Monday, April 30, 2007

Game 24: Dream Killer Strikes Again

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 7, New York Yankees 4

That's right, fellas. That's the way to get it done. Glad to see both Achilles and Manny's 50th home run against the Yankees make their respective appearances.

I must confess a certain growing affection for one Julian "Dream Killer" Tavarez. Despite the man's long list of "oh dear God why did he just do that" moments he's given us over the past year plus, he's got two enormously redeeming factors to his character: first, I think we're all pretty sure in that "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" way that doesn't brook official discussion that Tavarez infected Matsuzaka with a bit of his crazy by telling the Japanese pitcher to throw at A-Rod's head and put him off his hitting track last week. No harm, no foul, but distracting the most potent part of the Yankee offense didn't hurt in either series - or the time between.

Second, Tavarez - when he's not throwing pitches even Doug frickin' Mientkiewicz can drive out the park, or throwing punches at Joey Gathright - is a lot of fun to watch pitch because of the aforementioned crazy. Watching a pitcher (or listening to the accounts of radio announcers, given in shocked disbelief) direct traffic on the base paths like a glove-toting police officer is like finding twenty dollars in a pair of jeans you've been missing for two months; the money is a huge bonus on top of an already happy find.

Actually, I stand corrected: Hideki Okajima (and to some extent, the rest of the Red Scare) is like finding money in a lost pair of pants. Watching Tavarez tell Alex Cora where to throw the ball on a routine ground ball is just the sort of comedy gold that Bill Simmons likes to glorify.

Also: happy three year birthday to Keep Your Sox On (yesterday)! From humble beginnings on LiveJournal at the beginning of what turned out to be the best possible year to start blogging about the Sox to the sprawling awesomeness we've become now, it's been quite a trip. Robin and I thank every single one of you for stopping by and taking part in the ride.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Game 23: Apologia

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 1, New York Yankees 3

Before I begin, let me state for the record that at no time while watching/listening to a Red Sox/Yankees game do I think, "man, I wish the Yankees would just win." That violates the rule and spirit of the rivalry, would get me thrown out of my family and quite frankly, make me worst kind of sunshine patriot.

Now, the risky business: while seeing Wakefield and the heart of the lineup fail in unflattering fashion is never fun, I'm a little relieved our ancient foe isn't completely down for the count. I'll admit to a certain boredom with the most recent Boston/New York contests; an ennui that stems not from pompous overconfidence (it is only April, after all - and no true baseball fan ever forgets that pride goeth before a fall), but from the pining for a good fight. The moniker Greatest Rivalry in Sports, though done practically to death by FOX, ESPN and their ilk, still rings true to the ears of a fan and fans we have seen this rivalry produce as many hard fought contests and nail-bitting, gut-clenching endings as anyone could ask. To see one team fail to hold up their side of the battle, even if that team is not the one I root for, is a fundamental disturbance in the forces of the universe. Save the easy victories for games against the Tampa Bays, Baltimores and Torontos of the world; when the Red Sox and Yankees meet, let it be as a clash of titans.

Ok, I'm done with the heresy. Tavarez, it's time for you and the Freddy Krueger mask that covers your face to terrify some Yankee hitters. Drew, pull out of that mini slump and start hitting the cover off the ball again. Lowell, switch your glove or whatever's making you commit all of those errors this year. Manny, be Manny. Let all fighting men gird themselves in the panoply of war and may mighty Achilles, slayer of Yankees, be among them.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Game 22: Ashes to Pinstriped Ashes

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 11, New York Yankees 4

Thanks to Mike (and again, thanks!) I have had many different experiences when venturing up to the Bronx, into the lion's mouth. I have been witness to exciting victories, crushing defeats, meaningful games, meaningless games, good times and bad. This was completely different than anytime before. Normally I can keep to myself and my friends, I limit my pro-Sox chatter, exuberance and apparel and I can make it back to Brooklyn without fear of bodily harm.

Tonight, I must admit, I had some fear. The Yanks are in the midst of a slide they haven’t seen since 1991. They can't get a pitcher past the 5th inning, the bullpen is taxed like a Connecticut middle class family and the once mighty bats have been falling flat. Combine this slump with the newfound courage (brazenness) of Red Sox fans and it is a powder keg waiting to go off.

Dice K managed NOT to be the focus of the story once again. He pitched well enough until the bottom of the 4th where his command swayed (as did the strike zone) and the bases were jammed, un-jammed and then jammed again. Again it seemed like his problems compounded and then disappeared in later innings as if he was still lights out. Is this going to be his MO for the rest of the year? 5-6 good innings and one bad one? In person he is very unassuming on the mound. He looks comfortable enough, but not dominating, not intimidating. A common comment from Mike was how little he was scared of Dice K when compared to other top pitchers in the league.

Meanwhile, the Sox bats were able to pounce upon the dwindling Yankee pitching. Pettitte ran afoul of the ump Brian Runge (who was freaking AWFUL all game) in the 5th and lost the lead that they had just gained from Dice K. The bullpen, over used and hapless, quickly let the Sox turn this one into a blowout. Every starter got a hit, Youk and Lugo went deep and even Pedroia managed his second extra base hit of the year. I was on the edge of my seat with joy, but I kept it to myself as I saw the fights going on in the other sections.

Tonight I bore witness as the stalwart hopes of the Yanks fans collapsed as easily as their team’s pitching. The team's losing streak is now at 7 and the fans aren’t taking it well. The crowd was belligerent and looking for an excuse to start trouble…well, those that stayed. The place emptied out in the 7th.

I felt like Snake Plissken as I made my escape through the subway system. Groups of morose, drunken fans wondered aloud if Torre would have a job on Monday and berated any passerby in Red Sox garb. To the 2 girls I met on the D train, you were lucky to get off at 125th. Those guys only got worse as we got closer to Manhattan.

These were the death throes. Do I think the Yankees are “done” as a team this year? No, of course not. It’s only April. But I do think that the fair-weather fans have jumped ship and the whole organization is in scramble mode. Tonight felt like the bottom of the barrel to me. When the temperature dropped in the 7th and the fog started to roll in, it was almost as if smoke was settling on the ashes of a burnt out team and fan base.

Now that I made it back from that dystrophic nightmare, I realize how lucky I am (we are) to be Red Sox fans right now. The Sox are primed with young talent, anchored with stable vets and have a pitching staff that is second to none in the league. If they can continue to hit and this bullpen can continue to hold (Timlin, Okie and Joel were solid tonight) I don’t see why the AL East isn’t ours.

“And I looked to the Bronx, and beheld a red horse in sox: and his name that sat on him was Death, and a second series sweep followed with him.”

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Game 21: Wily Mo No Longer The Worst Ever

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, Baltimore Orioles 2

I say a lot of crap on this blog/fansite/sound board/soap box, but I usually can back it up (except for the Bridget Moynahan baby stuff… I apologize to you, Tom Brady and your lawyers).

So it’s rare that I take back the horrible things I say. I may be swayed by good play (Coco was coming around before he got hurt) or awful play (Pedroia still needs to be buried somewhere) but I don’t often do I do a complete 180 on a player just because of one play.

