The Rick Rants

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(Train of…thought, perhaps?)

So I said, “Dad, why don’t you write a column in a kind of random thoughts format?” Ask and ye shall receive.

Your weekend list of thoughts first and foremost on The Rick’s sports-obsessed brain. With commentary from yours truly in italics tossed in when applicable.

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****The Rafael Palmeiro saga just goes to show how complex the steroid testing issue is. As Papi noted earlier this year, the need for education of the players is paramount. That’s not to say that Raffy didn’t know what he was doing but it would sure seem idiotic of him after his bold statement at the hearings this spring. Not to mention his recent 500/3000 accomplishment. And this is the last thing the freefalling Orioles need at this point. (Well, this and the firing of Mazilli. E gads! Sorry, Marianne!) Their fans deserve better.

****I’m sure you all saw that old friend Peter Gammons was inducted into the writers wing of the Hall of Fame last weekend. I recall reading his Sunday columns in the Globe when I was much, much younger. Gammons pioneered the way modern baseball is covered. If he said something, I believed it. I still do. (As do I, most of the time. Although sometimes I wonder if baseball’s front offices read Gammons and assume things are happening because he says so. Even if they’re not. I would not be surprised in the slightest if they are more willing to talk to Gammons than to each other. Anyway, congratulations! Well deserved.)

****Let’s hope Torii Hunter can recover quickly from his crash into the centerfield wall at Fenway last week. (Odds that Johnny Damon was oddly jealous that the wall was cheating on him with a visiting player?) Hunter is about as exciting as they get and the Twins don’t have the bats to survive without him, especially if they expect to make a deep playoff push. (Agreed. I can’t hate the Twins. I just don’t have it in me. They gave us Papi and Minky and I’ve always liked Torii “Spiderman” Hunter.)

****How about those Molina brothers? Three brothers, all catchers in the bigs. Yadier with the Cardinals and Bengie and Jose with the Angels. That’s a bizarre family pedigree. I bet their folks were always tripping over their equipment when they were kids! (This is something The Rick knows a little something about as my brother and I were both catchers in high school. From there, undoubtedly, sprung the roots of the Red Sox Catcher Blood Feud).

****I think we all agree that the non-trade of Manny and Bill Mueller was the best move for the Sox. (And for their fans who were threatening hunger strikes, nasty letter writing campaigns and flaming bags of dog poo on Theo’s doorstep). Now we can settle in and leave the rest of the AL East in the dust. (God willing…)

****There’s a lot of imbalance in the National League. (National League? Wha?) All the teams in the NL East are at or over .500 while all the teams in the NL West are below .500 including the division leading Padres. (DAVE ROBERTS!) Probably safe to say the NL Wild Card won’t be coming out of the West…

****I’ve always been a San Francisco Giants fan, longer than I’ve been a Red Sox fan, even – dating back to the days of Willie Mays (the best), Juan Marichal (vastly under-appreciated) and Willie McCovey (sweet swing on Big Stretch) – but I have to tell you, Barry Bonds is such an egomaniacal jerk that I actually hope he isn’t able to return to pursue Hank Aaron and the Babe. (Agreed. The guy can sure hit but man, is he an ass monkey). It sounds like he’s shutting it down for the rest of this year and who knows if resting that chronic knee will allow him to return? I, for one, hope not.

****Why don’t the Sox make a little more use of the speed of Damon and Renteria? (Is Edgah fast? Why do I think he is not fast? Why do I think Dougie could beat him in a footrace? Without the piano, of course.) Are they waiting for the big bats to follow? (With Tizzle and Manny, that’s not exactly a stupid plan).

****If you don’t follow hockey (what’s wrong with you?), you may not have heard the name “Sidney Crosby,” who was drafted first overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins last week. Sports types are notorious for hyperbole but this kid is already being compared to the “Great One,” Wayne Gretzky. They’re calling him the “Next One.” (Grrrr, Gretzky. One of these days I’m going to have to throw caution to the wind and delve into my feelings on Gretzky. I suspect I will be chased from my dwelling by torch-bearing Canadians). Crosby’s junior hockey numbers are through the roof (66 goals and 102 assists last year which is outrageous for any league), and he apparently has all the tools. This won’t be the last you hear from him. Oh, and he turns 18 this week. (That’s it, I’m officially O-L-D.)

****I have long felt that the strength of the Patriots defense was the system employed by their linebackers. So this will be the first thing I watch as to how new guys Monte Beisel and Chad Brown step in for Tedy Bruschi, (*whimper*) Ted Johnson (*meep*) and Roman Phifer. I expect a big year out of Roosevelt Colvin, who missed almost all of ’03 and I don’t believe was at full strength in ’04. It’s good to see they worked things out with good guy Troy Brown, regardless where he plays (TROY BROWN!)

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I’m exhausted. How about you? Bronson “Saturn Balls” Arroyo vs. Brad Radke tonight in Hefty Bag Stadium. I’m giving it 2 to 1 odds that somehow, Johnny Damon manages to become entangled and end up hanging upside down in the outfield wall by the fourth inning.

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