Evidently, he never saw Fever Pitch.
Sure the Boston Celtics have won 16 world championships and basketball was invented by James Naismith in Springfield, but come on, residents from Pittsfield to Cape Cod have worshiped the Red Sox more than any other team for decades. And why wouldn't they? Some of the most memorable and forgettable moments in baseball history have revolved around Beantown. From Carlton Fisk's historic home run in '75 to Bill Buckner's painful '86 Game 6 to a group of World Champion "Idiots" in 2004, the ravenous, fun-loving "Chowdaheads" of the Red Sox Nation have enjoyed the rollercoaster ride with an unmatched fervor. Sorry Yankees fan. They have Jimmy Fallon and Ben Affleck and you have, well, George Costanza.
Even though the governor's intentions were good, it's ironic that a politician named Mitt would not give the esteemed honor to a game that is the lifeblood of its residents. Up for re-election in 2007, let's hope Romney doesn't use "Sweet Caroline" as his campaign anthem. Here are the news and notes that sailed over the Green Monster this weekend:
WEEKEND UPDATE: Need-to-know info from the past few days
- All ten-thousand lakes of Minnesota are filled with fantasy owners' tears. Twins golden boy Francisco Liriano is sidelined indefinitely with elbow inflammation. MRI results released on Friday said that Liriano is suffering from a mild strain of the ulnar collateral ligament and has lost shoulder strength and flexibility. Team doctors said they were "very optimistic" the prized lefty could return to the mound this season after a rigorous, but lengthy, rehabilitation program. Dr. John Steubs noted, "We're confident that if he does his work, he will pitch again this season. It's going to take some time." Dr. Dan Buss added, "There is no typical recovery period; that's why we're being very non-specific. This is a very common problem in high-level throwers." Fortunately, both doctors agreed that Tommy John surgery was not a possibility. There is no timetable for the 22-year-old's return.
Step away from the ledge. Although Liriano may not return until at least mid-September, if at all, there is a silver lining in all of this. For those owners that play in keeper leagues, this is the perfect opportunity to use depression, fear and fright to your advantage. How? Play a mind game with your opponent. Talk up the injury, but remain apprehensive. Act as though you're buying a Rolls Royce with a recent string of engine problems on a budget fit for a Hyundai. It's very likely an uneducated Liriano owner will assume that his constant arm troubles could lead to an inevitable long-recovery surgery. If that is the case, they will listen to a deal, especially if they are in contention for a title. By using a passive aggressive approach, your chances of scoring on a ridiculous low-ball offer are enhanced. Patience will need to be a virtue, but the future has roads paved with gold with Liriano in hand. Make an offer.
Unfortunately, the story is much darker for yearly leaguers. Even if Liriano were to return to action in a month, he might as well don a bonnet and a rattle as Ron Gardenhire would likely limit his phenom to 80 pitches per game. Obviously, this would reduce his overall strikeout totals. For now, utilize your league's DL slot and see what definitive news about a possible return hits the newsstands before making any rash moves. My best guess is September 15. And, to use the docs' words, that is "very optimistic."
- On August 7, burrito punisher Livan Hernandez was traded from Washington to Arizona for pitching prospects Matt Chico and Garrett Mock. Diamondbacks manager Bob Melvin has lofty expectations for the ten-year vet, noting, "No. 1, he's been on the big stage before and pitched well in big games. No. 2, he's an innings eater and that's something we really needed. I don't see how we could have found a better fit for what we needed. He's a perfect fit." In his Arizona debut on August 11, Hernandez went eight strong innings, allowing four earned on 10 hits and one walk with four strikeouts.
The move to a more conducive hitter's park and his frightening 5.33 ERA and 1.55 WHIP would convince most owners that Hernandez is nothing more than an overweight pitcher in need of Jenny Craig. But don't be so thickheaded. Since the break, the beefy hurler has compiled fantastic numbers, sporting a 3.51 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 27:5 strikeout-to-walk ratio and three wins in 41 innings. The Diamondbacks rank 13th in the Majors in runs, which should greatly aid Hernandez's 56th best 5.12 run support numbers. Owned in just 67 percent of Yahoo! leagues, Livan should be a solid No. 4 in 12-team and deeper formats over the remainder of the season.