Damn it Wily Mo… you hurt me SO GOOD.

That ball he hit? It bounced off the Hubble Space telescope and landed above the Red Sox bullpen in Camden Yards. Just when we needed him to come out of the strike out phase (yeah he still managed to K tonight) he hits a blast that saves Beckett’s performance, the 5-0 record, the sweep and my sanity. I’m standing right now and giving Wily Modesto Pena (you Baby Huey looking awful center fielder) a slow clap applause for his tremendous homer. This guy is like Joaquin Phoenix in Signs… no he doesn’t have a hair lip… he just swings as hard as he can at every pitch. It feels wrong NOT to swing. My gu-estimate tally on the Wily Mo season? 25 HR, 110 K, 250 AB. Doesn’t leave much room for error does it?

Other than that feat, the rest of the story belongs to the Sox pitching. Beckett got his league leading 5th win with 8 innings of… well… actual pitching! He didn’t rely 100% on his heat and he looked better for it. All that humble pie needs is a cool scoop of Paps being all “I’m the awesome closer” and you got win alamode.

Anyway, I hate short the series. Two 2 game stretches in a row? That’s hardly enough time to learn to hate another team. But it is good to get out of Baltimore and away from that stupid bloody sock thing. That got WAY out of hand. This is the stupidest non news item I have ever heard. Yes I put this up there with Kevin Millar drinking story... there I said it.

Next up is Dice K, Pettitte and… ME!!! Yes I will be there first hand to see Japanese people pass out like they are 1960’s teens and the Beatles just showed up. I just hope another sweep is in the cards.

My Admiration for Doug Mirabelli Continues to Grow

Doug Mirabelli's reaction today, after learning that MASN broadcaster Gary Thorne had outed him as the source of a rumor stating that Curt Schilling had painted his sock red as a publicity stunt in the 2004 World Series:

"What? Are you kidding me? He's [expletive] lying. A straight lie. I never said that. I know it was blood. Everybody knows it was blood."

Dougie then threatened to tear Thorne's ears off his head,* because he's an enormous badass who won't tolerate lies about his boy Schilling.

* - may not be true.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Game 20: Soup's On!

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 6, Baltimore Orioles 1

[Note to anyone out there in RSS land: yes, you just saw a whole bunch of posts pop up from the past two years at the top of your reader; I went back and retagged anything mentioning Daniel Cabrera. My apologies to Dan and all of you other wonderful subscribers.]

Did anyone else think that game was one of the weirdest pitching duels they've ever seen? On one side, we had Curt Schilling: coming off a weak outing against New York, toting a lifetime ERA over 5 at Camden Yards (although one ESPN tells me has improved in the past few years), hoping to pull the Sox out of a two game slide and needing to uphold the legacy of Baltimore butt beatings Boston has built (how do ya like that alliteration) over the past couple of years. On the other side, the Storefront Indian, out to prove that the modicum of control he's developed over his first two starts is a result of Leo Mazzone tutoring and not some cosmic fluke.

Cabrera actually pitched well for the first five innings, limiting the Sox to a smattering of hits, a walk or two and a surprise home run by Alex Cora, who's quickly establishing himself as this year's successor to the crown of The Pro (he's even got a game winning hit off of Rivera. You tell me that's not significant.) He even had some nasty, nasty movement on his two-seam fastball and kept up his end of the dramatic near-miss match up playing out on the mound by stranding runners with just enough tension to keep things interesting.

Then came the sixth inning meltdown, where Cabrera's rapidly mounting pitch count started to catch up to him and his control completely disappeared. By the seventh inning it was like seeing the Cabrera we all know and love all over again.

The rest of the game was almost textbook in its simplicity: the Sox took the Orioles bullpen for a ride on the offense train, jumping all over the three relievers and pushing the score far out of reach, Schilling, Okajima and Donnelly did their part and strains of "Dirty Water" were soon floating through the minds of Sox fans everywhere. It seems like Robin was right: after a tough case of bird flu, the best cure is to make some oriole soup.

Game 19: Bird Flu

Final Score: Toronto Blue Jays 10, Boston Red Sox 3

You know, a Blue Jay is just a more colorful crow. These are dirty birds that have a call that sounds like the life being squeezed out of an infant. Even worse, they eat all my seeds. Bastards.

The Toronto baseball team isn’t much better. Just when we couldn’t be higher, the freaking Canucks come down from their land of “free healthcare” and “low crime” and “hockey” and then they take the Sox to task.

We just swept the Yankees why can’t we handle the supposed “dregs” of the AL East?

Oh, Roy Halladay vs Tavarez again. Yikes.

It was inevitable. I can’t believe we won this match up last time (in fact I specifically said that) so it would have taken an act of God to get past it twice. Tavarez has been pitching on pure crazy for about 3 years now and it doesn’t always fly. Today was one of those days. He was hit hard and the ass ton of fricking errors didn’t help either. Come on guys. You know better than to drop those on JT Killer! Now you are going to have dead dogs left in your locker.

The Sox managed to squeeze some runs out of Halladay. Lowell (who is literally ablaze) went yard and Papi got his RBI in… but those were the highlights. Manny still isn’t hitting, Pena seems to be in a RUSH to break the strikeout record and Pedroia looks as amazing as ever. No wait… he sucks.

This game also doubled as the introduction to the Dark Side of the bullpen. Tonight’s star in this morbid debut was none other than Kyle Snyder. He pushed a game that was already out of reach to pants down spanking levels. The only surprise was the inability of Pineiro and Timlin to really embarrass everybody. Truly shocking.

This makes me want to punch something hard. Wait what is that? Another bird? A little orange fellow? So bright and colorful and full of life? Yeah… Orioles... prepare to meet your pane of completely transparent glass.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Game 18: Paying the Piper

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 3, Toronto Blue Jays 7

It was inevitable, I suppose; after a thrilling, draining weekend of The Rivalry, to expect the train to keep rolling on - especially against a pissed-off Toronto with something to prove - was too much to ask. Wake got his usual lack of run support, but something was missing from the knuckleball, too; the wind blowing out to center field carried the floater out for three doubles and a home run, allowing a season-high three earned runs to cross the plate.

I'd heap scorn on the relief efforts, but of the three pitchers to follow Wakefield, only Timlin, blameless Timlin, was a real victim, surrendering the final two runs on a gift pitch to Aaron Hill. Still, if the offense can't hit Tomo Ohka, Jason Frasor and a collection of random relievers, a four run difference in score is just as bad as losing by one run. Ten men left on base, Wonderboy the only batter to knock in any earned runs...not statistics a fan wants to see in the cold morning light. I gather, however, that these are the prices the piper demands for a Yankees sweep.

RIP, David Halberstam. The literary world lost one of its effortless talents yesterday.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Game 17: Brooms and Bombs

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 7, New York Yankees 6

In a night that was supposed to be centered on the performance of Dice K, the focus was quickly shifted to an awakening offense that let it self be known with a gut busting fireball screaming out of the park.

Well actually it was back to back to back to back gut busting fireballs screaming out of the park.

