Saturday, August 30, 2008

A big debut tonight

Photo by long-time Bowden supporter KellyO

Tonight is the Major League Debut of Red Sox pitcher Michael Bowden. His name has surfaced in many of trade talks - and yet he has managed to avoid trade, one of Theo's "untouchables." He was called up from Pawtucket yesterday for the start, as we try to cope with Josh Beckett going on the 15-day DL. I know Kelly is there, camera in hand, to document this special occasion. Here's hoping he does well!

PS - GREAT victory last night!!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

We interrupt this blog...

I rarely stray from the Red Sox and other minutiae in this blog. It's kind of my escape from real world issues. But I want to go off topic a bit today, and talk about politics. Probably the second favorite contact sport of most Americans.

Last night, the Democratic Party introduced Senator Barack Obama (D-Ill) as their candidate for President in 2008. Senator Joe Biden of Maryland is the VP nominee. It is an incredibly historic moment in our history. Just 45 years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. was leading the movement to get African-Americans the right to vote. A generation later, an African-American is now a viable candidate to be the President of the United States. This after defeating a viable female candidate for the same office.

What a fantastic country we are fortunate enough to live in! I think about my grandparents who left behind their families in County Cork and County Wexford, Ireland, to search for a better life in America. Of their son, my dad, who went to college, married, and raised six children, all with college and post-graduate degrees. Some of them are crazy enough to be Republicans and Yankees fans - but, isn't that the type of freedom that my grandparents were searching for?

I must admit, I was a Hillary woman. I'm disappointed that she's not at the top of the ticket. But I'm also determined to turn our country around, to shake off the Bush administration. One of my neighbors has forwarded to me a few anti-Democratic emails (why?), and I told him honestly that the Democrats could put a ferret (Steve?) on the ticket and I would vote for them. The GOP has had its chance for the past 8 years, and they've screwed us up. It's up to the Dems to turn this around!

And the choice of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin? Wow - what a transparent and obvious move to try to capture the Hillary crowd. Well, as a Hillary supporter I can tell you : FAIL!

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Thursday, August 28, 2008


Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
So I've spent the last three days pretty absorbed in the Red Sox-Yankees series in the Bronx. It's the last visit the Sox will make to Yankee Stadium. I feel kind of sad that I never had a chance to at least tour the Stadium - I was going to try to do it this summer, but couldn't get a ticket. I guess I'll just have to visit the new Stadium sometime in the near future.

Meanwhile, I have decided to ignore today's game, and celebrate that we won two out of three in our LAST visit. I hate that Jon Lester didn't get a win today - he took a no decision thanks to the bullpen and greaseball Giambi - but he really pitched well. A perfect bounce-back from his last start. And we're going to need him, if the news about Josh Beckett turns out to be bad (JB has been scratched from tomorrow's start, and is heading to Birmingham tomorrow to visit Dr. James Andrews - three scary words for any fan)

And let's celebrate our recent roster addition, Jason Bay:

Getty Images photo
What a great first impression Jason has made with Red Sox fans. He's jumped right in - contributing almost immediately to our playoff chase. And he's done it in a disarmingly low key manner - such a refreshing change from our previous left-fielder. I just ordered my Bay shirt from Yawkey Way - and I will wear it with pride and happiness!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Poor A-Rod

Reuters Photo
Yes, I am an evil person. I admit to taking delight in seeing ARod fail. To see the Yankee fans realizing that they have him for 9 more years - 9 more years of scenes like the one above.

Yes, I know I'm tempting the fates - the Red Sox could start an epic *fail* at any moment. But, if they do, I'll still be able to think fondly of last night's game.
Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Meanwhile, the Red Sox victory plus a loss by the Rays make the margin in the AL East just 3 1/2 games. And we're ahead of Minnesota in the AL Wild Card race by 2 1/2 games. I know, "lots of baseball left to be played." Still, "That's how we roll here," David Ortiz said. "We don't panic here. You hit the panic button, you just get worse. Right? Right." (

As I write, the Sox are leading the second game of the series 4-2. This should be the last appearance of the Red Sox at the old Yankee Stadium. It is kind of a shame. The last game of the regular season for the RS will be September 28th - vs. the Yankees at Fenway. I'm sentimental enough to wish that we were playing in the very last game at the Stadium - it would be fitting, since the very first game played there was the Red Sox and Yankees. But I'm also pragmatic enough to know we have a better chance to win that game if it's played at Fenway.

