Chuck 'n' Duck

"I'm a very optimistic person. When you're optimistic, the good opportunities, good fortune, good everything will come with it." - Jae Seo Chuck 'n' Duck: the New York Mets from an Eternal Optimist's P.O.V.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Because I've gotten a few e-mails from people wondering where the blog has gone to -- rest assured, it's not gone.

But I have decided to put Chuck 'n' Duck on hiatus until that glorious time when pitchers and catchers report. Anything that's happened this offseason, or will happen, will be talked about on MetsGeek.com until then.

See you in a few months!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Doing Things the Brave Way

Reading all the things written about Delgado today, here and elsewhere, as well as hearing the people on ESPN Radio — hey, it's the only New York station that streams over the internet — there are, as always in trades, two factions of people: those who dig it and those who don't.

Personally, I dig it. Granted Mike Jacobs had an impressive September, but so did Benny Agbayani, Shane Spencer and who can forget the playoff run magic that was Timo Perez? Truth is, Jacobs was a kid who wasn’t even penciled in as the everyday first basemen for next season, and more than likely only would have got the position and stayed there if he continued to hit over his head. Yusmeiro Petit was twenty-one years old with no spot in the rotation on the horizon — especially once power pitchers Philip Humber and Mike Pelfrey are (re)introduced into the system.

But really, the fact of the matter is this: Pedro Martinez isn’t getting any younger. And the Delgado trade can be summed up right there in that one sentence. The Mets did not spend fifty-two million dollars for four years so that Pedro Martinez could teach Yusmeiro Petit and Brian Bannister how to throw a changeup in Spring Training — they got him to deliver the Mets to the playoffs. And with Carlos Delgado at first the chances of that happening are a lot better than with Mike Jacobs there. That’s just a fact.

But here’s the biggest point from the Delgadno group: the ever-popular comparisons with our rivals, those Atlanta Braves. The point has been brought up all day that the Braves continually win because they know when to bring their minor leaguers up, and they don’t go off trading them for the first big name guy that hits the block. Understandably there are Mets fans that are upset with trading our top minor league talent to a division rival, all the while having to worry about the aforementioned Braves and their moves that seemingly never fail. But the thing of it is, what these fans are complaining about is also pretty much what they are asking for: this move is an Atlanta Braves move. The Mets are doing what the Braves would have done, or would have done if the Braves had the financial capabilities that Omar does.

What the Braves seem to do every year is split their minor league system into two groups: guys they’re willing to trade and guys they’re not. The Braves were never willing to deal guys like Jeff Francoeur, Ryan Langerhans and Brian McCann. But they were willing to trade Odalis Perez, Dan Meyer, Adam Wainwright and Tim Spooneybarger. All of these guys were considered top Atlanta Braves prospects at one point or another, but it was John Schuerholz who decided which guys he was willing to keep around, and which guys he wasn’t. That doesn’t mean he’s always correct, but he knows who he wants in his system and who he wants eventually donning a Braves uniform.

Yesterday, Omar appeared to have done the same thing. Jose Reyes and David Wright remain on the team. Victor Diaz, Aaron Heilman and Jae Seo as well. And Lastings Milledge gets to move over to a corner spot for the Binghamton Mets next season — a position change most fans never would have believed would happen in a Mets uniform.

The Mets have taken a page out of that highly-touted Braves playbook: trade a guy at the height of his popularity, someone who’s coming off a good year, and get a proven player in return: Gary Sheffield worked out for them. So did JD Drew. And let’s not forget Mike Hampton.

And you know what the common trend is with all those players?

Braves fans were calling for Schuerholz’s head after every one of them.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Kenji NOjima

After reading Jon Heyman's recent article about Minaya's offseason plan, I immediately found something to write about.

Here's the deal: I get very excited about Japanese baseball players, and I really don't know why. The Mets have consistently brought over guys, trumpeting them as one of the best players in the Eastern hemisphere, and they've then gone about consistently burning the Mets. The list of players the Mets have brought over from Japan reads like this:

Timo Perez
Masato Yoshii
Tsuyoshi Shinjo
Kazuo Matsui
Takashi Kashiwada
Satoru Komiyama
Dae Sung Koo

So, in that group we've had a number five starter who didn't embarass himself, a fourth and a fifth outfielder, an expensive bust and three lousy relievers. Not exactly an awe-inspiring group of guys. And that's not even taking into consideration Kazuhisa Ishii.