I was rendered speechless as Manny, Drew, Lowell and Tek all decided to unleash hell on the poor (very poor) and unsuspecting Chase Wright. For only the 5th time in history 4 guys got together and dropped the hammer causing the ultimate pain. Last time this happened it was in LA with the Dodgers and Drew hit one of those as well. This didn’t time it didn’t win the game, but it was freaking unreal. Lowell (who is the best “thrown in on the trade” player ever) went deep again with a go ahead blast off the always enjoyable Scott Procter. He didn’t even record an out. How in the world do the Yankees expect to get to Mo Rivera this year?

When “Wild Thing” blasted over the PA and Paps came in to shut the door, I was admittedly nervous (he has pitched a ton in the last 5 days). But my worries were laid to rest along with A-Rod as he weakly grounded out to 3rd to end it. So much for Mr. April.

To get back to Dice K for a moment… what’s with this guy? He plunks A-rod and Jeter, he looks really wild and out of control, he lets up a bunch of line drives and then he is lights out. There is almost no rhyme or reason to any of this. He has quality stuff, 8 different pitches that he can go to at all times and yet sometimes he like… FORGETS that he’s pitching. Or at least it looks that way to me. I really don’t understand him yet and that may just be because he hasn’t found his groove. Do I think he is worth the 50 Billion yen we paid for him? Probably, but I think he needs to step up a bit.

Final thoughts on the series:

Every Red Sox starter let up at least 5 runs. Yanks didn’t win one game.

Coco and Pedroia have started to redeem themselves in my eyes. Coco has had some big hits (and I missed the hell out of him tonight) and Dustin finally got his first extra base hit and was money in the field (amazing diving catch). Change his grade from an “F” to a “D plus”.

Last time the Sox swept the Yankees in Fenway was 1990. I had a Star Wars bedspread back then.

Buy a Papal-Bon shirt. He Saves.

I know the Yankees starters are injured, but the biggest problem seems to be their bullpen and bench depth. Josh Phelps ended up catching the last inning of this game. They look exactly like the Sox did at the end of last year.

Wily Mo has a chance to strike out over 100 times in under 200 AB’s. I don’t even have a joke for this one.

Manny is starting to heat up. Run and hide pitchers… run and hide.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Game 16: The Pinstriped Glass Cannon

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 7, New York Yankees 5

You know, I am starting to feel for this Yankee team. This is a team that is so plagued by injuries (because they have old or brittle pitchers) that Jeff Karstens isn’t even the biggest loser on the current staff.

Come on! Jeff Karstens? This guy was bagging groceries two months ago and he STILL is more recognizable than Chase Wright who just happens to be the body the Yanks are throwing out there today.

So why do the Yankees even have a shot anymore? Well it’s because they’ve paired this limping, drooling, single A pitching staff with the most potent hitting lineup in baseball. Beckett looked “ok” yesterday (he hung a few curveballs) and got lit up for his efforts. These brutes from the Bronx will punish you for every mistake you make on the mound and pretty much ever guy in the lineup can do it. They can score 4 to 14 runs every game.

So the Sox just need to be sure to score 5 to 15 off the scrubs in pinstripes. Smash the weakest part so when they inevitably get to the starter, they are just playing catch-up and run head long into the bullpen.

So yesterday they followed that battle plan. Ortiz and co. took Karstens to task and Oakie (I am REALLY starting to love this guy) and Papal-bon were able to put of the fire Beckett started.

The Yanks can dish it out, but they can’t take it like they were able to in past seasons. I want to see the same thing tonight with Dice K on the mound. Let’s get this guy some run support early. Out of everybody on the staff he is due for some help from the bats.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Game 15: Addendum

Some of MY quick thoughts about the first of many epic match ups between the Sox and Yankees (none of which have to do with Harry Potter).

The rivalry is as good as ever. Bob Ryan sounds like a wuss.

Watching this game on a 50 inch HDTV was amazing. It’s jaw dropping.

A-Rod is locked in. 100% unstoppable. I guess that Okajima lost that in the translation.

Mo Rivera looks like he aged 5 years in one inning. I almost felt bad for him. Almost.

After the triple, Coco was the most fired up I have ever seen him. If he keeps up that intensity I am gonna start calling him CocOh my god!

Papelbon looked SO pissed he wasn’t closing that game. Jealous even.

When he wants to use it, Tek has another gear. I suspect he will stay in that gear till Monday.

How did we win this game?

Game 15: Hex and Counter Hex

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 7, New York Yankees 6

I feel some deja vu coming on...something about...oh, yes: I can't believe we won this game. You know, just like yesterday. Schilling pitching like one of the many foul things I called him when he served up tasty white plate specials to A-Rod; J. C. Romero, Mr. Soft Underbelly of the Bullpen, pushing things further out of reach in the eighth and everything coming down to the placement abilities of The Machine...I would be lying if I said I hadn't written this game off as an unfortunate loss by the fifth inning. However, the ghost of Red Auerbach, conjured up by tonight's opening ceremonies, seems to have had the same psychic power over the field as filling Fenway with Red Sox legends and thus a win, no matter how fraught the contest.

Red's influence may have spread into other areas: along with the strange powers at work keeping Rivera from locating a pitch in the eighth, two events occurred that may mean new directions for two players:
  1. In his last at-bat, against the afore-vilified Romero, Alex Rodriguez hit a double. Yes, he had already hit home runs in his second and third at-bats and scored on a single to right on the next pitch, thereby carrying his team to six runs in the non-A-Rodian fashion we've become accustomed to in the past few weeks - the fashion that had Michael Kaye and John Flaherty panting at his every move like cats in baseball heat - but it was a double and not a home run, despite its poor placement in his wheelhouse. If Rodriguez has finally descended from his hitter's cloud nine and is back amongst the mortal superstars tomorrow, we'll know why: the gods have him hexed.

  2. The Captain went three for four, hit a two out home run off Pettitte to put the Sox back into the game in the fourth and started the scoring drive against Rivera with a single; a scoring drive that saw a triple from the hitless Coco Crisp and (again) the game winning RBI by Alex Cora. Tek hasn't had anything close to a breakout game before tonight; tonight marks the game where he turns around a year of bad numbers and questioning commentators and brings back, via counter hex, that sweet hitting groove.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Game 14: How Did We Win That One?

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 5, Toronto Blue Jays 3

So our worst starter (now nobody tell Tavarez I called him that… he’d eat me) against the cream of the Bluebird crop: Doc Hallady. Oh mercy me!! I had this penciled in as a big fat 'L' and was happy we were getting out of Toronto. And can you blame me?

Halladay was dealing and the Sox weren’t hitting. It looked like a bad combo.

After a well pitched first 5, the scheduled 6th inning meltdown from Tavarez (don’t let him find me!) looked like the end. Wrap it up, pack it in… done. No way that we can score 2 off the Doc. Well until they pulled him in the 8th. Yeah I have no clue why that happened. He got the 1st out, still looked fresh and then the Jays went to the pen. HUH??

In this confusion, Manny decided that he was JUST warm enough (and maybe his grill sold) so he decided to go yard and tie it with a bomb off Marcum. Add that to Timlin’s crotch grippingly scary but effective work in the 8th, Cora’s miracle triple in the 9th and Pap’s one man save show and that’s ballgame over people. We saunter back to Fenway winners and ready to tackle the Yankee menace.

