Friday, December 30, 2005

Carry the Flag

As the big game seems to have gone somewhere else (and probably for too much money) and nothing’s on the news horizon besides more Miggy deals and the Hunt for J.T. Snow, the mind turns to musings of a more general baseball sort. And while Joy of Sox’s thoughts on the guiding hand of Theo do provide some modicum of comfort for those of us wondering what the heck kind of team Boston’s going to have next year, I’m talking deep spiritual musings. Musings on Curt Schilling.

My future brother-in-law Steven is not only a New York sports fan; he’s a lover of sports in general and a man with an opinion. A ball does not get hit, thrown, passed, shot or otherwise propelled through space that he doesn’t know about it and has an opinion of some sort on what happened and why. So, of course, we talk about Curt Schilling and his legacy in Boston. Steven thinks that Schilling thinks too much of himself, that he’s too much of a self-promoter and that fans in general don’t think he’s as important as he thinks he is. I tend to agree on some levels; Schilling is a huge self-promoter and he knows how to endear himself to Boston fans – look at all of the SOSH postings, calls in to WEEI, charity work, the bloody sock…the man not only has a flair for the dramatic, but he’s used the typical Boston sports fan’s insanity to his advantage. On top of all that, however, I think he’s the victim of happy circumstance that’s sealed his place as a local legend forever.

I refer, of course, to the 2004 season and Schilling’s role in ending the 86 year championship drought. 21regular season wins, the ankle injury against Anaheim, the startling fall from grace in Game 1 of the ALCS, the triumphant return with stitches twice to get it all done…these things are important not just because Curt did them, but because of the circumstances in the background.

Imagine if you will two armies on a battlefield. We’re talking old-school armies here: guys with colorful uniforms, muzzle-loading guns, cannon, the whole nine yards. And most importantly, each army has a guy carrying the flag. The flag is the symbol of each army’s hopes, its point of patriotic pride. To lose that flag to the enemy is the ultimate in disgrace and although the men who survive such a loss can fight again, they will do so with the psychic wound of that loss until the flag is recovered. In fact, if the man holding up the flag is killed, someone else will jump in to take his place and keep the flag high. Now imagine those two armies are the Red Sox and the Yankees during the 2004 ALCS.

In three games, the Yankees pushed Boston to the brink of elimination. The Sox pulled out everything they could find just to stop the onslaught before starting to turn the tide in Game 4 – and Games 4 and 5 were drawn out, desperate affairs, with both sides struggling to gain the upper hand, the balance of the battle swinging either way. By Game 6, that soldier holding the Red Sox flag was dead and that flag was falling to the earth, despite everyone’s best efforts. We all wanted a rally, we wanted to win it all despite the impossible odds…and then Curt Schilling walked out with bloody sock and sown-up ankle, grabbed the flag, rallied the troops and saved the season. It wasn’t the only thing needed to win, but it was a necessary thing and it secured Schilling’s Boston legacy.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Sox Strike Back

In a move that garnered maybe a column combined in both the Herald and the Globe, the Red Sox struck back at the Yankees post-Damon signing by grabbing Jorge Posada’s former backup, John Flaherty. Flaherty, a former Red Sox minor leaguer, maintained a healthy .165 average last season, but is credited with settling Randy Johnson down last year, post-All-Star Break, taking the Big Unit from a 5 and 6 with a 4.55 ERA to a 12 and 2 with a 3.30 ERA and prompting some to conclude that Johnson threw better because he was throwing to a white guy. In any case, Flaherty better have some experience catching the knuckleball, because he’s taking Mirabelli’s place and catching Wakefield in 2006…assuming he beats out Kelly Shoppach and Ken “I Heart” Huckaby for the spot in Spring Training. Wow, J & B really showed those Yankees, huh?

Speaking of Damon, the Yankees introduced their newest acquisition to the media yesterday, giving Johnny and Boras the opportunity to set the record straight/issue one last parting shot at the Red Sox, as you prefer. Talking about the details behind the re-signing talks for the first time, Damon revealed that Boston’s initial offer was a 3 year, $27 million offer, equaling out to a $1.27 million a year raise over his previous contract. Clearly, we only get one side of the story from this conference, but it looks like the Sox blew the Damon deal several times over the past two months. I’d be disgusted, but I think we’ve seen several times over the past few days how unsteady the good ship Red Sox seems to be right now.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Breaking News

It will hurt more to have him on the Yankees

It's being reported on SEVERAL locations that Johnny Damon is almost assuredly going to be a New York Yankee next season. 4 years, $52 million, .320 batting average, 10 ft throws from center. I have NEVER been so mad at losing a guy to the pinstriped phalanx that infests this city that I currently reside in. Damon, who has been BEGGING to come back, was an ICON in Boston. He was a great leadoff hitter, a great fielder (not a great long toss partner) and looked funny enough to be recognized in a crowd of ten-thousand people. You can't put a price on celebrity. It wasn't until June of 2004 that I realized Bill Mueller wasn't a bat boy.

So why didn't we get him back? Was it the money? As crazy Boras contracts go... this one isn't even that crazy!! It's not like he demanded 10 years with a clause that the Yankees need to pay for the wheelchair in years 3 through 7. Was it the allure of the Yankees? Won't he have to cut his hair and beard and go back to looking like the illegitimate son of Erik Estrada? Was it the drama in the Red Sox front office? I think this one has wheels. I think they had a check list of “Important Off-season Moves” and everything got so confused with the influx of new staff that they just never got around to it:

Jed Hoyer: Ok what’s on that list Theo left?
Ben Cherington: Well we got the new GM… or should I say GMS!!!
JH: hahaha! Yeah totally dude! Check!
BC: We got rid of that awful shortstop.
JH: Check.
BC: We got a new awesome pitcher.
JH: Yeah! And didn’t even give up much. Check.
BC: Tried to trade Manny and Wells…
JH: That was like WICKED hard. We get a mulligan on that one. What’s next?
BC: Umm something about signing Johnny Da… HEY!! Is that a XBOX 360?
JH: Yeah man! You wanna rock some Halo 2?
BC: Awesome bro! You are so going down.

Or something like that. Anyway, I am royally pissed. Now I have to WALK to work tomorrow and the whole way there I am going to have to listen to: “Johnny Damon to The New York Yankees!” or “Damon in New York!” or “JD hits NYC!” or “Johnny takes Manhattan!” or “Gimme that wallet punk… or I cut you!”

I am getting upset just thinking about it...

Monday, December 19, 2005

Wine From Napa Valley

This Californian Pinot Noir comes from Boston grapes

California looks closer and closer to Boston lately. The Dodgers are now sporting a bunch of ex-Red Sox, like of former 20 game winner Derek Lowe, 2003 AL batting champ Bill Mueller, 1997 AL ROY Nomar Graciparra and the 2003 recipient of “most death threats in a week” Manager Grady Little.
Frankly, I am tired of all the “West Coast Red Sox” chatter. 3 of these guys weren’t even on the team last year… and getting rid of two of them (Nomar, Grady) was instrumental to winning it all in 2004 (thanks beautiful). The bottom line is that I’m just happy Lowe can be a sub-par pitcher in the NL, someone gave Muller a multi year deal (suckers) and Nomar didn’t end up on the Yankees. Man that would have been awkward. I would have to turn all my Jeter/A-Rod gay jokes into three-ways. All in all, I think the Dodgers have a great core team. In fact, I think they have what it takes to win the 2002 World Series.
Ok, enough former Boston player hating and on to some NEW Boston player hating. The Red Sox have a tentative agreement with former Indian, Dodger, Brave, Royal, Marlin, Padre and Red Sox relief pitcher Rudy Seanez who was probably just as surprised as I was that the Sox were interested again. This was my good buddy DC’s take on the impending transaction:

“You're yanking me right? I could hit off him when I’m hammered and batting lefty. He's 37?!?! He was terrible when he was 27! Washed up relief pitchers aren't fine wine. They don't get better with age!”

Come on DC. Tell us how you REALLY feel about the signing:

“Seriously how much older can our bullpen get? Now they need to leave Papelbon down there just to keep the AARP away.”

