Saturday, September 30, 2006

2 to go

So it comes down to this. Two games left to play in 2006. Against the Baltimore Orioles and old man Millar. In a dead tie (at this moment) with Toronto for 2nd place. Yikes.

I was thinking back to last year. I wasn't able to see much of the playoffs - I was at a conference in Pittsburgh, was on a plane for one game and on a boat for the other. The third and final game I watched in my hotel room, with two beers from room service portraying the part of my dinner. It was so sad - especially since I couldn't see the home broadcast. Couldn't see the year end highlights, the last post-game interviews in the locker room.

This year: Hey, I'm home and in front of my 5000 Direct TV stations. I can watch any team I want. Any post-season game. The reality is: I'll watch the last two games , drink too many vodka tonics, and wish they were going to play more. I'll probably tape the last two games - only because I might want to relive the season sometime in the depths of winter. Because I might want to see Trot's last games. See the dynamic Lowell in action. See the fun in the dugout. Wish for a different outcome to the season.

And look forward to 2007. I'm hoping Theo's already busy on the phones. Finding us some pitching. Keeping our dynamic defensive infield intact as much as possible. Planning to obliterate those (*&$#$ Yanks.

Is it wrong for me to want to see the Yankees go down in flames this post-season? To wish that Damon suffers some kind of career ending injury or that Jeter gets hit squarely by a pitch? To hope that A-Rod plays down to everyone's expectations and gets booed out of NYC?

If wishing for that is wrong, I don't want to be right!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Starting to wind down...

I like what one of the announcers said last night - nobody does the cap tip like Curt Schilling. He had his moment in last night's game. He came out and warmed up at the top of the 8th, then Francona came out and took him out of the game. A huge ovation from the crowd, of course. Afterwards, Tito said this was his last start of the season - "a good note to end on," as he said on NESN.

It WAS a gratifying season for Curt. After all of his post-2004 injuries, many felt he wouldn't ever play like he did that magical year. Certainly, his 2005 was discouraging. But he spent the off-season really working, putting himself back together. He worked on an inside pitch, quite effectively. His start last night - a 5-0 RS win - certainly makes one optimistic about him for next year.

He claims next year is his last, that he'll retire. In his post-game presser, he almost sounded a little down when talking about all the work he's going to need to do this off-season to prepare for 2007. But our Curt is a "warrior," I can't imagine him not being out there on the mound come April.

And in the meantime, he needs to get prepping for his appearance next month on Celebrity Jeopardy! Of course, if he needs any buzzer tips, he should call me!

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Winding down?

Today was game #156 out of the 162-game season. And we lost - in a very ugly fashion - 13-4. Wily Mo Pena had several really bad fielding plays in right field - even Gary DiSarcino on NESN was saying this could be the reason by Cincinnati was willing to get rid of him.

The one bright spot was, of course, David Ortiz. Hit home run #53 - and tied Babe Ruth for most home runs on the road (32) for a season. He could pass that record tomorrow night in the Sox' last away game - again at Toronto.

And Mikey Lowell hit TWO doubles - giving him a career high 46 on the season. I really hope he's back next year. He's been more than an adequate replacement for Billy Mueller - probably a much better offensive player than Billy. Certainly worthy of consideration for the Gold Glove, although Chavez from the As will probably get it.

Only 6 more games. I think I'm going to tape a few of the last home games - just so I have something to watch in the deep, dark depths of January...

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Sunny signs for 2007

Two surprising pitching performances in the last two Red Sox games. Thursday night, almost overlooked by Big Papi's performance, Josh Beckett pitched a gem. He held Minnesota scoreless through 8, and it was the kind of performance I had been looking for since he signed. THIS was the pitcher I wanted to see all season, throwing agressively and accurately, with a "take-no-prisoners" attitude. And the game was finished by our old friend Keith Foulke. Foulkie's been pretty much out all year, yet Thursday we saw some of the 2004 magic. Maybe he can come back next year...

And last night was a shocker. Julian Tavarez, who has sucked out of the Bull Pen most of the season, pitched a complete game, 7 hits and 1 run over the Toronto Blue Jays and our old nemesis, Ted Lilly. Amazing. What was so fun was seeing him interviewed after the game. He was SO excited about how he'd pitched - clearly lobbying to be a starter next year. And you know, that might not be a bad idea....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Yeah Big Papi!

Photo by Jim Davis/Boston Globe
So the Big Guy got his 51st homer tonight, setting a new club record. The previous record holder was Jimmy Foxx, known as "the Beast." He hit the first pitch thrown to him by Cy Young winner Johan Santana. Yeah!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I love catchers!

Photos by Kelly (
At last night's game, the Red Sox honored catcher/Captain Jason Varitek, who recently caught his 1,000th game for the Sox. That surpasses the previous record, held by Hall of Famer Carlton Fisk - who presented Tek with the award.