Before we kick off the “rivalry” festivities here, I would like to talk about something (someone) that has been bothering me. As bad as Coco has been (and he’s been bad) he currently has NOTHING on Pedroia. Call him Wonderboy, Dusty P, Crap Basket or a homeless man’s Mark Loretta… it doesn’t matter. This guy can’t hit a lick. Both he and Crisp are batting a LOFTY .167 but at least Coco can lay down a bunt and steal a base (if he ever manages to get on). Pedroia can’t run, hit for power or hit for contact. He is such a void of talent right now that it is appalling that he is on the big club. Now I know I defended him before to some MAJOR detractors, and I apologize to you people (you know who you are). I was wrong. He flat out sucks and should be benched for Cora. But God knows Francona won’t do that.

Feel free to bring this up later when I am singing the praises to Wonderboy when he is batting .300 because the club stuck with him. I would love to eat crow (well, more crow) on this issue, but right now I don’t think that’s possible. Dustin is awful and I doubt very much that will change with more AB’s.

Ok… that’s my rant. Bring on the Yankees.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Game 13: Polite Conversation

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Toronto Blue Jays 1
If the first seven innings or so of this game were to be reduced to a conversation between Ohka and the Red Sox offense, it might look like something like this:

Ohka: Ok guys, here's how it's going to go down tonight: I'm not a particularly good pitcher any more and you guys really should beat me like a red headed stepchild on a rented mule, so here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to hang breaking pitches like it's going out of style. What you do with them is your business...

Sox batters: Say what? You're kidding, right? You're actually messing with us completely, because there's no way you'd be that stupid.

Ohka: Oh yeah? Just try me. [Throws a hanging curve that begs to be driven out of the yard to Lugo, who swings and misses] See? I want you to crack these suckers.

Sox batters: Daaaamn. [Shakes collective head] That's got to be a fluke; no way you'd do that again.

Ohka: Oh, really? [Throws another hanging pitch. Lowell, Mirabelli, Ortiz and J.D. Drew all hit singles] See?

Sox batters: Oooooh...Do it again!

Ohka: Ok! [Pitches a soft lob, freezes time, invites Lowell, Mirabelli and Ortiz to the plate. All three hitters smash home runs]

Sox hitters: [The light brightens on the faces of all nine hitters] We get it now...Not that we'll hit anything, mind you, but cool idea. [Just then, the Blue Jays catch on to Ohka's ruse and pull him from the game. Red Sox do not score a run for the rest of the game]

Meanwhile, Tim Wakefield might have tossed three walks, but he's also given up a grand total of four runs over 20 innings. Prior to tonight's game, his ERA+ was 299, which translates to super awesome plus kick ass (as a point of reference, Pedro's best ERA+ was 285, in 2000). Wake's got about 30 more appearances left in the regular season, so I'm not naming him pitching god quite yet, but damn what a great start to the year.

Game 12: Same Old Story Same Old Song and Dance

Final Score: Toronto Blue Jays 2, Boston Red Sox 1

SSDD. I think this is something I am going to have to get used to. The Red Sox are now a pitching/defense team rather than a run scoring monster. Or at least that’s what the record says. I can deal with that… sure… this bottle of Thorazine tells me that “” Dice K did a pretty good job until a bad call led to him being shaken like a James Bond cocktail. Two singles, a walked in run and a whole lot of pigeon Japanese being blurted out by Tek and John Ferrell and the damage was limited to 2 runs.

Now we already had a MASSIVE Wily Mo homerun to dead center (he freaking crushed it) so it was 2-1… that’s nothing! We can make that up in 4 innings. There is NO reason that Dice K should suffer another loss. The man had 10K today! That and a flawless bullpen (I like me some Okajima) should mean a WIN.

It’s just too bad that we are facing the UNDEFEATED Chacin and his amazing ability to look like a BUG and still pitch like a semi-competent human being. And then there’s the “stunning” Blue Jays bullpen that happens to have their closer on the DL.

Oh but wait… we can only give ONE pitcher a week run support so tough luck Dicey (oh I hope that doesn’t catch on) and I hope you can get used to having an under 3 ERA and a 2-14 record.

Yeah that sounds GREAT.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Game 11: Winning Like a Patriot

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 7, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 2

It may be the pride of an emigrant, but one thing I've always loved about my home state is its collection of eclectic civic features. For example: Massachusetts is a commonwealth, not a state. At one point, it was four times the size of its current area because it controlled the area now known as Maine, even though the two states are not connected. It has two unique holidays: Evacuation Day (March 17), which combines American History (the British leaving Boston) and Irish-American pride (St. Patrick's Day is the same day) into one celebration; and Patriots' Day, commemorating (in Massachusetts, Maine and, oddly enough, Wisconsin) the victories at Lexington and Concord during the Revolutionary War. But Patriot's Day has also meant something else for the past 48 years: an early-day Red Sox game at Fenway. This year's edition, a victory to complete a rain-shortened sweep of LA, had enough quirky happenings to make it worthy of its home state's unusual holiday:
  • Top of the first inning: Josh Beckett gives up a Monster shot to O-Cabs that seemed aided by the strong, wet wind. Beckett then hits Guerrero, the next batter, on the wrist, taking him out the game. Home plate umpire Rick Reed issues warnings to both sides, even though the Angels have yet to throw a pitch. Beckett would go on to have a strong outing, generally pitching as if he had a small lead to protect over seven innings.

  • Bottom of the first inning: perhaps rattled by the warning-granted restriction on throwing inside pitches (although I see he didn't pitch well in his last start, either), Angels starter Ervin Santana gives up three straight doubles, a two run single to Manny, another run when second baseman Howie Kendrick threw the ball into left field on a possible double play and a fifth run on Mike Lowell's sixth double of the season. Santana does not record an out until the seventh batter of the inning and surrenders six runs.

  • Bottom of the fourth inning: Three innings later, Santana ends his day by walking up to Papi and carefully placing the ball in his wheelhouse. Papi obliges with a home run that hits off the top of the photographer's well in dead center. An Ortiz home run isn't that odd, but every home run I've seen him hit in Fenway this year has been to dead center, which is unusual.

  • Bottom of the seventh inning: a batter (I don't remember who) hits a pop up into the front row of seats on the third baseline. One of the Angel's fielders runs after the ball and knocks over two guy (and their beers) while trying - and failing - to make the catch. Right after he does so, another guy a few rows back, for reasons unknown, throws his slice of pizza and hits one of the now beer-soaked fans in the back, with a sauce splash-over into the remains of his beer. D.O. and Remy, who have entered blowout mode (they were talking about Orsillo's hosting duties on another show on NESN when the incident happened), immediately award the irate victim, who's now yelling at the pizza thrower, the Pepsi Fan of the Game award, "assuming he isn't ejected."

    Edit: The Boston Herald has full details of the incident; here's the video on YouTube.

