Tuesday, May 30, 2006

The Frost Heaves new mascot.......

Here we go, the Vermont Frost Heaves new mascot..........

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, I would like to say thank you to the men and women of the armed forces who have sacrificed their lives for this country. Those who have fallen paid the ultimate price for their country and should never be forgotten. Rest in peace......

To my Uncle Dick(Who is a trained killer, but is a teddy bear at heart), Uncle Bob, and my late Uncle Bud, thank you as well.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Mayor Kiss and guns

This is a bit delayed, but it has been a busy week. Mayor Kiss held a press conference on Friday which was meant to discuss the upcoming budget cuts, and progress on the budget. What it turned into was the opposite of what he wanted.

Yes, Kiss did discuss the budget, and how there will be some cuts, but where this is all speculative, and hasn't been voted on, nothing is set in stone. What it looks like is the city will be facing about a three percent tax hike due to shortfalls in property tax revenue. The interesting thing was how the topic of gun control was brought up.

The conference started with the announcement of a shooting in the Old North End, and since this was the second such incident in the last couple of weeks, the obvious questions over public safety came up. After a couple of minutes of not much of anything on the subject, talk about the budget came up, but safety and guns was brought up at the end of the session. Kiss said(while trying to dodge the question) that he would like to see a dialog started about guns in Burlington, and when pressed further, said he would like to see Burlington become a gun free zone.

Ummmmmmmmm, Mayor? I hate guns as much as anyone, if not more so, but what you are proposing would violate yet another federal law. Believe it or not, it is in fact legal to possess guns in the US. You cannot possibly want to propose that the gun toting Vermonters would actually let you go through with this!!!

The new mayor seems to have a problem in the fact he is not thinking things through before he speaks. Dare we forget his comments about making Burlington a safe haven for illegal immigrants? (Again, telling the police to violate the laws of this country.) Man alive, Peter and Bernie didn't even say things like that. Kiss is an idealist, which I respect, but I also believe in following the laws of this country of ours. The mayor is starting to establish himself as having the reputation of being a renegade, a reputation I don't think he wants so early in his tenure as mayor. If he keeps these kinds of statements rolling out of his mouth, he will be a one term mayor, and only one term.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Contraction in baseball

There are a couple of franchises Major League Baseball has been talking about moving; the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and the Florida Marlins. Here is my take on that…..Just disband the teams, blow them up, and hold a dispersal draft. I don’t have anything against the teams, other than the fact they are terrible, it is just that first of all, they aren’t drawing fans. The other day in Florida for the Marlins game, what did they draw, 6,000? The Marlins are a team who has been good in the past, winning a couple of World Series titles, but every two years they hold a fire sale and get rid of their talent, then start rebuilding yet again. How in the world is a team supposed to keep its fans if they don’t know who will be on the field from one second to the next, much less from year to year? This is a team you would think would draw decent crowds with the Cuban population in Miami. They are baseball addicts in Cuba, but even the Cuban fans don’t come to the games. Why? Because it is a terrible team with terrible ownership.

Here is another thing about the Florida teams. Has anyone noticed the quality of pitching has gone down the tubes since the latest round of expansion? Now, I am just too lazy to look up the figures, but the league ERA has to have gone up over the years. Look at this year and the number of 10-9 or 13-10 games we are seeing. Those aren’t baseball scores, they are football scores. Now I could be a total cynic and say that ERA’s are going up because of steroid juiced ballplayers like Barry Bonds, but for once I won’t go there. Pitching in the majors is just terrible!!! Do you know why? There are too many of them out there, so the quality has gone down the toilet. If Selig goes with his original plan from a few years ago and contracts a couple of teams, the quality of play goes up, and with the higher quality of play, revenue will go up as well. No longer will Major League Baseball have these pathetic crowds of 6,000 for a game, because fans will actually care again since the games will be better. I know the player’s union won’t buy into this because it will mean the loss of a few hundred jobs per team, and the cities where minor league teams reside will suffer as well, but I really feel that for the sake of the game, this just has to be done.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Before I do the dishes, and head to the field to coach a baseball game.......

