On Sports Sunday, Butch Stearns

On Sports Sunday, Butch Stearns led off asking about Pedro’s ultimatum…how will it be handled…and other items from Red Sox camp. Stearns advocates signing Pedro NOW…not waiting, not risking having another Clemens incident. Then clips of Pedro’s comments yesterday were shown along with his credentials. Clips of Roger Clemens talking about being excited about winning 300 for the Yankees were shown to remind us of what we could lose. Pedro wants to stay here. Stearns again urged the Red Sox to give him an extension. Jeff Horrigan then joined the program from Florida, and wondered if this is a motivational ploy by Pedro, but noted that he does hold grudges, like he still does against Tommy Lasorda. Horrigan feels that these PR savvy owners will pick up the option during this spring training and not wait. They then talked about the rumors out of NY about interest in Shea Hillenbrand from the Mets, the Sox are now dealing from a position of strength. Stearns noted the teams depth, and that Derek Lowe thinks that these guys are mostly young, they won’t be grousing about playing time a la Dante Bichette. Horrigan said all these guys are used to being part time players, and likely won’t be a problem. If one steps up to take a full time role, that will be great. Alan Embree will be the guy to get the final out if they needed to today. Ramiro Medonza will be used as he was by the Yankees, middle and late relief and spot starter.

Daytona 500 highlights were shown including the obligatory crashes, that was followed by highlights from tonight’s Celtics loss in Phoenix. Levan Reid’s weekly segment was about Darren Hollis, who is a sports memorabilia collector. Included in his collection is a vial of water from the ice of the last hockey game at the Boston Garden. He has dirt from Lambeau field and a piece of Larry Bird’s high school basketball floor. He also has some items from movies Next segment was highlights of Tiger Woods’ win today, which led into Annika Sorenstam’s chances when she plays against the men this summer. Rob Nikoleski narrated this segment, which has quotes from Phil Mikelson and Tiger Woods…Tiger says it’s only good for women’s golf is she plays well… A local woman’s champ feels she has a good chance, people say she doesn’t hit as long as the men, but she hasn’t had to on the woman courses. Some of the men don’t hit that long or well either. Last Blast was against those who think Steinbrenner’s recent tirades are good for the Red Sox…Butch doesn’t think so, George is putting the pressure on Jeter, Giambi and Torre, and those guys can respond.

NECNs Sports LateNight had Chris Collins down in Florida and he had a chat with Derek Lowe who is now confident that the bullpen strategy can work. The Red Sox had gotten guys for every situation, and they all have good arms and using it the way they plan to can definitely work. Collins said that from the start of time there has always been starters, setup men and closers, and now this 29 year old GM is changing it all around. Lowe said alot of it comes from Bill James who has a lot of stats which prove that this approach can work. Lowe is looking for consistency this season. He went through the same workout program as last year, and is looking forward to another strong year. He touched on his scare with skin cancer, which was a result of his “ignorance” and not using sunscreen…he hopes to educate others on that. Some of the guys have given him a bit of a hard time about the nose…after of course making sure he was ok. Looking ahead to this year…Lowe feels Theo did a tremendous job this offseason getting guys to play the way they wanted. On base percentage guys, bullpen guys…he’s hoping this is the year. Jeremy Giambi was also on with Collins…I missed that segment.

Bob Lobel was in Fort Meyers for Sports Final, Dan Roche had the first segment, a look at the weekend in Florida and Pedro’s comments, Kevin Millar’s arrival and opening comments, speaking glowingly of playing for Boston, and in front of the passionate fans. He’s aware of the media overkill up here, and hopes that the fans don’t hate him for it. Gordon Edes and Dan Shaughnessy were on first with Roche and Lobel. Lobel asked if the reporters goaded Pedro into saying all those things yesterday. Edes talked about Pedro meeting with the new owners before the incident, a difference from the past owners. Shaughnessy called this lunacy…he has a contract, he should just be quiet, the Red Sox should just wait until November to decide on the option. Roche said Pedro has earned the right to ask for more. Shaughnessy disagrees, Edes notes that Pedro said he is happy with his contract, and just wants to end his career here. Roche feels the agents and owners will work on something before November.

They showed clips from the Ted Williams hitters hall of fame ceremonies…speeches from Nomar, talking about how Ted touched him and others, how lucky he was to talk to Ted, to have breakfast with him, to be his friend. He missed Ted, he’s more than an American hero or a baseball hero, he’s a hero period. We’re all going to miss him but will always remember him. Wade Boggs also spoke and started crying thinking about Ted. Ted was an innovator, made hitting into a science, recalled reading Ted’s book on hitting while in the seventh grade. He remembered the last time he was associated with Ted when he and Curt Gowdy got to lay a wreath at Ted’s favorite fishing spot. Boggs broke down into tears again after that.