Yikes. Well, I don’t think it’s gonna be that bad. He DID get 7 wins with the Padres last season. Of course they won their division with a .500 record… but I digress. Welcome back Rudy. I hope your new training regiment of Brazilian jujitsu can keep Ortiz away from your box lunches.
Another strange transaction had to do with the second mishap the front office made offering arbitration this year. Mike Myers not getting an offer when the Yankees were clearly gunning for him was goof #1. This time Tony Graffanino DID get arbitration when it was obvious there wasn’t going to be any room for him on the roster. Now the Sox are stuck with 4 second basemen (Lorreta, Graff, Cora and Pedroia) and nobody at shortstop. At least there aren’t any other glaring holes (unless you count center, leftfield, first base and the bullpen). 2006 is gearing up to be a long season with a roster full of guys I haven’t really become attached to. Maybe they will grow on me. Maybe they WILL age like wine. What do you think Marsellus Wallace?

"See this business is filled to the brim with unrealistic mother*****. Mother***** who thought their ass would age like wine. If you mean it turns to vinegar, it does. If you mean it gets better with age, it don't."


Monday, December 12, 2005

Who Run Bartertown?

John Henry Lays Down the Law

So remember a few weeks ago, when Theo Epstein up and quit from the Red Sox, citing the baseball equivalent of “artistic differences?” Remember how the rumor was that Theo’s departure was a part of a deep-seated dissatisfaction with the way Larry Lucchino handled the running of the Red Sox and his relationship with his former protégé? Remember how John Henry cried like a little girl at the press conference and questioned his ability to own the team? Well, what if Henry actually did something besides lament the departure of the boy wonder – something like blocking the hiring of an outside GM, keeping Theo around behind the scenes for the past six weeks to help “move the transition along,” or forcing the restructuring of the Sox front office that Lucchino keeps talking about? What if 2006 will start with the same players in the front office as 2005…only with different titles?

Why the what-ifs, 6 weeks after the fact? Well, as of 3:30 this afternoon, Jed Hoyer and Ben Cherington are the co-GMs of the Red Sox…and while Lucchino won’t come out and say it, Theo may be coming back in an advisory role (or as some might call it, President of Baseball Operations), in basically the same capacity that he had when he was GM, while Hoyer and Cherington will be the equivalent of assistant GMs. As Eric Wilbur points out, it sound a lot like John Henry forced the changes behind the scenes as a way to keep Epstein but keep Lucchino from losing face – rearranging the furniture, as the Herald put it, to make sure everyone is happy, however dysfunctional the result. The new setup sounds so complicated that I’d probably shoot myself in the face if it happened to me. I wonder what Theo thinks of the departure of most of his acquisitions over the past two weeks?

But in a piece of pure speculative fantasy by Wilbur, it gets even better. What if all of this post-season tomfoolery was really a public relations stunt by everyone’s favorite Boston baseball bad guy, Dr. Charles Steinberg, to keep the Sox on the front of everyone’s mind until February? Screw the usual hot stove fun…let’s make all of RSN think their favorite team has more issues than FEMA post-Katrina. It’s like baseball reality TV.

In other news, Boston’s most recent shortstop is a big wuss. Speaking for the first time since the trade, Edgar Renteria says he actually wanted out of Boston. Not because of the fans, or because of the pressure…but because of the infield in Fenway. “The ball bounces too much in the field of the shortstop, where I play,” he said. “The field is not good like other stadiums. One day it’s bad, the next day, it’s worse...I was uncomfortable the whole year.” As Robin pointed out, half of those errors were made in other parks…and somehow it’s the former Gold Glover who’s making the mistakes, when other Red Sox shortstops of recent memory haven’t had nearly as many problems. Nice try, Edgah. Anyone else now wishing we still had Cabrera out there?

Friday, December 09, 2005

No Room For Rent(eria)

Mistakes were made... 30 of them as a matter of fact

A wanted ad in this weeks Globe:

Local Baseball team seeks replacement player for short-stop position. Talented fielders a MUST!! Good hitting skills recommended. Taking all qualified applicants NOW!*

*Nomar need not apply

I have no idea what’s going on in the minds of the hydra that now runs the Red Sox front office. It seems that constant motion is a goal of theirs. Exit Edgar Renteria. Rent, we hardly knew ye (and never liked ye). Best known for making the last out of the Red Sox 2004 World Series victory over the Cardinals, Rent was a total bust as a pickup. Theo was riding HIGH with the victory and made a few too many changes before the 2005 season and Rent was the poster boy for this problem. Fellow Columbian Orlando Cabrera was well liked, cheaper, younger and juuuuust a bit shorter in the talent department. At least that’s what the common wisdom said at the time. Now we are a year removed and Renteria and his 30 errors looks like the biggest blown signing since Jose Offerman. I loved Theo as a GM and would even love to have him back now, but this whole short-stop fiasco was a mistake. In fact, it was a 4 year and $40 million mistake that is now being covered with $11 million in whiteout. At least the Sox are getting a GREAT third base prospect in return. Mike Lowell and Kevin Youklis were sleeping too soundly anyway. As for the hole in SS? Well it matches the one in center(thanks Boras), left field(maybe), first base and in the bullpen. WOO HOO!

My biggest question is that what if this is the start of a massive rollback of all the work Theo did in his tenure as GM? Rent is gone, Wells is on his way out and Clement is being verbally added to every deal the “GM by committee” team makes. They might leave him as a tip when they pay the hotel bill for the winter meetings. I know the idea of erasing the work Theo did in 2005 sounds a little farfetched, but if Lowe, Nomar and Dave Roberts are sitting with the team in Florida this spring… well you heard it here first.

It looks like Bill (the Pro) Mueller is going to be back with Grady Little in LA. The Dodgers offered him and his dead man knees a 2 year deal. Good for him. I wish him the best (oh and thanks for the draft picks).

Also on the bus out of town is everyone’s favorite lefty specialist and Wayne’s World front man, Mike Myers. He signed with the Yankees for 2 years and will join the ranks of Embree and Bellhorn as “guys who won in Boston and decided to sell their souls”. I just hope he didn’t pay much attention while David Ortiz was at the plate. I think he’s going to face him about 10,000 times next year.

One final note: Eric and I went to Union Square to see Bill Simmons sign his book Now I Can Die in Peace : How ESPN's Sports Guy Found Salvation, with a Little Help from Nomar, Pedro, Shawshank, and the 2004 Red Sox. It’s a great collection of his Sox columns over the years with some added comments they wouldn’t let him make on Meeting Simmons was neat. He did about a 25 minute Q&A (he was 20 minutes late) and then went into signing the books and chatting with fans. Apparently, he was really against the breaking up of the World Series team and feels like too much tinkering was done with the chemistry. He is a great writer and funny guy, but was MUCH more of a nerd than I thought he would be. Not that it's a bad thing. Some of my best friends… well you know.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

See You, Space Cowboy

I know this blog has said some terrible things about Kevin Millar over the past year, but this article about the former Boston first baseman and cheerleader’s reaction to the inevitability of his free agent status still tugs on the heart strings. It’s times like this, with the future exciting but uncertain and the past a glorious memory, that I really miss the 2004 team and the departure of Millar just underscores what’s gone. I hope I can fall in love with the Red Sox teams of the future as much as I did those 25 guys from a year ago, but for now, hats off to you, cowboy. Good luck in the future.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

One Down...A Few To Go

When I checked the papers this morning, I counted something like 6 rumors involving Red Sox coming out of the Winter Meetings in Dallas.  This evening, one of those rumors is official truth: Doug Mirabelli will be competing with Miguel Olivo for the starting catcher position in San Diego, going to the Padres in exchange for second baseman extraordinaire, Mark Loretta.  The 2004 NL All-Star has a year and $3 million left on his contract, providing a cheap and convenient placeholder at second base for 2006 and allowing for the further development of prospect Dustin Pedroia for 2007.  So far, so good.  Loretta’s a solid hitter, a good defender and he’s in a contract year and looking to impress other teams, so he should play things up.  I’m not entirely sure what benefit the Padres get from this deal – maybe Mirabelli will play a Bull Durham-like role in Olivo’s development.  The Sox win out on this deal no matter what, though unless Loretta hurts his thumb again.  I’m pleased, even if means saying good-bye to another member of the 2004 team.

Meanwhile, today’s the day for making offers for salary arbitration.  The 2005 winners: Johnny Damon, Bill Mueller, Tony Graffanino and losers: John Olerud (he’s retiring – “outlaw man, we salute you”), Kevin Millar (no kidding, he’d actually re-sign), Matt Mantei (one of the failed experiments) and most interestingly, Mike Myers, who’s going to get instant interest from the Yankees, among others.  Since the rules guarantee the Sox draft picks for any players to whom they offer arbitration but sign elsewhere, Damon sounds like a hedge bet, Graffanino sounds like a sure bet (after the Loretta trade, why would he stay?) and Mueller is the wild card – do they try and re-sign him, move Lowell to first and ship Youkilis somewhere else?  Or is he as sure a bet as Graffanino?  Time will tell.  

