Alternative Names for Bird Teams

Some professional teams really should go for a name change.  Take the Cardinal, no not Stanford whose name should be a Plover or maybe a Quail.  The St. Louis Cardinal is actually a Northern Cardinal.  The Northern Cardinal, a member of the crow family, makes quite a bit of noise, but despite their piercing song, take flight when challenged.  If St. Louis insists on holding on to a bird name, I would propose a more interesting one like a Tanager or a Whip-poor-will.  I can hear the crowd whipped into a frenzy with the call of the Whip-poor-will to taunt opposing pitchers and outfielders.  For the other bird teams, and I’m mixing sports here, like the Blue Jays, Eagles, Orioles, Owls and Seahawks, here are some choice bird replacements:

Baltimore Sapsuckers (Sphyrapicus thyroideus) – a nod to all the pine tar the players use

Toronto Arctic Warblers – a mouthful

Philadelphia Woodpeckers – you know, all the wooden bats

Rice Roadrunners – rolls off the tongue

Temple Grackles – Grackle is just a great football name and would instill fear in an opponent.

Seattle Flamingo – I don’t know why more teams aren’t named after wading birds.

Late August Red Sox Blues

The Red Sox are 7 games behind the division leading Yankees (sound familiar), 5.5 back of the Devil Rays for the Wild Card. It’s late August.  Not many games left and I’m not too optimistic. It’s been a depressing season for Sox fans.

Big Papi got off to a rough start, and just when the team began to come together, the injury bug hit.  Ellsbury, Pedroia, JD Drew, Beltran, Youkilis, Beckett, Martinez, Varitek, have all been out for long stretches of time.  Ellsbury was one of the biggest disappointments.  Without his base stealing and run scoring potential, the Sox have not been an offensive threat.  With Ellsubury and Pedroia both on the DL, the Sox have lost their spirit, heart and soul.  Clay Bucholz has been about the only shining light for the team posting a 14-5 record and 2.31 ERA to date and maybe Bard too; Clay, Bard and the new guys – ok, add Beltre in there too.  The new guys – guys I’ve never heard of have have made huge contributions.  Hall, McDonald, Kalish, Navaro and Hermida really stepped up this season to keep the Sox within range.

Oh my, big Papi just hit a triple.  Unbelievable.  There may be hope yet!

Give a Little Bit Daisuke (Dice-K) Matsuzaka

Are there any Red Sox fans out there on WorpPress, I mean WordPress?  I was combing through the Boston Globe this morning and came across Amalie Benjamin’s piece on Dice-K Matsuzaka, the Red Sox hurler who strained his neck in Spring training and will make his 2010 debut Saturday after several rehab starts.  Dice-K doesn’t speak much English and his quotes are translated into English from Japanese.   I wonder if some of what he says or means is lost in translation.  If the translations are correct, you won’t find a more humble athlete.  As quoted in Benjamin’s article, Matsuzaka on target for Saturday, Dice-K says, “…I’ve been such a burden on this team…if by coming back I can help give the team any sort of little boost or change of momentum, I think that’s all that I can ask for…and I don’t mean that I single-handedly am going to make all the difference…” Mindful of the fact that the team has made a substantial investment in his arm, Dice-K said, “…I hope I can repay them a little bit, and hopefully do that throughout the rest of the season”.  I doubt he meant that literally, but if he did mean it, what is a little bit to a man who makes 8,333,333 a year?

When Dice-K goes out on the mound, the PA system should play the Supertramp song, “Give a Little Bit”.   At least 7 solid innings.

New Guys Save the Day for the Red Sox

The Red Sox finally win a home game and snap a 5 game losing streak in dramatic fashion.  And it was the new guys who provided the sparks.  Jeremy Hermida (HR in the 4th), Josh Reddick (2 RBI) and Superhero Darnell McDonald up from the minors for his first Red Sox appearance.  McDonald hit a 2 run homer in the 8th to tie the game and drove in the game winning run in the 9th.

For every bit of good news, there’s always some bad.  And for David Ortiz and J.D. the bad news seems to get worse every night.  Both struggled again last night.  Both struck out twice.  Drew is now batting a dismal .133; Ortiz .146.  Big Papi has been a Big Disappointment so far.  He can’t get around on a fastball and when he makes contact, he hits a grounder to first.  The only pop in his bat came after he popped up in the 6th and broke his bat over his leg, as if it were a pencil.  Papi struggled early last year too and finally picked it up in the second half of the season, but I don’t think Francona has the patience to wait until July for Papi to heat up.  We saw some of that last night when Francona pinch hit Mike Lowell for Ortiz in the 7th.  Ortiz was none to happy – Francona called him “prideful”.  He did high five Lowell when he came back in from the bases at the end of the inning, but I didn’t see him rush the field when McDonald hit the game winner.  And he was unavailable for comment after the game.

Dustin Destined for AL MVP

2012 Update:  In 220 plate appearances – BA: .295; OBP: .350; Total Bases: 90; RBI: 21; Runs: 30; HR: 5; Errors: 1.  He’s off to a decent start but has been hurt. Let’s see if the laser show can light up and lead the Red Sox out of the American League East basement.

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Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox second baseman and 2007 AL Rookie of the Year, is having a MVP year in 2008.  As of September 21, 2008, he ranks 1st in the AL in runs (116); 1st in hits (204); 1st in doubles (51); 2nd in batting average (.324); 3rd in times on base (261); 4th in runs created (119) and 5th in total bases (310).  He rarely strikes out, just 49 times in 630 at bats.  He hits anything no matter where the pitch, with some power – 17 home runs and 79 RBI, not bad for a small guy.  Listed at 5’8″, he is one of the shortest players in the league.  Not the swiftest, he has good instincts and has stolen 18 bases; caught stealing only once.  He is also a very good fielder making only 6 errors in 151 games.

Photo by Eric Kilby

The last American League player to win Rookie of the Year and MVP the next,  was Cal Ripken, Jr in 1982 and 1983.

Nellie Fox was the last AL second baseman to win the AL MVP back in 1959. It’s time for another.  Dustin is destined to be the next MVP of the American League.