  • Julio Lugo and Manny Ramirez bring their gold gloves: Julio Lugo certainly isn't a defensive replacement for Alex Gonzalez and Manny, despite his enormous number of assists last year, doesn't get a lot of respect as a left fielder, so it was certainly a surprise when both players, especially Lugo, brought the defense, turning a number of possible bloop hits into spectacular outs that did a lot to keep the Angels' offense in check.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Game 10: Notes from the Underground

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 8, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 0

A few notes from today's glorious victory:

Tim McCarver. Maybe it was substituting Dick Stockton for Joe Buck, a bit like substituting Folger's Decaf for your regular decaf crystals. Maybe I've just lost that edge and can't recognize bad broadcasting when I hear it. Maybe McCarver's finally turned a corner. Whatever the case, I could actually tolerate...nay, I even enjoyed Tim McCarver's insight into today's game. I don't understand it either. If it happens again, I promise you I'll get my head examined.

Curt Schilling. When I was typing in the title of today's post, Firefox's auto complete pulled up the title I used a year ago today (how long does it store those things?), when Schilling won his 200th victory. The Warrior with the Bloody Sock was even better today, holding the Angels to four hits and a walk through eight innings and, in the process, pushing that much farther past the bad karma generated by his first start. I know we're only three starts in, but I think we're going to see a remarkable season from a man who's transitioned over from overpowering to crafty in an effort to keep in the game for a few more years. Every pitch wasn't a gem today, but though a lot of pitches that would have been kill pitches a few years ago generate contact today, most of that contact was poor; the Angels flied out 13 times today while Curt was on the mound.

Eric Hinske. I love Eric Hinske. I love him so very much. Two for three with three runs and two walks? Are you serious? And who started the flood at the very beginning, after Lugo squandered a bases loaded opportunity in the bottom of the second? That's right: Mr. Eric "Super Utility Man" Hinske, with a lead-off triple in the bottom of the third. Can we teach him to play center field and spell Coc0 for Slump on the bench for a while?

Gary Matthews, Jr. $50 million and you can't catch a fly ball with two hands? Sounds like you're worth every penny.

Chris Bootcheck. I love this man's last name; it sounds like part of a porn star name (maybe Horatio Bootcheck?). Maybe someone who only did movies with Old West themes, teamed up with Miss Kitty? If I ran an Angels blog, I would name it after Chris Bootcheck. I'd also like to thank you for your contribution to the run total.

Mike Scioscia. Ever notice how the Angels manager always look like a guy who's just realized he's in a bad neighborhood and he lost his car keys? Maybe the cameras only focus on him when things are going wrong and he just gets the "deer in headlights" look really easily. It can't be too inspiring to see as a player, though; can you imagine playing on a team down in the runs column and seeing that the guy who's supposed to be steering the ship looks like he just swallowed something toxic? I wonder how many come-from-behind wins the Angels have...

David Ortiz. He's so, so, SO Papi.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Game 9: Lead By Example

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 10, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 1

Wake: Hey Doug, can I have a word with you?

Mirabelli: (grunts)

Wake: Well, I’ve noticed that nobody scores any runs when I pitch…

Mirabelli: (stares off into the distance)

Wake: …and well I was wondering if you could talk to the guys and get them to… I dunno… hit tonight?

Mirabelli: (covers catcher's mitt in pasta sauce)

Wake: They seem to listen to you cause you scare people.

Mirabelli: (begins to eat own hand)

Wake: So what do you say?


Yeah, that’s about right. And it would pretty much encapsulate the game if it wasn’t for the drama that was in the top of the 8th. At this point it was only 4-1 and Donnelly was relieving Wake after Izturis reached on an error. Donnelly got Gary Mathews, but put one in O-Cabs's ear. Runners on the corners, one out, Vlad up as the tying run. I am a solid sheet of ice as Papelbon struts in for what looks to be another 5 out save. Every Sox fan in the world is on the edge of their seat. In fact, the ONLY person who didn’t look like anything was bothering them was Paps. He gets Vlad swinging on 4 pitches. 97 on the gun. 2 pitches later, Garret Anderson pops out to Manny (deep breath) and that’s it. Good guys score 6 in the bottom of the 8th and Paps gets to rest as Timlin mops up.

Suddenly all doubt about putting Paps in the pen has been erased from my mind. Sure this wasn’t a real “SAVE” but those stats can be misleading. This kid is all kinds of scary in this roll. He is the rally killer and game shortener. He’s like the Terminator only he gets Sarah Conner in the end. Wow… just wow.

Not to bring the mood down, but in a game where everyone was raking, Crisp was Coc0 for 5 and looked more lost than when King Felix was putting on his clinic. Somebody show him some Renteria highlights from 2005 so he knows what he’s in for.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Rain Cleanses All

“These are the seasons of emotion and like the winds they rise and fallThis is the wonder of devotion - I seek the torch we all must hold.This is the mystery of the quotient - Upon us all a little rain must fall.”

-Led Zeppelin, The Rain Song

I really was looking forward to Dice K laying down the smite on Seattle. When “Hail to the King” Felix played the “own you” card, I was distraught. I needed a rest.

Thankfully mother-nature intervened and we got our first rainout of the year. Wow, at this rate the Mariners are only gonna be able to play 60 games this season.

Now before the Angels glide into the Fens on gossamer wings I want to break down how well our lineup has done thus far.

Lugo- Pretty much as advertised. Speed and slap hits. I would like to see him get on base a bit more.
Youk- Picked up where he left off last year. Solid #2 guy. However, he is the first part of the big 3 hitting drought.
Ortiz- What can you say about Papi? Oh I know… why isn’t he hitting? Second part of the hitting drought.
Manny- He's the last part of the hitting problem. Everyone knows Manny starts slow and then goes nuts in May and June, but he needs to pick it up sooner than later with everyone else whiffing.
J.D. Drew- Yeah. Wow. Love ya. You rock. So far I’m in your fan club.
Lowell- Hitting .270+ with more doubles than anybody else. Yep. Just where he needs to be.
Tek- Oh lord it’s ugly. Let’s move on.
Crisp- And then there’s this sack of crap. Coc0-for-4 is trying my last nerve.
Pedroia- Less of a black hole than Coco, but it’s a close race. I doubt his ability to get an extra base hit.

That about right? 1-9 has been light hitting to say the least. If this keeps up, I wonder if Wily Mo or Hinske will see the bats they deserve? That or I could break another one of Coco’s fingers.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Game 8: In the Year 2007, Dice-K Will Kill Ichiro

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 0, Seattle Mariners 3

Robin and I had a great Kill Bill tie-in to this game that we wanted to use in honor of the first Dice-K/Ichiro battle on US soil, which would have been much more appropriate if a.) Matsuzaka had been lights out tonight instead of pretty good and b.) King Felix hadn't stolen the show with a performance well-worth the nickname. However, it would be an absolute crime to waste this particular reference, so here goes:

"I can say without ego - this is my finest pitcher. If you encounter Ichiro on your journey, Ichiro will be cut."

Bad ass.