Myers is the interesting case because a.) he was a useful acquisition two years in a row and b.) the Sox need bullpen help.  Right now, the only left-hander the Sox have is Lenny DiNardo…and now Boston can’t re-sign Myers until May 1.  Presumably something else is in the works to make a lefty specialist less valuable.

Monday, December 05, 2005

All Hail Caveman Jesus

The Sox (Lucchino, Bill LaJoie, the Gang of 4) and Damon/Boras are meeting tonight in Dallas to try and nail down a deal. The news of such things fills me with an inner happiness comparable to that of a child going to bed on Christmas Eve: jittery and full of hope for the coming dawn and the possibility of good tidings. That the Herald chose to include tidbits like, “the center fielder has repeatedly made it clear that he would like to return to Boston” and “it’s possible that a compromise could be reached that would see Damon agree to a four- or five-year deal with incentive stipulations that could trigger two or three option years” in their announcement only stokes the fires of my desire for the return of the Caveman Jesus to the green pastures of Fenway’s hallowed outfield. It’s a bit like how I felt about re-signing Varitek last winter. I guess we should all feel grateful that the Mets already have a centerfielder; the way Minaya’s spending money right now, he’d probably go for the 7 year, $84 million deal that Boras is shopping around right now.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Manny Being Manny...But Where?

The uniform of Manny Ramirez in 2006?

So it’s early December. The Winter Meetings start in 3 days. The Sox still don’t have a GM, but that seems to be less important now – the Gang of 4 (with Lucchino behind the scenes?) goes and captures good acquisitions with ease, making the panicky amongst us (yours truly included) think that maybe 2006 won’t be a loss after all. Joining the fold most recently is young Jermaine Van Buren, picked up from the Cubs for a song and joining the group of promising young hard-throwing pitchers (Papelbon, Hansen, Lester, Beckett) who make up the Red Sox pitching hopes and dreams for at least the next two years.

Johnny Damon is still a free agent, but since Scott Boras seems to think that it makes sense for a major league baseball team to sign a 32 year old centerfielder to a 7 year deal, there doesn’t seem to be much interest in the Man Who Would Be Jesus outside of Boston, to the point where hasn’t printed a rumor about Damon since Tuesday. Moving on.

The other big question mark, the one who may make the difference between a championship run and a rebuilding year for Boston is, of course, Manny Ramirez. The right-handed half of the deadly run scoring combo of Manny Ortez has made no attempt to hide that he wants out of Boston, much to the chagrin of many in RSN. But what do you try and get for one of the best right-handed hitters in baseball, especially when he has his own preferences on where to go? We re-cap our favorite rumors:

Manny, David Wells and Keith Foulke to Los Angeles for Eric Gagne, Jeff Kent and J.D. Drew
Robin’s current favorite of the supposed trades. On the plus side, the Sox pick up a good young closer, a good right fielder and avoid dealing with any problems with Keith Foulke next year, plus they move Manny out of the AL, where he’ll be much less of a danger to the Sox. They also get Jeff Kent, who wears out his welcome wherever he goes after a year, no matter how well he plays. It doesn’t make sense for a couple of reasons, of course: why would the Dodgers exchange a good closer for one who’s coming off of surgery and take a pitcher who’s within a year of retiring and why would the Sox want Kent when they can get similar value from Graffanino without the chemistry problems?

Manny to Los Angeles for Ervin Santana, Garret Anderson and a boatload of prospects
One of Manny’s favored locations. A reconstruction of the conversation between the Gang of 4 and Angels GM Bill Stoneman:

Gang of 4: So Bill, what do you think? Manny would be a much better foil to Vlad than Garrett Anderson and he’s not injury prone. Just toss in that Santana guy and a few pitchers and you’ve got yourself a deal – it’s great for you!
Bill Stoneman: [making snorting noises]
Gang of 4: …umm...? Bill? You still there?
Bill Stoneman: Sorry, I just laughed so hard milk squirted out of my nose. You guys got a serious offer? Because otherwise I’m a busy guy…
Gang of 4: But Bill, this deal is great for you guys. Just look at all of the runs Manny’s scored…
Bill Stoneman: Look, guys, a joke’s a joke, but I’ve got things to do.
Gang of 4: Bill, we don’t understand what the problem is. We’ve got a great deal here for you.
Bill Stoneman: Right. Could you guys do me a favor and not call here again? Thanks.

Manny to Seattle for ?
Another Manny preference. I think he was just laughing at us when he came with that one; who is Seattle going to give up?

Manny to New York for prospects
Except that while the Mets want Manny, they want Lastings Milledge even more.

Manny to Philadelphia for Bobby Abreu
Nice thought, although it would eliminate Big Papi’s protection in the lineup – Abreu’s left-handed. As my buddy over at’s baseball site said, though, there’s absolutely no good reason why Philly would want to do this deal – Manny’s got an additional year on his contract, is owed about $29 million more and hasn’t mentioned wanting to go to Philadelphia anyway. Also, a “high placed Phillies source” found the idea laughably ludicrous, saying the Phillies are concentrating on finding pitching. Maybe someone in the Sox Front Office heard him – the rumors have now shifted to Matt Clement and Trot Nixon for Abreu, which makes a bit more sense for Philadelphia and wouldn’t be half bad of a deal for Boston.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

A Hot Stove is a Good Stove

I have that "burning trade" sensation

Nothing makes you yearn for the baseball season to start more than a good trade. Ok maybe the Pats record of 6-5 and on the verge of being a playoff joke is a good reason to yearn too, but the trades are a close second. Now, I was SHOCKED when I saw that Beckett was coming to Boston. I was not so shocked when I saw that Mike Lowell was attached to the deal. When the deal was finalized last week and Guillermo Mota was added, I realized that there might be someone running the Red Sox front office after all. The hot stove is cooking!

So it’s Beckett, Lowell and Mota for Hanley Ramirez, Anibal Sanchez, Jesus Delgado, Harvey Garcia and not one but TWO buckets of balls. I would say that the Marlins are having a firesale, but with AJ Burnett signed up for free agency and Delgado gone to the Mets there really isn’t much left to set on fire. Highway robbery or not, this was a fantastic trade. The only real loss is Hanley, who seemed like a good guy, but we HAVE a mediocre hitting shortstop…why horde them? The others aren’t too much of a loss (at least for now). Beckett is great. He’s a Yankee killer with ace pitcher stuff and a great attitude. The minor health problems? Who doesn’t have health problems?!?! The Red Sox other star had surgical work that had only been done before on a DEAD GUY. We can deal with blisters.

As for Lowell, he couldn’t be THAT much worse than Millar could he? He might even profit from being in Fenway (a pull hitter park) rather than Dolphins Stadium (a black hole with seats). Getting Mota is good for another reason. Sure he might be a fine addition to the crippled pen or they might move him for tickets to “Walk The Line”, but the point is that the front office demanded the Fish throw some more meat on the already full plate. Somebody showed a couple of brass ones at that meeting and proved that just because we don’t have a real GM and the “wonderkid” we did have ran out of town like he was set ablaze, doesn’t mean we can’t exploit teams in the process of rebuilding. GIVE US MOTA!!! WE DEMAND MOTA!!!

In other news, the David Wells Fargo Wagon hasn’t left town yet (come on back now Dave Roberts). Ortiz doesn’t think Manny is coming back to Boston, but the Mariners and Angels don’t really want him and Mets best offer involves unlimited use of Omar Minaya’s pool and hot tub. Lastly, in the search for a manager, the Dodgers are in the process of interviewing Grady Little. He’s on a short list that includes Michael Jackson, OJ Simpson and a trained orangutan.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Waiting For Josh

What's That? Josh Beckett Might Come To Boston?