The Sox made a nice pick-up today of Mark Kotsay from the Braves. He should add some insurance to our bench. With Drew ailing, and Casey, we need him. He's done well with the Braves this year, so hopefully that will continue.

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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Enough Already

There was a time - oh, back in April and May - when I thought the Tampa Rays were kind of cute. This lowly little team of young players, who had a horrible record in 2007, and suddenly were showing signs of life. I thought it was neat that we would some competition this year in the AL East from somebody besides the Yankees. And they played with heart and enthusiasm - full of cuties like Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena (above). I thought 2008 looked like a fun year in the AL East.

When I was at the Trop in June, I still thought it was fun. Their fans were having their first taste of a being in first place. They weren't sure how to act - some were obnoxious (one TB fan commented that these clearly used to be NYY fans until they moved to Florida), some were unsure how to act, some were just excited that their team was playing so well. But it was also the first time I suspected that the team wasn't going to fall apart, wasn't going to fold. They played hard, they played well. They swept the three game series - they were clearly a force to be reckoned with at home. Still, it was the RAYS!

I NEVER would have guessed that they would still be holding their own in baseball's toughest division in August. I NEVER would have imagined they would hold a 5 1/2 game lead over us on August 24th. I would NEVER have thought that the Yankees and Red Sox both might lose the division - that even the wild card race looked iffy. The Rays have won 8 of their last 10 games, and are on the verge of sweeping the Chicago White Sox in Chicago! They must be stopped!

Yes, "there is still a lot of baseball left to be played this year." The Rays close out with a tough schedule, which includes six games vs. Toronto, six games vs. NYY, six games vs. the Red Sox, and 3 games vs. the Minnesota Twins. But the Sox are going to have to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself - we've got to win when they're losing, and keep pace with them. We can't afford to fall any farther behind.

Suddenly, the Rays aren't so cute anymore.

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Oh well

I am trying to ignore the results of this afternoon's Red Sox/Toronto game. Oh, okay, we lost 11-0. Because of the Fox embargo on all afternoon games, I wasn't able to watch the debacle - I listened to it (for a while) on WRKO (via instead. Gratefully, I dozed off before the Jays' bats and Jon Lester went nuts - awoke to find it already 6-0.

What is interesting is that the NESN live broadcast was blacked out, yet the re-broadcast tonight is NOT blacked (most usually are outside of New England). If I had one moment with Bud Selig, (would ask him (well, after I kicked him in the gibleys) to explain to me the intricacies of what gets blacked out and what doesn't. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

UPDATE on my guys: Michael's 4 x 400 m relay team finished 4th today, so no medal for him. But what a great experience. He's one of the top runners in the country now - and I look forward to hearing more from him during his senior year at Wake Forest and in the future. Also, Adam was eliminated from the US Amateur in the semi-finals. I caught some of the match this afternoon, and he had some amazing shots. Keep an eye out for him!

Finally, I curse the day I was convinced to join Facebook! Talk about another way to kill time - like a need a further excuse to spend more time online. So, to regain my soul, I am now logging off and going to read a book! Current book: "Breaking Dawn" by Stephenie Meyer - the final volume of the Twilight Vampire series. I just can't put them down!

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Friday, August 22, 2008

Awesome Amateur Athletes

When I watch athletic events, I sometimes feel far removed from the participants. They show a level of commitment to their sport that I was never able to embrace - perhaps because I wasn't particularly good at any sport or maybe because I wasn't blessed with those type of natural abilities. You read stories about their younger years, about how they dedicated so much of their youth to their sport - and wonder what the reality is.

Well, this weekend I am getting to see two fantastic athletes compete on the world scene. And these are two young men that I knew from the ninth grade. I watched them goof off around campus, study hard in the library (at times!), and find a sport that they loved and were passionate about.

Here's Michael Bingham. Saturday, Michael will be in Beijing, running in the finals of the 4 x 400 meter relay. He's racing for Great Britain - his father is a British citizen - and he has a real shot at a medal.

And this is Adam Mitchell. Saturday, Adam will be in the semi-finals of the US Amateur Golf Championship. He was always passionate about golf - and always good at it. He's a junior at the University of Georgia.

Who knows how far these young men might go. I just know I'll be rooting for them on Saturday!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Book Review: Living on the Black

Pitchers are an interesting breed, and pitching itself has been dissected in thousands of books. So I was a bit skeptical when I picked up John Feinstein's newest, Living on the Black: Two Pitchers, Two Teams, One Season to Remember. I wasn't sure what, if anything, new he could tell me, what insights he would discover. But I'm glad I did pick it up!

