Monday, July 26, 2010

Balls

Say what you want about Julio Lugo. And I have. I've said he was a head case. I've said he was a bad baseball player. Before he played a single game in a Red Sox uniform, I called him a "borderline major leaguer." He was 34% of what was wrong with the day December 6, 2006. But at least Julio Lugo had balls.

There have been no "Julio Patrick Lugo" posts on this blog, decrying the fact that he decided to pop off to the media and say that he didn't suck. (Ian Kennedy, 46, Jon Lester, John Smoltz, Paul Byrd, Theo Epstein, JD Drew, and Jonathan Papelbon have all had this dishonor.) Because every single time Lugo blew a game (often), he was 100% accountable for it. He said he sucked. He took full responsibility for sucking.

And tonight we gotta give some minor props to perhaps the worst free-agent signing of the Theo Epstein era (but perhaps not even the worst free-agent signing of December 6, 2006). Because he did it and he had balls to say what he said: That he sucked. That he made mistakes. Even Arod over the years said he made mistakes and held himself accountable for it. Not with 100% success, but he's done it. He even said he'd be at the ballpark early to answer to people criticizing him for sucking. So good for Arod.

On the other side of the coin, Hideki Okajima has no balls. Blew off English speaking reporters last night. Blew off Japanese speaking reporters last night. Guy apparently didn't want to take responsibility for the fact that he held the ball for slightly longer than Drew Bledsoe under Pete Carroll...or slightly longer than Johnny Pesky with Country Slaughter rounding third base. It might be coming from the wrong source because it's pretty clear that Pete Abraham likes Okajima about as much as he likes the Neil Diamond song about an 11-year-old girl - but according to Abraham Okajima also blew off his teammates and has been doing so all season. Doesn't talk to anyone.

Talking to teammates is easier to do when you're winning, but it seems like Okajima is working through adversity just about as well as Scott Nicholson, trust fund child whose parents are paying for his rent in Boston while he finds an employer who feels the same way he does - because he worked hard at Colgate University, he deserves a $75K/year job without working up the corporate ladder. Kid turned down a $40K job, tried to join the Marines, hit a speed bump when it was discovered he had asthma, and then decided to quit that too because the "sheen was gone." Coward. Okajima's the same way.

The fact that he gave up five hits without recording an out is inconceivable (if you take an average pitcher with an average hitter, the chances of this happening is roughly 0.4%, less if you're talking about the pathetic Mariners lineup). The fact that he regularly walks guys on four pitches when he comes out of the bullpen - indicating that the guy can't focus - and the fact that the no-focus theory is corroborated by his inability to figure out where the F to throw the ball with a bunt are also deplorable, but this is a complete different story.

Look, I'm glad Okajima's pouting is happening. It proves he actually cares about the fact that he sucks and the fact that his 1.97 WHIP with a team that can't hit is producing the error for which there is little margin. But take accountability when you suck. Arod had the balls to. Julio freaking Lugo had the balls to. Even Eric Gagne, whose spectacular steroid use probably left him with no literal balls, had the figurative balls to admit he sucked and apologize for sucking as bad as he did.

Speaking of balls, the ironman #46 played a rookie league game in Florida today after his contract holdout, I mean, his sore ribs, took him to JDcations, I mean, medical treatment in Arizona and Florida while Eric Patterson was letting triples and the wild card race go off his glove. What a gritty player who truly cares about winning. Jeremy Hermida missed 44 calendar days with broken ribs. It has been 63 days since we last saw 46 in the lineup. Actually, you know what? It might be time to add a second sidebar to HYD Baseball to commemorate the two injuries. Good job 46.

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