Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan has a column up today covering the life and times of Daisuke Matsuzaka, who may have thrown his last pitch for the Boston Red Sox. Passan does not exactly sugarcoat things.
He says that, in Matsuzaka, the Red Sox expected an ace, but rather, “got an ACE: Another Chubby Easterner, Hideki Irabu 2.0, a disappointment, a waste of money. A bust.” He says that, while Dice-K’s arm has been hurt, his middle finger seems to be just fine because he has raised it figuratively at the organization for years. He goes on to quote sources, presumably with the Red Sox, who call Matsuzaka “stubborn,” “pigheaded” and “lazy” and who says that the Sox are “tired of his act.” It’s a piece that needs to be read in its entirety to be appreciated.
Passan is certainly not out on an island with this criticism. I personally find nothing less enjoyable to watch in baseball than Dice-K when he’s nibbling, and a ton of Red Sox fans feel that way too. Still, I think the stuff thrown at him over the years is overdone and disproportionate.
There are a lot of miserable-to-watch pitchers who failed to meet expectations. How much of what we hear about Matsuzaka is fair and how much of it is the result of blowback from the Red Sox front office, embarrassed and angry at how monstrous a miscalculation they made in the first place? Isn’t a player’s bad attitude and bad habits the kind of thing that should be evaluated before the check is cut? In criticizing Matsuzaka for those shortcomings, shouldn’t we criticize Theo Epstein and his talent evaluators as well?
You always hear about how bad Dice-K is. And that’s fair as far as it goes. But you rarely hear the Red Sox criticized for their hundred million dollar blunder. In this case, I think there’s room for a more evenhanded allocation of vitriol.
Lots of teams have crazy concession items and lots of them will circulate photos of the more gonzo ones in the coming week leading up to the baseball season. The Braves, however, have been one of the more aggressive players in the gimmick concession item game in recent years, and they just sent around a release talking about some of the stuff they, and their concessionaire, Delaware North, will be serving at their new ballpark, Sun Trust Park, in 2017.
Among them:a blackened catfish po boy, which is a blackened 6-ounce filet of catfish cut up among three tacos, with a cajun remoulade. Some BBQ beef brisket sliders. A double burger. An ice cream bar. They’re also going to have a regionally-inspired thing called “The Taste of Braves Country,” showcasing southern cooking from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama. Which they’re calling “Braves Country.” Accurate enough, I guess, even if some of us are old enough to remember when they aspired to be a national team. Alas.
The big item, though, is this one:
It’s called the “Tomahawk Chop” sandwich. It’s a fried pork chop with collard green slaw and white BBQ sauce. It serves four and costs $26. I’m guessing it tastes fantastic, but I think the name is pretty cringeworthy for the same reason the cheer which gives it its name is. And, given the dynamics of the Braves move to their new stadium, the choice of BBQ sauce is . . . amusing? I dunno.
Anyway, enjoy, Braves fans.
Ten days ago Nationals ace Max Scherzer said he’d be ready for the start of the regular season. “I’m gonna do it,” Scherzer said.
[Ron Howard from “Arrested Development” voice] — No, he’s not:
Nationals manager Dusty Baker said that Max Scherzer is not on track to be the team’s opening day starter, and will most likely open the season as the third pitcher in the rotation.
He’s still projected to make it to the opening rotation, taking the hill, most likely, on Thursday April 6 against the Marlins. At least if the schedule doesn’t slip any more.
Scherzer, as you probably know, has a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, which has messed with his preparation and has caused him to alter his grip a bit. As of now Stephen Strasburg will get the Opening Day nod.