- Injury News and Updates: Someone please put Mark Prior out of his misery. The fragile Cubs starter was placed on the 15-day DL with shoulder tendonitis on Saturday and will likely miss the remainder of the season. Cubs trainer Mark O'Neal commented, "Everybody can do the math as to what that does for the rest of the season. At the end of the three weeks, hopefully we're going to (start) throwing and we'll go from there – I haven't really looked at the calendar. Then it would take 10 days of bullpen to get going again. The likelihood of him returning this year is questionable." Erase the cursed hurler out of your memory immediately. Rookie Angel Guzman received his third call up for the season and will fill Prior's spot in the rotation … Milwaukee Brewers shortstop Rickie Weeks will miss the rest of the season after deciding to have surgery to repair a troublesome tendon in his right wrist. Weeks added, "You want to come back strong next season, and have the whole offseason to get stronger. It is kind of hard coming out here and you can't go out and help the team play, but you've got to keep your head up." The high-upside youngster anticipates a full recovery in time for spring training. Considering the lack of depth at second base, Weeks is an ideal buy low candidate in keeper leagues … New York Yankee Godzilla Hideki Matsui has not been cleared to take batting practice yet, pushing his rehabilitation back another week. Yankees manager Joe Torre said, "There's nothing more that's gone wrong, it's just getting the tenderness out. If it's next year, it's next year." Prospects of Matsui's return to the lineup this season continue to dwindle. Melky Cabrera and Bernie Williams will continue to see additional at-bats in his absence … St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Mark Mulder will need at least one more rehab start before returning to the rotation. Cardinals' manager Tony La Russa noted, "He's not in condition to pitch. He's still conditioning. Bringing him to the big leagues in the middle of a pennant race, it's not a fair challenge." Mulder has been out of the lineup since June 22 with a shoulder impingement. Look for Mulder and his 6.09 ERA to return to the mound the last week of August … The Kerry Wood of the American League, Oakland starter Rich Harden took his first steps toward returning from an elbow injury, playing light catch on Saturday. A's trainer Larry Davis said, "It'll be an every-other-day thing for a while. This is a long road, so we have to really take our time." Ken Macha continues to hint that Harden will likely return as a bullpen fixture and not as a starter, possibly in mid-September. At this point, Jose Canseco has more value as a starter in yearly leagues. Cut ties with Harden.
BARGAIN BIN: Top players available in 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues
- Emil Brown, OF, KC
In an unprecedented move, a Kansas City Royal is being recommended in consecutive weeks. Yes, I have completely lost my mind. One of the forgotten 80-plus RBI surprises of last year, Brown has been the trump card in AL-only and deep mixed leagues of late. So far in August, the veteran outfielder is 11-for-34 with three homers and nine RBI. He has driven in at least one run in six of his past nine games and has six multi-hit games during that span. An unsung consistency king for head-to-head owners, the KC cleanup hitter is a nice pick-up for those in need of a dependable fifth outfielder with batting average, homer and RBI upside. Available in a whopping 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues he is an undervalued jewel that should continue to sparkle in 12-team and deeper leagues down the stretch.
PROSPECT WATCH: Top players down on the farm
- Matt Garza, SP, Min (ETA: Now)
Is it just me, or does Minnesota own more young flamethrowers than Minneapolis native Prince high-heeled boots? Overly amped in his debut, the former first rounder was torched by the Blue Jays for seven earned in 2.2 innings, including a homer to the power challenged John McDonald. Chock it up to first game jitters. The 22-year-old flamethrower has the stuff to be a fantasy marvel. Equipped with a mid-90s fastball, off-the-table mid-80s slider and a plus curve, Garza has a vast array of strikeout weapons. In Double and Triple-A this season, the rookie compiled salivating numbers – 91.1 IP, 2.27 ERA, 0.88 WHIP and a 101:21 strikeout-to-walk ratio. For now, the Garza forecast calls for occasional flashes of brilliance with a smattering of speed bumps. In other words, he's the AL-version of Matt Cain. With the Twins surging, Garza will be a nice spot-start in shallower leagues when the matchup warrants. Despite the brutal start, AL-only and deep keeper leagues should click the "add" button with confidence.
MARKET MOVERS: Charting player values
Yahoo! Experts League Update
There is some contention for the top spot, as Y!-Romig remains nine spots back of long-time leader RotoWire_Liss. KFFL-Wasserzieher is 11 points back in third place, while the rest of the league plays for pride. The latest league player pickups include Esteban Loaiza, Emil Brown, Robinson Cano and Yorvit Torrealba.