And it's not like players that come from Japan can't play: Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui have an MVP, a Rookie of the Year, and seven All Star appearences between them. And Tadahito Iguchi came over this year just to prove that Kaz Matsui really was that bad.

But, still, the Mets consistently bring these guys over, and whether it be the Mets international scouting department, the pressure of New York' spotlight, or just a AAA level of talent, these guys don't perform up to expectations. And yet, everytime I hear there's a Japanese player the Mets are interested in, I get all excited, waiting for our Japanese player that's going to break the cycle and play great baseball. And, while I hold out hope for Daisuke Matsuzaka cracking the Mets rotation in 2007, I must declare this:

Kenji Jojima would be a huge, huge mistake.

Having been a pitcher the better part of my scholastic life, I know what it's like to have a relationship with a catcher -- and I can not possibly imagine how I would go about my daily routine with one if I was entirely unable to communicate with him. A lot of people think catcher is a guy who just sticks down one finger for a fastball or two for a curve, but that's just not the way it is. The catcher is essientailly the leader of the team. He's the guy who's calling your pitches, who's repositioning the infield, who's talking to the umpire about where his strikezone is, and is in charge of knowing about a hitter's strengths and weaknesses -- it's just not a position for somebody who speaks no English and has never played with any of the hitters in the division, the league, or in all of baseball.

Ask any casual baseball fan what the most important position is, and I guarantee you more often than not you'll get "Catcher" as your answer. So, the Mets are considering handing that over to Kenji Jojima -- a guy who's insisting on being a starting catcher or he's not signing? I don't think so.

Bengie Molina and Ramon Hernandez have flaws, absolutely. But they're both solid and respected catchers who -- most importantly -- speak English and can call a ball game. And they're also in a free agent market where two, maybe three teams, are looking for starting catchers. Immediately, these guys should have propelled to the top of the Offseason To-Do List.

This has nothing to do with Jojima's offense. Apparently, he's a .300/30/100 hitter in Japan as well as a nice defensive catcher. That's all well and good in Japan. But if he's refusing to accept a backup role -- which is what has been reported -- then the Mets need to let the dream die and wish him the best of luck.

But, in my mind, this has mistake written all over it.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Now THAT'S What I Call Football

title or description

That about sums up my feelings, Mr. Strahan. Thank you.

With the death of Wellington Mara, there were either two ways this season was going to continue on: the Giants would harness these emotions, take the loss of a beloved owner and friend, and turn themselves into a dedicated football playing machine. Or, they'd completely fall apart.

Fearing the latter -- especially against the Washington Redskins, the hated team of my childhood -- I approached the game with a certain trepidation. It just seemed a little too Disney to have the Giants crush the Redskins at home, on Well Mora Memorial Day, in front of his entire family. It just wasn't that likely of a scenario. It was even less likely to have them do it by Running 'n' Defense: the two principles Mora founded many a Giant team on.

And yet, here I am, after a Redskins drubbing at the hands of the Giants to the tune of 36-0, about as Disney as you can get. And I have no desire to see it end. They can keep up this Run of Good Feelings all the way to the Super Bowl, for all I care. And, really, it's entirely possible: the next three games (@ SF, Minnesota, Philadelphia) are all looking pretty winnable in the here and now. The Giants could conceivably be 8-2 when they get to Seattle to face the Seahawks.

All I know is that I haven't felt this good about a Giants team since 2000 -- as those Mets/Giants coincidences continue -- and it's been a long time since I've seen guys like Tiki and Strahan feel this good, as well. I mean, Eli was extremely shaky today and the team still managed 36 points. Imagine what he'll do when he starts getting on his game on a consistent basis. Wow.

Look, obviously, things can still fall apart -- and, trust me, fall apart they have -- but right now, the Giants seem to be a team built to win. They've got just the right mix of everything with the exception of a secondary, though they did hold Santana Moss to four receptions for thirty plus yards yesterday. So, for right now, the Giants seem to be running on all cylinders.

All the way to Detroit?

Hey, it could happen.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Stars of New York

I really do have every intention to post on a more consistent basis, it's just that absolutely nothing is going on with the Mets -- unless you count Doug Mientkiewicz being grumpy as a something.

When Mets news starts picking up, I'm sure I'll have something to say on it.