Feinstein follows two pitchers over the course of the 2007 season: Tom Glavine of the New York Mets and Mike Mussina of the New York Yankees. Both are playing under the glare of the New York press. The Yankees are, of course, expected to be in the post season, and the Mets are struggling to fulfill their promise. Feinstein asked each man for full access all season, access both to him and to his teammates and family. He took full advantage, and the result is a fascinating examination of the men themselves, the mindset of the Major League pitcher, and a portrait of the life of a pitcher. The ups and downs of losses and victories, games that look like victories but are lost by the bullpen, games where nothing seems to go right, games where the pitcher feels great but can't hit the strike zone. Both men faced injuries during the season, and both were working towards milestone career victories (Glavine #300, Mussina #250).

I love some of the insider insights Feinstein offers. For example, just what does a pitching coach say to a pitcher when he comes out to the mound? Mets pitching coach Rick Peterson has six reasons: (pg. 215-16)
  • To counsel the pitcher on something he might be doing wrong...
  • To give the pitcher a rest...
  • To ask the pitcher if he still thinks he can get people out or if he's tired...
  • To stall so the bullpen can get ready...
  • To simply stand on the mound and wait for the umpire to come out to break up the meeting so Peterson can tell him he's doing a lousy job of calling balls and strikes...
  • To discuss specific strategy on the next hitter.

Cool stuff, eh? He's also got some great inside info on what pitchers really think about umpires and vice versa. And of course it's written Feinstein's wonderful style - witty, intelligent, interesting.

I must admit to starting the book as a hater of both men. Glavine - well, we can't forgive him for abandoning Atlanta. And Mussina - come on, he's a Yankee! By the book's end, I liked Glavine. He clearly agonized over leaving Atlanta, and clearly was pining to return. He got his wish - he signed with Atlanta in the off-season and was reunited with his best friend, John Smoltz. It appears, however, that his career might be over. He was examined by Dr James Andrews today, and his arm tendon is shot. If he chooses surgery, it will mean a 4-5 month rehab. At 42, does he want to do that? We'll see.

As for "Moose," I've always considered him to be aloof, clearly thinking his Stanford education makes him better than everyone else. By the time I'd finished the book, my opinion hadn't changed much! Mussina is clearly very intelligent, with a good sense of his place in the game. His comments on pitching were thoughtful, cogent. But he's still a cold fish.

Part of Feinstein's closing (pg 507):
If 2008 is their last season as pitchers, each can walk away from the game - as difficult as that will be - knowing that he got everything he could possibly get from the talent he was given. Neither ever came up short on effort.
If you want to better understand the game, a better understand of that interesting breed of player known as the Starting Pitcher, pick up this book - you'll eat up every word, like I did!

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Get Well Soon, Captain Carl

First, sending best wishes towards Boston. From the AP:
Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski, the last player to hit for the Triple Crown, underwent heart bypass surgery Tuesday after experiencing chest pains.
Heidi just broke in to the Sox broadcast to say his surgery had gone well. Here's hoping for a swift and uneventful return to good health.

Let's hope this inspires our team. It certainly has Jason Varitek going! After homering last night, Tek has a home run and a double tonight. It's great to see Tek start clicking again at the plate. We need him - both his incredible ability to work with pitchers AND his bat - if we hope to make a run here.

And tonight, on the mound, the amazing Matsuzaka. Amazing, in that he always seems to be pitching out of a jam. For example, tonight, he had the bases loaded with one out - then struck out the side. Unbelievable. I guess I shouldn't complain - he's getting us wins - but it makes for some pretty stressful outings!

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Lester in Baltimore

(Caution: Gamedropping ahead) The last time the Sox played in Baltimore, May 30th thru June 2nd, I was there for three of the four games. The second game of the series had two memorable parts:

He who shall not be named hit his 500th homerun

And Jon Lester pitched the Sox to a 6-3 victory. Well, okay, he didn't get the win (Aardsma did), and he did give up all three runs. So, hopefully, he'll pitch better tonight. The key to the victory that night was, of course, Twizzlers. So grab your Twizzlers and cheer on Lester tonight!

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Beautiful Tennessee

Sometimes we neglect our hometowns. There are tons of neat scenic areas and tourist spots here in Chattanooga, but I often forget about them. I'll travel near and far, yet it never occurs to me to "see Rock City."