Checking my RSS reader today, as I do, this headline from the Boston Herald’s feed jumped out at me: “Texas may lead Red Sox in race for pitcher Josh Beckett.” My two-fold reaction:

  • Beckett’s on the market? Man, the Marlins really are trying to unload salary.
  • A 1, 2, 3 of Schilling (assuming he’s finally back to speed), Beckett and Papelbon, plus another great season of Timmy would be hott (definitely with two Ts), would be the Second Coming of Red Sox pitching…would be the equivalent of the 2005 White Sox.
Even with the asking price – Hanley Ramirez and Jon Lester and the requirement that the Sox take Mike Lowell, with his terrible season in ’05 and his $18 million, two year contract, I’m still for the deal. Beckett is a young, proven commodity; Lester and Ramirez, for all of their impressiveness in the minors, are still prospects. Beckett’s big problems sound mechanical – he wouldn’t be the first guy the Sox have imported to be fixed up by Messrs. Wallace and Varitek – and he’s got the biggest game experience you could possibly want in Boston, shutting down the Yankees to end the 2003 World Series. Now the Gang of 4 just has to convince Florida that they want to save money and get prospects instead of taking the underpaid Hank Blaylock from Texas. Should be easy, right?

Monday, November 14, 2005


"DH? Never heard of it!"

I first saw it when I checked DirtDogs after lunch today.

“No Surprise, A-Rod Wins MVP”

Well I was surprised. Really. I was shocked. I thought this was a done deal for Ortiz and the rest was just paperwork. The numbers have been floated out there enough:

A-Rod has a better average, is better on the base paths, and better junktime numbers.
Ortiz has more RBI’s, more walks, and gets his hits when they count. Close and Late.

The bottom line was at the plate, nobody beats David “Big Papi” Ortiz. He’s the guy you want and there isn’t even a question about it. He is the most valuable hitter in baseball. Get it? VALUE. He has the MOST of it.

“But what about fielding” you say? I say shut up. Fielding is all well and good, but this isn’t “Most Valuable 5 Tool Player” it’s the plain old “MVP”. Ortiz is the most valuable player when batting… why isn’t that enough? It isn’t like A-Rod is the most valuable fielder the Yankees have. He is a mediocre shortstop/third baseman on a team with mediocre fielders at every position (except Jeter… I guess). If A-Rod DHed instead of applying purple lip gloss while running to his corner base position every half inning, I wouldn’t be writing this now. Because Ortiz would have won the MVP hands down. Conversely, if Ortiz had replaced the GAWD AWFUL Kevin Millar at first this season, not only would no one have noticed, but he would have won the MVP hands down. Do you see where I am going with this?

The dried up geezers who vote on things like the AL MVP are vocally against the DH rule. It has been called a perversion of the sport by fans and players alike, but guess what? IT’S STILL A RULE!! It’s allowed and I don’t think players should be penalized just because they hit and then go sit down. It’s DH racism, DH discrimination and it’s hurting the game of baseball! When Jessie Jackson is done picketing the Eagles practice tell him I could use him and his soap box outside of Fenway.

And don't get on me about this being an ANTI YANKEE thing! Hell, I thought Rivera should have won the CY Young over Fatso Colon. This is dumb people using the DH as a yardstick for MVP value. If this was Vlad vs Ortiz I would have the same stance (except I couldn't make fun of his stupid purple lips).

Look, in the long run I probably won’t care about this. I might not remember in 5 years, but now it really frosts my cupcakes. After I settle down I’ll remember that the numbers really are in favor of Ortiz:

Two MVP’s for A-Rod are not as impressive as the one ring for Papi.

Boo yah. GO SOX.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Peyton Manning Is A Poopie Head

I would be bothered about Peyton Manning winning the first game for the Colts against New England in Foxboro in about a decade, snapping his personal losing streak against the Pats and ending a 3 year win streak for New England at home…but then I remember the terrible things that have happened to New England’s defense this year (decimated secondary ring a bell?).  So congratulations, Peyton.   You make sure to come back and try your luck again when the team’s at full strength, ya hear?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Cap'n Makes It Happen

With all of the bad things that have happened to the Red Sox (or is to us, the fans? I’m starting to feel like I should distinguish the two groups a good deal more) this week, some good news is certainly welcome.

Red Sox Nation knows that Jason Varitek, captain extraordinaire and beloved member of the Red Sox, was a kick-ass catcher. Well, as of yesterday, so does the rest of the world. On Monday, Varitek picked up his first Silver Slugger award, joining Manny Ramirez (8th time winner) and David Ortiz (2nd time winner) as the first three Red Sox to win the award in one year. Yesterday, Varitek became the first Red Sox to win a Gold Glove since catcher Tony Pena in 1991.

Basically, what winning these awards comes down to is that the man who regularly dons the mask behind home plate for Boston is a catching machine, a baseball powerhouse sent from the future to help drive the heart of the order, block the plate, bring the best out of neurotic pitchers with his ability to call a game and outsmart the other team with his wily planning and insight into the abilities of opposing hitters. I hear he’s pretty good at taking down card-shark wannabes, too.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Red Rage

What's a Nubian?

Here’s the thing about Theo: none of us outside of the organization will ever know what really happened. I realize this fact, on an intellectual level. I try not to buy into the typecasting of Larry Lucchino as the bad guy, the power-hungry face of evil, the George Steinbrenner of Boston, despite the accusations by fans and sports writers and descriptions from a friend of mine about Lucchino’s behavior with the Padres, because I don’t know the full story.

On an emotional level though, I’m full of rage. Here’s the guy for the job, right there, no looking required and the Sox lose him because of a power-hungry CEO. Even worse, I can relate this rage back to an intellectual level: it’s the beginning of the off-season and there are several big signings that need to be done, a Manny Ramirez to be kept or traded, a bullpen and a starting rotation to be built…and the Red Sox have no General Manager, no guy to get the deals done. I’m ready to write the 2006 season off right now, because Boston’s going to miss the starting gun.

But really, a user comment on today’s Soxaholics post nails my underlying problem on the head: Boston fans are so crazy because everyone, from the sports writers to Chahlie tendin’ bah on Comm. Ave. to yours truly think that we’re on the team. Seriously, just sit there and think about it for a moment. If you really care about the Red Sox, you get frustrated when the front office signs the wrong player, when the team is doing poorly, when Manny says he wants to be traded…not because you’re a fan, but because you feel like the team you invest so much emotional energy into is letting you down, like you have a right to satisfaction because you’re a part of the organization. I’m convinced that the expression of this phenomenon is unique to Boston sports fans. To be honest, there are days when being a member of such a passionate fan base is the most thrilling thing in the world, because you can surround yourself with people who really care about the team. And then there are days, like today, when you wish to God your fellow fans were a bit more normal.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The Prodigal Son

What did you want to be when you grew up? Your dream job. A fireman? Astronaut? Professional athlete? How about now? You’re over 25, got at least part of college education and a beer gut. Now a little more realistically, what is your dream job? I am willing to bet that if you are on this site, or were directed here by some other sports link, you at one point or another thought about running your own sports team. Maybe even your FAVORITE baseball team. Imagine that. You are in charge. The Boss. Making trades, buying contracts, wavers, free agents… you name it.

Well, that’s what happened in Boston from 2002 till today. Theo Epstein was under 30 years old and running the Red Sox. Here was this local kid from Brookline, making trades and deciding contracts just like you do on your fantasy team. Sure he has Yale education, a law degree and experience on the Orioles and Padres. But he was also an infielder at Brookline High. Is he really that much different then you or me or any of your buddies you talk about the Red Sox with at the corner bar? How many times have you said “I can run a team better than these clowns”? Well Theo said that, and proved it. He brought a World Series to Boston after an 86 year drought. Ok, so he’s got us beat there.

I was explaining to Eric earlier today that I thought Theo was the managerial version of Tony Conigliaro. He was the hometown hero kid and started off with a tragedy. The 2003 playoffs wasn’t exactly a line drive to the head, but it was pretty bad. Losing A-Rod to the Yankees was even worse. Even with all that has passed now, I still remember where I was when I heard the Sox couldn’t make that deal with Texas and Steinbrenner scooped up his new “Third Baseman”. Not good times. Yet Theo bounced back, got us Schilling, traded Nomar, won the World Series and got the chance to bang any girl from Portland to Pawtucket in the process. What a story! I think I know how this one ends. He gets a big fat contract extension ($1.5 mill a year for 3 years) and the Red Sox take shots at the title from now until 2008. At least that’s the Boston Globes version of this story.

In reality? Well, think about your dream job for a second. What if it’s not all it’s cracked up to be? What if you have an overbearing boss and mentor that isn’t that well liked locally? What if everything you did was put under a microscope? What if you didn’t get the money you wanted without a fight? What if you already achieved your highest goal? Would any of that be enough for you to give up your dream job?

