Sunday, April 30, 2006

Ringing the Bell!

And Bellhorn's hit scores the winning run in the 10th. Sigh, I miss this guy!
(AP Photo by Lenny Ignelzi)

Fisk Shirt mojo - follow-up

I told you that the Fisk shirt had a powerful mojo to it! Sox came back last night in the top of the 9th to beat Tampa Bay, 9-6. I've put the shirt away for today - I think Schilling has enough mojo of his own - but I'll probably have to break it out for tomorrow's game. Yes, it's the first meeting of the Yankees and Red Sox at Fenway tomorrow night. Wahoo!

It was great to see the RS bats finally come to life last night. They were 5-for-10 with men in scoring position - what an improvement. Apparently, pitching coach Papa Jack (Ron Jackson) had a meeting with "hitters-only" (did they invite Pena, do you think?) - reminded them of the RS fundamentals. Like working the pitch count, making the pitcher pitch to you. [I hope they haven't forgotten it today - it's the 2nd and they've already wasted two doubles]

One of the best things about this game today - is that it's the last time I'll have to listen to these Tampa Bay announcers on FSN Florida. Man, they suck! They actually cut away from a Manny Ramirez at bat last night to interview the winners of the pre-game Tailgating Party contest. Okay, so it was Doug Waechter's mom and wife, but still....These guys make DO & RemDawg sound like rocket scientists.

And meanwhile, out west, the Bell triples!

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Fisk shirt mojo

It seems like I've started every post lately with a lament about what an ugly game had occured the night before. And I could start today the same way. I'll only say 15-3. Sad, pitiful, and unexpected from our Sox. They left the bases loaded - twice! They now are batting .159 with runners in scorign position.

But, I have a distinct feeling that things will change tonight. We are just due to break out. But to boost that feeling, I am wearing my Carlton Fisk shirt. There is an incredibly powerful mojo associated with this shirt. I donned it about half-way thru game 4 of the 2004 ALCS - and every game for the rest of the 2004 season. And we know how that worked out. I also wore it for that memorable game on July 31st at Fenway - when Manny became Manny again. So, listen up, Devil Rays, just go home right now!

One thing I meant to mention yesterday. How did I EVER make it through last season without my own computer?! "Santa" gave me one this year (although why it got charge on my AMEX card, I don't know...) - and it was the best gift! I can watch the game, follow the angst on the SoSH and Remy Boards, keep track of all the minutiae via's Game Day...and surf the net. All at the same time! Awesome!

Go Sox!!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Friday night vs. Tampa Bay

First, an ugly, ugly game last night. Sox lose 15-3 eventually, but the game seemed to be lost in the first, when Josh Beckett gave up a grand slam to Broussard (who would homer again in the 3rd). I think the game turned during the at-bat right before the gs - vs. Martinez. Beckett tried to be way too cute with him, slowing the pace, stretching out the at-bat to 9 pitches, the last being the fourth ball so that he walked. So, it was 4-0 at the end of the first. I just don't have enough faith & trust in our offense to say that we can come back from that. Even just a four-run lead seemed already like an obstacle we couldn't overcome... and so it was.

It's such a different team this year. I know we beefed up our pitching and defense, and they've been (for the most part) impressive. But, hey, chicks dig the long ball!

So, we were 1 out of 3 in Toronto, and 1 out of 3 in Cleveland. Gosh, I hope we do better in Tampa Bay. As someone said on SoSH, "let's beat up on some cheap crap"!

I realized today that three of the four games I'm going to see at Fenway this summer are versus Cleveland. Man, we better improve before then, or it could be three bleak evenings.

Oh, now in the 2nd. Varitek gets a gift triple, and can't get anyone to hit him home. Absolutely pitiful.

I had the chance to see the Mets-Braves game tomorrow night. I would have jumped - if the pitching match-up had been tonight's. Pedro vs. Smoltz - ought to be an awesome pitching duel.

And, totally off-topic, I spent the late afternoon out in my garden, getting my spring/summer planting done. A lovely array of all-white flowers - impatiens, daisies, salvia... I've got to plant my sunflowers sometime this weekend, too. And looking forward to another great year of hydrangeas - my favorites!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Beckett vs. the Tribe

I'm going to add a new link over on the right. Its' called Diet Facts - and it's got a great list of restaurants with all the nutritional information on their entrees. It also gives you the "unofficial" points for them.