So I tried to change that today. I went with 6 friends on the new Tennessee River Gorge explorer, an extension of the Tennessee Aquarium. It's a high-speed catamaran hydrofoil, and it travels up the Tennessee River to view some of the spectacular scenery.

It was a beautiful day - in the 80s (lower temps than we've experience of late), and sunny. Not a huge crowd, so we could roam around the upper deck and see some of the scenery and wildlife.
Here's a blue heron - we saw a bunch of these, as well as ospreys, hawks and vultures. There is also a nest of bald eagles, although they seemed to be away from home today.

Here is the Tennessee Aquarium - it's really a great facility to visit. It houses a butterfly garden, as well as the largest freshwater aquarium in the world.

If you've ever been to Baltimore, you probably recognize the design - our aquarium was designed by the same team that designed the one in Baltimore.

So a fun day for a stay-cation (although I've had several away-cations this summer!)

Back to school tomorrow :(

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Is Byrd the word?

AP Photo by Winslow Townson

I'm still not sure how I feel about the addition of Paul Byrd to our pitching rotation. On the one hand, he was impressive last season and in the post-season pitching for Cleveland. On the other hand, an admitted HGH user (yes, he is truthful that it was prescribed; however, it was prescribed by a shady dentist in Florida).

As I write, it's the bottom of the sixth, Toronto is leading 3-1. All three runs were scored via the home run - a two-run shot and a solo homer. The Red Sox offense has been absent against "Doc" Halliday. Where oh where are our bats?

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Friday, August 15, 2008

Ten things I like beginning with the letter....

Rain delay fun! Kelly gave me this challenge: name 10 things I like with the letter F:

Okay here we go:

1. Friends - like sittingstill, of course! Seriousl
y, having friends near and far is all kinds of awesome

2. Food - yes, that's why I'm a lifetime member of Weight Watchers! Here's a memorable meal from Safeco Field in Seattle:

3. F**K - the most versatile word in our lexicon. Verb, noun, adjective...

4. Foreign travel - where in the world is Beth? Often a good question. Next up, I think, is Ireland

5. Felines - nothing like a big, fat, purry lump next to you in bed!

6. Fisk - Carlton Fisk, my girlhood idol. Sigh....

7. Freedom - hokey, yes, but I love having the freedom to do what I want. Travel, ogle Ellsbury & get the picture

8. Francona - only the best manager we've had in a long while. I just hope his health continues to be good.

9. Fun - well, who doesn't like fun?! It's easy to dwell on the bad - I'd rather laugh and have a good time.

10. Fenway - well, that goes without saying doesn't it?! Only the bestest place in the world to watch a game and experience baseball in it's purest form.

If you'd like to play, ask in the comments and I'll give you a letter!


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Real Life is Overrated

Back to work today....although my students don't actually arrive until next Monday. It IS fun, I admit, the first few days back - getting caught up with colleagues, hearing about everyone's vacations...boring everyone with my Red Sox summer tales!

It looks like Mikey Lowell is going on the DL. He's clearly been playing hurt - he hasn't been swinging the bat well nor hasn't looked as sharp at 3rd in recent days. I think it's a great idea to rest him a bit - we need him in September and October. Meanwhile, I love the story of his parking ticket!

What an unbelievable game last night. I had a meeting to go to, so didn't tune in until the 3rd. I looked at the screen in shock - it was already 10-2?! I mean, Bib Papi hit TWO 3-run homers in the first inning! They then squandered the lead - and I was clinging to hope in the bottom of the 8th. BUT - all hail the Youk! He hit his second homer of the night, and the Sox won a wild game 19-17. And because I had set the DVR for while I was in the meeting, I have it all recorded! I believe that will get viewed several times in the off-season!

I think this game is going to give the team the kick in the pants it's needed. Some are already likening it to the Fight Game of 2004, the game that kickstarted our World Championship run. To have a team come back so far on you, to nearly lose it, and to have your offense bail out your struggling bullpen so fantastically - wow!

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Some pics....

A few photos from my New England trip:

I like to think of this one as the past intersecting with the present.

The view at the North Bridge, Concord.

As much as I love photographing the team, when I'm at Fenway, it's hard not to take tons of pictures of the park. It's so beautiful - what an incredible view. This one from the State Street Pavilion seats - RS vs. Yankees, 7/25/08

The iconic Citgo sign

The Bull Pen Band trying to help get the rally started. Cyn wondered, when do they practice?

One of my favorite subjects - Mike Lowell.

I'm sure I'll post more later, but here's a few to wet the appetite!

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Friday, August 08, 2008

And in the end, the love you take...