Is this weather ever going to change?? Good Lord, coming back from Middlebury last week, I thought I would need an ark to get home. The weather gods are screwing with me.....

The Da Vinci Code presents interesting theories, and I wish the religious zealots would stop their whining. It is fiction, but the real fear has to be that there may actually be some truth to what Dan Brown has to say. The Catholic bashing is one thing, but what if Jesus was actually married and had a child? Why is that such a problem? Is it because it goes against what everyone was taught as a kid? How dare there be another theory out there!!!

Barry Bonds is still an @sshole, case closed. By the way, I hope the kid who caught the ball gets a small fortune for the thing. I give credit to the kid for saying he hates Bonds. Good, add another to the long list of people who can't stand the jerk.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

By the way......

What in the ghost of Babe Ruth was Willie Harris thinking last night???? Two outs, bottom of the ninth with the Sox down one. Harris gets the sign, and it is the hold sign. What does Harris do? TAKES OFF FOR SECOND!!! Yes, he was thrown out by a guy who has thrown out 50 percent of base stealers this year. Good Lord, can we get a pinch runner who obeys signs? Harris even admitted the hold sign was on and he went anyway!!! Trade Harris and JT Snow(who according to the Hartford Courant has asked for a trade) to the Lake Monsters for a bucket of balls and a bat boy to be named later.

Clemens and Interleague play

Yes, I have been straying away from the news rants for a bit, but one of these days they will return. It is baseball season and life is good in the Fells house. Here is the latest......

Here is the question of the day……What in the world is going to happen with Roger Clemens, and why is this guy being allowed to dictate what days he pitches, and saying he won’t go to road games? Huh?? Now, if you have been living in a baseball vaccum for the last few months, Clemens is saying he is coming back, and is now stepping up his workouts for his anticipated return. All bets are that he will go home to play for Houston, but the Rangers, Yankees, and Sox are supposedly still in the running. Here is my question…..Why is a team willing to pay ten million dollars for a guy who will probably start only about 15 games or so? Man alive, per game he will make more than the gross national product of most countries. Per minute, he will make more than I do in a year!!! Is Clemens really worth it? Yes, he is a Hall of Fame pitcher, and will go down as one of the best to ever play the game, but that much money for a half season and 15 starts? He will pitch when he wants, and will be with the team when he wants. Man, I wish I could do that!! Hey boss, I think I will do my show once a month and get paid full salary for it. His reaction would be, don’t let the door hit you where the good Lord split ya. Unreal…….

Next subject, interleague play. The Sox are in Philly this weekend, and the only thing I am looking forward to is seeing Papi play first base and seeing the Sox pitchers try to hit. At first, I thought it was a good idea and that interleague play would stir up some fan interest, but it really hasn’t. San Francisco is at Oakland this weekend, and the A’s aren’t unblocking seats in the upper deck as they are not anticipating any more fans than normal. By the way, this is with Barry flipping Bonds going for 714, but I went off about that last week, so I will refrain…..For now. I would rather see more games that matter, not Philly against the Sox, or Minnesota against Arizona. Give me more of the Sox against George’s boys, or the Cubs and the Cardinals. I would rather see more games between division rivals any day of the week. If I want to see another team play, I will turn on the tube and catch them on Extra Innings on cable.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

My love of minor league baseball

I love baseball. I love the smell of fresh cut grass, the crack and not the ting of a bat, kids running around begging for autographs, but most of all, I love minor league baseball.

My first ever minor league game came when I was in college and traveling from my home in San Francisco to college in Rindge, New Hampshire. I had been driving since Lincoln, NE and was starting to see double and triple from the total boredom of the terrain. Well, I was flipping around the radio and heard the pre-game show for a game between South Bend(IN) and some other team. Considering I hadn't seen a game in awhile, and I was in need of dinner and a beer, I stopped off to catch the game. The park was nice and old, the parking was free, and a general admission ticket ran me a whole three bucks. I settled into my GA seat and was immediatly asked by someone, "Hey, you have never been here before, have you?" Thinking I had taken someone's spot, I apologized and got up to leave to find another seat. I was stopped and was told I hadn't done anything wrong, he just hadn't seen me before and wanted to introduce himself. I learned pretty quickly that minor league baseball is a different animal.