Did you see the video of Delmon Young throwing a bat at an umpire at the Pawtucket - Durham game yesterday? That boy needs some counseling, for there is clearly some anger management issue involved there. He had previously "bumped" an umpire last year. In this instance, he was called out on strikes, and lingered in the batter's box for a few moments to show that he disagreed. The umpire told him to get moving, and when he didn't move quick enough, the umpire tossed him from the game. In the video, all you see is a bat come from the left, spinning end over end and hitting the ump square in the chest. Wild. They've apparently suspended Young "indefinitely" - which needed to be done. They need to send a strong message to him (and the rest) that this type of behavior is NOT acceptable.

Poor, poor Wake. Why do his teammates hate him so?! They have given him NO run support - they only eked out ONE run last night. That to me is the key to the loss - a lot have been quick to jump all over Josh Bard for his poor performance behind the plate (yes, four passed balls), and they may have contributed. But if the offense could have produced something...

I know, it's only the 21st game of the year, it's a marathon not a sprint, yada yada yada. I know they can't win EVERY game... but at least if I stay up past my bedtime, I expect a victory.

Tonight - Josh Beckett. Wahoo!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sox & Indians

I'm watching the game - right now it's the 3rd inning, and Cleveland is ahead 3-0. We have GOT to give Wake some run support tonight. He's pitched two great games that were lost due to our lack of offense, and that has got to stop. Wake is one of the greatest guys on the team, and they need to show him some love! (And they've just left the bases loaded. They are now 6 for 26 in that situation - pitiful. Extra BP for everyone!)

Last night's game was a real roller coaster ride. Every time I thought we could relax, it was well in hand, back came the Indians. There was a lot of action in blog-dom today about the fact that Tito left Schilling in for 133 pitches, "too long" they cry. But as someone pointed out, he's not a hot-house flower. He's a professional athlete who likes to push himself - his arm isn't going to fall off or he won't drop dead on the mound. Unfortunately, he got no decision. But they've put him into the rotation for Sunday's game at Tampa Bay - one more chance to finish the month with five wins.

Foulkie looked good again. Almost "vintage," dare I say it? And Papelbon is just awesome. Of course, it's easy to be adored and feted in Boston when you're winning. The real test is going to come when he blows a save...And Youk with the first stolen base of his career!!

On a down note, I had to watch on my Extra Innings package - no NESN - so I was subjected to the Cleveland Indians announce team. Ugh. At one point, they talked about meeting Remy in the hall and passed along some of the points HE was making. Lame. Tonight it's the same situation - although ESPN is also broadcasting the game, which is a little better.

Great discussion on Mike & Mike this morning with Jason Stark. They were commenting on the Roger Clemens soap opera - will he retire? will he play for the Sox? will he play for the Yanks or Astros? etc. - Greenberg said that Gammons had told him that Clemens is reveling in this whole thing. With the RS starting pitching spotty, with the Yankee pitching worse than spotty, with the Astros still contending - he can be the prima ballerina. Everyone wants him, and everyone is willing to keep bidding until there's no money left. Where will he end up?? I never harbored bitter feelings for him, and I think it would certainly be a storybook way for him to end his career, back with the team he got started with. And what a rush for the city and the team - no matter which side you sit on. He said today that he won't pitch before June 1st, and may not make an announcement until then. Still, Saturday is the 20th anniversary of his 20K game. Wouldn't that be an incredible day to announce his return?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Off-day odds-n-ends

1) Did you see the infield that the Kansas City Royals put on the field yesterday? It was like the all-Scrabble team: Graffanino at 3rd, Grudzielanek at 2nd, and Doug "the Ball Stealer" Mientkiewicz at first. They just need to trade for that guy in the Braves minor leagues that has the longest name in baseball...

2) In the (many) articles about Papelbon's new haircut (dubbed the Papelhawk on one site), there's this gem from the Globe:

Curt Schilling, however, did something similar in 1988 at age 21, and quickly found that he did have someone to answer to.

''I gave myself a Mohawk when I got called up," Schilling recalled. ''I thought it was cool. Frank [Robinson] called me into his office and for 10 minutes he just stared at me. I had an earring, too. Finally he said to me, 'You'll never throw a pitch for me as long as you've got that.' I walked out of his office, cut my hair, and took off the earring."

I somehow have a hard time picturing Mr. Straight Republican with an earring!

