FIRE JOE MORGAN: HatGuy Gets Tough on Crime


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Wednesday, June 28, 2006


HatGuy Gets Tough on Crime

For anyone who considers him/herself a Red Sox fan, the scene at Fenway last night was heartwarming and beautiful. Pedro Martinez, in full Mets regalia, was given a spontaneous and lengthy standing ovation by the faithful, after a video highlight package ran on the jumbotron between innings.

This was the only possible way to welcome the guy back. All he did for seven years was dominate the 'roided-up, DH-laden AL during its absolute most 'roided up and offensively-minded years, at a level that perhaps no one in history has ever dominated his league. He got the 1999 Sox team to the ALCS when Troy O'Leary was the 5-hole hitter. In Game 5 of the ALDS, unable to raise his arm above parallel-to-the-ground due to shoulder trouble, he came out of the bullpen and threw six no-hit innings against the most potent offense in years, in their home park. He threw 100 pitches, all basically side-arm. Something like 80 of those pitches were change-ups. Lofton, Vizquel, Alomar, Manny, Thome, Baines, Cordero, Fryman, Alomar...not one hit.

Earlier that year, he went to the Stadium for a crucial game against the Yankees. Chili Davis hit a solo bomb in the 2nd. Then Pedro struck out 17 Yankees and threw a one-hitter. By my recollection, he did not allow a ball to be put into play in fair territory after the fourth inning. His K/BB ratio in 2000 was 284/32. His ERA+ was 285. He was ridonkulous. He might be the best pitcher ever.

But HatGuy says: Fuck that noise.

For seven years, most of them brilliant, Pedro Martinez gave the Boston Red Sox everything he had and everything they could have wanted. He copped two Cy Young Awards, won 117 games against just 37 losses — a .760 winning percentage — and he won a game in the 2004 World Series in which the Red Sox broke their 85-year run of futility.

Considering all he’s done for Boston, there’s just one thing the Fenway faithful can possibly do when he scales the Fenway Park mound Wednesday night for the first time since chasing the free-agent bonanza to the New York Mets after the 2004 season.

They’ve got to boo him like no one not named Roger Clemens has ever been booed in Boston’s little jewel of a ballpark.

Here's a tip for HatGuy. When you are using that literary/rhetorical device where you have this long build-up in one direction, and then suddenly stop and do a 180 and instruct your audience that actually the solution is the opposite of what those facts suggest, the 180 has to be brief. For example:

Yes, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the defendant is an honorable man. He is a church-going man, with a beautiful wife and three lovely children. He is respected in the community, loved by his peers, and for the last twenty years has done an extraordinary job teaching our city's children how to read and write. But he also snuck into a wildlife reserve and raped a hippo.

So he should go to jail.

I say all this because after the endless build-up of pro-Pedro stats from HatGuy, the sentence "They’ve got to boo him like no one not named Roger Clemens has ever been booed in Boston’s little jewel of a ballpark" lacks a certain...anything. "They've got to boo him." That's the way to write that. Its own paragraph -- just one line. "They've got to boo him." Not, "They've got to boo him like no one has ever not un-booed a guy who was also once booed by them never didn't get booed louder than, and also Fenway is beautiful!"

But I am not here to teach HatGuy how to do his job. Oh wait -- yes I am.

They’ve got to hiss and scream and bellow until the air is congested with spittle.


They’ve got to boo his backside back to that mango tree in the Dominican Republic he once talked about sitting under.

Again, that last sentence...yikes. But enough syntax. Let's talk about your central point, HatGuy. I am eager to hear your defense of booing the greatest pitcher who ever pitched for this team. I believe in the theory that fans have a right to boo players toward whom they have ill feelings. I also happen to believe that it's kind of lame to boo people, especially when they brought you a tremendous amount of joy. But let's see what you think.

I’m just as confident that Red Sox Nation will come through on this one as I am that the coming fall lineup of network television shows will plumb new depths in personal abasement.

Yorps, is that a bad joke. HatGuy has exactly one move, comedy-wise: the ol' pop culture comparison. "Dusty Baker is about as popular in Chicago as Nick Lachey at a birthday party for Jessica Simpson." "Phil Garner was as mad as a mother who saw Britney Spears almost drop her baby." And so forth. This is bad joke telling. And bad writing. And HatGuy commits another sin within this sin, which is: his lame similes are also wordy and faux-intellectual. "...plumb new depths in personal abasement." I think he likes to imagine himself in a Victorian smoking jacket, smoking a long cigarette, trading barbs with Oscar Wilde and chortling world-wearily at the fools he must suffer. And he's still wearing the hat.

I’m equally confident that a majority of commentators will spend the next day talking about what a shame it is that Boston’s fans didn’t give Pedro the love and respect he is due for all the great things he did for the franchise.

How dare they theoretically do that!

If anything else happens — the fans cheering wildly or the commentators congratulating them for booing boisterously or no one taking notice of the occasion at all — I’d be as shocked as I would be if the president let slip that his favorite newspaper is The New York Times and his favorite news channel is MSNBC.

What did I just say about wordiness? Look at that "joke." HayGuy typed that into the 14 year-old IBM word processor he still uses, and he stared at the little four-line LED screen, and the joke took up all four lines, and he looked at it and he read it again and again and he said, "Yep -- that is some good cookin'." Here's one more tip, man: punchlines usually have one punchline. As in:

Mugger: Your money or your life!
Jack Benny: (after long pause) I'm thinking it over!


Mugger: Your money or your life!
Jack Benny: (after long pause) I'm thinking it over and also I am considering it!

