Do not -- we repeat, do not -- wave a pork chop in front of a Yankees fan while doing a TV report on ballpark concessions. These people are animals.
These fans don't seem to be confident.
Spring training is barely underway and new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine has already upset a bunch of folks.
He has exchanged barbs with his predecessor, Terry Francona. He aggravated Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter while reminiscing about his hallmark defensive play in the 2001 ALDS.
He zinged Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, noting that former Red Sox catcher Jason Varitek’s fine legacy included the time he “beat up” A-Rod.
We’re guessing this won’t be the only time the New York media has to rush to A-Rod for a reaction to something Valentine says.
“Like I've said, guys, I'm not gonna win many battles here when it comes to words, especially against Bobby,” Rodriguez told the New York media. “But I will tell you this, I got my new press secretary that should be landing in couple of days, Reggie Jackson, so I'll let him handle that, all right?”
Here is what they are saying about Valentine’s antics on the Internets:
Marty Noble, MLB.com: “Bobby Valentine has a master's degree in irritating the other team. And in his new role as Red Sox manager, he will have opportunity to irritate the Yankees. Witness his remarks on Tuesday in camp when asked about the impact of Varitek: ‘From afar, he was everything you want a guy who wears a 'C' to be. He was a man's man, he was a big hitter when needed, he was the leader of the pitching staff. . . . He was able to beat up. All that stuff. He was exactly what he was supposed to be.’ More likely to irritate Yankees followers were Valentine's comments about one of the more hallowed plays in Yankees' history -- Derek Jeter's free safety save and backhanded flip against the Athletics in Game 3 of the 2001 AL Championship Series. The play saved the Yankees.”
Dan Lamothe, Red Sox Monster: “We're on the cusp of a year that will be filled with more annoying drama than your average Adele song, and there's nothing we can do to about it. At the center of this, of course, will be the transition from Terry Francona to Bobby Valentine. This week alone, it's already given us dueling storylines, with Francona remarking that Valentine's decison to ban beer from the clubhouse smells like a public relations move and Bobby V opening fire on the Yankees, mocking Derek Jeter's celebrated flip-to-home in 2001 and bringing up Jason Varitek's 2004 glove sandwich for Alex Rodriguez.”
Ed Valentine, Around the Empire: “Make no mistake, Valentine is not doing this without thought, without a purpose. The former New York Mets skipper is a lot of things -- talkative, annoying, egotistical, odd -- are just a few that come to mind. One thing Valentine is not, though. He is definitely not stupid. He knows exactly what he is doing when he turns his taciturn tongue on the most important Yankees, and the team's most important personnel moves. He is trying to get under the skin of the Yankees, or get in their heads if you want to put it that way. He is trying to make the Yankees think about him, be aware of him. He wants to distract their focus.”
Jeff Capellini, CBSNewYork: “What makes Valentine truly unique is his shameless approach to causing mischief. It’s mostly playful mischief, but mischief nonetheless. He upsets the apple cart for the sake of upsetting the apple cart. He stirs the pot regardless if someone forgot to add all the ingredients. He’s the original Rex Ryan, without the predictions. There’s no need for him to put the cart before the horse because he’ll give you enough talking points in five minutes to last several news cycles. By the time he’s through you’ll be left wondering what his original point was. He’s simply the big fish in any size pond.”
Rob Neyer, Baseball Nation: “If you're a Red Sox fan you have to hope that Bobby Valentine is sly rather than foolish. You have to hope that Valentine is merely trying to motivate his troops; that he'll say or do almost anything within reason to establish a powerful new us-vs.-them mentality. The best part of all this? He's only just begun. This is only going to get better, sports fans.”
Wait, what -- A.J. Burnett is a playoff hero?
Crazy things happen in postseason baseball. We learn to expect the unexpected. Heroes rise from crevices in the 25-man roster.
But Burnett’s competent effort against the Tigers Tuesday night was perhaps that is the single most jarring development of the action to date.
The Big Apple media weighed in on that stunning development:
Joel Sherman, New York Post: “For one night, Burnett was not a heartbreaker — he was a hero. Inches from infamy in the first inning if Curtis Granderson does not make a pivotal catch, Burnett settled down to hold the Tigers to one run in 5 2/3 innings. That exceeded what was anticipated by roughly the distance from Motown to the Canyon of Heroes.”