I have no idea who won that game, nor it is important. All I know is that I talked baseball with this old timer for nine glorious innings. I saw insane in between innings promotions, drank a two dollar beer, and ate a one dollar hot dog. I saw kids busting their tails because they didn't know when their dream of playing in the bigs would end. This is what started my love affair with the minors.

Since then, I have been to parks in Pawtucket, RI; Nashua, NH, Portland, ME; Quebec City, QC; Brockton, MA, and of course Burlington, VT. There is something so pure about going to these parks. For example, Centennial Field in Burlington is the oldest ballpark that is currently being used in all of minor league baseball. There is so much foul territory that almost every foul pop has to be chased down. The GA seats are concrete, and I am convinced they haven't been repaired since the early 40's. The grandstand is covered, and there are even a few obstructed view seats. The staff is friendly, and when my now wife and I started going to games on a regular basis, the ushers got to know us by name. There is the sea monster himself(aka Champ) dancing on the dugouts leading cheers and nailing the opposing team with the "Dreaded Champ Curse" before each game. George Commo, the legendary play-by-play voice of the Vermont Expos/Lake Monsters sings "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", and seeing the in between innning on-field promotions with the kids are worth the price of admission. Oh yeah, and the players actually sign autographs.

As a bit of background, the Lake Monsters are the "A" affiliate of the Washington Nationals in the New York Penn League. These are kids who are just out of high school or college, and in many cases are playing pro ball for the first time. Most of these kids are not high draft picks, so they make the huge sum of $850.00 per month. They stay with host families, and are at this level to prove themselves. These are guys who know their dream of playing pro ball may not last long, so they enjoy every second. They sign autographs, give pointers to kids, talk to the fans before and sometimes during games, and they actually play hard. How many times have you seen a major leaguer sign an autograph without charging a hundred bucks? Good Lord, these kids will sign until their fingers bleed. That is why I love the minor leagues, it is baseball at its purest and where the sanctity of the game actually still matters.

Barry freaking Bonds

Bonds didn't get his homer last night......WAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Again, who the hell cares anyway? Do you know what ticks me off more than anything? The fact that Bonds hits a decent shot to right which was misplayed and went to the wall. Bonds practically walked into second, and the scary thing is that a decent throw would have gotten him. Good Lord, a woman pushing a baby carriage of triplets could have gotten three out of that!!!! Here is what is worse; with a runner on first, Bonds popped a ball up on the infield AND DIDN'T FREAKING LEAVE THE BATTER'S BOX!!!!! If Morgan Ensberg would have noticed that the king of non-hustle hadn't left the batter's box, he could have had an easy double play to end the inning.

I know Bonds wants his dinger, and I know that his knees hurt, but he needs to at least pretend he cares about something other than hitting one out. What a freaking disgrace to the game, it is just a total and utter disgrace. Yo commish!!! Get your investigation going into Bonds' use of steroids and get him out of the game. What a disease......

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Barry freaking Bonds and Delmon Young

I really have no idea what the big deal about Bonds is. Yes, he will be passing one of the legends of the game in Babe Ruth, but this is the chase for number two and not number one!! ESPN TV breaks in on their coverage to show Bonds every at bat in hopes they catch the second place tying home run. It is second place!! How big of a deal is this in San Francisco? It isn’t!!!! If this was such a big deal, AT&T Park would be packed, and there wouldn’t be a seat to be found. They aren’t even selling out!!! Supposedly, this is one of the biggest accomplishments in the history of baseball. If it is, then why aren’t the Giants selling out?