It was for Theo. New contract or not, he won’t be the GM of the Boston Red Sox next year. This week everyone will be asking the questions I just did and I really wonder what the answers will be. I guess I’m going to have to wait and see what (if anything) Theo has for a response. In the end… knowing what I do about Boston, the Red Sox and the upper management, I am not even sure I can blame him for leaving.

Anyway, Theo Epstein, I forgive you for 2005, I try to forget 2003 and I can never thank you enough for 2004. I wish you the best where ever you end up (Dodgers?) and hope you remember that in the end… you’re a Red Sox fan.

Go Sox

Friday, October 28, 2005

Millar and Mueller

The Goofy Bastid, a Red Sox No More

Kevin Millar and Bill Mueller have filed for free agency, a move that should surprise precisely no one. I doubt that the organization hasn’t been returning phone calls to agents or anything that insidious, but it was pretty clear that a.) Kevin Youkilis is getting towards past due (and he’s a cheaper alternative to Mueller) and b.) Kevin Millar lost his hitting credibility (the only thing that made him valuable, besides his cheerleading abilities) with his terrible 2005 season. I’m sorry to see Mueller go, because he’s been a great part of the teams of the last 3 years and I wish that Millar could be hired as a bench coach or team cheerleader or something, but the time has come to say goodbye. In true Keep Your Sox On fashion, we’ve got our own little send off for the man known for his blond highlights, love of KFC and team-promoting ways. Here goes:

“Say Goodbye 2 Kevin”
With apologies to Temple of the Dog and Boston Dirt Dogs, who we beat to the punch.

Please, Millar mercy
Take you from Fenway
And the long winded curses
I keep hearing in my head
Theo never listens
And Francona never learns
Now I’m wary of your hitting
But your fielding is even worse
You came from Texas
And you ate some KFC
You hit so bad like a soul breaking
And never did nothing for me
Say Goodbye 2 Kevin…Kevin…Kevin
Say Goodbye 2 Kevin…Kevin…Kevin…Yeah…

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The 2005 Defending Champs

For one quick second, it was as if someone channeled the spirits of 2004, as the ball from the bat of Orlando Palmeiro skipped back to the mound and all of the sudden I could see Keith Foulke, in Bobby Jenks’s place, grabbing the ball and tossing it to the waiting first baseman, Paul Konerko or Doug Mientkiewicz as he may be, to end the ballgame and the World Series. Then the ball bounced over Jenks’s head, reality snapped back into place and quick action by Juan Uribe at shortstop did the job, nailing Palmeiro at first by a half step and ending the second longest championship drought in baseball.

Before the final batter came to the plate, I stared up at my wall, where I’ve assembled a framed collection of memorabilia from last season. A collage of articles from USA Today, my 2004 playoff bracket, a print of David Ortiz launching a bomb from the Boston Globe, all taped to poster board. A photograph of Jason Varitek leaping into Keith Foulke’s arms, framed with a ticket V-tek signed for my sister back in 1999. I remembered how good it felt to see the end of that last game against the Cardinals, how good it still feels. Every White Sox fan across the world can now feel the euphoria and joy and overwhelming satisfaction that comes with finally, finally, finally getting the ultimate baseball prize, the pride of saying your team is the championship team. I’d say enjoy it, but I know you’ll all treasure it for years to come. Congratulations, Chicago – you’re on top for 2005.

Monday, October 24, 2005

The MLB Top 40

With the Astros/White Sox World Series in full swing, everyone is jumping on the baseball bandwagon and adding a team or player twist to their media/product/event. Our good friends at Apple certainly are. The iTunes Music Store is featuring a “World Series Playlist” for both of the competing teams with each player getting a song pick and a comment about their picks. Some fun (see: funny) stuff going on in these lists.

Lots of Country:
Kenny Chesney, “Back Where I Come From”
-picked by Chris Burke, Adam Everett, and Jason Lane
Willie Nelson, “Mama Don’t Let Your Sons Grow Up to Be Cowboys”
-picked by Phil Garner
Brooks & Dunn, “Neon Moon”
-picked by Jim Hickey
Toby Keith, “As Good As I Once Was”
-picked by Russ Springer and Jeff Bagwell (Get it? They’re OLD!)

Lots of Latin Music:
Tito Rojas, “Senora de Madrugada”
-picked by Freddy Garcia
Descemer Bueno, “Habana”
-picked by Jose Contreras
Shakira, “La Tortura”
-picked by Willy Tavaras (who says it “makes him think of his wife”) and Raul Chavez (who says it “makes him hot”). I wonder if it also makes him think of Tavaras's wife.
Los Titans, “El Cantante”
-picked by El Capitan Ozzie Guillen

And Lots of Rock:
Pearl Jam, “Even Flow”
-picked by Chris Widger
Rage Against the Machine, “Bulls on Parade”
-picked by Brad Lidge
Bruce Springsteen, “Born in the USA”
-picked by Scott Podsednik and Jose Contreras (just kidding)
U2 “Beautiful Day”
-picked by Craig Biggio
Pink Floyd, “Comfortably Numb”
-picked by Aaron Rowand and Roger Clemens's hamstring.
3 Doors Down, “Kryptonite”
-picked by Orlando Palmeiro
Guns N’ Roses, “Welcome to the Jungle”
-picked by Tadahito Iguchi (NOT kidding. I’m still laughing at this pick)

Then there were some WEIRD picks:
Casting Crowns, "Who I Am"
-picked by Andy Pettitte (Mellow Christian Rock? No wonder the ‘stros lost Game 2)
Motley Crue, “Girls, Girls, Girls”
-picked by Bobby Jenks (This one makes sense. I think Jenks was an extra in “Porky’s”)
Bob Marley, "One Love"

-picked by John Garland (Wha? Don't they test for drug use in the MLB?)
Britney Spears, “Oops I Did it Again”
-picked by Demaso Marte (Does he even speak English? This HAS to be a prank)
Barney the Purple Dinosaur, “I Love You, You Love Me”
-picked by Carl Everett (I wish. He picked Luthor Vandross, “Take You Out”. Still kinda funny.)

I didn't put the full listing here so if you have it, check out iTunes if you want a cheap laugh.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Houston, We Have Pennant

Although it may pain a few readers of this blog to hear it, I was pulling for the Astros the whole NLCS and am very glad that the 2005 World Series will feature two teams that not only seem to have the Devil’s own luck, but really want to win it all. On one side, we’ve got the team of 88 years of curse, the White Sox with their predominantly black uniforms, the second team of the second city, trying to finally break the shame of the 1919 scandal. On the other side, the Astros, making their first appearance in the big series, with a team that’s made incredible mid-season comebacks two years in a row, not to mention surviving a devastating loss in the NLCS, recovering the next night with a strong victory over the Cardinals in St. Louis. We’ve got Buerhle, Garland, Contreras, El Duque and Jenks versus Pettite, Oswalt, The Rocket and Lidge, Konerko versus the Killer B’s and FOX executives crying about the loss in ratings. Short of another Boston World Series, I couldn’t be happier.

I’m pulling for Chicago to win this one, because I’m all for eliminating World Series droughts and the historical significance of seeing the White Sox break through the Black Sox curse would be a sight to see, but I’ll be happy with an Astros victory, too. Let it go to seven games, let it be dramatic, let it be the best of what baseball has to offer.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Sigh Of Relief

Ladies and gentlemen, it is a momentous day here at Keep Your Sox On. I'm not talking about the Astros folding two nights ago in their attempt to knock down the house of Cards with King Albert's recreation of the Hendu home run and their hopes to avoid collapsing under the weight of the level 2 gut punch starting tonight. I'm not talking about the one year anniversaries of Games 4 and 5 - ok, I'm a day or two off, but that sort of thing deserves a whole week of anniversary, not just a measely day or two. I'm not talking about the rumors flying around about whether Theo will be re-signed as Boston GM and whether we'll see the dark side of Larry Lucchino come Spring. No, I'm talking about an event so wonderous, so incredible, that we're throwing a small party here with lots of confetti, Kevin Millar's corn liquor stash AND Nelson de la Rosa in honor of the occasion: Dave Sveum is no longer with the Red Sox Organization.

Yes, you read the correctly. The third base coach with the apparent depth perception issues will trouble Red Sox Nation no more.