Until then... how about that Eli Manning? I know that the sports papers are littered with praise for the guy, but as a Giants fan, I feel the need to just continue to heap it on.

New York Giants football has a history of churning out star players: you can't go far into a conversation about the Big Blue teams of the past without hearing about Roosevelt Brown and Frank Gifford, Sam Huff and Lawrence Taylor. The problem with that is, it is history. Since LT, while there've been some great, good and solid players the Giants haven't developed any Hall of Fame talent (though Strahan does seem to be making a good case). Touting Roosevelt Brown or Sam Huff as reasons why the Giants are great is like when Yankees fans say they're the best because they won twenty-six championships -- sure, the team was good in the past, but it doesn't really have any impact on the here and now.

Now, I'm twenty one. Which means I was born at just the right time to not remember anything about the Mets winning the World Series or the Giants winning the Super Bowl in 1986 (what a year that would've been), and barely recall anything about Super Bowl XXV. But what that also means is I wasn't around when Doc Gooden was Doc Gooden or when Lawrence Taylor was LT. Saddest thing of all, by the time I started following baseball, Darryl Strawberry was a Los Angeles Dodger. I didn't even know the guy was a Met until 1995. True story.

My entire sports history has been cluttered with teams that develop solid players and big misses. I have never been a fan of a team that's developed a true superstar. I've been able to follow Mike Piazza for years, but he was never my own -- I always knew there was a person just like me in Los Angeles grinning because his team developed this guy, regardless of where he was putting up his numbers. Meanwhile the Mets were developing Paul Wilson and Bill Pulsipher, Jay Payton and Alex Escobar, and heaven forbid we forget about Geoff Goetz.

The Giants had far more luck: the aforementioned Strahan, Tiki Barber, Amani Toomer, Jeremy Shockey, Luke Petitgout, Ron Day... okay, they weren't all winners. But still, like I said, no Hall of Famers in the bunch -- thus far, at least. That is, until Eli Manning.

Along with David Wright, I am now in the strangest position I've ever been in: watching my NFL and MLB teams develop two players that seem to have HOF written all over them. Two terrific talents, two good guys, and two players that their respective teams huddle around. Manning is my football version of Wright, right down to the slight Southern drawl.

Watching Eli rally the team around him at the end of Sunday's game was like watching David Wright hit a two RBI double to put the Mets up by one -- something I saw numerous times last season. While the Mets season is over for now, and David Wright's development is finished for the winter, I get to watch the same thing happen all over again during this football season. The maturation, the improvement, the education of these two players, playing their first full-seasons at the same point in their careers. Returning confidence and winning ways to two teams in desperate need of both.

If you haven't yet this season, sit down and watch the Giants play next week. Watch Eli play, but give him the whole game. Just like Wright's twenty-four errors in the field last year, Manning will make his mistakes throughout the course of the game. But watch closely. Watch how the stadium rallies around the guy. How the team rallies around the guy. Watch how absolutely calm and collected the guy is when the pressure is on.

And stick around to the end of the game, too. You wouldn't want to miss anything.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Free Agent Files: Closer

For those of you who visit MetsGeek, you may have noticed that the site has been offline a lot recently. This is due to us switching servers, and is extremely frustrating.

Anyways, I posted an article running down closers over there this morning, but because the site's been down the majority of the day, I figured I'd post it here as well:


Below is a list of the top closers in the Free Agent market this offseason. Though not originally planned, it pretty much follows the order in which I feel the Mets should look for their closer. The list is pretty self-explanatory. Also, not included below are Bob Wickman (who has said he's either re-signing with the Indians or retiring), Eddie Guardado (who has both a team and a player option on his contract this season) and Octavio Dotel (who won't be returning to baseball until, at least, mid-June). Also not included are Braden Looper and Matt Mantei, for obvious reasons.

Enjoy.


Name: Billy Wagner
Height: 5-11"
Weight: 202
Throws: Left
Age: 34
Current Salary: $9,000,000
Likely Asking For: $29,000,000 over Three Years

Wagner is the Cream of the Closer Crop. Arguably on the way to his second Rolaids Relief Award, and armed with an overpowering 100 MPH fastball and a hellacious high-80's slider, Wagner is about as close to a sure thing at the end of the game as there was this season. At the age of thirty-four Wagner enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career, striking out 87 in 77.7 IP (10.1 K/9), while walking twenty (2.3 BB/9). Holding opposing hitters to a batting average of .165, Wagner got the job done, amassing thirty-eight saves while blowing only three -- or five less than what Braden Looper blew. It should also be noted that when outside the Homer-Friendly confines of Citizen’s Bank Park, Wagner pitched to an ERA of 0.90, allowing three runs off of twelve hits in thirty innings. Scary.

