Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Game 75

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, New York Yankees 11

Pardon my French, but what the fuck just happened?! I shouldn't even ask. I know exactly what's happened and has been happening for roughly the entire month - this team needs it's ass kicked internally, so that the external ass kickings can stop. Sitting in back of the reserved tier (that's the top level for those you unfamiliar with Yankee Stadium's layout) in the far right field corner last night, surrounded by Yankee fans who had every right to make as much noise as they wanted about their team's success and my team's failure certainly brought on more than a touch of heresy inside. This was a game that hurt so much to watch that I basically did the equivalent of turning off the TV - I talked to Micah, who was with me at the game with his parents, about various related and unrelated things. He called the Ortiz homerun (although he wanted hit to us instead of several levels below), but by that point the entire thing was so abstract to me that I couldn't muster the energy to try an encourage a rally. Besides, by the second Johnny Damon homerun, when the rest of the lineup hadn't hit anything off of Vasquez, I was getting a bad feeling. The Ortiz homerun was just a waste...the Sox needed a multiple hit rally at that point, not a solo shot.

Not that it mattered, anyway. Of the nine hits the Red Sox got, three were solo shots and the other six were wasted - once again, the Sox offense couldn't drive in anyone on base. Three errors led to four unearned runs and with someone like Derek Lowe pitching, every extra out is like tossing around a live hand grenade - you know that you're going to screw up his rhythm and he's just going to go off. The Yankees pulled off four stolen bases off of Lowe, including a double steal - Millar/Lowe couldn't hold anyone on and Varitek couldn't gun anyone down. The result was this rediculous eight run deficit. It is now when Terry Francona needs to hold a team meeting and just cut into everyone. Manny needs to start playing like he's a member of a good team again, the infield needs to stop making these STUPID errors, Embree needs to get his stuff back, the offense needs to start hitting when there are men on base and the entire club needs to get back into it and stop pretending like they want to give second place to Tampa Bay. If Francona cannot do this, then irrespective of how good his grasp is of the money ball game, he is a poor manager and should be fired. End of story.

In other news, when decked out in my gear and with my hair down, I look like Johnny Damon - according to a four or five drunk fans who told me so last night. It was probably the most amusing part of the ballgame and I may post a picture of this at some point. Wakefield pitches tonight - could this be the night of redemption? Lieber is not nearly as good a pitcher as Vasquez is and it's quite possible the Sox will have shamed themselves into another explosion (maybe even a sustainable one?) after last night's foolishness. We'll see. I, for whatever reason, still believe. YANKEES SUCK!

Monday, June 28, 2004

Games 71 - 74

Final Scores:

Game 71: Boston Red Sox 3, Minnesota Twins 4
Game 72: Boston Red Sox 12, Philadelphia Phillies 1
Game 73: Boston Red Sox 2, Philadelphia Phillies 9
Game 74: Boston Red Sox 12, Philadelphia Phillies 3

Theo Epstein pointed out something this weekend that reinforces something that's been bothering me since Thursday, at least: the Sox don't do fundamentals well. The Twins won on Thursday because they were able to take advantage of a Nomar error - a mix of sacrifices and singles was what got that run in the top of the tenth inning that won the game. The Red Sox don't do that. When their bats are on, they hit and they win by blowout - this past weekend was no exception. When the bats aren't on...forget about it. They make errors too - they have the fifth worst fielding percentage and the fourth highest number of errors in the majors. The result is a streaky team - this past weekend was the first series in four that they've won.

Tomorrow is the beginning of the season breaking series - or am I being too dramatic? Oakland's record is about equivalent with Boston's at the moment and regardless of how poorly Oakland seems to do in the playoffs, they're certainly an excellent regular season the Red Sox need to take at least two out of three this week, if not a full sweep. The funny thing is, the lack of fundamentals I was complaining about in the last paragraph isn't what's going to beat the Yankees - it's just a matter of who's going to beat the crap out of whom first. With a five and one record against the Yankees this year, the Sox certainly have the advantage, but then again, last time Boston and New York played each other, the Yankees weren't hitting. Of course, the Sox didn't have Nomar and Trott in the lineup, either. It's enough to cause an anxiety attack, I tell you.

I seem to be developing the beginnings of a collection of Sox paraphernalia. After not having so much as a hat for a good ten years, I now have a Yankee Hater hat (the Hat) and a new addition - one of those awesome authentic Red Sox jerseys (henceforth referred to as the Shirt), given to me by none other than my girlfriend, the Yankee fan. I asked her if she had to handle it with rubber gloves and tongs afterwards, then wondered if it might have a purifying influence on the powers of the dark side. I now turn myself into a walking shrine while listening or watching a Red Sox game, as I will do tomorrow when I venture into the deepest, darkest South Bronx to see Lowe and Vasquez face off at the Stadium. With any luck, I'll come back in one piece and not smelling of beer...I kid. YANKEES SUCK!

