The Weekend Buzz while Nicolas Cage was trying to find his rented home in New Orleans and you were looking for Easter eggs. ...
1. Dustin-y in Boston: OK, everybody finished making fun of the Red Sox following their awful start?
Boston, after laying a four-game sweep on the Angels, winning five in a row and eight of nine, is back. And no small reason why the Sox now have a leg to stand on is because Dustin Pedroia has two good feet to work with.
"It's better than one," quips Pedroia, who played in only 75 games last summer because of a fractured foot suffered in June.
Boston's Mighty Mite, a three-time All-Star, is all over the field again, doing all the things he does.
"He's a nuisance," says third baseman Kevin Youkilis.
"Smart," says pitcher Jon Lester.
"#&%#!" say opponents.
Pedroia reached base in five of six plate appearances to help beat the Angels on Thursday. Same night, his perfect relay throw from right field nailed Erick Aybar, who made a spectacularly stupid decision to try and stretch a double into a triple in a 2-2 game with none out in the bottom of the eighth. That play alone probably won the game for Boston. Then, he alertly avoided a rundown between third and home in the 11th inning, scrambling back to the bag in time before later scoring.
Friday's winner, Lester, credited Pedroia with fielding several ground balls up the middle during the evening that maybe would have bounced on through if Pedroia wasn't such a student of the game.
|The Marlins' rotation, led by Josh Johnson, is making plenty of noise early on as it boasts a 2.98 ERA, second in the NL. (AP)|
Inevitably, the Red Sox are -- and will be again this summer -- compared to the Yankees, so it's interesting to hear manager Terry Francona, unprompted, draw another parallel.
"Pedey just wills himself," Francona says. "I've said this about Derek Jeter. [The Yankees] want him to have something to do with the outcome of the game. That's how we feel about Pedey. Whether it's offensively, defensively, he's a great player. But you see the best of him when the game is close and on the line."
Francona's troops see the comparison, but only to an extent.
"It's kind of fire and ice," Lester says.
"Dustin is going to get pissed off and show his emotion," Youkilis says. "He feeds off of his emotions. Derek is more calm.
"At the end of the day, they both get the job done. That's what's great about it."
2. Frank McCourt weighs whether to take legal action in MLB's takeover of Dodgers: Because it went so well when he and Jamie took their divorce to court after the two despicable creatures couldn't work it out like adults. That's how we all learned they funneled some $100 million worth of Dodger profits into things like mansion purchasing and hair care. You go, Frank.
3. Expanded playoffs: Looking like a reality for 2012, unfortunately. And it will really be a mistake if the format isn't the two wild-card teams meeting in a one-game playoff to advance.
4. No sticks: Scoring is at its lowest rate since 1992. According to STATS, clubs through Friday were averaging only 4.31 runs per game, lowest since 4.12 in '92. On the other hand, the game's urine is cleaner now than at any time since the early 1980s.
5. Anibal Sanchez takes no-no into ninth: It's time to start paying attention to the Marlins: Their 2.98 staff ERA ranks second in the NL, and their 1.54 bullpen ERA is the best in the majors. If Josh Johnson can stay on the field and cross the 200-innings threshold, we're talking Roy Halladay territory.
6. Rangers place Neftali Feliz on disabled list: Where he can't start or close.
7. Royal flush: Notable about Texas' weekend sweep of Kansas City? The Royals -- yes, the Royals -- became that last team in the majors to lose a series this season.
8. Battle of the first-year skippers: Dodgers manager Don Mattingly and Cubs counterpart Mike Quade met before Saturday's game to square up an issue from Friday: The Cubs thought it was poor sportsmanship when Dodgers catcher A.J. Ellis tried to steal with the pitcher at the plate and an 8-1 lead in the fifth inning. I'm guessing Mattingly explained to him that the Commissioner's Office called for the steal.
9. Bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek returns to Twins: Best baseball news of the weekend. And as one of the game's good guys notes, one cool thing about baseball is, you don't always have to put your antecedents in front of your pronouns.
10. Happy Easter from Cincinnati's Easter bunny: Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips hosted an Easter Egg Hunt on ... Twitter (@DatDudeBP)? Absolutely. See if you can find the four hidden eggs. I'm just chapped that I couldn't get a chocolate rabbit.