However, while Dice-K rendered Ichiro hitless with a strikeout over four at-bats, he was not as successful against the rest of the Mariners, who shook off yesterday's loss and the rust of snowed-out Cleveland to muster eight hits and three runs against Boston's starter, jumping on hanging breaking pitches to string together bunches of singles and doubles. Not that Dice-K had a bad start - three runs on any other day would have been more than enough to keep the game in hand for the offense.

Unfortunately for the Sox, what we had tonight was a classic pitching match up that may become even more storied as the years pass, as Felix Hernandez spun a complete game, one hit, two walk gem that saw sterling backing efforts from his defense and only four balls leave the infield. The no-no lasted into the eighth inning, when J.D. Drew (really starting to like that J.D. Drew) extended his 2007 hitting streak to eight games with a single. It was a momentary gasp against a pitcher who's performing far above already lofty expectations in the early going; in seventeen innings, King Felix has given up no runs on four hits and shut down potent offenses in Oakland and Boston. In other words, we should be grateful for that one hit.

In related news, I've discovered I feel physical pain whenever someone scores a run against Matsuzaka - a stabbing pain in my chest I associate with feelings of being had and watching the Red Sox (feelings that are sometimes associated). Part of the problem, I think, is that when it comes to Dice-K, things are still so uncertain - and will be for the next year, at least. Say (just say) he wins 20 games this year - it's his first year out and his first time through the league. He's got the history of Hideo Nomo to get past; he may be a more talented pitcher than Nomo, but there's still the chance the magic, if it lasts, will only last for one season. Hence the stabbing feeling of being had. It's a tough life, being a dedicated fan.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Game 7: The Chickens… No, The Eagles Come Home to Roost.

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 14, Seattle Mariners 3

Oh what a glorious homecoming! In a day that had everything from the ’67 Sox throwing out the first pitch, to some singing celebrities (Goulet!) the only thing that wasn’t perfect was the weather. Cold and overcast, this wasn’t the sunny summer day that is usual baseball fare, but I guess the Mariners couldn’t complain. They’ve been buried under snow in Cleveland for the last week.

Yes, it was a fun filled day of spectacle and wonder. I’m sure everyone in attendance had a fantastic time.

Except the Mariners. The Sox kicked the ever-loving crap out of that sorry sack of a team. Those sea green, compass wearing sissies were shellacked from the start.

I can’t tell you how excited I was to see Jeff Weaver starting. This joker was a World Series winning pitcher? Are you kidding me? He couldn’t find the plate all day (if you consider the 2 innings he pitched all day) and anything that did make it over was quickly hit over his head. The best was Drew’s homer to dead center that left Weaver slack jawed. Haha Weaver! So stupid!!

Not much better from the relief pitchers Woods and Morrow. The offense busted out and it was like T-ball. Every starter managed a hit except for Pedroia.

Not that it would have mattered too much if the offense wasn’t this hot. Josh Beckett was putting on a clinic. He had all his pitches working, and except for a 2 hit one run 3rd inning, he was perfect. 7 innings, 8 K and all the bells and whistles. And I don’t know if he is distracted from the Japanese inter-squad game tomorrow, but Ichiro went down swinging 3 times to Beckett. Amazing stuff.

The only blemish to this pristine opener was a little bad blood between former teammates and sparring partners Brendan Donnelly and Jose Guillen. Their history extends back to when the Angeles benched Guillen in 2004 for mouthing of to manager Mike Scioscia and then traded to the Nationals during that off-season. Once there, Guillen had Nats manager Frank Robinson look in Donnelly’s glove for pine tar and got Donnelly kicked from the game (and suspended) which caused some heated words and a near fight.

Flash forward a few years and both players are on different teams and now they hold each other in much higher regard. No… wait. That should read: “want to kill each other in front of 35,000 people.”

Long story short, Guillen struck out, he and Donnelly jawed a bit, the benches cleared, hardly any shoving, Guillen was tossed and then for some reason Donnelly beaned Kenji Johjima in the ass and was ejected. Simple as that. Honestly it doesn’t make that much sense to me, but at least we got another lame pseudo rival out of it. Move over Tampa Bay!

To cap off this afternoon of baseball delight, fresh off the DL Mike Timlin jogged in for the ninth inning to the sound of “Black Betty” and the roar of a standing ovation. Sorry but that pretty much was his highlight. He gave up 2 runs before Seattle remembered that they had already lost this game and relinquished the final out. Thanks for coming Mike… no really, thank you.

But forget all that! All around it was a brilliant day. Big bats, big pitching, big win. I just hope they saved some runs for tomorrow when Dice K goes up against King Felix.

Oh and does this look like a weight loss before and after picture or is it just me?

A Strange Coincidence

A couple of weeks ago, I was up at my parents' house in the Boston area, digging through their bookshelves for new reading material, when I came across the 1990 edition of The Red Sox Reader, a collection of writings on the Sox by a number of famous journalists and authors who are either Red Sox fans or fans of one particular player (mainly Williams or Yaz). Intrigued (it was the same day as the Fenway Tour, so I was in the perfect nostalgic mood), I dug in to immediate reward: pages of excellent writing on all of the noble heartbreaks of the past 100 years of Red Sox history, palatable without pain (I realized) only because of the fortunate combination of 2004 and the unbounded hope of spring. Not all of the selections are gems, but the inclusion of selections like John Updike's farewell to Ted Williams, Roger Angell's deconstruction of the 1978 season and David Halberstam's epitaph to the final fateful game of 1949 make this book a winner and well worth the read.

A couple of days ago, I reached Thomas Boswell's piece, "The Greatest Game Ever Played," a blow-by-blow coverage of every up-and-down moment of the one game playoff on October 1, 1978. All of the sudden, one page jumped off the page and hit me square between the eyes:
The Keep Your Sox On faithful sat silent in their fireman caps decorated with the names of their undependable deities: Boomer and Butch, Soup and Scooter, Rooster and Pudge, Eck and Louie, Big Foot and Spaceman, Dewey and Yaz.

Half an hour
later, after an untold number of fevered Google, Yahoo and Wikipedia searches covering every combination of Keep Your Sox On, rooting group and fireman helmets I could think of, I was still puzzled. Who were these fans in their helmets, sporting the same moniker as my blog 26 years before the name popped into my head? Was this coincidence a case of Jungian collective unconsciousness, or had I encountered the phrase earlier in my life as a fan and buried it in my subconscious, where it waited for the right moment to bubble to the surface? More importantly, does anyone out there know anything about this group of fans? If so, put it in the comments section; I want to know the deal.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Game 6: A Pictorial Representation

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 3, Texas Rangers 2

A breakdown of tonight's game, in pictures:

Do you see this man, to the left of this paragraph? Do you know how pissed he was tonight? Coming out, Opening Day, throwing that bush league crap for four innings? And then he starts out the game with a home run to Frank "Journeyman" Catalanotto? The Rangers should have been quaking in their unis after that at-bat and with reason: Schilling's line of four hits, one walk and one run over seven innings, with a side dish of six strikeouts, ate lightening and crapped excellence. He was so worked up by the end that he lingered in the dugout after seventh inning, waiting for his chance to come out and finish up the game. Emotion aside, Schilling has had some nice (4 and 0 record) success versus Texas, so tonight's performance isn't the be-all, end-all proof of the ace's return, but damn, looking hot tonight.