Still, Wagner is thirty-four and has a history of injuries. He missed the majority of the 2000 and 2003 seasons with various ailments (back spasms, strained rotator cuff, shoulder, groin, inflamed finger, etc.). It should be noted that Wagner rededicated himself to steering clear of injuries last offseason, and made it through the entire year injury-free. Wagner also did not endear himself to the Philadelphia faithful -- though that's not much of a surprise -- because he called them out for booing the team. In the same vein, Wagner has a long history of openly complaining to the media when things aren't going well with the team, something that carried over from his days in Houston. Despite this Wagner is considered a good teammate, and has never been rumored to be a clubhouse cancer.

The fact remains that Wagner is an excellent pitcher, not just a thrower. If the Mets are looking to make the playoffs next season, they desperately need somebody to slam the door at the end of games, especially if they don't make a move for a big hitter in the offseason. Outside of Mariano Rivera and Brad Lidge, Wagner may be the most dominant, and healthy (sorry, Eric Gagne), closer in baseball. He won’t come cheap, but he could certainly be the answer the Mets have been searching for at closer since... ever?


Name: B.J. Ryan
Height: 6-6"
Weight: 249
Throws: Left
Age: 29
Current Salary: $2,600,000
Likely Asking For: $22,000,000 over Four Years

Finally handed the keys to the closer car this season, Ryan did not disappoint. Appearing in sixty-nine games, Ryan threw 70.3 innings and held hitters to a .208 batting average. Even more impressive is his splits against lefties and righties. While Ryan held lefties to a line of .211/.284/.352, he managed to hold righties to a line of .206/.282/.265, meaning it doesn't matter how you swing, you're gonna have trouble against him. BJ also struck out an even one hundred, for a ridiculous 12.8 K/9 rate, while walking 26 (3.3 BB/9). Ryan’s got some nice natural movement on both of his pitches: a low-to-mid 90’s fastball, and a ridiculous sharp breaking slider. When he’s on, he’s as unhittable as they come.

Really, there’s not much to dislike about Ryan. He does have a reputation of being very emotional, and this did get to him on the mound a few times this season. But what’s really the biggest question mark is the amount of money Ryan will command. BJ’s gone on record saying that he would have no problem returning to the setup role that he excelled in in past years, as long as he was pitching for a winner (ie: the Yankees or Red Sox, two teams that have large payrolls and need bullpen help). He also has stated, however, that he’d have no problem pitching for a New York team. If it simply comes down to a bidding war, the Yankees more than likely have the upper hand, though the Mets can offer Ryan something the Yanks can not: a chance to close out games for a playoff-contending team.


Name: Trevor Hoffman
Height: 6-0"
Weight: 215
Throws: Right
Age: 38
Current Salary: $5,000,000
Likely Asking For: $20,000,000 over Two Years

There’s no doubt that Hoffman gets the job done. This past year he passed former Met John Franco on the All Time Saves list, amassing 436 in his thirteen year career -- and only 42 behind leader Lee Smith. Though he’s undergone two surgeries on his shoulder, Hoffman has somehow remained a consistent closer, making the proper adjustments year in and year out to stay at the top of his game. He by no means has overpowering stuff, as he relies on a high-80’s fastball, an average slider, an average curve, but perhaps the second best changeup in the league (behind Pedro Martinez). Hoffman’s reliance on command and so-so stuff doesn’t translate to overpowering punch-outs: he struck out 54 in 57.7 IP (8.4 K/9), though his command is exceptional, only walking 12 (1.9 BB/9). He also managed to hold opponents to a .235 batting average. Hoffman is as unflappable as it gets on the mound, and has been in the Top Ten in the saves category for eleven of his twelve years at the position.

Yet, there are a lot of big negatives against Hoffman. For one, he’s thirty-eight years old, which means the Mets need to be absolutely convinced they can compete if they’re looking to sign Hoffman. Secondly, he’s said to be asking for Mariano Rivera money -- though he won’t likely find a ballclub willing to give it to him. Still, this shows that Hoffman won't be coming cheap. Also, much like Braden Looper, Hoffman had troubles against lefthanders this season. While he held righties to a mind-boggling .179/.213/.316 line, lefties teed off on Hoffman to the tune of .298/.342/.375. Hoffman would make an excellent setup man, but by all indications he has no desire to go down that road just yet. While Hoffman manages to find ways to close out games every year, it doesn’t look like he's a match for the Mets.