When most pre-teen girls were hanging pictures of David Cassidy and the Bay City Rollers on their walls, I was hanging pix of Carlton Fisk on my wall. He was a great story - grew up in New Hampshire, playing for the home town team, leading them to the World Series in 1975, hitting that dramatic homer in game six of said series. Man, I had such a crush on him. And he's starting to show his age a little - as well as all the wear and tear of year squatting behind the plate. But I'm still crushin' a little!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Ranting on Monday

Just a few things bothering me....
  • Those hacks on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. If Joe Morgan and John Miller aren't the WORST announcers working today, well, I'd hate to see their competition. Last night, they literally went on and on for nearly45 minutes, making the case for Derek Jeter as MVP. At one point, Morgan actually began reading the rules for MVP selection; after having said earlier that they should be followed, he then contradicted himself by disagreeing with most of them. He suggested they have a separate award for offensive players like they have the Cy Young for pitchers. Hello - they already have one - it's called the Hank Aaron Award!
  • Why do people in huge SUVs and 4 wheel drive vehicles insist on stopping and creeping over speed bumps. Hello - that why you drive one of those ginormous cars - so you can fly over those humps!
  • Sunday Night Baseball. Shudder.
  • Even though Yankee Stadium was sold out for yesterday afternoon's game, there were 21,581 no-shows. Hello - you pay a fortune for a ticket and then find "something else to do"? Nice fan loyalty shown by those classy NYY fans.
  • I could not detest Derek Jeter more. Admittedly, although I think he's a good player, I've never been a fan. But last night's sickening display by ESPN - on the heels of the love fest for him on Fox Saturday - pushed me over the edge. We were told repeatedly that DJ doesn't care for personal honors, it's all about the team. So why did he swing away last night on 3-0 - on something that was clearly ball four - if he wasn't worried about his personal 25-game hitting streak continuing?
  • Joe Morgan and John Miller. Ugh.
  • I expect that the Monday morning edition of SportsCenter will be overwhelmingly about football. But I find it hard to believe that the first mention of baseball this morning was 42 minutes into the broadcast. Heck, even NASCAR got a mention sooner. I know many of the races are over, but it IS America's pasttime!
So I don't sound so negative - let's end with some positives:
  • I like the look of our rookies. A few mistakes - misjudged fly balls, swinging a little too freely - but Pedrioa is looking stronger each day. Great moment yesterday when he poached a fly ball from Gonzalez. Gonzo just stared at him for a second, put out his hand for the ball and muttered something under his breath. DP grinned - and I swear I saw Gonzo grin back! Murphy had some nice offense - he's looking like a viable 4th outfielder option for next year (Sorry, Gabe, we'll miss you). Carlos Pena has shown some flashes, too.
  • I've seen some sneaks of the 2007 Red Sox schedule. There are some reports that they might play in San Diego - oh, I may have to plan a trip. And they'll be back in Atlanta for three games in June - yeah! I'm also thinking about a little trip down to Spring Training...
  • The new fall tv season is here!! This is the time of year, my vcrs are working mega-overtime. I like to sample a lot of the new shows, although I don't let myself get too attached. But I like to see what my new options are. It gets crazy because I'm trying to keep up with my "returning favorites." Oh, that reminds me, time for Prison Break!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

The dumbing down of America

This is a topic of huge debate among my collegues in the field of education. Many of the veteran teachers are always decrying the "dumbing down" of our classes. Many feel that we have lessened our requirements, made it somehow "easier" for students to pass classes or prepare for standardized tests. This process has made our students less competitive with students from other countries, especially those from Asia - or so the argument goes.

I have seen this weekend that "dumbing down" is bleeding over into other facets of American life. I've watched a LOT of baseball this weekend. The Sox have played four games in two days - two doubleheaders. And I've watched it over a variety of channels - ESPN, YES (the Yankees network), FOX and NESN. I've come to realize that 90% of their broadcasts are geared toward the casual baseball fan, the guy sitting at home on Saturday afternoon surfing the channels. I think that's why those of us who take the game more seriously find these broadcasts so frustrating. We already know all the stories they tell us. We already know about the MVP controversies of the past two years, we already know about the RS injury problems, we already know about what an awesome piece of work Jeter is. We don't need to hear about it yet again.

This became really clear to me last year, my first with satellite tv. I heard all the same stories - most directly out of the RS media guide - by all the announcers throughout the league. It got so irritating that I often would listen to WEEI on gameday audio and watch the video - although that was often crazy, because the radio lags behind the tv. But even though you run the danger of being "truped," you didn't have to listen to another repeat of a story.

My two cents...back to the 4th game!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

2-0 so far

My teams are 2-0 today! The Red Sox won the first game of their doubleheader against the Yanks, 5-3. Yeah! We don't want those Skankees clinching the division on OUR watch!