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Game 70

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Minnesota Twins 4

Damn this streaky team. It didn't help that I was home for the entire game but forgot it was on for the first two hours. By the time I turned it on, the damage had been done and even The Hat couldn't help. Lowe wasn't bad, but he wasn't great either. Reese hurt himself, but it seems like he'll be back by the beginning of next week. At least the Yankees got themselves a beating in Baltimore last night. YANKEES SUCK!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Games 67 - 69

Final Scores:

Game 67: Boston Red Sox 4, San Francisco Giants 6
Game 68: Boston Red Sox 0, San Francisco Giants 4
Game 69: Boston Red Sox 9, Minnesota Twins 2

Edgardo Alfonzo proved to be Red Sox Nation's public enemy number one this past weekend, helped by a few mistakes, a bad call and a phenomenal performance by San Francisco pitcher Jason Schmidt on Sunday. Unfortunately, I was only able to listen to Sunday's game, so I don't know how the call played out, but it strikes me as a bit weird that Nomar would take his foot off the base...I vote bad call based on Garciaparra's abilities, if nothing else. Good first time of the season for Francona to get ejected as any, I guess. As to whether or not the Sox would have won that game...Schmidt was still pitching 95 mph in the 7th inning at 100 pitches. I don't think the Sox would have worn him down in time.

The one cheering thing about Sunday's baseball games was that the Yankees lost. And not only did they lose, but it was obvious to me that the loss was going to occur. I checked the score Sunday night and discovered that it was 5 - 3 Dodgers in the 8th. My first feeling was of dread - the Evil Empire leads the majors in come-from-behind wins this year, if I remember correctly. Then I saw who was pitching for the Dodgers and felt instant relief. 'Unless hell has frozen over,' I thought, 'Eric Gagne will get his 81st straight save tonight.' It's so nice being right.

However, the Sox then came home and showed the Twins a thing or two about hitting AND pitching, with Schilling giving up one run and four hits in seven innings and homers from Ortiz, Ramirez and Garciaparra...and by Garciaparra homerun, I mean fifth grand slam of his career. Abooya. Honestly, there's really no better way to start off any sort of set of games, especially a homestand. The Sox played last night like the team they have the potential to be - and if they can sustain a momentum, it'll be quite a race by the end of August.

In other news, Epstein has signed Curtis Leskanic (whose name is *almost* as cool as Doug Mientkiewicz, but not quite), who was recently released from the Royals, as a middle reliever to go alongside Scott Williamson. Since Williamson just came back from the DL (and has continued to pitch as well as he did in the post-intervention playoffs last year), picking up some more depth to prevent burnout is certainly a good idea - and you can never have too much pitching. Hopefully the switch of teams will improve Leskanic's 0 and 3, 8.04 ERA record. His player profile suggests he has the potential to be a better pitcher - a 2.40 ERA or so is decent as a backup. Guess we'll see what happens. YANKEES SUCK!

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Game 66

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 14, San Francisco Giants 9

A monstrously powerful victory for the first game between San Francisco and Boston in 92 years. 5 homeruns! Four of them in back-to-back sets! Sure, Wakefield didn't make it past five innings, but recovering from a 7 - 2 deficit in one inning and then going on to win by 5 runs is, well...beautiful. Kevin "Sunshine" Millar comes up big to start the rally in the fifth with his first pinch hit homerun since last year, when he hit a grand slam against Milwaukee (which was another beautiful moment - I remember exactly where I was when I saw that one). I was in Boston Bowl at around 12:30 or so and watched the last two and a half innings or so while bowling. Trott Nixon comes up...and hits his second homer in three games. Then Doug Mirabelli comes to the plate and hits what turns out to be his fifth homerun. The lack of sound and the lateness of the hour gave a certain ethereal quality to the event, but there you have it. Awesome.

I checked and this morning and got yet more wonderful news. Jeff Weaver gets his revenge against the Jankees in a 6 - 3 win in LA. Javier Vasquez is finally beaten. Eric Gagne is, well, a machine. The Yankees' lead in the East slips to 3.5 games. And, happiest of all, Curt Schilling's ankle is good to go. I don't think it would be untoward to say that some momentum is building here. YANKEES SUCK!

