October 20, 2003

Mailbag (World Series Edition)

For the first time a long time, there wasn't a playoff game last night for me to write about today. So, in place of that, I thought it would be a good time to dip into the ol' mailbag...

In response to my "The Curse of Grady Little" entry from last Friday, in which I lay much of the blame for Boston's ALCS loss on their manager, "Ernie G." writes:

"Your argument is only half true, because if you blame Grady Little then you have to also blame Pedro Martinez for wanting to stay in the game when Grady came out and talked to him. Therefore he is also a 'curse.'

Some might say he is a competitor and would want to stay in the game even if he was gassed. That is no excuse to put yourself before the team and even though he has criticized the Red Sox publicly for not having a stable bullpen to hold the lead for him, he should have given them the chance and not put himself above the team."

I actually got a few emails similar to this and I also read some articles expressing similar feelings. I disagree completely.

If you go out to the mound in the seventh game on a playoff series and ask the starting pitcher if he thinks he should come out of the game, I would be willing to bet that there aren't five pitchers in the entire world who would say "sure skip, bring someone else in."

Grady Little is the manager of the Boston Red Sox (at least for a little while longer), which means it is his job to make decisions like this. Pedro Martinez is paid to pitch, not to decide when he comes out and who replaces him from the bullpen.

The bottom line is that Grady Little screwed up what I believe to be a fairly obvious decision, and that wrong decision likely cost the Red Sox a trip to the World Series.

In regard to my entry from last Wednesday ("Cubs Win! Cubs Win! Wait...what?") in which I half-jokingly blame comedian Bernie Mac for jinxing the Chicago Cubs during his rendition of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", "Michael" writes:

"Just wanted to let you know that I thought the exact same thing during the seventh inning stretch of Game 6 and have been trying to find someone else who noticed it. Worse than Bernie Mac saying "Champs" (and trying to be heard saying it over a crowd of obviously bothered Cubs Fans yelling back the appropriate "Cubbies") is that Bernie Mac was only there so that Fox could promote his show. Sacrilege!!!

Maybe he is a fan, but certainly not famous for being a fan or a great Chicago Cub figure who should have had the honor. Call this "The Curse of Harry Carey" (although he'd never do it to his Cubs, would he?). Oh well, there's always next century."

Just to be very clear, this will be called "The Curse of Bernie Mac" from now on, and I envision HBO doing a documentary on it very soon. I'd be willing to appear in and/or narrate the film for a small fee, or possibly a Sopranos DVD box set.

I did wonder at the time why exactly Bernie Mac was singing in such an important game. I mean, they get a different person to do the honors during every home game for the entire year, so I would understand seeing Bernie Mac singing during an afternoon game in mid-June. But in the NLCS? It just seems like they could have gotten any number of more famous actors/comedians/singers, not to mention former Cub greats.

After hearing a Grady Little press conference during the ALCS, I wrote last Tuesday ("Zimmer, Yankees subdued by fluttering baseball") that I was very intrigued by his unique accent, saying "That is perhaps the strangest and most disturbing way of speaking that I have ever heard. It's like a cross between the guy from Sling Blade and Forrest Gump, except not as intelligent sounding."

A couple readers had some other suggestions for similar sounding accents...

From "Casey":

"He's Milton from Office Space, only slightly more intelligible. I heard him this morning on the radio and I thought for sure he would mention his stapler."

I'm not exactly sure how many of you have had the pleasure of watching Office Space, but if you have, that's spot-on. Office Space is, in case you're wondering, an awesome movie, one of the funniest and most underrated I have ever seen.

Here's a picture of the aforementioned "Milton" and his famous stapler...

From "Dave":

"Just thought I'd let you know that the accent I've always felt was closest to Grady's is Boomhauer's, from King of the Hill. Of course, he's fictitious, so maybe that contributes to Grady's image as a cartoon figure."

Here's a picture of "Boomhauer"...

So, we've got him compared to the guy from Sling Blade, Forrest Gump, Milton from Office Space and "Boomhauer" from King of the Hill. Some very good company, for sure. And what do they all have in common with Grady Little? None of them will be managing a major league team this time next month either.


One final note...

A lot of people have emailed asking about the final tally for all of my "Today's Picks" during the regular-season. For those of you unfamiliar, I made hypothetical bets each day during the regular season at the end of each blog entry, using the real betting-lines, and tracked my winnings all year.

Throughout the year, I gradually built up my "bankroll" and I had my total winnings at $2,995 going into my final day of picking games. In an effort to jump over the $3,000 mark, I went with the Red Sox and Pedro Martinez -200 over the Devil Rays, and Pedro came through with the big win.

So, I ended the season with a 242-238 record and $3,095 in purely hypothetical winnings.

As you can probably tell by the record that is barely above .500 despite more than $3,000 in winnings, my strategy for betting on baseball games is to go primarily with underdogs. I rarely go with a heavy favorite and almost always take a chance on a heavy underdog. And, for this season at least, my strategy proved to be a good one.

*****Comments? Questions? Email me!*****

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