Name: Kyle Farnsworth
Height: 6-4"
Weight: 240
Throws: Right
Age: 29
Current Salary: $1,975,000
Likely Asking For: $14,000,000 over Three Years

Farnsworth had long been considered the Closer of the Future for the Chicago Cubs due to two overwhelming fastballs: a four-seamer that is dialed up around 100 MPH, and a two-seam sinker that clocks in at an awe-inspiring 96. But Farnsworth was never able to find a secondary pitch that would make him unhittable until this year when he developed a decent, quick breaking slider. Combining the two, Farnsworth put up the best season of his career, pitching for both the Detroit Tigers and Atlanta Braves. In seventy innings Farnsworth struck out eighty-seven (11.2 K/9), though he sometimes struggled with his command, allowing twenty-seven free passes (3.5 BB/9). Opponents hit a measly .180 off him, with righthanders going .165/.237/.220 off him. Though he held lefties to a .197 batting average, they managed an on-base percentage of .301, due to seventeen walks and a hit batter in 117 at-bats.

Most fans, as well as some General Managers, are starting to grow wary of signing Braves pitchers after terrific seasons, but there is some consolation in the fact that Farnsworth was pitching very well for the Tigers before the trade. Leo Mazzone did get him to cut back some on his walks, and Farnsworth went 10-10 as the closer for the Braves -- that is, until the postseason, ha ha!. Still, plenty of people feel that Farnsworth doesn't have enough of a record of success that the Braves will pay him what he'll eventually be offered by other teams. While Farnsworth's past is filled with shaky command and scary numbers, the development of his slider may have actually turned him into a different pitcher. If the Mets miss out on Wagner and Ryan, he wouldn't be a bad option for a team needing some strikeouts at the end of the game. And, hey, eventually somebody needs to succeed after leaving Atlanta, right?


Name: Todd Jones
Height: 6-3"
Weight: 230
Throws: Right
Age: 37
Current Salary: $1,100,000
Likely Asking For: $5,500,000 over Two Years

After traveling to Rosedale, Mississippi under the full moon at midnight, Todd Jones sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for some pitching ability. Now, Jones -- who hadn't really been a reliable reliever since 2000 -- is in the free agent market once again, looking to capitalize on a nice year at closer. And, really, it was a nice year. Jones appeared in sixty-eight games, throwing seventy-three innings, while striking out sixty-two (7.6 K/9) and walking a miniscule fourteen (1.7 BB/9). He also managed to close out forty games (along with five blown) despite taking over the closer's role at the beginning of May. Jones, known as one of the most prepared pitchers in baseball, is no longer capable of throwing his fastball in the high-90's, therefore relying on a low 90's fastball and a quick breaking slider, while also hurling the occasional changeup and curveball.

Still, Jones is thirty-seven -- turning thirty-eight next April -- and this could very well be a fluke season for the guy. This was without a doubt the best season of his career, posting career lows in walks, hits, earned runs, runs and homeruns. Most revival seasons are the result of a lack of injury or reinventing yourself, but Jones has done neither. He has approached the game with the same plan as he always had, which could very well spell a return to his previous numbers. Also of note would be his late season collapse: through September and October he pitched a total of thirteen innings, allowing nine runs on eighteen hits. Seeing that Jones is reportedly looking for a two year deal worth between five and six million, it might be best for the Mets to let somebody else run the risk on Jones.


Name: Tom Gordon
Height: 5-10"
Weight: 190
Throws: Right
Age: 37
Current Salary: $3,750,000
Likely Asking For: $6,500,000 over Two Years

Gordon, seeking his last big payday, has stated that if the Yankees aren't interested, he'd like to return to closing elsewhere. However, upon further inspection, it would appear he's already made up his mind -- "I had a great time being a setup here. I enjoyed every day with Mo. I still have in my mind that if I got an opportunity again to close that I want to do that. Closing's always going to be a first choice for me." And, honestly, Gordon still has the stuff to get the job done. He's been a closer before -- 46 saves and book by Steven King with the Boston Red Sox in 1998 -- and over the past three years he's been one of the top five best setup men in baseball. Flash features three above-average pitches: a mid-90's fastball, a nice slider, and an excellent curveball. He'll also throw a decent cut-fastball as well as a rarely seen changeup. Utilizing these pitches, Gordon gave up only fifty-nine hits in 80.2 innings pitched, striking out sixty-nine (7.7 K/9) though walking twenty-nine (3.2 BB/9).