And Michigan KILLS Notre Dame 47-21. Wahoo - Hail to the Victors!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Scenic City

Our fair city is featured in today's travel section of the New York Times! Here's a sample:

Chattanooga is the undiscovered gem of Tennessee, where old-school Southern manners and grand Victorian mansions meet a thoroughly modern, eco-friendly Tennessee riverfront.

Of course, there's an old connection between the NY Times and our local newspaper, The Chattanooga Times. Our times was founded and run by the Sulzenberger family. They used their experience here to purchase the NY Times - still run by the family! Unfortunately, they sold the Chatta Times a few years ago - so the formerly liberal paper has much more of a conservative slant. In an unusual move, however, they have kept both editorial pages, which are printed side-by-side every day. So you can read the Times opinions on the left, and the Free Press on the right.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

I'm fine - really

Several family members have called - concerned about my mental state now that the season seems to be over for the Red Sox.

I'm fine - really.

Okay, yes, I wish I believed they were playoff bound. But, barring another 2004 miracle, I think their season ends October 1st vs. Baltimore. Kind of fitting - against our old friend Kevin Millar.

But, that doesn't mean I'm quitting on them. I'm still going to watch every game. Still keep score. Still "live and die with the Woe Sox."

In some ways, this is like when they had all those forest fires at Yellowstone back in 1988. There was a huge debate about whether the fires should be put out. Thousands of acres of forest were threatened. But environmentalists contended that, no, we shouldn't interfere with nature. The fires were Mother Nature's way of renewing the forest, encouraging new growth. And they didn't interfere. The result: look at the new growth --

Same with the Sox this year in two ways. First, maybe it's allowed us to weed out a few players. Yes, I miss many members of the 2004 team (are you listening, Mark Bellhorn? Kevin Millar? Bill Mueller?) But, perhaps we needed to let them go - needed to clean house a bit - to allow new growth in the farm system.

Second, it's given us a chance to clear off the bandwagon. 2004 was so awesome. I must admit, I'd kind of fallen off the RS addiction in recent years. But 2004 reminded me of my youthful passion for the Sox. In many ways, got me back in touch with my roots. But it also caused the invasion of the Pink Hats, as they've been derisively called on some message boards. Just look around Fenway - filled with people who are more interested in being seen, in socializing, in drinking beer (okay, the last one really isn't much of a change!). So maybe we need a bad year - or two. Maybe (selfishly) it'll be easier to get tickets. Maybe you won't be looked at curiously when you keep score or take a ridiculous number of photos.

But give up my love of them? Quit watching? Not go to a week's worth of games next year?

No way, baby!

Friday, September 08, 2006

I Been There!

Here is a map of all the states I've visited:

create your own visited states map
Isn't that cool? Obviously, I've got to start planning some trips west of the Mississippi. Actually, I've decided that my new travel goal is to go to a game at every Major League park. But I'll have to get busy if I want to see the current Yankee Stadium or RFK in Washington - they're due to be replaced in the next few years.

This one is even more interesting - it's what parts of the world I've visited.

create your own visited countries map

Wow have I been Euro-Centric or what??

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Our House!

This sums up Fenway last night - there was a lot of "madness" in "our house." After they left the bases loaded in the first, I had my first true instance of doubt about our Red Sox. By the 7th, I had a hard time believing it was still only 2-1 - we felt so far behind. We had to work so hard for that one run, and with one stroke of the bat, Jim Thome showed us how easy it is to score.

But what an incredible finish. Carlos Pena, who we recently picked up off waivers, hit a homer in the bottom of the 10th to win the game. Awesome! And all the more dramatic because of Pena. He and his family emigrated from the Dominican when he was 12, and settled in Haverhill north of Boston. He's been a Sox fan ever since. As he said in the post gamer, he'd hit the home run hundreds of times in his back yard. He had a smile that lit up the whole screen - I hope it's the kind of youthful enthusiasm that the Sox can draw on for this last month. As he (and the shocking Julian Tavarez) said, it's not over yet. We can still do it....

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Fenway moon

Isn't this cool? (A copyrighted photo by me)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Bug-man, etc

The MLB Photo Wire over on is an endless source of amusement for me. There are some hysterical photos over there. Some examples:
(Photo by Tom Gannam): and we enjoyed the black grackle on the loose in Fenway - how about a eagle?!

Photo by David J. Phillip. Awesome picture of Orlando Hernandez. What a weird delivery!

(Photo by Daivs Poroy). Not sure WHAT is going on here!

(Photo of Conor Jackson by Nick Wass). Talk about being handcuffed by a play!

(Photo by Nick Wass) I don't why, but this picture just cracks me up! The caption says Livian Hernandez is getting sprayed with insect repellant!