Need to score some runs? Then you'll need to call on my man pictured to the left. While most of the league's power hitters are struggling to get started, Big Papi broke out of his slump with authority, smashing home runs in his first and third at-bats to score the Sox only runs.

Speaking of slumps, I have a theory on the slow start to the hitting: has anyone noticed how cold it's been across most of the country recently? Cold nights in KC and Texas don't help hitters get into a groove when they've spent the past month plus in warm Florida. We may be relying on pitching until spring finally kicks into gear.

Speaking of pitching, we will speak no more of this guy until he redeems himself for forcing greater men to pick up the sacred charge he let fall into the dust. The bullpen shakiness from yesterday carried over into the eighth inning today: walk, walk, bunt single to load the bases, panic rising, Schilling's marvelous effort starting to fade away like a baseball version of Marty McFly's family photo, sharp ground ball (off Lopez) by Nelson Cruz that erased the man at second, but scored a run and left the tying run smirking ninety feet away from ignominy and potential defeat...shame, shame and more shame. Until the Papal-Bon came to the mound.

This. Man. Is. The. Balls. With one out and runners at the corners, Papelbon came in to face
Texas's two toughest hitters, shining as he came like a beacon of hope and awesomeness in the dark night of RSN early season despair and the oncoming rush of the Texas sweep brooms. Needing but fifteen pitches to accomplish his sacred work, Paps garnered three strikeouts, smoked Michael Young with fastballs, terrified Hank Blaylock with splitters and left Brad Wilkerson so devastated with his badassery that the man could not swing at the final pitch as it blazed by at 96 miles per hour.

Although ESPN was more interested in showing Terry Francona splitting sunflower seeds (enjoying his careful bullpen management, no doubt) and closeups of Papelbon's pre-pitch sneer than Varitek's pitch selection, I did catch a few of the location choices and all of Tek's setups and noticed something interesting: although Papelbon didn't hit all of his spots with his fastball tonight (not that it mattered), when it came to the kill pitch on all three strikeouts, the ball hit the glove exactly where Varitek wanted it to be. I'm not sure this rising level of control means anything, but it struck me as interesting; anyone have any insight they'd like to share?

Game 5: Baby Oil, Bengay and a Bottle of Suck

Final Score: Texas Rangers 8, Boston Red Sox 4

Mike called before the game to tell me that Tavarez uses baby oil and Bengay to stay warmed up on these cold nights. I was on my way out the door to meet my buddy Nick at The Riviera (the Sox bar in the village that I like and Eric doesn’t) so I didn’t have time to discuss this odd/vile revelation. I left with out comment and assumed he was kidding.

Of course NESN replayed the interview when Tavarez disclosed his secret remedy and I was dumbstruck at how deep this man’s insanity coursed through him. But I really shouldn’t have been. This is a guy who punches people, lockers and other animate and inanimate objects for absolutely no reason. He has the face and temperament of Freddy Kruger and most importantly, he is a good friend of Manny. Can’t really get more nuts than that.

Despite his weird concoction and obvious mental illness (Nick said the baby oil came from real babies) Tavarez got knocked around a bit tonight. 4 earned in 4 innings off 6 hits and 5 walks. Most of the damage came in the 3rd inning when J.D. Drew decided that it wasn’t worth a possible season ending shoulder injury to stop a Michael Young double down the line. Combine that with a piss poor throw from Coco and Young scored on an inside the park error assisted homerun. Even without all that mess, I don’t think JT Psycho is anything more than a reliever. Someone tell Jon Lester to take his cell phone off vibrate.

The other splash of ugly came from J.C. Romero and his batting practice performance. 5 batters faced… 5 hits including a Sammy freaking Sosa homerun. The Riviera didn’t have enough beer to drown that one out. Can you believe that steroid pumping, corked bat using, has-been got a curtain call?

Oh and nobody could hit again. Ortiz looks 25 lbs heavier and completely lost and Crisp is a gigantic black hole in the line up. The biggest hit (and it got the biggest reaction from the bar) was Tek’s RBI in the 6th. If he can manage to bat over .250 this year it would be a miracle.

So that’s the first series loss of the year. Next up is Schilling trying to redeem himself and maybe the rest of the team can step-up and save some face as we slink out of Texas.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Game 4: Hey, Little help?

Final Score: Texas Rangers 2, Boston Red Sox 0

Timmy, Timmy, Timmy. Haven’t you learned by now that you NEVER get any run support? This has been going on for years now. When you pitch, the fluttering of your knuckle ball puts everyone into a coma. Papi rests his eyes with the bat still on his shoulder, Manny rocks back and forth with his sippy-cup and Lowell curls up with a nice mug of hot sleepy-time tea. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting in the dugout. A slice of Americana. The weary Red Sox rest… while the Rangers kick the crap out of them.

6 innings, 3 hits and 1 earned? That’s not gonna cut it Tim! You need to be perfect if we even have a chance of winning. The was no way the bats were making a dent in the “amazing” Rangers ace Robinson Tejeda (who?) and the “fantastic” bullpen they have. Color me impressed.

Oh and on a side note: I am now taking bets on when Doug Mirabelli is able to raise his .000 batting average. Let's set the over/under at May 15th.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Game 3: Cat and Mouse

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 4, Kansas City Royals 1

Have you ever watched a cat toy with a mouse? The cat will trap the mouse near its hole, giving the mouse some small, pitiful hope of escape, then bat the mouse back and forth, now and then giving it a moment of free play, a chance to flee, before dropping the trap again just as the mouse starts to taste freedom. Eventually the cat gets bored and goes in for the kill; a few bats to the skull and game over, man. Watching today's game, I could sense the same dynamic going on between Boston and Kansas City, as Dice-K led the team to its first series win in 2007.

The parallels between the contest on the field and the life-and-death torments of the mouse were all too obvious: once again, the Sox scored first blood, when a walk to Youkilis and a Manny double lead to a Boston lead in the top of the first. Matsuzaka allowed a single and a walk in the Royals' half of the inning, then turned fierce, shutting down KC's hitting into the fifth inning. "Balls nasty" might not be an exaggeration of his performance; he struck out the side in the fourth, collected ten Ks over all and kept the Royals in such fits that they had trouble swinging, let alone making contact. The few lapses, coming in the second rotation through the lineup in the fifth and six innings, were mostly harmless - only David DeJesus managed to catch a bad pitch and take it for a ride for the Royal's only run. Although Dice K doesn't seem to display a lot of emotion on the mound (nothing the cameras caught, anyway), I could see where he bore down to get key outs, like a cat swatting a fleeing mouse back into its paws.

Meanwhile, Zach Greinke was doing his best attempt at running an escape act from the Boston offense. The Sox managed to get the lead off man on base seven times during the game, but Greinke would turn up the juice, get the outs he needed and move on. Eventually, inevitable as the boredom of the cat, the killing blow came: an error at third scored Lugo in the fifth to draw new wounds; a wild pitch by Peralta, Greinke's replacement, scored Papi from third (Papi speed!) in the eighth, then a miscue by third baseman Alex Gordon left the door open to score an additional run and, with Papalbon save numero uno, put the nail in the coffin of the Kansas City mouse.