3) "Dear Abby" was having an interesting discussion last week, about correcting a parent when you hear them imparting egregiously wrong information to their kids. Some recommended correcting them, or calling the parent aside and correcting them, or ignoring it. It's an interesting dilemma. I found myself in it last week at the Braves game. There was a family sitting behind me, with parents, two small children and a grandfather. At one point, a batter hit a ball that bounced into the stands - a ground rule double. The little boy asked what had transpired. The grandfather announced to him that it was a players' option hit. Waa?? I bit my tongue, all the while imaging this kid telling his classmates on Monday that he'd seen this incredible player's option hit at the game! Later in the game, they showed the official scoring line for a player at bat. The little boy starts asking, "What's L-4 mean?" He kept asking and asking, and there was just silence. So, since I had my scorepad in hand, I turned and told him it was a line drive to the 2nd baseman. The father grinned at me sheepishly, and thanked me for bailing him out! So, I guess you have to gauge what to do on the spot.

4) There's a great scene in "Fever Pitch" where Drew Barrymore is going through Jimmy Fallon's closet looking for something appropriate for him to wear to meet her parents. All she finds are dozens of Red Sox t-shirts hung up there. Well, my closet is starting to resemble that. I just got my newest shirt: an Arroyo. He may be gone, but for $5 I have a souvenir of his years here! Today, I strayed over to the Yawkey Way Store site and there it is: the new Adam Stern shirt!! So, I guess I'll be adding another soon.

Off night tonight - I can go to bed at a decent hour! Schilling tomorrow....

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Forecast: clearing

I couldn't bring myself to write these past two days. Two very ugly, discouraging games with Toronto. Really, the Blue Jays have built themselves an incredible offense. Much like their namesakes, they never give up. You can't count them out, even down three runs in the bottom of the ninth.

The game Friday night was just plain depressing. We were ahead 6-2, and Beckett let them back in after being left in the game a tad too long. The game ended up going 12 innings - and ended in a depressing loss. That the guys had to come back for a Saturday afternoon was a real downer - and a downer for we fans too! I nearly couldn't face it - and luckily dozed during the Toronto comeback in the 4th inning. We were never in the game..

But today, the forecast looks much rosier. First, Keith Foulke with 1 2/3 innings and three strikeouts. He also looked fantastic - fiery like in 2004. Very hopeful.

Manny seems to be breaking out of his early season rut. He homered back-to-back with Ortiz the other night, and today scored a run. (Even hustled enough that he didn't have to slide into home!)

Lowell with another double today. I believe he's got nine on the season - second in the league. It's amazing that a guy who was thrown into a deal (for Beckett) is turning out to be a key player on the team, both offensively and defensively. Yes, he had an error today, but his play at third has been so far awesome.

What's with Timlin and the camouflage glove? Trying to make himself invisible??

And then there's this....

Papelbon apparently won a bet with Youkilis - and got this mohawk as the prize! Excuse me, this looks like he lost the bet! Very reminiscent of Charlie Sheen in "Major League." With Millar leaving the team, I thought we might be free of weird hairstyles, but I guess not. But Millar always stayed with a style that was working - so it seems like a strange time to be tampering with success. That thought seemed to be borne out today, when Pap struggled with the first few batters in the 9th. He allowed the first two batters on with singles, then faced Sox killer Vernon Wells. Got him to strike out! Then got Glaus to ground into the game-ending double play.

So Pap now has 8 saves on the young season. According to
By converting the first eight save chances of his Major League career Jonathan Papelbon has eclipsed Dick Radatz's 1962 club record of seven. The right-hander leads the Majors in saves this season and needs just one more save this month to tie the all-time record set by rookies during the month of April [Mike MacDougall had 9 in 2003]

There were some great close-ups on him Friday night - the most intimidating stare. I think he could be the real thing! Or at least the "wild thing" - hey, they've been trying to come up with appropriate music to play when he comes into the game. Picture 35,000 screaming Red Sox fans and their reaction when the bullpen gate opens, Pap steps out - and "Wild Thing" blares over the p.a. Awesome!

Friday, April 21, 2006


Well, I had an entry all ready and we had a lightning strike in the area that knocked out electricity. Luckily, it's back up and running before the first pitch of the Red Sox-Toronto game! I'll try to save a few times in case there's more coming - we're under a tornado watch right now with violent storms predicted.

A few links:
Check out this article in the Brushback - I know it's parody, but you can just picture Curt Schilling acting like this in team meetings.

I took me two days to get into the Boston Phoenix' article about the 100 Unsexiest Men.