Friday, June 18, 2004

Game 65

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 11, Colorado Rockies 0

THAT is the way it should be done. The third excellent start in a row for Lowe, an offense that tore the cover off the ball - 11 - 0 even though the Sox stranded 9 or so runners - Trott had a good second day back, Nomar went 3 for 5 with a triple, Pokey started the scoring by singling in two runners with the bases loaded...and I check this morning and find that, against all (my) expectations, the Diamondbacks held New York to one run and won 6 - 1.

Wakefield makes the start tonight against the Giants, where he'll hopefully break out of that pitching slump he's been in for the past three starts. I'm curious to know whether or not it's more or less dangerous to pitch to Barry Bonds if you're a knuckleballer, but I guess that will depend in part on the situation. Schilling had his MRI this morning, but they haven't announced yet what the results were and by extension, how long Schilling will be out if they come up bad. However, Schilling did call Terry Francona at 4:30 yesterday morning to tell him that he had landed in Boston and that his ankle was feeling well, so there's a good amount of hope. Clearly, losing any pitcher out of this rotation would not bode well. But why dwell on the bad when we have fickle optimism as our friend? I love it. YANKEES SUCK!

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Game 64

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Colorado Rockies 7

See, if this was last year, a ninth inning rally would have worked. But you can't play that awfully against a piss-poor team like the Rockies and then expect to make up for it in the ninth inning. This team needs to get it's act together, stat, because the way the Yankees are playing tonight, it's about to be 5 and a half games back and sliding. Yeah, sure, it's great that Trott hit a homerun for his second at-bat, but when you fail to get hits with men on base, when you fail to act like a team, it doesn't work. The Red Sox aren't playing like a team right now...they're playing like a group of guys who happen to wearing the same uniform. Nights like tonight, sitting in my overheated room wearing an acrylic hat in the hopes that it'll act as a hitting talisman and listening to the Sox strikout 9 times and leave a ridiculous number of men on base instead of beating up on an awful team just reminds me of how much being a member of Red Sox Nation is like being in a bad marriage. And like the battered woman who keeps showing up at the hospital with a broken jaw claiming she fell down the stairs, we don't have the willpower to leave. Maybe I'll feel better about this tomorrow in time for the 3:05 game, but the Sox don't deserve a "Yankees Suck" tonight. Bah.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Game 63

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Colorado Rockies 6

Oh, they may be the worst team in the NL West and we may have one of the best offenses in the MLB and it may be Coors Field, where balls come to fly away to far, far places out of the reach of the outfielders, but damn if the offense just wasn't on last night. 12 runners stranded (and an off-night for Alan Embree) do not a win make. BUT...tonight is Schilling and The Great Return Part II all rolled into one and assuming that tonight's start doesn't screw up Schilling's ankle, that there isn't a rain delay that screws up the game midway through AND (while I'm at it) that the Diamondbacks beat the Yankees tonight, it might just be an excellent night of baseball. Booyah. YANKEES SUCK!

Monday, June 14, 2004

Games 60 - 62

Final Scores:

Game 60: Boston Red Sox 2, Los Angeles Dodgers 1
Game 61: Boston Red Sox 5, Los Angeles Dodgers 14
Game 62: Boston Red Sox 4, Los Angeles Dodgers 1

Excellent weekend. Sure, Wakefield seems to be in a weird pitching slump right now, but Lowe had his second good start in a row, Pedro rocked the house last night, Pokey Reese was...THE MAN, the Sox won the series and Part II of The Great Return should happen some time this week. Reese's catch last night, where he leaped a good five or six feet in the air to rob Dave Roberts of a hit that would brought the Dodgers back into the game was certainly the highlight of the weekend, sticking in my mind like Johnny Damon's amazing catch in left-center at the end of last season.

So why am I worried? Schilling is apparently an MRI away from being put on the DL for two to four weeks, depending on how his ankle looks after his start on the 16th against the Rockies. At the moment, the Sox are three and a half games behind the Yankees...and the two teams are playing a three game series in New York, June 29 to July 1. Less than two weeks away. Hell, losing Schilling at all is scary and losing him in a year which the gods of baseball seem to have named Year of the Injury is just that much worse. Theo Epstein was asked last night on ESPN if he had any thoughts on the trading deadline and he said that he was waiting until more of his players were healthy and playing again before he started to make assessments. Hopefully events on Wednesday will prove otherwise, but it looks like that time will be further in the future than expected. Bah. YANKEES SUCK!

Friday, June 11, 2004

Game 59

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 9, San Diego Padres 3

I realized that by the time I typed that post yesterday, the Yankees were well on their way to winning game 3 against the Rockies...if they hadn't won it outright. Darn that Contreras...he never screws up when I say he will.

