Sports Opinion & Analysis

Archive for September, 2013|Monthly archive page

Dear Ben, I’m Sorry

In MLB, Uncategorized on September 26, 2013 at 3:31 pm

By Chris Hallenbrook

Dear Ben Cherington,

I’m sorry. This past offseason every time you made a major addition I criticized you for overpaying for aging, mediocre ballplayers. I was entirely convinced that your judgment was shot and that thanks to your inability to be bold the best the 2013 Red Sox could hope for was a return to the .500 mark. Well, so much for that. Here’s the rundown of this past offseason, my complaints and why I was wrong.

Shane Victorino – Coming off a pedestrian .255/.321/.383 season with the Phillies and Dodgers, it seemed utterly insane to be giving him $13 million a year for 3 years at the age of 32. I still think the contract was too rich, but his contribution to the team far exceeds his massively improved .295/.353/.453. He has been crashing into walls in right a la Trot Nixon despite playing with pain most of the season. In fact, since August the career switch hitter has been batting exclusively from the right side due to a bad hamstring, and has continued putting up big numbers and delivering the key hits despite not having faced right-handed pitching from the right side of the plate since his days in high school. He’s a gamer.

Mike Napoli – I put Napoli in the same boat as Victorino this past offseason, namely a declining veteran who should have been signed on the cheap, not for top dollar. But as with Victorino, he’s been a grinder, playing through plantar fasciitis, playing in more games than he has since 2010 and producing more than his .258 batting average suggests. Despite slumping across the summer months, he was white hot in April and May, helping the Sox to a badly needed quick start, and is now hitting well over .400 for the month of September. Talk about playing your best when it matters most.

Johnny Gomes – To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to this acquisition because I didn’t see him doing anything notable. Boy, was I wrong about that. Sure he’s only hit .238, but he has been a valuable fourth outfielder, ably filed the holes when guys got hurt and oh yeah, he has hit four pinch hit home runs with a .515 batting average in over twenty pinch hit appearances. He embodies the main cause of the Red Sox’s turnaround, which he articulated a month ago when he remarked that “Heart and hustle are two things you can’t fake. Bring those two things every single day and the baseball gods will reward you.”

Ryan Dempster – Oh yeah, I just loved bringing in a 36 year old pitcher whose career ERA versus the AL East was over 4.00. I’m pretty sure I wanted to have your sanity checked after that one Ben. And admittedly, I’m not too sure I’m willing to take this one back given his 4.46 ERA. Then again, the man eats innings, which is always a plus, and you turned Jose “Iggy” Iglesias into Jake Peavy, who has had nothing but filthy stuff since joining the Red Sox, so it all comes out in the wash.

The Bullpen – As Matthew Perry tells fantasy baseball owners “don’t pay for saves.” I used to say that Theo Epstein needed an Assistant General Manager in Charge of Shortstops. You need an Assistant General Manager in Charge of the Bullpen (or at least closers). Andrew Bailey and Joel Hanrahan have done nothing for this team, and cost assets including Jed Lowrie, JJ Reddick, Mark Melancon and other prospects. Melancon is especially galling as you gave up on him after only one year despite the fact that relievers are notorious for their ups and downs, thereby allowing all Red Sox fans the joy of watching him post an otherworldly 1.38 ERA in 68.1 innings (and counting) for the Pirates. That said, you pulled Koji Uehara out of nowhere and watched as he retired 37 consecutive batters in one of the most dominant closing performances since Dennis Eckersley played in Oakland (further proving Berry’s point).

So all in all, you were right and I was wrong. What do you know, maybe you are more qualified for the job than I am…nah, let’s not push it. I’ll just stick with saying “I’m sorry.”

Confused and Grateful,

Chris Hallenbrook

PS – all stats were as of the end of day on 9/19/13

I invite you to follow me on Twitter @CHallenbrook.

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Instead Of Giving Away All Those Pizzas With Peyton Manning, How About Papa John’s Just Pay Their Employees?

In Media, NFL on September 21, 2013 at 10:22 am

By Jonathan Danielson

Before we even start, I want to apologize to you. I know I haven’t been around that much. We all haven’t. Chris got a new gig writing about the Steelers, the Jeffs are busy, Mimmo’s Mimmo, Kevin’s writing about copy machines, and we’ve all had big events pop up in our lives that took us away from this. From you.

And we’re sorry.

For me, I got a new job teaching college, so between an 800 mile move, lesson planning, grading, grading,  grading, and grading, I’ve been a bit busy. Who knew it took eight hours to prepare for a one hour lecture on Marduk and the Enuma elish?

Only by hour eight did I realize this "Marduk" was not the Marduk I was supposed to be lecturing on.

Only by hour eight did I realize this “Marduk” was not the Marduk I was supposed to be lecturing on.

Regardless, sometimes something will happen that makes me so angry, I have to try to make you angry about it as well.

And while the obvious topic would appear to be the Dodgers taking a classless swim at Chase Field, we all have to understand that the Dodgers are from Los Angeles, a place where it’s socially acceptable to OD on crack in someone’s bathroom at a dinner party. I saw Pulp Fiction, I know how these people think.

Besides,  John McCain pretty much summed up everything I would have written anyway.

"Dicks!"

“Dicks!”

So instead of the Dodgers buying the NL West, the thing that got me so upset is Papa John’s Pizza. Specifically, eight Papa John’s locations in Sacramento that decided to close their doors on payday, and leave their employees high and dry.

Per The Blaze, Papa John’s pizza shut their doors in Sacramento, and instead of paying  their employees for services already worked, they taped a note to the window that more or less said, “Sorry Charley, go ask the Government for help.”

Then, via their Facebook page, the Papa John’s corporate office more or less told these workers, “Man that sucks. Work with the people who just screwed you over to figure this out. Oh, and we’ll start up a relief fund.”

Let’s be clear, this is not Hurricane Katrina. This is not a terrorist event or a national disaster. This is fifty employees who, while working under the Papa John’s name, were stolen from by an individual franchise. These employees worked the hours they were supposed to work and they were not compensated for it. These are people making minimum wage during tough economic times, and instead of the corporate office stepping up and making it right by just cutting them a check for what is owed them and then dealing with their franchise later, they said, hey, we’ll set up some red tape. 

And, good luck paying your bills for the time being.

"Boy Papa, we sure look like robber barons at this point, don't we?" "We sure do Peyton."

“Boy Papa, we sure look like robber barons at this point, don’t we?” “We sure do Peyton.”

If Papa John’s can afford to offer half-off pizzas every time a local baseball team wins, or millions of free pizzas during football season, they can afford fifty checks that the franchise’s workers already earned. Lets do the math here : If minimum wage in California is $8 an hour, and the average Paper John’s worker works 30 hours a week, one check would be $240. Times that by be the fifty and that’s $12,000.

$12,000 may sound like a lot, but how much are a million free pizzas? While it might have been the individual franchise that failed here, they failed under the Papa John’s name. And somewhere, the buck’s got to stop.

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