I’d also be as disappointed as I’d be if I set out to construct a hot fudge sundae and discovered I was out of whipped cream.

I don't even know what to make of this. Why leave this in? You already made this point with the brilliant and incisive double-punchlined political commentary of the last sentence. Now we get...what? Round three in your personal battle against humor and brevity. This is like something a third-grader would come up with to amuse his parents. But not as charming.

For the fans, Pedro’s return to Fenway shouldn’t be about doing what’s right by their former hero. If sports started working that way, the entire player-fan dynamic would be turned on its head.

I would like to show HatGuy what happened when Orlando Cabrera came back to Fenway as an Angel soon after the 2004 World Series win. He was given a standing ovation every time he came up to the plate. The guy was on the team for three months.

He used to play there, and then he went to not just another town, but to the hated Big Apple. It doesn’t matter that he didn’t sign with the New York Yankees, because the Mets haven’t occupied a terribly choice piece of real estate in Boston hearts since 1986 and that episode with Bill Buckner.

I will speak for Red Sox fans, knowing that some may disagree.

Yes, Sox fans hated the Mets, because they beat us in the World Series. But then, 18 years later, we won the World Series, and a large part of the ensuing catharsis was being able to look at anything colored blue and orange without dry-heaving. The Mets are just another team now. We don't like them, but we don't stay up nights hating them, either. We "who cares?" them, like we do every other team, except the Yankees. So, yes, it does matter that he didn't sign with the Yankees.

It also doesn’t matter that he left Boston because the Mets offered him more money for more years than the Red Sox were willing to pay. Nor does it matter that a substantial number of Boston fans felt the team was making a good move by letting him go.

Oh but wait just a cotton pickin' minute here, HatGuy, it absolutely does matter. Why? Well, I'll let you answer.

He did, after all, have a talent for saying annoying things, and, as everyone knew, his shoulder was damaged goods, and his arm was probably going to fall off within the next month or two anyway. The really, really smart baseball people said that the Mets were fools to give a guy like that four years, when the odds were high he wouldn’t last that long.

I take it from your tone that you are about to blast the Boston front office for this, but the fact remains that he was 33, had worn out his welcome, and required a massive investment (on an aging team) to stick around. Let the record show as well that everything Pedro said and did indicated that he wanted out of the brutal AL East, where he had to face the Yankees, Jays, DRays (a great hitting team in 2004), and even O's for like half his starts, and into a division where he could get paid more and face a pitcher once every 2-3 innings. This move was a win-win. The Sox freed up payroll, Pedro left town a hero and got pizz-aid, and although the Sox lost a once-in-a-lifetime pitcher, they also lost a guy whom they would have had to pay $15 million at age 37, and that might not have been such a smart idea. But you know that:

The jury’s still out on whether four years was a wise investment. All that matters now is that the Red Sox thought he was on the downside of his brilliant career and it was better to let somebody else take the risk. That happens to be similar to the thinking when Roger Clemens was allowed to leave after 13 seasons in Boston — he was almost through and there wasn’t any sense keeping him around. That brilliant bit of thinking was professed 10 years ago.

Yes, that was a mistake. Made by Dan Duquette, who made a lot of mistakes. Different FO, different situation. Just because Roger Clemens, who is like 6'3" with legs like sequoias, has managed to stay fit and strong and good, doesn't mean 5'nothing" Pedro will, too, forever.

The point is that he left for another team, and no matter how justified he was in doing so, as long as he continues to perform at the highest level, the fans will see that as abandonment.

No, we won't. It's sad, but it's okay. We have 22 year-old Jon Lester and 25 year-old Jon Papelbon and 22 year-old Craig Hansen, all of whom are cheaply under our control for the next six years. So, we're good. Thanks.

Plus, cheering for a team is really cheering for laundry, as someone wiser than I once said. In San Francisco, they still love Barry Bonds, not because he’s a swell fellow, but because he wears the uniform and still hits the ball out of the park now and then. And the greater the body inside the familiar upholstery, the more he’ll be hated when he leaves.

The "familiar upholstery?" Is Barry Bonds a couch? Seriously, man, just because a word is longer doesn't mean it is better. Or correct.

It has nothing to do with decency or logic. It’s an emotional thing that operates in the deepest levels of our cluttered brains. Pedro was great, and now he’s being great for those cursed Mets. Therefore, he has to be booed.

Yes, it is an emotional thing. But that emotional thing, for many of us, is: the guy was amazing. Best ever in our lifetimes. Carried us through some dark years. Ended his career in Boston by winning Game 3 of the World Series, shutting down one of the best offenses in baseball. Gave us hundreds of wonderful memories. Won a ring. Moved on. God bless him.

Reviling old heroes is what makes the game fun, and few are bigger than Pedro. Red Sox fans have already shown what they’re capable of when they booed Johnny Damon on his return. Now it’s Pedro’s turn.

Johnny Damon went to the Yankees. Everyone on the Yankees gets booed. Also, a lot of people cheered. Also, what is the point of this article?

They’ve got to give him everything they got. To do otherwise would be an insult to what he meant to Boston and a travesty of what it means to be a fan.

This is just nuts. You're nuts, HatGuy. I can't be any more specific or insightful than that. You're bonkers.

They can cheer him whenever his career is finally winding down and he’s making his last stop. Until then, it’s full hiss ahead.

Or, they can cheer him loudly and show that they respect and love what he did when he was here. Which they did. And which they will probably mostly do again tonight. And which I would do, if I were there, regardless of what upholstery he's wearing.

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