No matter. The offense last night was on its way to showing just how SICK it'll be. Ortiz hits four singles. Manny SLAMS one out of the park. The Padres walk Manny to get to Nomar and he makes them pay for it, then gets scored by a Millar double. Heck, even Pokey "I'm here for my Glove not my Bat" Reese hit a solo shot. Schilling was his usual dominating self, giving up only two runs and if the setup part of the bullpen had trouble closing out the game, it just demonstrates how much we need Scott Williamson to come off the DL.

Speaking of the DL, I got into a discussion with Robin last night about Mueller vs. Youkilis and who should hold on to the third base position once Mueller comes back. I went with Mueller, for the following reasons: first, Youlk is still pretty young (25). Sending him back to Pawtucket (and he should be sent back, not left to rust on the Sox bench) shouldn't be a blow to his pride. Second, Mueller has the contract...might as well not waste the money. Third, Youkilis, at the moment, is a .280 hitter. If Mueller makes a successful return, he is at the very least a .291 career hitter. If he has a year like last year...the results can only get better. Besides, he's a good third baseman, too, with a 95% field percentage last year (compared to Eric Chavez's 97%).

Dodgers make their entrance tonight, coming to test the ability of Derek Lowe to continue pitching well. YANKEES SUCK!

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Game 58

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 1, San Diego Padres 8

Alright, so even with The Great Return Part 1, last night wasn't a great night to be a Red Sox fan. Rain delay, awful defensive errors, dead Red Sox bats, Yankees coming back from a five run deficit to beat the Rockies...On the bright side, at least (and how could I be a Red Sox fan if there were no bright side? I would have killed myself by now), Trott has made it up to AAA, so The Great Return Part 2 should be coming soon, Kevin Brown hurt himself (and the Yankees lose a starter who's effective against the Red Sox), Contreras is pitching tonight and last but not least, Nomar had an excellent return. 1 for 2 with a well struck single and a second at-bat that sent a live drive shooting into left (right at the left fielder, but still), some well played defense at short (including a double play and a a great pickup leading to a throw that should have been handled by Andy Dominique if he was, you know, a FIRST BASEMAN...ahem) and a trip from first to third at full speed. I'd say he's back. I tell you, when he came up the first time to the bat, did the whole OCD ritual and swung at the first was a beautiful moment to be a part of Red Sox Nation. Schilling tonight...time to bring the pain. YANKEES SUCK!

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Game 57

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 1, San Diego Padres 0

The Padres make their first-ever appearance at Fenway and Pedro goes 8 innings giving up only two hits...I love it. I was at Yankee Stadium (thanks to my friend Mike, to whom I give enormous props) watching the Rockies struggle to hit any of Javier Vasquez's pitches and discovering that Mariano Rivera's theme music is "Enter Sandman" (which I think is very appropriate - the only player who scares me as much as Rivera does when he comes in is Dennis Eckersley in his prime). Throughout the game Mike and I were watching the out-of-town scoreboards, tracking the shut out as it happened ("well, it's still 0-0 in the the the 6th...", etc.). Finally, right around when the Yankees brought in Rivera, I called Alan back in Boston to get an update...just as Damon doubled in Kapler. Nothing like doing a little dance of joy in a ballpark full of hostiles, I tell ya.

And tonight, joy of joys, Part 1 of The Great Return, broadcast on ESPN so I can take part in the full power and majesty of 35,000 people screaming their lungs out (well, as reproduced by my TV, anyway). YANKEES SUCK!

Monday, June 07, 2004

Games 54 - 56

Final Scores:

Game 54: Boston Red Sox 2, Kansas City Royals 5
Game 55: Boston Red Sox 8, Kansas City Royals 4
Game 56: Boston Red Sox 5, Kansas City Royals 3

The skid has ended! Schilling's stock goes up yet again! Derek Lowe actually pitched a decent game (no kidding)! The Sox managed to pick up a game on the Yankees in all this fun and part one of the Great Return may very well happen tomorrow night! For whatever reason, ESPN is broadcasting the second game of this upcoming series versus San Diego, but not the first or third. Internet radio will be my salvation and source for the return of the Nomah.

Apparently MLB finally got the hint that there's only so many times that the Mets can play the Yankees and the Cubs can play the White Sox in inter-league play before it gets boring, so some of this year's inter-league match ups are a bit different. Coming up, we've got the Padres and Dodgers, two teams that have never played at Fenway, coming to Boston and a series between Boston and San Francisco in San Francisco - the first time the two teams have played each other since the 1912 World Series. I love the idea of interleague play. First of all, it provides the opportunity for people to see teams they wouldn't normally see. Second, because of the differences in playing style between the NL and AL, new strategies have to be used to win the game - which I always find interesting and fun to watch. YANKEES SUCK!

