Curse that is affecting the Cubs. And a new curse (perhaps the White Sox?) will likely surface to replace the one that was reversed. As to other superstitions, they're not going anywhere. Lucky underwear, proper seating, mojo, rally grills, and anything else that happens to help the Sox win will be around forever. Sports fans are a superstitious bunch and anything we can do to help our team win will be done.

Ebjim asks - "Will Bill Mueller last the entire seaso? If he does miss some time, do you think Kevin Youkilis will end the season as the full-time starter?"

Will Bill Mueller last an entire season? Absolutely not. One of my first posts here was actually my thoughts on Mueller's health and Youkilis's chances with the team. He has been plauged by injuries over the course of his entire career and starting the season with surgery is not a good start. Terry Francona has already said (I wish I could find the article...) that it's almost guaranteed that Mueller will have to have at least one more minor surgery during the season to clean the knee up a bit. I'd say that Mueller will probably play around the same amount of games as he did last year (110). As for Youkilis, I'm a pretty big fan of the guy. Maybe I put too much stock into him because he's a home grown talent, but I think he'll do fine. Between Mueller likely missing time and Youkilis's practice at first this spring, I think he'll get plenty of playing time. He likely won't be considered a full timer and if everyone is healthy come play-off time, Youk will likely be on the bench again, but I'd say that he'll get at least 300 AB's this year and if I had my way, he'd get 400.

Frawst asks - "Why are so few former Sox involved now in the organization? Do you think I can borrow your GF for the weekend?"

Before the 2004 season there was a writer out there who talked about what the real curse of the Red Sox was. He claimed that the Red Sox inability to bring back former players was a huge part of why they were suffering for so long. And it's true. Jody Reed could be our third base coach. Mike Greenwell could be managing the Portland Sea Dogs. Roger Clemens could be our pitching coach....oh wait, that guy's still going. I think the main reason why our players don't return is because of the front office. The new regime might turn out to be better (although Nomar, Lowe, Hillenbrand, and Pedro don't have a single nice thing to say about the Sox between them, so I wouldn't count on it), but our previous front office wasn't exactly filled with people persons. Roger Clemens wants to be remembered as a Yankee. Wade Boggs probably feels the same. Mo Vaughn was run out of town. None of our stars leave on good terms. The Sox always seem to do things to hurt their feelings. Lou Gorman and Dan Duquette didn't know how to handle people. Theo and the gang put an emphasis on winning and the team over individual players and sentimental things so it's likely that thyey'll be just as bad. At the end of the season Wakefield is going to be a free agent. If he doesn't have a good year and prove that he's still a major league player, Theo won't even give him a second look next offseason. They won't offer Wake a contract despite how long he's been with us, despite all he's done for us, and despite how nice a guy he is because he won't be worth the kind of money he'll be asking for. I can't say that I disagree with this method. This methotic and stats over human kind of strategy has led us to a World Championship and will lead us to more. But it's not very player friendly. The players here will always have fond memories of their playing time, the fans, and the city, but the front office and the way they were treated will always leave a bad taste in their mouth. After they retire and start looking for coaching or front office type jobs, they'll likely look elsewhere.

As for borrowing my girlfriend, first I'm going to have to ask why. If it's for a good reason, then I'm going to have to insist that you pay for airfare for her to get down there. And you'll have to buy a plane ticket for me too.

Bc320 asks - "What happened to Arquimedez Pozo? And how did he get his awesome name?" and "Why didnt Rudy Pemberton ever turn into the star he was supposed to be back in 97?"

Arquimedez Pozo, eh? Well, my guess is that he realized that he wasn't a big league player. His .189 career batting average is proof enough of that. In 1999 Pozo went over to Japan, but I can't find any game recaps or even any stats that prove that he even played a single game over there. What do I think happened? He either suffered some kind of injury or he wasn't even able to get playing time over in Japan, so he retired. This is mostly just speculation. I do know that he was signed by a club in Japan in 99, but I don't know anything other than that. And about his name, that much is obvious. Many surnames come from whatever trade a family did way back in the day. So Wade Miller's ancesters were likely millers. Sometimes, the surname's spelling is altered for a variety of reasons. So it's likely that Kevin Millar and Bill Mueller's ancesters were also millers. Pozo's family once made pogo sticks. And the spelling was accidently changed when they came over to the States. His first name comes from an arguement between his parents. Papa Pozo wanted to name his boy Arqua Man. And Mama Pozo wanted to name him Medezine (she was a bad speller and was trying to go for medicine...the very thing that once saved her life when she was a child and had a bad cold). The two decided to comprimise and go with Arquimedez.

From what I can find out about Rudy Pemberton, he never really was that good. He was never thought of as a prospect until his amazing year in 1997, and even then he was a bit too old to be considered a prospect. He spent the first part of his career as a bit of a journey-man when he was drafted by the Tigers and ended up playing for the Rangers before getting traded to the Red Sox for minor league pitcher Bryan Eversgerd. His 1997 season in Pawtucket was a good one when he hit over .300 and knocked 27 home runs. His year only got better once he hit the big league club and posted an absolutely amazing .512 avg. How did he do all that if he never was that good? He mostly got lucky. No one hits .512. Over the course of 41 at bats, the guy got really lucky. Every ball he hit fell in a spot where a fielder just happened to not be. Everyone was expecting good things from Pemberton in 98 and nothing materialized. He's probably better than his last year in the bigs indicates, but once he started off that cold, he never really got a chance. Pemberton ended up heading to Japan in 1999 and that's where his trail seems to end.

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