Jeff Bradley, Newark Star-Ledger: “He was about 6 inches from being taken out of the game in the first inning. How the dominoes would have fallen from that point for A.J. Burnett, we’ll never know. But feel free to guess. The Yankees would have been down three, maybe four runs. Corey Wade would have entered the game. He was already throwing in the bullpen. Would Burnett have ever pitched for the Yankees again? Hard to believe he’d have ever gotten another chance if this opportunity had resulted in a first-inning hook. Six inches away.”
John Harper, New York Daily News: “In the end, perhaps only Curtis Granderson's retreating, stumbling catch of a scalded line drive with the bases loaded in the first inning saved A.J. Burnett from the worst baseball night of his life. Maybe it even saved him from forever being remembered as the second coming of Ed Whitson. But, hey, give the guy his due. Burnett grabbed on to that life preserver and, for the moment at least, used it to save the Yankees' season. In doing so, he changed his image - again, at least for the moment - from overpaid bum to unlikely hero. Burnett probably shouldn't count on a spot in Monument Park just yet, but his approval rating among Yankee fans had to take an Evel Knievel-like jump from reviled to, well, is revered too strong?”
George Vecsey, New York Times: “Burnett is not exactly a nonentity. He had the second-highest total of starts on the Yankees’ staff this year, 32, but finished none, with an 11-11 record and a 5.15 earned-run average. He was starting only because of the rainout in the Bronx last Friday that burned up the anticipated showdown between Justin Verlander and C. C. Sabathia.”
Bob Klapisch, The Record: “This is what it feels like to visit an alternate universe, where the hopeless (A.J. Burnett) are suddenly architects of brilliance. Where the endangered (Yankees) laugh at the abyss staring them in the face. And those who are seemingly in control (the Tigers) are forced to beg for mercy. Welcome to the all-new, totally re-designed Division Series, which is heading back to New York tied after the Yankees’ 10-1 rout in Game 4. The Yankees and Tigers are on equal terms now, but that’s only in a theoretical sense. The reality says the Bombers are suddenly the monsters in this one-game shootout, considering they have Ivan Nova, an awakened offense – yes, even Alex Rodriguez is hitting – and a home crowd that’ll pick up on the mid-westerners’ fear the instant they step in the building Thursday night.”
CRUMMY EFFORT OF THE NIGHT
Brewers pitcher Shaun Marcum didn’t make it out of the fifth inning. He allowed seven runs. So many the top the Milwaukee rotation isn’t quite as good as everybody thinks.
Does the University of Missouri really believe it can compete in SEC football? Won’t the Tigers look like a flag football team playing in a tackle football league?
Why does the NHL even bother with preseason games?
FROM THE TWEETDECK
The Big Lead: “If ever there was a weekend to whisk the wife away - not something I advocate from Sept-Jan (football) - this is it. Weak college/NFL sked.”
FROM THE BLOG-O-SPEAR
Awful Announcing takes a run at the World-Wide Leader:
ESPN just doesn't know when to say no, do they? Yes, ESPN Films (formerly ESPN Original Entertainment) has hit it out of the park with their 30 For 30 documentary series. However, ESPN's checkered past in the world of scripted dramas and made-for-tv movies is more like a graveyard littered with corpses of the dead. Of course everyone remembers the high-profile downfall of Playmakers and the train wreck that was Tilt. But, do you also recall such gems as A Season on the Brink, Hustle, and The Bronx is Burning? Apparently, ESPN doesn't remember these colossal duds either. Instead of being content with the success of their critically acclaimed documentaries, ESPN is now looking to pitch scripted sitcoms, starting with the tale of four sports fans from where else... Boston.
Now, I take a couple of issues with this news besides the obvious fact that the show will most likely suck worse than Outsourced. After all, one of the creators was responsible for Scrubs. First, there's the continuing global problem of the East Coast media bias. Many fans who live west of Philadelphia have long complained of a perceived bias for the I-95 corridor from every national sports media outlet. And who could blame the rest of us who live in "Flyover Country" or the West Coast? The Yanks and the Sawx, and now the Phillies dominate baseball coverage from all major networks. The NFC and AFC East is consistently featured in primetime and nationally televised NFL games. The Pac-12 is almost constantly ignored in college football discussion. Why can't a series about sports fans be focused in another, less glamorous sports town like Cleveland, or St. Louis, or Denver? Because, of course, all must bow down to the best sports city in the world, Boston.
The Tampa Bay Rays can only wonder what it is like.
Because we can go 30 seconds without hearing about it. Enough!