Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tracking Santa

Santa has been spotted on radar in China, which is one of the toughest legs of his journey. It's like Heartbreak Hill of the Boston Marathon. China's population is 1.3 billion and represents almost 20 percent of the world's population. My 5-year-old daughter thinks he'll need some Powerade by the time he reaches our home. Kids say (and write) the darndest things: 

"Dear Santa, Please drink Powerade. Love, Ella"

Friday, December 23, 2011

He makes a pretty lineup card, too

The day after Giants catcher Buster Posey was freight-trained by Scott Cousins at home plate, ending Posey's season, Fisher Cats manager Sal Fasano was discussing the incident inside his office. Big Sal got up from his desk and demonstrated how Posey was in proper position right until the last moment. It was a glimpse of catching expertise, making me realize how much Blue Jays catchers Travis d'Arnaud and Yan Gomes were going to learn during the 2011 season. Now it's A.J. Jimenez's turn to work with Fasano, who'll return for the 2012 season to defend the Eastern League title. Before Bobby Valentine was named manager of the Red Sox, I half-jokingly told Fasano via text he should apply for the job. "No, not interested yet. Still have a lot to learn. Besides, I really like the Blue Jays and their players. I would really like to move up there together," he replied.


The 2011 Eastern League postseason was full of celebration for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, led by manager Sal Fasano (center).


The mustached wonder, who hates the word "swag," has managed two seasons and posted a 147-134 record in the minors. "You just learn so much from him on a day-to-day basis about the game. He's so knowledgeable that you try to be around him as much as you can," RHP Drew Hutchison said. "He's very honest with you and genuinely cares about each player." Sal also pens a helluva lineup card: 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidaze!


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Hello, my name is ...

Who am I, you say? After being featured in the National Post -- and providing a feast for all my haters -- maybe I should tell you a little more about myself. Here is some info from the Gray Matter Bonus DVD: I was the New Year's Baby in the town of Plymouth, N.H. Yes, I made headlines when I was a day old ... My first byline came at age 15, writing a story about our backyard Wiffle Ball League ... I covered the Red Sox for the New Hampshire Union Leader from 1998-2004 and now mostly cover the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats during the baseball season ... Season ticket holder for the Fisher Cats, every year. If you want tickets, just ask me, and I will probably give you my seats that I have paid for ... Currently have $9,000 in credit card debt ... Love "Gold Rush" on Discovery Channel. "No guts, no glory," says Jack Hoffman. Never watched the Kardashians, but I have interviewed Lamar Odom ... Drive a 1999 Honda Accord, but it's an EX, brah ... The most interesting Fisher Cats/Blue Jays to cover? Travis Snider opened up about his mom's health struggles and death and his own personal challenges with anger. Ricky Romero lacked confidence and swag in the minors, and it really showed, but he was always cool. He still owes me from losing a bet when the Celtics beat the Lakers in the NBA Finals. Eric Thames went to Pepperdine and partied with Pam Anderson, and photo Kevin Littlefield always brings that up when we see Tank. We always told RHP Ismael Ramirez, "You're going to pitch in the big leagues," but he never did ... I coach AAU baseball and have a serious passion for hitting -- and teaching hitting. In 2007, Fisher Cats manager Bill Masse challenged me to a game of Home Run Derby at the park. I hit two homers over the LF wall. Bill hit none. If my life depended on winning one baseball game, I would want Masse managing my team ... In a 2002 Media Game at Fenway, a pitch from Steve Buckley struck the barrel of my bat and the fly ball soared over the Green Monster and into the netting.

One of my favorite pics! Taken after a Media Game at Fenway Park. Nothing like taking a walk on that diamond with your pride and joy!