The next segment was a replay of an interview done with Claudia Williams. Losing her Dad was the hardest thing she ever had to go through and it was made worse by the press. She knows now why her dad did not like the press. The public and the press don’t like or understand things that are different. The press is all about glamorizing events and always trying to be shocking….the song “Kick ‘em when they’re up, Kick ‘em when they’re down” sticks with her as how the media treated them. What happened after his death would’ve made him even more angry. He would “curse the sky” at the media right now. About her brother, she asked how many of you really know him? You can chose to believe what you read in the papers, or you can know the person she knows. Yes, he’s made mistakes, all of us have. Ted hated funerals and didn’t want anything done, but the ceremony at Fenway was well done for the fans of Boston. The media frenzy really caused them to suspend their grief and they’re just now coming to terms with it all. Asked if there is now an “uneasy trust” among the family now, Claudia declined comment, noting that it really isn’t anyone’s business outside the family. She’s had to share Ted Williams her whole life, but only a few persons have ever known her “dad”. She hoped that in his final days he would’ve been just their dad and not “Ted Williams”. She’s going to run the Boston Marathon this year in remembrance of her dad. It’s her way of thanking the fans of Boston, the Jimmy Fund and at the same time saying goodbye to her Dad. Her way of coping has been running.

Back to Shaughnessy with Lobel, and Dan thinks she’ll be well received by running the marathon for the Jimmy Fund. This creates her own image and personality, separate from her brother. The Museum should be moved to Fenway, Dan thinks, it’s in a horrible location, it should be brought right outside the wall where Ted played. Lobel asked Edes what the biggest challenge facing Grady Little is, Edes thinks he needs to get off to a good start because they haven’t picked up his option yet. Roche says his biggest challenge will be balancing all the egos on the team. Asked if the spotlight has come off of Theo now, they said he done a pretty good job of staying in the background, but the Millar thing has kept the attention on him, and this roster has a lot of new players so there will be interest to see how they pan out. Lobel ended the show with the joke that everyone will be doing a lot of shoveling this week. New England will be shoveling snow, while they (media) will do their own shoveling.

Sports Xtra scrolled up a list of those gone and forgotten, 14 players gone from last year’s team, many of the pitchers. Sorting through all the pitchers is a big task for Varitek and the coaching staff. Lavanchy says that not being expected to win this year might be good for the team, not having that pressure. They then went into the Millar resolution and his happiness at being here. Very excited about playing for such a tradition rich franchise, his whole life is baseball. A quick look at Yankee camp, where the Boss is tightening the reigns on the club. His comments about Jeter and Torre were discussed briefly.

The next segment led off with Pedro’s comments from yesterday. Pedro appreciates the fans of Boston, people come up to him and tell him they’re praying for him. He wants to be part of the team that brings the World Series title to Boston. He wants to end the 1918 talk. The contract thing is a matter of trust and respect, he’s not just another player on the pile, he wants to stay in Boston. He had some good years in Montreal, but he is a Red Sox, and wants to be here.

Gerry Callahan and Tony Massarotti were in next to talk Pedro and the Red Sox. Tony says you wait until November before you pick up the option. You see how the season goes, and then if you want to extend him, you do it then. If Pedro wants to stay like he says he does, he’ll sign. Callahan agrees. He says, quoting Archie Bunker, that Respect is for the dead, the living want dough. Pedro is getting paid an enormous amount of money in this huge contract, and the Red Sox should just wait before picking up the option. He is getting his. The Sox should either say sorry nicely, or negotiate an extension. Tony says if he pitches fine, he’ll get his money. The days of paying for past performance are over. There is no reason to pick up this option or give him any “respect’. It would just be bad business to reward Pedro for this. The worst case scenario says Callahan is that Pedro goes to free agency and then you offer him more than any one else. Is he going to say no to that? Is he going to say you offended me so I’m not signing? Tony said he agrees 100% with Callahan. Lavanchy picked up on that “offended” comment and noted that Massarotti told him about still being offended at Tommy Lasorda 10 years later. Callahan says no one is going to pay him except the Yankees. There won’t be a huge market out there. He brought up that when Pedro was first traded here he said he was going to test the free agent waters, but then 10 days later signed the huge deal. This current situation is just a ploy by Pedro to use for motivation. The fact that he is talking like this is a good sign for his health. If he was worried, he’d be talking about his shoulder. He makes up challenges for himself, to make himself better. Callahan says you’ve got him locked up for two years, play them and then worry about the contract. If he was a free agent today, he would not be getting the 17.5 million that he is getting this season. Massarotti says you play this year, then approach him about getting an extension instead of just picking up the option. Gerry says no way. Go through the two years, don’t give him any special treatment. Tony says if Pedro wants to be here, they can find a way to get it done. Lowe, Nomar and Pedro are all coming up, Gerry doesn’t see them keeping all three. Millar arrived today (like the queen of England said Tony) is the roster logjam going to be a problem? Tony said it won’t, because all the guys they brought in have been part timers, and so it won’t be an issue like it was with Bichette and Lansing. Callahan loves the idea that there are a lot of “tryouts” going on and competition for positions. The segment closed with Lavanchy plugging Callahan’s WEEI show, and Gerry remembering the days when Tony used to be on the radio and asked him why he isn’t on anywhere.