Gordon was turned into a setup man by the Cubs after a penchant for blowing saves and his second serious elbow injury in three seasons. Gordon has bucked those injuries now, appearing in the second most games in 2004 and the third most in 2005. But the blown saves issue may still exist -- this season he went 2-9 in save opportunities, as well as struggling in his second straight postseason appearance. A case probably could be made that Gordon might not have the intestinal fortitude to close out games -- though whether that even exists is debatable. Still, Gordon has pitched so long in a setup role that it's fairly unlikely the Mets -- or any other big market team -- will be looking to him as a closer. Unless all other options are nonexistent, Gordon will more than likely stay with the Yankees or be closing for a team like the Orioles next season.


Name: Ugueth Urbina
Height: 6-0"
Weight: 205
Throws: Right
Age: 31
Current Salary: $4,000,000
Likely Asking For: $8,000,000 over Two Years

Urbina is a strange pitcher, in so much as he can’t be counted on in pressure situations, he doesn’t throw particularly hard, and he has below-average command -- yet, everywhere he goes he’s always given a spin as a closer. Urbina’s fastball, which used to be in the high-90’s, now resides in the high-80’s to low-90’s. He couples that with a nice, deceptive changeup and a pretty poor slider. He can be counted on to stay healthy, as his 79.7 innings out of the pen last season will indicate. And though he does still get his strikeouts, ninety seven of ‘em (11.0 K/9), he will walk the ballpark as well (thirty-nine walks, good for a 4.4 BB/9).

Urbina is intent on returning to closing next season, which means that unless Billy Wagner winds up elsewhere, Urbina will be leaving the Phillies. Still, Urbina may be on to something with his insistence to return as a closer. In that role with the Tigers last season he went 10-10 in his save opportunities, holding opponents to a .191 batting average. Still, Urbina is a pretty steep drop from the aforementioned names, mostly due to his inability to throw strikes. If Urbina could command the strike zone better he would have terrific potential in the closer role, but right now the Mets signing him would be a lateral move at best.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Ganbarimasho!

So, the playoffs are upon us. The ALCS and the NLCS, both split at 1-1, with some fun teams to watch and some good baseball to be played. But there's a decidedly Mets-less feel. Jason Isringhausen, Timo Perez, Dan Wheeler and Paul Byrd are the only past Mets on all four, strangely enough with each one on a different team. But none of those can qualify as past Met stars, and only one of them was a guy I've ever rooted for (c'mon, who didn't love Timo during 2000? At least until the World Series started.)

So, where does my allegiance lie?

With the Chiba Lottle Marines, of course!

One win away from the Japan Series, the team managed by Bobby Valentine along with hitting coach Tom Robson (remember him?!) and a team including Benny Agbayani, Matt Franco, Satorou Komiyama (no kidding!) and former Mets minor leaguer Dan Serafini. Now that, my friends, is a team I can get behind.

Of course, I can't read Japanese, so I've got absolutely no idea what is going on. But I do know that Matt Franco won the game with a bases-loaded double that scored two runs, and that Benny Agbyani plated him with a groundout. It's like 1999-2000 all over again! If the Marines win their next game, they go on to the Japan Series to face the dreaded Hanshin Tigers, managed by... Alex Ochoa!

All right, not really, I can't back that one up.

Still, if you've got the time, visit the website: http://www.marines.co.jp. On it you'll find all sorts of stuff, like a video of Bobby Valentine yelling something in Japaense, and then dancing and bowing with giant birds while an entire stadium chants "Bobby! Bobby!"

Seriously. I can back that one up.

So, go, enjoy yourselves! See what you can find while hunting through a foreign language, and if it isn't a foreign language to you, tell me what it says, because I've been trying to Alta Vista this all night, and although Bobby Valentine was always an educated and insightful guy, something tells me "The thinking which the soldier bets to decisive battle in play off eve intense white is done" aren't his exact words.

Oh, and go Marines in 2005!