Sunday, March 12, 2006


Curt Schilling started out masterfully, spinning three beautiful innings Saturday afternoon against the Pirates. Then it all fell apart. Schilling has been toying with the idea of pitching inside. He's had some good masters of this art to observe in the past from Randy Johnson to Pedro Martinez. However, he didn't really show the fortitude necessary to pitch like that on Saturday. Maybe that wasn't it, but I think it was.

When you're not used to hitting batters it can affect you. Curt has only hit 47 batters in his Major League career over 18 seasons. The most he ever had in a single season was 6. Compare that with Pedro who has hit 119 in 13 full seasons, or Roger Clemens who has beaned 150, or Randy Johnson who has hit an impressive 168 batters over 18 seasons. These guys are used to seeing players go down and even get hurt when hit by the ball. They are also used to throwing up and in without hitting someone in the head.

Pitching inside is all about the threat. Even the toughest hitters covered in steroid filled muscles and layers of padding don't want to get hit, especially in the head. This instinctual fear keeps them from getting too comfortable in the batter's box. This allows the pitcher to more freely throw the ball over the plate. However, the intention is almost never to hit someone in the head with a pitch.

I don't think Schilling meant to hit Duffy in the head. I think he went up and in on a player that, like Schilling, is still in spring training mode and isn't at 100% on his toes like he would be in May or June. So Duffy went down and maybe Curt got a little shaken up about it.

Whatever went wrong, it went wrong big time. Curt gave up 4 runs in his final inning of work, ruining his stat-line on an otherwise fine day of pitching.

The good news from Saturday's 10-7 loss to the Pirates was that the bats came alive just a bit. J.T. Snow went 2 for 3 with a double and a pair of RBI. Alex Gonzalez and Tony Graffanino each went 1 for 3 with an RBI. However, Schilling's implosion and Jon Lester's lackluster relief performance resulted in yet another loss in spring. Hopefully, the Red Sox will get losing out of their system before April.


Adam Stern was welcomed back to the Red Sox with a singing of "O, Canada" by some of his teammates and went 1 for 1, but the return of the WBC star was not enough. Neither was a 2 run homer by Kevin Youkilis which was all the Red Sox offense could muster in terms of scoring. Papelbon started off nicely but faded, eventually allowing 5 runs in 3.1 innings. His stamina will be pivotal to the Red Sox this year if he is going to be in the rotation. We've seen this problem with Bronson Arroyo as well as with other younger starters such as Casey Fossum a few years back. They mow through lineups one or two times then hitters figure them out and knock them around. It usually isn't a question of arm strength. It is coming up with new ways to fool hitters. Great pitchers toy with hitters each time through the lineup, setting them up, and showing them something different each time. That's what good starters have to do to produce Quality Starts and go deep into games.

So the Red Sox have lost yet another Mayor's Cup to the crosstown Twins. It isn't serious, but in March on the verge of serious baseball, it is fun to pretend, isn't it?

Keith Foulke faced batters for the first time on Friday. He played long toss on Sunday. No word yet on when a return is expected.

David Wells will pitch in a minor league game this week. No word on when he will join the big club.

A friend of mine went down and saw the Sox in spring training this week. He said that Crisp looked good. Not only was he putting up good numbers, but he was making solid contact and was playing heads up baseball, particularly on the bases. We need that type of Dirt Dogedness on the team, especially from our leadoff hitter.

In the first game of 2nd round play, the Americans walked off with a 4-3 ninth inning victory over the Japanese, but it was not without some controversy. With the game tied at 3 in the top of the inning, it appeared as though Japan had taken the lead of a sac fly. The Americans appealed and the play was upheld by the 2nd base umpire. Then the play was overturned by the home plate umpire. Those plays are always bang bang but I can't recall an appeal denied then that denial being overruled. Be that as it may, the Americans have taken a pivotal game against a tough team.

Cuba beat Venezuela 7-2 in Pool 2 play. Cuba is demonstrating that they are a legitimate threat in this tournament despite having no Major Leaguers on their roster.

Puerto Rico beat the Dominican 7-1. David Ortiz and Alex Cora both went 0 for 4. Julian Tavarez pitched an inning allowing 3 unearned runs and 3 hits. Hard to call all of those runs unearned when you allow 3 hits in an inning.

The US takes on Korea tomorrow, Cuba plays the Dominican in a huge matchup of epic proportions, and Venezuela faces off against Puerto Rico.


I'm calling it, although it could have been called long ago. The season for the Bruins is over. After a 6-2 loss to the Sabres Sunday night, the 5th loss in a row and the 8th out of the last 9 games played, the Bruins are all but mathematically eliminated from the playoff hunt. With 17 games left, the Bruins are 13th in the Eastern Conference standings, 10 points behind 8th place Tampa Bay. That isn't the major problem, however. The problem is, the Thrashers, Islanders, Maple Leafs, and Panthers all stand in between the Bruins and the 8th and final playoff spot. It just simply seems incredibly unlikely that the Bruins will amass enough points in their remaining 17 games and for five teams to fold up, especially considering how badly the Bruins have played recently and the loss of Sergei Samsonov. So this is it. The Bruins are done. Hopefully I'm wrong. But I doubt it very much.

The potential disaster in the NFL was averted as the League and Player's Association came to an agreement on a new CBA. However, the football news was not completely good. The Patriots cut defensive end/outside linebacker Willie McGinist a few days ago. The move was an obvious one because of McGinist's $7 million cap figure. I wouldn't be shocked if the Patriots attempted to sign him with a more cap-friendly contract, but I also wouldn't be surprised if the NFL's all-time leader in playoff sacks gets some big offers to play elsewhere. It will be sad to see Willie go, however. He made many big plays in many big games and his versatility and stamina were remarkable. Players like him allow coaches like Belichick to look smart. Not that Bill isn't a genius, he just looked like a super-genius with guys like McGinist out there.