My favorite national writer is Tyler Kepner of the NY Times, who pitches in the Media Game. Favorite broadcaster, Dan Shulman of ESPN. Favorite Toronto beat writer, Shi Davidi of sportsnet.ca ... I feel connected with Blue Jays fans and enjoy the tweets and emails, but I've never been to Toronto. Got a passport for the first time last week ... For the past 8 seasons, I have co-hosted a radio show with Matt Bonner of the Spurs and Chris Ryan of WKXL Concord. The Red Rocket calls in every week, and we have a blast ... In 2008, the Manchester Millrats pro basketball team invited me to play in a game, and it was awesome ... Currently reading "Born to Run" by Christopher MacDougall. In 2009, I ran the Boston Marathon with a blistering time of 4:44 ... Been married almost 15 years. She loves the Blue Jays and dislikes the Red Sox ... The name "Gray Matter" came from my mother, Diane, who named my first-ever column. She died from lung cancer in the spring. Miss you, mom. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Feature in the National Post

There's a terrific piece by John Lott in today's National Post that recaps the frenzy of Monday night and how the Yu Darvish story ended up burning me. If you want to know the difference between blogs and major news outlets such as my own newspaper, the Darvish saga pretty much sums it up. “There is a code of ethics that applies to journalism, and that code tends to blur in the blogosphere, often a land of anonymity and speculation,” I told Lott for his story. "I fell into that trap, lowered my standards, and began feeling like a maverick with this hot story while sitting in my home office.” My sources were so confident the Blue Jays had won the bid, and I still believe the Jays bid an excess of $50 million. Wish I could give you more juicy details of what "Deep Throat" told me that night, but I have to protect my sources ... Thanks to many for the love and support. You know who you are ... "Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to all," sources say.

Happy Holidays ...

When you run a 5K holding a turkey leg, cows appreciate it.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Darvish-fueled frenzy reaction

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, reacting to the Darvish-fueled frenzy, hasn't said how much the Blue Jays' bid. Doesn't want to provide financials, which is understandable. Some AA teleconference quotes via Mike Cormack of sportsnet.ca: "I understand the passion. We all want to win. We want to make sure it's done the right way ... We have plenty of resources and enough creativity to make it work ... I have what I have available and will make it work."


Google Adsense dollars earned on my blog this week will be donated to the JaysCare Foundation. 

Day after Darvish

Blue Jays ace Ricky Romero said it best last night on Twitter: "My people RELAX about the whole Yu Darvish thing. Stop freaking out. I have all the confidence in our team n u guys should too. We're young n talented. Love, Ricky." The Rangers' winning bid was $51.7 million, edging the Blue Jays. Some Jays execs, internally, were confident they'd won the bid. So was I ... Below is a picture from a Japanese magazine my family appeared in. The magazine story was not about Yu Darvish. 


We're big in Japan.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Getting burned

Sorry, Blue Jays, fans. I gave the story my all and ended up getting bad info from trusted sources, guys that have never let me down before. (WTH happened?) This is the danger of the blogosphere. I didn't go with the story in my newspaper because none of my sources went on the record. That's our rule. So I'll take the heat for posting it on my blog. I'm sorry to all those great fans in Canada. I screwed up. My Blue Jays sources screwed up. I'll be right back at it tomorrow.

The Yu Darvish Decision

UPDATE (10:35 p.m.): Announcement coming soon ... Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos plans to announce tonight his team won the bid for Japanese sensation Yu Darvish, according to my industry sources. I was told the Blue Jays would have an announcement around 9:30 p.m. (since delayed) that would blow away the great fans of Canada, who've been thrilled at the idea of Darvish signing with Toronto. Both parties have 30 days to agree on a contract. Early reports on the Blue Jays throwing down "a monster bid" were accurate. The bid was likely north of $50 million, a much higher figure than most in the Toronto organization expected. One of my sources: "How many tickets do you think we'll sell tomorrow? This thing will pay for itself."


Jays fans are flat-out going bananas right now. "Hope you are right. This could be a moment we look back on in a few years as the turning point in the franchise," tweeted @Anthopojays.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Waiting on the Whirling Darvish

Is it Tuesday yet? We're all dying to know if the Blue Jays, indeed, posted the highest bid on Yu Darvish. I believe they did, and I believe the Nippon Ham Fighters will accept that bid. This is based on my own talks with members of the Blue Jays organization, but nobody will be 100-percent positive until MLB makes the Tuesday announcement. The good folks at Jays Journal gave 10 Reasons why the expensive acquisition of Mr. Darvish makes sense. I've seen first-hand how John Farrell helped Dice-K make the transition to Boston, and Darvish should be excited about potentially working with Farrell ... It's only Sunday. Can we skip Monday? P.S. Random swag winner today. Email me at graymatter11@aol.com.