Julio Franco, 47, became the oldest man to hit a home run in the major leagues. I was incredibly impressed, until I realized that he's not that much older than me!

A cautionary tale in Deadspin this week. A Pittsburgh blogger did a whole post on how much he loves GameDay on It really is a great way to follow a game - it gives you the scoring in nearly real time. There's even a little button that says "boss" that you can click - and a fake spreadsheet shows up! Anyway, this guy wrote all about how much he loves it and how easy it is to have it up at work while pretending to be productive. So, within days, he was fired - and the blog entry was cited as proof that he wasn't performing. Yikes! I rarely blog at work - if I do, it's usually an entry I've already written and saved. But I'm going to be much more cautious.

Oh, there's Remy & Orsillo - gotta run!

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Age does not protect us from love, but love to some extent protects us from age"

-Author of quote unknown

I'm really starting to fall in love with this team. The past two games have been incredibly exciting, nauseating, heart-stopping, and pure ecstasy. I unfortunately had to work on Monday, so had to resort to trying to look like I was working while having my ear cocked toward my Game Day Audio. And trying to disguise my freaking out over Loretta's 2-out bottom of the 9th home run that won the game.
AP Photo - Stephen Savoia
And he was so incredibly modest in all the post-game hoopla - giving props to Youkilis for hustling out the ground ball to get to first, to the pitchers and the other players...He's been pretty awesome defensively so far, but now this just really cements his place on the team. Speaking of which....

AP Photo - Elise Amendola

ear Youk: please forgive me for every doubting you. When it became clear that you were going to be taking the place of my man Millar, I used some not very nice words to you. I was sure you were just being highly overrated by some people, that you would never be able to make the transition to 1st base, that you would quickly find yourself back in Pawtucket and I would be left quietly sobbing for Kev.

But, something happened. I guess you took my comments as a challenge. You apparently worked out like crazy this winter, and wow, looky what we got here now. A fleet-footed, slugging human vacuum at 1st. I mean, the full-split lunges are almost frightening. Running out that grounder on Monday - magnifique! The game-winning RBIs Tuesday on a clutch double. And as I write tonight, you're 3-for-3, with 2 RBIs and a home run. Yes, I don't think you have to worry any more about driving down to Pawtucket. Keep it going!


AP Photo - Elise Amendola

How can I not mention the magnifique catch by my new Red Sox Boyfriend, Adam Stern. Between Youk, Papelbon and Adam - the kids did us proud last night. They all seem to be playing with such fire, enthusiasm, and passion - it's contagious. I mean, we're only playing the 15th game of the year, and I am already SSOO into this season! Rushing home from work so I don't miss the NESN pre-game show, struggling to stay awake through all the post-game fun in the locker room (or managing to hit the record button so I can watch over my Kashi cereal in the a.m.) Already counting the days until I can see them play live in Atlanta in June!

Go Red Sox!!

Monday, April 17, 2006

A Visit to Turner Field

As I mentioned, I went to Atlanta this weekend, for my first visit to Ted Turner Field in maybe eight years.
It was an interesting experience, quite a contrast to little Fenway.

"The Ted" opens 2 1/2 hours before game time, although you can't get down into the main seating area until 2 hours before the game time. You enter the park at 755 Hank Aaron Drive. After a quick bag inspection and ticket scan, you enter the plaza area. Before I had even walked ten yards, five or six employees had already welcomed me to Turner Field and told me to enjoy the game. It was just the beginning of a string of gracious, welcoming employees. Even the security personnel, after admonishing a young autograph seeker to not lean on the wall, smiled and wished the boy a good game. That Southern hospitality is no urban myth!

The plaza at the entrance gives you a real taste for the whole experience. You are at dead centerfield - and you can see into the park from where you're standing. Opposite the entrance is a huge souvenir store, and to the right and left are restaurants - including a full Chop House with indoor and outdoor seating. I did a double take at a small kiosk right at the entrance - you can walk up and buy season tickets right there! Startling, considering that you have to practically marry into Fenway season tickets. There were all kinds of activities taking place in the plaza - face painting for the kids, characters from the Cartoon Network roaming around for pictures, a drum corp performing. On Sunday afternoon, they featured three Braves "legends" in a q&a with tv. announcer Pete Van Weir - the guys also signed autographs for an hour or so.