He wasn't fired (at least according to Tito) - he's heading back to Milwaukee to join the Brewers for "family reasons" - but I'll take the victories as they come. The Sox are talking to Texas first base coach DeMarlo Hale as a possible replacement, but have announced no firm plans. Sveum has acknowledged to the media the fan's ire with him over the past two years for various mishaps on the basepaths and while he said at one point he'd rather take the boos over the players, it's possible that Sveum, like a few other members of the Red Sox, is tired of being in the Boston spotlight.

Thus, with a profound sigh of relief, we're retiring the Moron Counter from its position on the right navigation bar to a deep, dark corner of the Red Sox Nation psyche, next to the effigy of Byung Hung Kim and the voodoo doll of Jose Offerman. Let's hope we won't have to pull it out again for a long, long time. Now, back to that corn liquor...

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sox Win The Pennant

Well, the OTHER Sox won the pennant. So maybe they didn’t cheat. Maybe it wasn’t a fluke. Maybe Ozzie Guillen ISN’T holding the umps families hostage (but he did get another call reversed tonight… he must have photos of Bud Selig in drag). Maybe… just maybe... they’re for real.

The ALCS MVP Paul Konerko has a red hot bat, Carl Everett has also been a T-Rex at the plate, and Aaron Rowand patrols centerfield like a homing missile. But it’s the freakishly amazing pitching that is the real story. Contreras, Garcia and Garland? Remember when these guys were mediocre pitchers? Well now they pitch 9 innings and look like Lefty Grove doing it. The Angels had only 27(!?!?) hits and 11 runs in the 5 games combined. You can find that under the heading: being totally shut down. It makes that Pepsi commercial with Vlad and A-Rod look REALLY funny right now. They should remake it with the can of soda striking them both out.

In NL news, the Cardinals are one game away from elimination and are using random fans to fill roster spots for the walking wounded on their team. Not to lessen the fantastic job the Astros have been doing kicking the crap out of guys like John Mabry, Hector Luna and John Rodriguez (J-Rod?) but I think if the Red Birds were 100% they would have won this series already. Of course, I remember that they were favored in the World Series last year and that didn’t go as planned either.

Speaking of last year, today marks the 1 year anniversary of the devastating 19-8 Red Sox loss in game 3 of ALCS. I was in a Holiday Inn Express with a bunch of college freshmen and a bottle of Mezcal. Don’t ask. If I knew then what I know now…I might not have woken up the next morning looking like Abe Vigoda.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

A Math Problem

Use the following charts to help solve the equation.

Q: $205,938,439 - $121,311,945 = ?

A: Only 2 more games of baseball.

Red Sox vs Yankees... coming to a golf course near you.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

And In The End

About a year ago, I wrote about how the best thing for me about the 2004 Red Sox was how I could go forward as a Boston fan without having to deal with 86 years of baggage.  Members of my favorite team were the champions of the world and for me and thousands of other fans, it meant a return to normalcy.  Yesterday’s loss was by far the biggest test of that sentiment all season, but in the end I can say that I watched highlights of Chicago players spraying each other with champagne and felt, not bitterness, not heart-wrenching hurt, but the same resignation I felt when the Sox started to slip at the end of the regular season.  The resignation brought on by knowing that with no Schilling or Foulke, with inconsistent starting pitching and only two or three effective relievers, all the slugging in the world wasn’t going to get Boston to the World Series trophy again.  Indeed, as it seems like many have said in the past week, that the Sox made it to the post-season at all without much in the way of pitching is an impressive testimony to the offensive powerhouse that Theo Epstein and Terry Francona put together.  But all of the heroics of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez with the bat couldn’t carry Boston against a better team in the first round – and that’s probably the way it should be.  Best to get things over with now, then to prolong the agony.  Do I wish Boston had won at least one game?  Yes, it would have made for a better showing and a nicer way to end the 2004 party…but it was not meant to be.

Looking back, I see 2005 as the Theo Epstein Experiment.  In 2003 he assembled the pieces and in 2004 added the finishing touches to the master team, the one that would and did win it all.  This year, Theo had the psychic slack to play around with the configuration of his team that no Boston GM has had in a long time.  Expensive (Pedro Martinez) and sometimes ineffective (Derek Lowe) components were dropped, specialists (Dave Roberts) were allowed to go to find their own way and replaced with multitude of cheaper options, some of whom were risks in their own right.  Unfortunately for Theo and Boston fans, not everyone who remained was as reliable as they were in 2004 and replacements from the free agent market were not as readily available as in the past.  Hampered by circumstance, the Theo Epstein Experiment failed.  

Now, for Boston, comes the post-season.  Who, amongst the free agent players who were a big part of this team and the teams of the past few years will be back?  We’ve the seen the start of the next generation of potential stars coming up through the minors; who will be on the starting roster for next year?  The contracts of Terry Francona and Theo Epstein expire at the end of October; will they be back for 2006?  Rest assured, that though Robin and I close Volume II of Keep Your Sox On today, we’ll be back to tell the tale as it unfolds.  For now, as Chicago advances to the ALCS on Tuesday, the possibility for history in the making continues and I sincerely hope that the end of this month will see another long championship drought finally quenched.  GO SOX.

Friday, October 07, 2005

2005 ALDS Game 3: The King Is Dead

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 3, Chicago White Sox 5

Here lie the Red Sox.
We planted them raw.
They were quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw.

The Red Sox were the World Champions. Later this month some other team will hold that title. That’s going to be hard to watch. It will be almost as hard as it was to watch this game. Timely hits? Gone. The Fenway crowd? Silenced. Ability to hold base runners? Vanished. All the luck, guts and mojo from 2004? Departed into the dark abyss or wherever teams that are eliminated in the first round go. There are a lot of Braves teams down here.

Wakefield started strong, but he heard the knocking at the door and tapered out giving up 4 runs in the process. Ortiz sensed the urgency and the pressure and responded accordingly, but it was not enough. In the 5th, his attempt at a second homerun was a 400 ft out to dead center. Manny was, as always unfazed by his surroundings. After the game I bet he told Millar: “Don’t worry we’ll get ‘em tomorrow”. But even a couple of his round trippers were not enough to hold off the inevitable. Finally, after Wake appeared to be completely done (Konerko is still waiting for that homer to come down) the young Jonathan Papelbon replaced the ineffective righty/lefty submarine twins (Bradford/Myers) and came in guns-a-blazing. He is the future, but not enough to save the present. Finally, Renteria capped his perfectly horrible season by grounding out weakly to 2nd base and denying Ortiz a last at bat. Here I should say something about "irony coming full circle” but really all I want to do is kick Rent in the junk.

This was like a
dark mirror image of 2004. Instead of finding holes in defense, they found extra outfielders. Instead of using the right pitch at the right time, the right pitch usually hit the right field wall. The sweepers were swept. The light extinguished. The 2004 playoffs saw the swansong for Pedro, Lowe, Cabrera and Dave Roberts. Even Embree and Bellhorn gave their best for the cause. Now? This wreck of a series might be the last for Damon, Graffanino, Mueller, Millar, Olerud, Nixon and maybe even Manny. Not knowing who will be back is almost as painful as the loss itself… well except for Millar. It’s WAY past your time buddy. Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry?

2003 taught us we can’t always get what we want. 2004 taught us that hope and faith make anything possible. I think 2005 teaches us that hope and faith are great, but are even better when backed by sold pitching, defense and clutch hitting. Still, I bet Hope would have had a lower post season ERA than Clement and Faith would be able to score a run with the bases loaded and no outs.

Fight Club told us that: "On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero." So go the 2005 Red Sox. The road has ended. Our journey complete before we have reached the destination. We tasted the fruit of victory before and salivated for it once again, but it was not to be. However, our steps were not wasted. It was a voyage of love and loyalty. A voyage we at Keep Your Sox On will continue into 2006 and I hope you will join us. We will have updates, reviews and rants about trades as often as they come. And I bet Eric will have his closing statement about this season up shortly.

This is not the final chapter. As one season ends, another begins. The King is dead, long live the King.