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Game 53

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 7, Anaheim Angels 10

Ugh. Really guys. It's not 2003 season. The pitching can pick up again. Vlad the Impaler doesn't need to have a record night. At least there's a night off tonight and a series against Kansas City tomorrow...this team needs to get its collective head screwed back on properly again.

NOMAR UPDATE: Terry Francona has announced an interesting idea that will be implemented on the infield half of The Great Return. Since Nomar's backups, Youkilis, Bellhorn and Reese, have been doing so well in their respective positions (Youkilis won the Rookie of the Month for May, after all) and Francona doesn't want to overplay Nomar right after his return, he'll play the four men in a rotation - sometimes Nomar will DH, sometimes he'll play at short. Sometimes Reese will play short, sometimes Bellhorn will. Sometimes Bellhorn will replace Youkilis at third. The rotation, of course, will change again once Mueller comes off the DL and Youkilis (presumably) goes back to Pawtucket, but the idea is certainly an intriguing one - a good way to avoid bringing Nomar back too quickly and also take advantage of the unexpected boon in skills the Sox have acquired. Hopefully all the players involved are flexible enough to handle the switches, but I think it should work out well. YANKEES SUCK!

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Game 52

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 6, Anaheim Angels 7

I gotta say it: I'm worried about the pitching staff. I'm also a bit worried about the offense, who apparently could have taken more opportunities from Colon's poor start, but blowing a three run lead ain't so cool either. Four hit batsmen and they all score? Feh. Exhaustion is not an excuse. Pedro tonight, hopefully with a bit more bad news for the Angels than Arroyo brought them last night. YANKEES SUCK!

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Games 48 - 51

Final Scores:

Game 48: Boston Red Sox 8, Seattle Mariners 4
Game 49: Boston Red Sox 4, Seattle Mariners 5
Game 50: Boston Red Sox 9, Seattle Mariners 7
Game 51: Boston Red Sox 4, Baltimore Orioles 13

Quite the topsy-turvy Memorial Day weekend. Pedro prevented the apocalypse and took his 13th game in a row against the Mariners on Friday. Wakefield failed to perform and the Sox couldn't recover completely from a 5 run deficit on Saturday. Saturday night Alan gave me a Yankee Hater hat (I've got the blue one) which I used to freak out friends and family (more on that below) while Foulke's perfect record was broken and the Sox pulled out a win which belongs with any of the classics of last year. I was at an outdoor party in Holden, MA and walked into the kitchen of the house where the party was being held, where a number of people were watching the game, to check on the score. Just as I walked in, McCarty hit his walkoff and the entire room erupted into of those moments when being a fan is really special.

Last night I came back from Boston with the hopes of listening to the game as part of a relaxing evening at home - a good windup to a Memorial Day weekend. Instead, however, I found that DLowe had already blown the game earlier this afternoon, while I was in transit. Lowe's lackluster performance led me to reflect on the state of contract negotiations and I drew a few parallels between the end of this season and the movie Highlander. Because of money limitations (and possibly because the front office wants to see what it's getting into), not everyone whose contract is up at the end of this season will get an offer. For some reason, I imagine the number is four out of six possibilities, but I don't know where I'm getting that idea from. In any case, much like the Highlander, there can be only one (well, four, or whatever the number is) - there is certainly a competition of sorts going on here for a contract offer. I'd say with his performance so far this season, Derek is within a step of having his head cut off.

Look, if the metaphor doesn't make sense, go see the movie. It'll make a lot more sense and you can sit and figure out why Christopher Lambert sounds like he's German even though he was born on Long Island.

As promised, the shock value of the Yankee Hater hat: as you may have noticed if you opened the link, the Yankee Hater hat was created when someone had the ingenious idea of taking the diagonal bar in the "N" of the Yankees logo and making it horizontal, creating an "H." A few color changes and the addition of the "Yankee Hater" moniker later and the hat was born. Thing is, on first glance, it looks like a normal Yankees hat. I have a feeling Alan bought me the hat in the first place because he was worried about the corrupting influences of New York, but buying me a hat that is half camouflage was pure genius. A good ten or fifteen people, from my parents and sister, to friends at the party I went to on Saturday, to my roommate, all thought at first that I was wearing a Yankees hat and were consequently freaked out. I also didn't get any second looks riding the subway from 42nd Street back to Brooklyn. It was great. YANKEES SUCK!