Yes, I was there at the end....

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Monday, August 04, 2008

State of the Red Sox - August 1

Here is my assessment of the Red Sox as of August 1st (okay, August 3rd - but actually composed August 1st when I couldn't sleep!) - what looks good to me as we start the last half of the season

A Atmosphere - the atmosphere seems suddenly to be positive both for the team and the fans

B Beckett - although not as commanding as last year, he's still our ace. He's still the one who's going to see us through the playoffs

C - Coco - on any other team, he'd be the starting centerfielder. Here he plays off the bench. Is he happy? I hope so because he continues to perform

D - Dustin Pedroia. Last year's Rookie of the year. This year's MVP?

E - Epstein. Is the guy a genius or what??

F - Fun ! The team seems to be having fun again!

G - Gone - the Diva is gone

H - A happy clubhouse = a winning team

I -Insane Jonathan Papelbon. Heaven love him - we need him - he's awesome

J - Jacoby - looks like he's rebounding from his little slump?

K- Ks = strikeouts. And Daisuke is looking sharp in this department

L- Lester! Looking like at least our #2

M - Mikey!

N - New guy = Jason Bay. Yes, this weekend series may have been a fluke. But his premiere with the Sox was VERY successful.

O- Ortiz. As long as this guy has his heart in the game, victory is always possible

P - Pressure - yes it's there. But the core of our team has shown it can handle it.

Q - Questions. Yes, there are still questions about this team. The Bull Pen - specifically, middle relief? How will Bay perform in the stretch?

R - Relievers. See above. Are they rebounding?

S - Sweet Caroline. Just because

T - Tummy Aches. Gone with the departure of Manny. But could reawaken whenever Timlin is called into action.

U - Unlimited possibilities!

V - Varitek seems to be rebounding from his little slump. He's never failed us defensively - all agree is the best catcher working today who can keep his pitching staff on targer - and if can just get going offensively, we'll have our perfect package

W - Wakefield - has he been pitching like crazy or what?

X - Excitement again. I was at those three games vs. the Angels - there was NO energy either from the fans or the team. It seems to be coming back

Y - Youkilis!

Z - Zealous= me! I'm totally stoked for the rest of the season!

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Friday, August 01, 2008

The Manny era is over

Still on vacation in New England. Which is a fun place to be when there is all kinds of stuff swirling around the Red Sox. Listening to the talking heads on the local sports radio, reading the local press -- I suspected Manny would be out post-haste. And that's what happened yesterday just as the trade deadline was reached. A multi-team, multi-player sent Manny Ramirez to the LA Dodgers, Hansen & Moss to the Pirates. And we got 2004 Rookie of the Year Jason Bay.

It's been a trying few weeks for the team. Hearing some of the reports today from Gordon Eades and Jerry Remy - the whole team got pushed over the edge in the past few weeks. Eades even reported that, after the series in Oakland, Manny had refused to get on the team bus to leave for Seattle. It had taken several team members to convince him to go. Then there was his refusing to play those games in Seattle and against New York last Friday. His pitiful performance in the games I saw this week. Not the Manny I've always loved and defended.

What changed? I'm not sure we'll ever know. Did Scott Boras whisper something in his ear? Did he misinterpret it? The question clearly came down for the Front Office: can we rely on Manny to continue to perform for the rest of the season?

Reports are that Tito and Theo called in several of the veteran players and asked their opinion. The overwhelming sentiment seemed to be that the players were tired of his antics and tired of having to answer for him in the press. That was clear in the post-game interviews Wednesday night. And look back to Mike Lowell's very uncharacteristic explosion on a third strike call Friday night. You never see him explode like that (last game he was ejected was 2002) - was that frustration we saw?

Meantime, tonight is Jason Bay's first game as a Red Sox. A wonderful, warm ovation for him - and he has a walk and a hit-by-pitch so far. And how can you not love a guy who admits his dad had him wearing a Red Sox onesie?!


Did the Concord literary sites today. Loved Orchard House, the home in which Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women, and the Wayside, home to the Alcotts, Hawthorne and Margaret Sidney (author of The Five Little Peppers and how they grew). Also visited the Gropius House home of the Bauhaus mainstay Walter Gropius. Big thumbs up on that one.

And I don't think I mentioned one of my favorite finds in Boston: Sweet Cupcakes. YUM! You can get mini-cupcakes, which are a perfect size - or the full sized (I've just enjoyed a dark chocolate one!) If you're in Boston, check it out!

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