I know what the problem is, and this shouldn’t be a shock to anyone, but in the record books, there should be a great big giant syringe next to his name. I know, you know, and even my three year old niece knows Bonds is juiced. This isn’t a body made by pure work, it has been done with synthetics and needles. Give me a break, Ruth hit his home runs with a diet of booze, steaks, and women. Aaron set the record in the dead ball era in cookie cutter ballparks, where he actually had to work for his dingers. Bonds cheats!!! Why in the world should we be celebrating the accomplishments of a man who we all know has cheated? What sort of message does this send to kids? If you cheat, you become famous. Forget the hard work and hours in the gym and the batting cages, you just have to stick a needle in your arm and the drugs will do all of the work for you.

I have to admit that growing up in San Francisco, I am a huge Giants fan. I remember freezing my tail off at Candlestick Dump watching Jack Clark, Bob Brenly, and John Montefusco, and also following hot dog wrappers in the wind when I got bored. With this, I should be rooting for Bonds, but I simply cannot. I want Bonds to be walked intentionally so many times that he finally gives up and retires before he hits anymore home runs. With the love of the game that I have, I just cannot root for the man.

Speaking of sending messages to kids, how about Delmon Young? If you all remember, this is the kid who threw a bat at an ump after being tossed for whining about a called third strike. Well, the ruling came down this week, and he was suspended for only 50 games. 50 games?? Are you serious?? Oh wait, 50 games and community service, well that changes everything…..Well, no, not at all.

Young is one of those athletes who thinks he is above the rules because he has talent. Yeah, right. Young should have been suspended, without pay for the rest of the season. I think the International League made a horrible, disgusting, and weak move in only suspending him for 50 games. He threw a bat at an umpire and actually hit him!!! If he did that to someone in the street, he could be arrested, and he only gets a 50 game suspension? Is it because the league didn’t want to deal with anymore bad publicity? Was there influence from the Durham Bulls for whom he plays for? Did someone bribe the league? I just think this is a HORRIBLE example to set for kids. The message sent is that if you are a good athlete, you are above the rules of the game and of life. Unreal, I still can’t get over that one.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Sox tonight

The Sox are in a rain delay at Fenway as they take on the Evil Empire. Game time is now set for 8:00 or so.

Cheers to Doug Mirabelli as he comes back from San Diego. The Sox re-acquired him in exchange for Josh(I can't catch a knuckleball) Bard, Cla Merideth, and future considerations. Mirabelli is solid behind the plate, and is one of the few in the league who can effectively catch the knuckler. Wakefield is comfortable with Mirabelli, so he should make an immediate impact on the team. With Tek's knees giving him a bit of a hard time, we should see Mirabelli behind the plate a little more than usual.

I wouldn't be surprised if we see Craig Hansen come up in the next few weeks. Hansen has been lights out in AA and AAA and could be used as a setup man for Jonathon Pappalbon.

For those down in Middlebury, catch "Sox Talk with Chris Fells" Saturday at 9:00 on ESPN 1490. This week, I will be talking with Mike Antonellis, the play-by-play voice of the Portland Sea Dogs, and we will talk about Hansen, along with prospects such as David Murphy and Brandon Moss.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Give Johnny his due

The Sox are in action tonight at Fenway against the hated Yankees with Johnny Damon making his return to Boston. There are many who are wondering what sort of reaction he will get from the fans. I know if I was at the game tonight, I would be standing and cheering.

Now I know Damon went to the evil and hated Yankees, which if you have ever played for the Sox is a cardinal sin. Even with this, I just wouldn't be able to bring myself to boo the guy. Damon had a great run with the Sox, and the long hair and beard helped to endear him to Red Sox fans. We can't forget that Damon lead the Sox to the 2004 curse ending World Series title with some spectacular catches in center, and of course his second inning grand slam against the Yankees in game seven of the ALCS. I know, I know, he is a Yankee now, and as my wife said, "Well, he doesn't have the long hair and beard anymore." Sorry honey, the evil Steinbrenner made him do it.

I boo every Yankee, with the exception of Damon. He was, and is a class guy who plays hard, and helped the Red Sox win the 2004 title. When he is introduced tonight, don't boo, just stand and cheer for a man who gave Sox fans some incredible memories. Once the cheering is over, then he can go 0-5........