After you've had your fill of that, you wander to the right into Scout's Alley. There, you can purchase a bunch of tokens, and have the chance to taking batting practice, pitch, play interactive computer games. The whole stadium is like a theme park where they also happen to feature a ball game if you get bored! There are observation posts above the bullpens, where you can see the pitchers warming up pre-game or relievers during the game.

I walked around to the dugout areas, which as I said you can enter two hours before the game. For that first hour, you can hang by the dugouts and try for autographs - there were tons by the Braves, but few by the Visitor's Dugout. The Padres were pretty nice about either giving an autograph or politely waving you away The standard excuse is "I'll be back after I hit" - although one pitcher said he'd come back after he weighed in(?!)

After an hour - which is one hour before the game is scheduled to begin - they clear out those areas so that the people who've bought the seats can sit down in them. I took that chance to scout out the park. Pretty standard concessions - and pretty standard prices. $6.25 for a beer, $6.75 for a foot-long hot dog. There is pizza, funnel cakes. And a Moe's Southwest Grill, where you can have your own burrito built to order.
This year, they've added an ammenity to the field level seats. Patrons in those seats get a menu - and an order taker comes over, punches in your choices, collects your payment (cash or credit card, thank you.) Within five minutes, someone comes along with your order. No waiting in line - and the prices are identical to the concessions outside. Nice feature.

During the game itself, they run endless promotions and contests before the home half of each inning. Delta upgrades someone from the bleachers to a field box; Home Depot does a "race" on the video screen; Aflac has the trivia question; and several other companies do video "shell games" or guess the attendance contests. I frankly got sick of seeing the Braves mc who does it and his bevy of Braves beauties, who seem to be there strictly for eye candy. They are shown on the SuperJumbo tron often, dancing, slinging t-shirts, etc. At the 7th inning stretch, they do "Take Me Out" of course, which is followed by "Thank God I'm a Country Boy" (which I thought was a thing to do at Orioles' games?)

Amidst all the video gadgety and swirling colors, it took me a few innings before I could locate where they hide the pitch count, pitch speed, and the official scoring. Since I really like keeping score, those were important stats to find! Keeping score always seems to prompt some diverse and interesting questions. Like "Do you work for the Braves? Then how come you keep score?" The guy behind me figured I knew everything about baseball, and kept quizzing me on Smoltz' ERA, and who had pitched complete games this year in the National League. When the gang behind me left for an extended period of time, the grandfather prompted the littlest kid to ask me what they'd missed!

Leaving the park was easy - although I always get messed up trying to find 75 North when I leave. I always end up driving all the way through dowtown Atlanta - which is not bad on a Sunday afternoon, but you don't want to do it on a Tuesday night! I had bought my parking pass in advance, so I cruised right into the green lot - which is very close to the park and to the exit route!

A comment in general on the crowd and the experience. It's weird to sit in a half-full park on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. What could be better?! But Atlanta - and the southeast in general - is college football country. You can't get near a Georgia Tech or UGa game. So the Braves are fighting that tradition when they try to tap into the Atlanta market. I also think they suffer from having every game broadcast on TBS or Turner South. The casual fan can sit at home and watch portions while tending the BBQ. And the crowd is pretty casual. The group in front of me arrived an hour into the game (it was the bottom of the 3rd), and left after 90 minutes (in the 7th). I hope they didn't pay $50 each for their 6 tickets and had gotten them from his work or something.

So if you are in Atlanta and want to see a game, go out to see the Braves. Good tickets are very easy to get - the atmosphere is very welcoming - and it's a pleasant place to sit and observe the world!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Braves v. Padres

I'll have more details later, but I had a fun weekend in Atlanta. Saw a classic pitchers' duel Saturday night - John Smoltz pitched a complete game victory over Jake Peavey. Sunday, Woody Williams got a victory over John Thomson - after the bullpen blew it for him. (Sound familiar). But I did get a chance to get reaquainted with a few old friends:

Talk about gracious! Dave Roberts saw my Red Sox jersey and came right over to sign an autograph for me. Kept saying how great the Boston fans were!
Got to see this familiar sight in two games - Bellhorn pitch-hitting - and striking out. But still looking quite fine doing it!

One of the biggest changes Edgar Renteria has discovered in Atlanta is that when you're on the DL for the Braves, you still have to work at the games:

Friday, April 14, 2006

Wherefore art thou?

Another ugly outing last night. Clement is looking very inconsistent. He got shelled early last night - a grand slam in the second made it 6-0 - and he threw 83 pitches in just four innings. As opposed to the other night in Baltimore when he was great for the first six innings, then blew up in the 7th. I suppose it could be payback by the baseball gods for all the bragging we were doing about our starting pitchers.

