Yoenis Cespedes has been on fire for the New York Mets. (photo by Keith Allison on Flickr - Originally posted to Flickr as "Yoenis Cespedes". Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org)

New York Mets Lead Off Baseball Talk on Podcast 21

David Wright is back, Yoenis Cespedes is hot, and the Washington Nationals can’t seem to get out of their own way. In the latest episode of the Sports Microscope podcast, host Gene Gumbs wonders if anyone stop the New York Mets. With the next eight games against the woeful Phillies and Boston Red Sox, the Mets may be able to put the Nats further in their rearview mirror.

Gumbs is also steamed about the recent news that Don Orsillo is being replaced as the television play-by-play man. It’s yet another slap in the face by the Red Sox (who are one of the owners of NESN, the Red Sox TV outlet) to their fans. Apparently fifteen years of first-class work wasn’t good enough.

There’s plenty more baseball talk on tap, as well as a reach into the Sports Microscope grab bag for some quick hits about a few topics.

Also in this episode:

  • Kris Bryant staking his claim as NL ROY
  • Can the SF Giants get healthy in time?
  • The unreal pitching line for Astros pitchers in the last week
  • Good news and bad news in the auto racing world
  • What can 300 million buy you these days?
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Enjoy, and thanks for listening!

Report: Don Orsillo Ousted From Red Sox Network

 

Don Orsillo

Thousandrobots at en.wikipedia [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC BY-SA 2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5-2.0-1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In a report on NBC, and later expounded on by Chad Finn of the Boston Globe, Don Orsillo will not be returning to the NESN broadcast booth after this season. It is inconceivable to me that the network would let the best local broadcaster not named Vin Scully leave. Orsillo’s perfect balance or professionalism and humor has made him an incredible asset to the Red Sox and New England fans.

Orsillo’s contract expires at the end of the year, and Joseph Maar, NESN’s VP for programming and production, has been looking for a way to get rid of him. The waited until the last minute to even pick up his contract option for this season.

Full disclosure here, I have known Don for the better part of twenty years, and even worked as his color partner on some American Hockey League games in Springfield, MA many moons ago. I continued to get to know him when he worked AA minor league baseball for the New York Mets, and then again when I worked for Major League Baseball for five years in the press box at Fenway.

Having said that, my outrage isn’t because of that. The guy is just GOOD. I subscribe to MLB TV and get to listen to the local guys all over the country. Along with Scully and guys like Dave Sims in Seattle and Dick Enberg in San Diego, Orsillo is one of the best to listen to.

Reports are that Dave O’Brien, who currently works on Sox radio and does multiple sports with ESPN, will be replacing Orsillo. Dave is fine and a good man, but Don has been in our living rooms for ten years, and he and Jerry Remy (and often Dennis Eckersley) have built up a great rapport. This is just more news to make a depressing 2015 baseball season worse.

I am sure NESN knows they have people over a barrel because it’s the only game in town for Sox TV, but I’ll likely be spending more time listening to Joe Castiglione on the radio. If there’s a God in heaven, someone at NESN will come to their senses and fix this.

I’m not holding my breath.

Ben Cherington Out, Dave Dombrowski in in Boston

Boston-Red-Sox-LogoIn what was an inevitable move – and in my mind a needed one – the Boston Red Sox made a bold choice by hiring Dave Dombrowski to be President of Baseball Operations today. In effect, he would have become Ben Cherington’s boss. The Red Sox press release indicated Cherington declined to stay on a general manager. It’s likely he declined because he was asked to do just that.

Someone had to pay the price for the horrendous pitching staff assembled from the free agent market, and two high-priced position players in Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval who have underwhelmed. The good thing for Boston is that they got a guy in Dombrowski with an impressive track record who has the ability to right the ship.

Dombrowski was released from his contract with the Detroit Tigers this season after building a team that won four straight division titles. The loss of Max Scherzer to free agency and the decline of Justin Verlander spelled trouble for Detroit this year. The Tigers waived the white flag at the trade deadline by unloading David Price and Yoenis Cespedes.

Dembrowski has also served stints as GM for the Montreal Expos and Miami Marlins. His hiring is a shift for Boston, who for the past dozen years have had young GMs in Theo Epstein and Cherington. Cherington was part of a World Series champion in 2013, but truth be told it was with a team mainly put together by Epstein. The bulk of the young talent on the Red Sox today and in AAA Pawtucket, guys like Xander Bogaerts, Blake Swihart, and Mookie Betts, were also all signed by Epstein.

This year is lost, but the young kids are getting plenty of at bats and innings now, and we’ll see more of that when September arrives. Now the Sox have a man at the helm that can fix the mess that Cherington made – and not a moment too soon.

Washington Nationals in Podcast #20 Spotlight

BryceHarper2015SD002” by Johnmaxmena2Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Host Gene Gumbs wonders what’s going on in Washington, DC in Podcast #20. Well, we all wonder that, but in this case he’s concerned about the Washington Nationals.He doubts manager Matt Williams can keep his job in light of the high expectations and sub-par results for the Nationals. Despite a healthy breakout season for Bryce Harper, the Nationals have been a big disappointment. What went wrong and who’s to blame?

While the wheels have come off in DC, all is right with the world in Toronto with the Blue Jays, and Mets fans wake up every morning thrilled (and surprised) their team is still in first place. The podcast talks about a couple of vital upcoming weeks for both of those teams.