Go Sox in 2006

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

2005 ALDS Game 2: Don't Fear The Reaper

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, Chicago White Sox 5

Well, they had it. For 4 innings, it was Red Sox beating up on Buerhle, Wells making sure nobody messed with his cake and it looked like Boston would have Game 2 in hand….until the fifth. A few singles, a double or two and the White Sox get two back. No problem, Juan Uribe’s up, he’s hitting a ground ball to Graffanino to turn two, he’s…crap, Graff’s pulling a Billy Buckner. I didn’t see it, I only heard it (and through the descriptions of the Chicago radio announcers no less, because the WEEI feed wasn’t working), so I don’t know how bad it looked, but the result was bad enough – with two runners on and one out, Tadahito Iguchi hit the long ball and put Chicago on top for good. It was a compounding of errors and Boston never recovered, failing to mount an effective attack against Buerhle or his relief, Bobby Jenks. Edit: lest anyone get the impression otherwise, I'm not suggesting that Tony G. lost the game, any more than Billy Buckner lost the game in '86. The error and the home run together caused problems and the Red Sox never came back. That's what a "compounding of errors" means.

So, back to Boston we go, down 0 and 2, our last, best hope once again in the form of the Stopper, his magic knuckleball and the power of the Fenway crowd to try and carry the Red Sox through. Summon up the comeback power of 1999 and 2003 and 2004, take the travel day to gather yourselves, never say die, don’t fear the sweep and GO RED SOX!!!

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

2005 ALDS Game 1: Can We Get A Do Over?

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Chicago White Sox 14

Yeah, it was this bad

On July 26th in Tampa Bay, Matt Clement was hit in the head with a line drive and had to be hospitalized. The Sox came back to win that game in extra frames and it turned out to be one of the most galvanizing moments the team has had this year. It brought them together and made them play at a higher level. Well, THE REST OF THE TEAM DID. Clement hasn’t been right since he took one off that bearded melon of his. After the braining, he has gone 3-3 with an ERA above 5.00. And yet, here he is starting the first game of the playoffs. Who would have thought it would have turned out so badly?

Not anyone in the Red Sox organization I guess. After giving up 5 runs in the first, I was a little emotional. After giving up 3 more before he was driven screaming from the mound, I was down right upset. After seeing the Red Sox hitters flail like kids on a telethon and the bullpen barely hold the boat upright, I was as mad as I’ve ever been. Again.

Clement should have NEVER come out for the 4th inning but by that time it was already 6-2 and Francona was selecting pitchers by using coin flips and dice rolls. The bats were silenced by a rejuvenated Jose Contreras who decided to not suck against the Red Sox as per the norm. I guess he took Guillen’s threat to ship him back to Cuba seriously. And the pen? Well, at 8-2 you have to be feeling pretty bad, but 6 more runs? Guys, THIS IS THE PLAYOFFS! They should be calling Chicago the Brown Sox because they put their foot so far up the Red Sox collective ass.

Let's forget this ever happened. Wednesday, 7:00, Wells vs Buehrle. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

GO (Red) SOX!!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Game 162: Wildcard

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 10, New York Yankees 1

Three times in three years? I'll take it.

Thank God for ESPN and ESPN2 – their presence on the standard cable package allowed Robin and me to gorge ourselves on baseball coverage, switching between the Sox/Yankees on ESPN and Indians/White Sox, Astros/Cubs and Phillies/Nationals on ESPN2 on a literally pitch-by-pitch basis. When you’re stuck between wondering whether or not to watch Big Papi bat or Luis Vizcaino work out of a jam with a Cleveland runner in scoring position and a big bat with the tying run at the plate, you know you’re geeking out.

Schilling made a good effort, helped at first by excellent defense and some luck, until he warmed to the game and started getting hard-hit outs. 6 innings, 8 hits, 1 run, 1 walk and 3 strike outs later he was done, the win firmly in hand thanks to a three run Manny blast in the fourth. After that, the game was essentially irrelevant – the Indians lost for third straight time to Chicago, giving Boston the Wild Card and Torre took out his regulars and started playing scrubs, relinquishing the possibility of the Yankees starting their ALCS against the Angels at home.

Last year, the difference in the season was made in a trade. This year, the difference seems to be having not made a trade and holding on to Manny Ramirez – although David Ortiz had the bigger season, Manny’s contributions, especially since the All-Star Break, certainly helped Big Papi carry the team to the playoffs – .327 batting average, 17 home runs and 52 runs in total over those 56 games. Together, he and Ortiz hit almost a home run a game over the last 22 games and, incredibly enough, increased their offensive output over last year’s totals. Let’s see if they and everyone else can keep it up into the postseason.

Tomorrow afternoon the festivities, a club record three times in three years, begin with Clement versus Contreras in Chicago. GO SOX!!!

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Game 161: How The East Was Lost

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 4, New York Yankees 8

"And if you say to me tomorrow,
Oh what fun it will be.
Then what's to stop us, pretty baby,
But what is and what should never be."

Please allow me to preempt any “I thought we have a one game playoff against the Yankees if we win tomorrow” comments by saying: NO, you’re wrong. Even with a win on Sunday, the Red Sox would be 9-10 vs the Yankees this year. The worse head-to-head record combined with the loss by Cleveland, means that the Yankees are the AL East champs and the Red Sox have 2 shots at the Wild Card. Any combination of Red Sox win and Cleveland loss means the Sox are the Wild Card winner. HOWEVER, if the Sox lose AND the Indians win, there is a one game playoff in Fenway on Monday. Meanwhile, the Yankees are covered in champagne. I hope they catch pneumonia. Bastards.

Now that that’s out of the way… today totally sucked. Wakefield (on short rest) got roughed up early and often. 7 earned over 5 innings is not the “Stopper” I am used to. He didn’t do a good job mixing his 78mph fastballs in with his knucklers and I think Sheffield and A-Rod busted some windshields because of it. The bullpen (Stanton, Gonzo, DiNards, Hansen) was fine and only allowed one run in an already sinking game. Excuse me if I don’t do any back flips.

On the other side, RJ wasn’t amazing, but he was good enough to win today. Besides Manny and Graff taking him deep, the Unit pitched well and yet he STILL managed to moan and groan about every call that didn’t go his way. Every time he was behind in the count he would GLARE back at the umpire until Flaherty got him to clam down. What is he? A 7 foot baby? “Don’t cry RJ. You’ll get him next time.”

This game was broadcast on FOX and as everyone knows, that ALWAYS adds to the (dis)pleasure. I was hoping to catch it alone and in peace, but unfortunately I was joined by Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. The buffalo chicken sandwich I was eating is much smarter than these two goobers. You might remember them from the ALCS and World Series last year. They were the guys openly rooting for the Yankees. It didn’t change much today. As an added twist, FOX decided to cut away from the game to show picture-in-picture “tense” situations in the White Sox/Cleveland game. Both times this happened the Red Sox were batting and need runs badly. Was I treated to that drama? NOPE! FOX knew I wanted to squint at Tony Graffanino stealing second and have a real clear view of Co-Co Crisp striking out. I can’t wait to put up with this crap all throughout the playoffs. YIPPIE!

So it all comes down to Schilling vs Wright. Just win tomorrow and be done with it. I don’t want to beg for a Cleveland loss and a backdoor into the playoffs anymore than I want a one game scare-fest in Fenway on Monday. Do it here and now. Cowboy up, Believe, Keep the Faith, Why Not Us Again, Keep Your Sox On, Whatever. Just win it.


Game 160: Tito's Back

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, New York Yankees 3

"Good man...Tito's pro-managing and pro-winning."

In the end, there was one thing that impressed me about tonight’s game more than anything else – more than David Wells picking up win number 15 with 7 innings of strong 3 run, 3 hit, 2 walk, 5 strike out “screw my hurting knee and don’t mess with my damn cake” big game pitching, more than Big Papi RBI number 47 to tie things up for the Sox after Wells ran out of a tough first inning jam, more than the Cap’n going for long ball number 22 to put the Sox permanently on top, more than the hometown team finally jumping on Chien-Ming Wang in the sixth after several goofy base running miscues to score three runs on a walk, a throwing error and a sacrifice fly – one thing, above all others, showed me that after last’s night triumphant victory and the start of the most important series of the regular season, that the Sox are in this thing for the long haul: Terry Francona started using his bullpen like he meant business. All of the sudden, it was the 2004 post-season all over again and pitchers – both starters and relievers – were on a leash tighter than Boomer’s waistband after a good gorging.