The bullpen, however, does look pretty good. Bad Boy Tavarez finished his detention and came in for two innings. He looked pretty good - and didn't beat anyone up (although he did give up a run). Foulke had two really good innings - only faced 6 batters and struck out two of them - so that's definitely good news. He's starting to look like the Foulkie that carried us to a World Championship.

Our defense continues to impress. Dustan Mohr had a "web gem" catch in center - an awesome diving catch that was perfectly timed. And that double-play infield has at least one amazing play every game. It's fantastic the way Gonzalez, Loretta and Youklis have become a seemless fit, after only 9 games. They look like they could have played together for years. Youk is the surprise there - he is showing some incredible moves, making full split stretches to scoop out his half of the double play. That off-season conditioning is showing!

The question posed above is about our offense. Last year, a six run deficit in the second? We'd laugh in their faces. This year?? I'm not feeling much confidence quite yet. Wily Mo is still flailing at the plate. Manny hasn't broken out yet (maybe he DID need that first week of Spring Training??) We can't rely on Ortiz to dig us out every game - he may be super human, but he's still human. The key to our success offensively in the past has been the way we worked the pitcher. Lots of fouls, lots of deep counts - and suddenly the pitcher is over a hundred pitches in the fourth or fifth. Once we got into the bullpens, we were golden. To me, it looks like Loretta is the only one who's doing this consistently. We need to be much more patient at the plate!

At this point, the Blue Jays look serious. Their pitching has been incredible these last two games - although both pitchers have always been known as "Sox killers." Their offense has jumped right in from their first at-bat, and capitalized on pitching errors and lapses. Actually, they seem to have taken a page out of our offensive handbook. The one thing I try to remember is that last year at this time, we all thought the Orioles would be there contending at the end - and they swooned in May. May the same happen to Toronto.

I wanted to point out one interesting article from Boston Sports Review. Christopher Price says that this year's team will cause the death of the pink t-shirt brigade - all the young women who would come to the games just to look at Johnny and some of the other boys. He writes about this year's team:
In their place, the Red Sox have become suddenly a team full of 9-to-5, punch-the-clock professional men who are more likely to have the clubhouse television tuned to CNBC instead of MTV. They are the kind of guys who write all their thank-you notes the day after Christmas, drink their milk all the way to the bottom of the glass and make sure they say "please" and "thank you."
In other words, a team of grown-ups. Speaking for myself (and, in the interest of full disclosure I must admit that I DO own a pink Varitek shirt), I almost find that sexier. I loved my Bronson and his cornrows, but that salt-and-pepper look Lowell sports is appealing, too. I miss the scruffy Bellhorn, but the clean shaven head of Coco is quite cute, too!

Speaking of Bellhorn - I'm off on a baseball adventure this weekend. Heading south to Atlanta to catch two of the Braves-Padres games. I'm going to see Peavy and Smoltz pitch tomorrow night - and hopefully, spy some of those ex-Red Sox players. Stalker alert - I'll be right by the visitors' dugout!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The bad and the beautiful

Well, Wells, that was not pretty at all. Actually, downright ugly. Why Francona let him pitch at all after only one rehab start at Pawtucket (in which he was shelled), is the big question today. And why the heck leave him in after he got hit so hard in that first inning. Tito said he didn't want to wipe out the bullpen for the rest of the week, so let Wells try to keep going. On the other hand, the guy's got an incentive-ladden contract in which his pay escalates with each start. So last night not only cost us a victory, it cost us money, too.

The bright spot was our defense. Several sparkling plays by that infield that is quickly endearing itself to RSNation. And the early reports of the decline of Lowell's prowess at the plate? Guy had another double last night. He's leading the American League with 5 doubles right now. If he keeps this up, he will cement Theo's reputation as a baseball genius.

And the other bright spot:

Even though he's on the DL for 15 days, this guy is still making news - and making news that makes us smile, too. He signed a three year contract extension yesterday, meaning he'll be our centerfielder through 2010. That makes four players signed through 2008: Coco, Big Papi, Papelbon and Varitek. Do you sense that the Sox are building a strong nucleus to take us through the next few years? They can build on these guys, surround them with the young'uns from the farm system. It's a hopeful sign.