As usual, the podcast stops off in Fenway to check in on the health of manager John Farrell after he announced he is battling cancer. Your intrepid host also has plenty to say about the suddenly potent Red Sox outfield of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr. and Rusney Castillo. It seems finding themselves in last place might actually be a good thing as the kids get a chance to shine.

Also in this episode:

  • Madison Bumgarner – more than just a pitcher
  • Matt Harvey‘s superhuman stretch
  • The stumbling Astros and Angels
  • Thoughts from the PGA Championship
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Enjoy and thanks for listening!

Red Hot Toronto Blue Jays Topic of Podcast #19

Sports Microscope PodcastThe Toronto Blue Jays are the hottest team in baseball right now and they naturally lead off in episode 19 of the Sports Microscope podcast this week. After winning their ninth straight last night, they are breathing down the necks of the New York Yankees in the American League East.

The addition of Troy Tulowitzki was nice, but he’s been quiet for the last week or so, and it’s the pitching that is leading the way. David Price has been as advertised, and former Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey has been solid of late.

Toronto hosts New York for a big three-game series later this week, and it could be the thing that helps the Jays put those Damn Yankees in the rearview mirror.

Host Gene Gumbs talks about some of the other hot teams and races around Major League Baseball, laments the continued squalor that is the Red Sox season, and then opens up the sports grab bag for some quick hits about other things in the world of sports.

Also in this episode:

  • The New York Mets show no sign of slowing
  • The future of the Chicago Cubs
  • The Chargers seem like sure locks to bolt for Los Angeles
  • The final golf major of the year tees off this week
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Enjoy and thanks for listening!

RIP Frank Gifford

frank-gifford-001302488

Frank Gifford passed away Sunday morning. Photo Credit: Buzzquotes.com

NFL Hall of Famer Frank Gifford died this morning from natural causes at the age of 84. As a 55-year old, I remember Gifford more for his broadcasting career than his playing days. The versatile Gifford played running back, wide receiver, defensive back, and on special teams for the New York Giants.  His 5,434 receiving yards was a team record for 39 years until Amani Toomer bested it in 2003.

Gifford retired in 1964, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, and the Giants retired his number 16 in 2000. Most people younger than I remember his 26-year career on Monday Night Football that started in 1971. He was professional and a voice of reason in a booth often filled with rather large egos – the largest of which was Howard Cosell. He won broadcasting Emmys for his work there,

“It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved husband, father and friend, Frank Gifford. Frank died suddenly this beautiful Sunday morning of natural causes at his Connecticut home. We rejoice in the extraordinary life he was privileged to live, and we feel grateful and blessed to have been loved by such an amazing human being. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers.”

His widow, Kathie Lee Gifford, is a co-host of the Today Show slot from 10-11 a.m.

Red Sox Cut Ties With Mike Napoli

Red Sox logoThe Boston Red Sox shipped Mike Napoli and cash to the Texas Rangers today for a player to be named later. Napoli was mired in the worst season of his career, despite having surgery in the offseason to correct an issue with sleep apnea. He was hitting just .207 with 13 homers and 40 RBI.

Napoli was on fire in spring training, regularly launching balls over the fence, raising hopes that he would anchor a fearsome Boston offensive attack with David Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez. Sadly, it was not to be – not just for him, but Ortiz and Ramirez as well.

It’s been a long year in Boston, to be sure, but Napoli’s departure does give the Sox a chance to what rookie Travis Shaw can do when playing on a regular basis.

I’m sad to see Napoli go. He was a class act and had a lot of big hits for the Red Sox over the last three seasons. He also turned himself into a gold glove caliber first baseman, though even that escaped him at times this season.

It was unlikely Boston was going to re-sign him when his contract expired at the end of the season, so I guess it’s good they got something for him while they could, but I’ll always remember Napoli’s work ethic and the beard that had its own zip code during the 2013 World Series run. He’s only 33 and hopefully still has a lot of baseball left in him.

Good luck, Mike!

National League East Battle Highlights Podcast 18

Sports Microscope PodcastSomeone forgot to tell the New York Mets that the Washington Nationals were supposed to win the National League pennant. Podcast #18 looks at how the offensive power outage in Washington, combined with the outstanding young pitching in New York, has turned the National League East on its ear. Could the acquisitions of Yoenis Cespedes and Tyler Clippard be just what the doctor ordered to put the Mets over the top?

Host Gene Gumbs also breaks down the winners and losers at the trade deadline. Who takes home the trophy for the best July deals – Houston, Texas, Toronto? There’s no doubt that the wild card races in both leagues were impacted greatly by the flurry of deals in the last week of July.

Another big topic of this week’s episode is the continuing NFL witch hunt of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. Whether you’re a Patriot fan or not, there are a lot of things in the NFL’s report and conduct during the investigation that just don’t smell right.

Also in this episode:

  • The Red Sox do nothing at trade deadline
  • Could a Boston August waiver trade be in the cards?
  • Why are the Angels questioning C.J. Wilson‘s injury?
  • Did the Phillies get enough for the three players they moved?
  • My pick for team of the week

You can listen to the latest episode here or subscribe to it on iTunes to have it automatically downloaded to your iOS devices. As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. Enjoy and thanks for listening!