There were some close games, but each of the favorites moved on in the first round of the Hockey East playoffs. Top seed Boston University beat UMass in two games to advance. Maine beat UMass-Lowell 4-3 twice to move on. Boston College squeezed by Vermont in OT then crushed them in the second game to go to the semi-finals. UNH needed double OT to seal the deal but eventually put Providence College away.

The Semi-Finals begin on St. Patrick's Day in the Garden with Boston College playing Maine and Boston University playing New Hampshire. The winners of those games will play the next day for the Hockey East Championship and an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Sources and Resources for this post:
Yahoo! MLB Photos Sports
Hockey East Online
World Baseball Classic


It happened a few months ago, BC was selected to play in the MPC Computers Bowl in Boise against Boise State instead of somewhere a bit warmer and somewhere a bit more neutral. That was understandable. The teams selected by more desireable bowls had larger fan bases and more notoriety. However, this seeding situation is unexcusable. The NCAA seeding system is supposed to be based entirely on the quality of the team. However, BC was screwed out of what should have been a 3 seed. Now, I know it is only 1 seed difference, but they should have gotten a 3 seed and a playing location closer to home such as Dayton or Detroit.

What confuses me is that Boston College got a 4 seed, and North Carolina got a 3 seed. We beat UNC twice, including the ACC Semis. We lost to Duke in the title game by the slightest of margins. Yet we have been ranked by the NCAAs to be weaker than at least 12 other teams even though we are ranked 11th at the moment and just beat Maryland, UNC, and lost by 2 to a #1 seed.

The seeding isn't the only thing that irritates me. BC will be playing in Salt Lake City. The other three teams in BC's pod are all western teams (Montana, Pacific, and Nevada). Hell, Nevada is right next door to Utah. If BC manages to win their first two games, they'll move on to Minneapolis. They will probably face Villanova.

I think BC has earned a 3 seed and the chance to play closer to home. They finished 3rd in the ACC, 11th in the nation, then went through the ACC tournament losing only to #3 in the country Duke by 2 points in the state of North Carolina. Apparently, that isn't good enough. Oh well.

I'm probably overanalyzing minutia here. Boston College still has one of the easiest paths it has ever had in the NCAA tournament. They should beat 13th seeded Pacific. I think they'll have a close one against 5th seeded Nevada but should move on. After that, they're certianly capable of beating Villanova but it won't be easy. After that it will probably be Ohio State or Florida which will be tough but not as tough as Villanova. Then probably UConn or Tennessee. BC is a candidate to win all of this thing. Do I think it will happen? Probably not. But if they play just a bit better for a bit longer than they played against Duke today and do it every game, they will win it all.


Chapel Hill, NC is 45 miles from Greensboro. Chestnut Hill, MA is 640 miles from Greensboro. In a game that was essentially a road game, the BC Eagles were able to hold on against #10 North Carolina 85-82, earning a spot in the ACC finals against #3 Duke. This was the second time the Eagles defeated UNC and it was probably the more impressive victory considering how well the Tar Heels have been playing, beating Duke on the road only a few days prior to this game.

Craig Smith and Jared Dudley led the way. Smith had 23 points and 15 rebounds for his second double double of the tournament. Dudley played all 40 minutes of the game and contributed 21 points. Sean Marshall had 14 points for BC, and freshman Tyrese Rice added 10 off the bench. Points off the bench were the difference in this one, one of the differences, at least. BC had 14 points from bench players while UNC only had 6.

The game was a close one the entire way through. BC clung to a 43-42 lead at halftime. In the 2nd half, they pulled away, leading at times from between 8 to 12 points. In the closing minutes, as UNC got more aggressive and BC more conservative, the gap closed. However, BC hit a few key baskets that secured them a victory and a spot in the finals.

Now it is on to face Duke. Much like UNC, Duke will essentially be playing a home game. This game is a winnable game for BC. Duke had some struggles to close out the regular season with a home loss to UNC and a loss to unranked Florida State. The two teams played each other on February 1st with Duke eaking out an 83-81 victory at Chestnut Hill.

However, there are many reasons why Duke is the #3 team in the country. They will probably be the #1 team if they win this game after #1 UConn and #2 Villanova each had early losses in the Big East tournament. They've only lost 3 games all season. Two were on the road, and one was against arch-rival North Carolina. They haven't had an easy schedule to navigate, either. This isn't Gonzaga, here. They beat Memphis, now the 5th ranked team in the country. They beat Texas in Austin when Texas was #2 in the nation. They beat Indiana on the road when Indiana was ranked 16th. They've beaten a good number of good and solid teams and beaten up on many opponents. They've scored over 100 points twice, over 90 7 times (including 97 against Texas), and over 80 on 19 occasions this season. They're a powerhouse.

This game is almost a no lose situation for Boston College. Nobody would expect them to beat Duke in Greensboro, especially considering Duke's history in the ACC tournament (16 titles, 6 of the last 7). However, the Eagles have made it to the ACC finals, beat UNC on a national stage and have probably secured themselves a 3rd seed in the NCAA tournament regardless of the outcome of this game. They have an opportunity here to do even better than that. If they can win this game, they could earn themselves a 2 seed.

At the moment,'s Bracketology has the Eagles as a 4 seed, but this might have been before BC beat UNC and it was a good 4 seed going up against Kent State, then the winner of West Virginia or San Diego State. Today's game against Duke could be the biggest game in Boston College history if they win it.

Sources and Resources for this post:
How Far Is It? by