And, now for something completely different. If you haven't read Will's story on Deadspin about Chris Berman, Tony Kornheiser and the expression "You're with me, leather," go check it out. It's hysterical!!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

O Canada

Last month, during the WBC, I confessed to having a warm spot for Adam Stern. The more I see of this guy, the more I like what I see. He did everything in the game yesterday - including singing the Canadian national anthem!
Although he later confessed to just lip-synching - said he "didn't want to be too loud." One of my favorite moments was him trying to give Ortiz a high five - and Papi holding his hand up so high that Stern had to jump up to reach it!

Yesterday, during the game, he hit a two-run double, then stole third base. He was originally slated to go back down to Pawtucket on April 20th (so he could get in more playing time), but with Coco on the DL for 15 days, Stern has a great opportunity to show Francona what he can do now. He's shown he's got a dirt-dog mentality - flopping into third head first - and he can obviously hit. Let's keep him with the big club for a while - especially since poor Wily Mo looks to be a fan target this year.

And did I mention that he's awfully cute too?
I mean, check out those big brown eyes. I think I see a candidate for the Pups in the Park Calendar this year!

Edit: Just wanted to add this link to an article about Adam in the Toronto Sun. A sample:

Drafted by Toronto's Bill Byckowski in the 22nd round in 1998, Stern had choices: 1) Sign with the Jays. 2) Attend Seminole State Junior College, maintaining his right to sign with the Jays for 50 more weeks, or 3) Go to Nebraska to improve and get an education.

He chose door No. 3 and Atlanta made him a third- round choice in 2001.

And this good news:
A trip to Pawtucket still may be in Stern's future, but he at least plans on being in the organization for a while.
I hope so!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Middle of the Fourth

Now, this is the kind of fire we like to see. Here's Beckett coming off the mound after an inning-ending double play in the first. Bases were loaded, so that was huge!

Unfortunately, we're into the fourth, and Josh is already at 77 pitches. But some stellar defense here in the fourth.

And my new favorite, Adam Stern, doing well.

And in other news - Bronson Arroyo hits his second home run of the year. Maybe instead of sending him to the bull pen, the Sox should have tried him in right field.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Four More Years!

No, not for that guy in the White House. THIS is the man - at least through 2010:

(photo from Boston Dirt Dogs)

And somewhere, George Steinbrenner quietly weeps...

Friday, April 07, 2006

Friday leftovers

Some leftovers from Wednesday night's game:

Pitching: Beckett looked pretty shaky in the first - I was feeling like I had Tuesday night. But after that, he settled down. I kept trying to tell myself that it was only 1-0 - I was actually kind of shocked in the 6th to realize that was still the score. Timlin looked very rusty - even the camo undershirt didn't seem to help. And Papelbon? Yowsa! That kid looked incredible - an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 inning to get his first career save. I understand the NESN broadcast kept showing Foulkie sitting forlornly in the Pen...Have we seen the passing of the torch?

Curt Schilling made an appearance over on SOSH to talk about Beckett's game -I love this:
This kid stays healthy and he's gonna be real special. He'll have a great chance to stay healthy here given the new stuff he's learning about arm and body maintenance and his desire to be _great_, not good.
Offense: When Trot Nixon characterizes your offense as "lackadaisical," you got your work cut out for you. Manny still looks lost at the plate, Oritz hit into two double plays. When Trot and Tek are your offensive leaders.... The 1st base slot in the line-up went 1-for-12 in the series. Where's Millar when you need him??

Coco: He needs his own category. That guy has some incredible speed. Watching him run from home to third on his triple in like 9 seconds - never thought I'd see that in a Red Sox Uniform.

Knucklers: Wake wasn't the only knucleballer to run into trouble at Ameriquest Field this week. Texas has a knuckler named RA Dickey (who starred at Tennessee) - he got tagged for six homers last night against the Tigers. The shots on Sportscenter looked like batting practice. So let's not count Wake out yet.

Bronson: My Bronson had a fantastic debut for the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. Not only did he pitch 7 great innings, he also hit a home run! Although he still looks like a t-baller in that batting helmet...