With Wells at 101 pitches after 7 innings, Francona went to Chad Bradford to start the eighth…and I start to twitch, fully expecting Bradford to be out the whole inning, regardless of who he’s facing. I can feel the lead start to slip away to the power of Yankee bats before Sheffield even steps to the plate…and then one pitch later Sheffield is out a ground ball. Out pops Francona, a man fully in control of his situation, miraculously going to Mike Myers to face the lefty (Matsui) like I’ve been praying for him to do since the All-Star Break. ‘This is it,’ I think. ‘This is the sign that the Sox are going to make it to the post-season, or tear the Earth asunder trying.’ And then, just to underscore the truth of it all, Francona pulls Myers to go to Timlin against the switch-hitting Posada after Myers gets Matsui on 11 pitches. It was simply masterful. Timlin gets his four outs, picks up save lucky number 13 and all of the sudden it’s 1 down, 2 to go, Boston’s back in a first place tie and (as an added bonus), Cleveland falls to the Other Sox 2 to 3 and I’m on cloud nine and going up.

Tomorrow afternoon it’s the rematch of the Wakefield/Johnson battle royale with Timmy pitching on short rest in front of the adoring thousands. This one is the big one boys, so go get ‘em. GO SOX!!!

Friday, September 30, 2005

Holy Crap

Francona is in playoff mode. He used Chad Bradford against a right-handed batter (Gary Sheffield), then took him out for Mike Myers, after Bradford got the out, to face Matsui, a lefty. I think this may be a sign of the Apocalypse, or possibly 2004. In any case, I'm rediculously excited about this development, even if Francona is pulling to his "rocking like Rain Man" routine.

Game 159: Tell Your Kids

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 4

-Red Sox Nation

When Ted Williams first came to the plate, my father wasn’t born. When Jim Rice first came to the plate, I wasn’t born. When my child (ok, in the future damn it) watches baseball, he/she won’t know about David Ortiz from first hand experience. However, he/she will know his name. I will make sure of that.

The greatest clutch hitter of my time happens to play for my team. I don’t know what to do with that knowledge. I don’t vote for MVP’s. I don’t have a say in who wins trophies. I am not even certain the Red Sox will make the playoffs this year (although I “believe” they will). All I know is that David Ortiz would rather lie down in traffic than let his team lose a game. It isn’t about his accomplishment when concerning the rest of the league (both the Yankees and Indians won). It’s not about how the rest of his team is doing (Manny and Papi had 5 hits combined, the rest of the team also had 5 hits combined). It is about what can be done for the win. You need a run? He has it in his pocket. You need a RBI? He will bring one to you. His amazing ability to place the Sox into a winning position makes words almost useless. Bill Simmons wrote a column about how he thinks Ortiz should win the MVP, but in the long run, won’t remember if he gets screwed over. I have to disagree. I KNOW I will remember. In fact, I feel awkward even writing about it. I mean… what can you say? No, really tell me! I don’t know what to do here.

Should I move on and talk about the rest of the game? It was good, but not great. Clement pitched well enough to lose (4 earned runs in 5 innings), then Myers and Papelbon proved that the Sox bullpen are not all a bunch of losers (Bradford and Harville) or desperate pickups (Mike “freaking” Stanton). On the offensive side, Manny contributed with a 2 run shot and would be receiving my total admiration if it wasn’t for Ortiz. Big Papi, AL MVP, hero of Red Sox Nation, clutch hitter supreme, all around nice guy, and best sandwich maker EVER! Sorry, I digress.

This season is FAR from over. The AL East leading Yankees come into town for 3 games and they happen to be the last 3 games of the regular season. Win all 3 and the Sox win the division. Win 2 and there is a one game playoff (in Yankee Stadium). Win 1 or less and it’s Wild Card or bust (Indians say: “bust”). Wells vs Wang @7:05.

Just keep it close Wells. Papi will know what to do when it’s his turn. I believe in him. We all do.


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Game 158: Revenge Of The Suck

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 2, Toronto Blue Jays 7

Second place? Nooooooooooooo

Neither Luke nor I can believe this stinker. Maybe Arroyo should stick to the bullpen and his budding music career. All 7 runs were his fault and that was pretty much enough. Ted Lilly started off shaky, but a 7 run backing tends to bolster your confidence. He allowed a lot of base runners, yet with men in scoring position the Red Sox were about 1 for 100,000. Way to use the Force guys. Scott Schoen-why-I-beat-you-so-badly also had a freaking amazing night and put any thought of Jedi-like heroics to bed. But that’s not even the end of this nightmare. I know, I know: “How could it get any worse?”

Well, while the Blue Jays take us in hand like naughty puppies, the Evil Empire was able to squeak out a win against the Orioles 2-1. For those keeping score at home: the Sox are now one game back of the Yanks with 4 near must-win-games left to play. Ugh. Even IF they get into the playoffs, this pitching staff is dropping like an Ewok thrown from the Prudential building. Clement is having his second half swoon, Schilling is being attacked by his own teammates, Arroyo just tanked a vital one, and if you add Wells weight and age? 320+.

But enough of this negativity. That’s the Dark Side talking. Let’s find some bright spots!

  • The bullpen looked really sharp. DiNardo, Myers and Delcarmen combined for 6 innings with only 1 hit. Awesome, now where were you the day before?
  • Renteria has been on FIRE with his bat. In the past week he’s been batting over .400 and even cracked a homerun in this game. It’s almost like he’s playing to save his job. Hmmm…
  • Not every other team is doing well. The Indians lost to Tampa Bay again and are still tied with the Sox for the Wild Card. Even with a big slide, the Red Sox might be able to back door into the playoffs! (Insert sarcastic slow clap here)

You know what? I don’t feel any better. Clement vs Downs in the final game of this Jar-Jar Binks level disaster.

(sigh) Go Sox

Game 157: Cry Me A River

Final Score:

Boston Red Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 7

"We'd be kidding ourselves if this weekend wasn't going to dictate the outcome of this season. It's the master plan. God's way. Yankees-Red Sox."
- Johnny Damon

I’ve read the papers and they all seem to cast a subtle blame on Schilling for last night’s disappointing loss and besides a bit of a swipe by the Courant, aren’t too interested in taking Francona to task for another bit of bullpen mismanagement. Fortunately for all concerned, we didn’t lose any ground, as Cleveland lost in a comeback bid against wretched TBay closer Dannys Baez and as predicted, Baltimore beat the crap out of the Yankees. The tie continues.

Of course, I wouldn’t be taking this tone of post if the offense hadn’t squandered opportunities – I think the superb Toronto bullpen pitched out of bases-loaded situations twice, stopping the Sox from easily blowing the game wide open – but the fact remains that Schilling should not have come out for the seventh inning, Bradford should not have come out for the eighth and sending out Craig Hansen to get two outs with runners on second and third is mildly reprehensible (welcome to the fire, kid. Now enjoy your Fenway debut). Schilling is Schilling; he blames himself for putting the Sox in the position to lose, but the fact remains that although the bullpen is stretched tight on days when Papelbon and Timlin aren’t available (how frightening is that?), the remnants have to be used properly when the starter is tired. Schilling may protest that he’s healthy and that he doesn’t know why he’s pitching so poorly, but just watching him last night, you could see that his hips didn’t have the same drive and you remember once again we cannot expect the guy to make a full recovery a year after he pitched two massively important games with a stapled ankle. We know this, Schilling knows this, I have no doubt Tito knows this…but still he allows Schilling to come back out in the seventh, having through 109 pitches.

Then there’s Chad Bradford. I think Tito must have some sort of super man-crush on him, because that’s the only reason I can think of why he keeps pitching Bradford against lefties – especially when he takes Mike Myers out after walking the one batter he faced. Now, stats-wise, Chad Bradford IS Mike Myers in a mirror: basically the same numbers from opposites side of the plate. Bradford, as I’ve said about 15 times already, should ONLY be facing righties, just like Myers should ONLY be facing lefties, unless the Red Sox have a 15 run advantage, every other pitcher in the bullpen is unavailable and Kevin Millar has already taken his turn as a reliever. And yet, 22 times since July 14, Tito has used Bradford against a lefty and the result is 8 singles, 1 home run, 8 RBI and a lot of ugly.

I could go into reasons why you shouldn’t bring in a kid who seems to be on the verge of dead arm again and has pitched a total of two major league outings in his life when there are two runners in scoring position and the game is tied, but that would just be beating a dead horse. Let’s put it this way – Varitek wasn’t calling for fastballs from Hansen last night, so a strike out probably wasn’t in the offing anyway.

Tonight, Bronson Arroyo versus Ted Lilly. I’d be in a panic, but Arroyo is the only Red Sox starter whose ERA against Toronto isn’t over 10,000 this year – a nice 3.00 to be exact. Mayhaps we’ll get another opportunity we can take advantage of. GO SOX!!!