Tonight: The Sox are in Baltimore, to take on our old friend Millar. I hope that Extra Innings gives me NESN tonight. I got to see their broadcast for two out of the three Texas games - luckily, because those Texas FSN guys nearly drove me over the edge. At one point, they cut away from action on the field to show a bunch of guys sitting in the bleachers, enjoying dollar hot dog night. Egads!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Vets and Newbies

Having benefited numerous times from mentoring in my professional career, I really like what I see happening in the Red Sox organization right now. The above photo captures it: the older, more experienced player taking the young gun under his wing - advising him, encouraging him, helping him out. The shot of Curt in the dugout last night, cheering loudly as Beckett struck out Michael Young in the 7th was great! Here's how Snow put it in today's Globe:
Curt Schilling had the excitement of an 11-year-old boy who'd found a playmate exactly like himself
Curt's not the only one who's helping along these younger players. On today, there's an article about how Manny and Ortiz have taken Wily Mo Pena under their wing:
"Everybody in this game needs help, even I need help," Ortiz said. "When you are young and talented like Mo, you like to have people around you who you can learn from. That's why we are here. At one time, we were his age. The same thing happened to us."
It's a changed clubhouse in Boston these days. The idiots have left town - some with regrets, some for the money - but Theo is putting together a group of grown men, professionals, and I can only see good things coming out of it. He's building a team, a unit. And Francona showed last night that, despite his well-known loyalty to veteran players, he's not afraid to let the hot younger player have his shot. While Foulkie sat in the bullpen last night, Papelbon came in and blew away the side on 11 pitches. He might not be the official closer, but Pap showed he can bring on the heat when it's needed.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Baseball guys are funny!

The less said about last night's game, the better. Sox lose 10-3. Wake looked shaky, his new catcher Bard looked shakier. Beckett tonight - finally, a chance to see the much ballyhooed fastballer in action!

In search of some funny, I was reminded on the Remy boards today about the commercials some of the MLB teams have up on their web sites. Some are pure comedy gold!! For a real chuckle, I hightly recommend visiting the Seattle Mariners' site. In particular, watch "The Legend of Big Richie" - hysterical!

Other team ads worth noting: Oakland A's - ooh, the Barry Zito!
San Franciso Giants - if only to see the Red Sox' new 1B JT Snow
Kansas City Royals - the point of these ads seems to be, hey, KC, did you know we have a baseball team here?!
Detroit Tigers - kind of standard fare here - although the older ones are cute
Minnesota Twins - I especially like Joe Mauer giving a young fan a "special souvenir"!

Now, we just need to get the Sox to produce some of these. Of course, their real comedian, Kevin Millar, has gone on to the Baltimore Orioles. He was on Best Damn Sports Show last night - man, that guy is so naturally funny. We need to get him back to Boston - and into the broadcast booth!

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

One down, 161 to go

The Globe:

Schilling wore a cap with the inscription ''whatever it takes," under the bill. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/Boston Globe)

Also from the Globe: ''Basically, I just ran back and closed my eyes and hoped to catch it," [Coco Crisp] said. ''Luckily, it went in my glove." (Photo by Matthew J. Lee, Globe)

When asked by the Herald about the pitch he launched out of the park, “I don’t know what the hell it was. It was something over the plate,” said Ortiz, who got more excited showing off his new cubic zirconia-encrusted “Big Papi” belt buckle

And Remy's nickname for the new infield: LoGoYo = Lowell, Gonzalez, Youklis....

The final word from GM Theo Epstein: ''This is one of the best days of the year."

Monday, April 03, 2006

Opening Day Facts

Some fun facts about our team:
  • Jason Varitek today will become the first Red Sox catcher to start in 7 straight opening day games
  • The Sox haven't won an opening day game since 2000
  • The entire infield has changed from last year: Youk at 1st, Loretta at 2nd, Gonzo at short, and Lowell at 3rd.
  • 22 of the 27 players on the opening day roster were acquired since Theo became GM
  • Jonathan Papelbon is the only player on the o.d. roster who has rookie status
  • Most opening day starts by a Red Sox player: Yaz with 22
  • This is Schilling's first career appearance at Ameriquest Field
Today's lineup
Coco Crisp - CF
Mark Loretta - 2B
David Ortiz - DH
Manny Ramirez - LF
Trot Nixon - RF
Jason Varitek - C
Mike Lowell - 3B
Kevin Youkilis - 1B
Alex Gonzalez - SS

And on the mound: Curt Schilling, with an ERA of 0.00 (8-))
Let the games begin!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

It all begins tomorrow

And because I can't say it better or more eloquently --

"It breaks your heart. It was designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You can count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then, just when the days are in twilight, when you need it most, it stops."
- A. Bartlett Giamatti, "The Green Fields of the Mind"

Tommorow, 2:05 pm EDT, it all begins again... Not a moment too soon!