Game 2: Ok, So Was THIS Opening Day?

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 7, Kansas City Royals 1

We’ll give you a mulligan on Monday’s game you guys. That mess Schilling dished out didn’t count for anything, except for… you know… the standings. I understand everyone must have been a little tired from all the training and there was a foreseeable let down. I’m just glad that a day of rest between then and now was enough to help right the ship.

It’s just too bad for Odalis Perez that it got righted on his freaking head. The Royals looked as hapless as I remember and without Gil “Cy” Meche at the mound, they didn’t have a chance. Beckett was throwing BB’s and except for some control problems (4 walks?) and he looked pretty outstanding despite a high pitch count. The pen (whose names I still haven’t bothered to learn) looked just fine for a bunch of guys that could possibly be bussing tables in 2 months.

And the bats decided that they would accompany us for an evening stroll. So good of J.D, Manny and David to join us so early in the year. Youk’s big Passover blast in the 7th put the game out of reach and even Lugo, Coco and Pedroia were able to dog pile on the crappy KC bullpen. I think Lugo and Coco have 3 swings of the bat between them over these last 2 games. Meanwhile, Wonderboy is all about contact, he just needs to hit it where they ain’t.

The biggest news about this game was the kidnapping of Mike Lowell. Terrorists must have infiltrated the dugout before the first pitch and absconded with our normally flawless 3rd base human vacuum. The piss poor look-alike substitute was easily uncovered. Three errors in one game? The real Mike Lowell had only 6 all last season. This couldn’t be him. Quick! Get Jack Bauer to help negotiate Lowell’s release.


Sorry about that. I should really save the dramatics for the next game. After all, some Japanese guy that you may or may not have heard of is going to be starting. I’m surprised that all the media outlets haven’t made a big deal about this. Oh? They really really are? My bad.

Go get ‘em Dice-K.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Coming Soon: David Ortiz, The Book

A few days ago, a representative from the company that's publishing Big Papi's upcoming memoir emailed us and asked us if we wanted to review the book, which hits the streets on April 17. Despite the rather unassuming title (Big Papi: My Story of Big Dreams and Big Hits - I would have gone with something badass like David Ortiz: The Kratos of Baseball), we agreed to take a look at the book because, if nothing else, reading up on Ortiz's take on life sounded like fun. The publishing rep was nice enough to send us an excerpt beforehand; here's a quick taste of the style (excerpt copyright 2007 by David Ortiz with Tony Massarotti):
Seriously, bro, I'm not joking. Every time I go someplace where the peopel have never met me before, they all tell me the same thing: I look fatter on TV. I'm a big dude - I'm six foot four and between 255 and 260 pounds - but I try to take pretty good care of myself. In baseball, you have to. Like most guys, I'm in the weight room a lot during the season and I try to eat right, but I'm a big dude. Even my teammates give me sh*t about it sometimes. But I wear a really big uniform that must make me look fat on TV, so every time I meet someone for the first time, they look surprised that I'm not this big, fat guy.

I always joke with them: "Who do you think I am, Kevin Millar?"

(Trust me, bro. Millar would say the same thing about me.)

I have a feeling this book will be a pretty awesome read.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Game 1: Fear of a Blue Meche

Final Score: Boston Red Sox 1, Kansas City Royals 7

"Thump. Thump. Thump." A lone scribe sits alone in the dark of an early April evening, thumping keys on a Dell Latitude X300 and imagining he's one of those grumpy old sportswriters who still writes columns on a Remington typewriter because he's too full of cuss to deign to use anything else. This particular wannabe has a mind full of irritation and a heart full of disappointment, but so does every other red-blooded Red Sox fan out there, with an Opening Day affair against a team that dreams of .500, against a pitcher whose $55 million price tag made headlines for its underscoring of the flaws of the current state of free agency, all designed to be an easy transition from Spring Training to the big time. Instead: Boston humiliated, Schilling heading to the dugout (and, presumably, the blog) in disgust after four and a third disappointing innings, Gil Meche the master of the day and the Sox lineup reduced to one run on eight scattered hits.

As the game wound down and I watched a young unknown named Joel Peralta give the lie to his 2006 stats and surrender two hits over the eighth and ninth innings, I gave some thought to the thing about this game, losing excluded, that disappoints me most. Was it Schilling's pitching? How about our lead off man, who struck out three times? Maybe Big Papi's rally-killing strikeout in the eighth, or how Wily Mo still seems willing to swing at anything that comes close to the plate, or Manny's inability to hit anything on Opening Day for the past seven years? Maybe it was Wonderboy, who did his best to reinforce DC's faith in his future stardom by trying to turn a clear single into a double, getting thrown out by a mile at second? I'm feeling the Wonderboy pick; that seems to be the point where the game started to go south for the offense, when Mr. Meche realized he could, in fact, pitch a house afire. Anyone have another choice they'd like to voice?

Only Hours Away...

This is it. In a little over three hours, Gil Meche will throw the first pitch of the first game of the Red Sox 2007 season and we'll be off to the races, trotting along with the unbridled enthusiasm that April brings: spring is here,
the earth begins the cycle of life anew and baseball is back again. Who cares what the statisticians say; anyone can be a winner in these beautiful early days where cold still tinges the air and hope still tinges the hearts of every fan, no matter what their team's payroll.

I spent yesterday afternoon at perhaps the best place in the world to distract the mind from the wait for real baseball: the ancient confines of Fenway Park, touring the ballpark. Because Fenway is such an old venue, a place where, in keeping with its location in a historically-minded city, the keepers of the place do as much as possible to blend old and new in way both functional and preservatory, the ballpark tour is as much about the 95 year story of Fenway as it is sitting in the kickass EMC deck seats in what used to be the .406 club.

Being a historically-minded person myself, I got a bit lost in the tradition seeping out of the walls and running down the concrete causeways, mixing with the water used by the grounds crew to clean off the seats. Big puddles of tradition, spreading across the floors where soon thousands of fans will tramp once again to the slow progression of spring to summer to fall, to the sounds and smells of baseball, the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. I walked outside of the park, back into the cool Boston air on Yawkey Way, looked at the old brick walls and the stone Fenway moniker and knew: we're ready. Let the games begin.

Twas the Night Before Season's Start…

I can’t sleep because tomorrow is opening day. Is that strange? Is it abnormal that I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve? I know I’ve been good (good enough) and presents are coming by the truck load, but the anticipation is just too much. I feel like I’m about to be shot out of a cannon. It’s just baseball, right? I shouldn’t miss precious rest because I am chomping at the bit for that first pitch.

Stranger still is that my insomnia is not all from eagerness and excitement. I have this slight fear that is associated with my personality and the beginning of the Red Sox season. I know that my nights (and some afternoons) are pretty much “booked” for the next few months. My mind will now be 75% to 99% preoccupied with the Sox from here on out. My priorities will now be completely skewed towards baseball until Halloween. Isn’t it scary how resigned I am to that fact?

Hopefully my friends, family and job (HA) can get used to this again. Some find this side of me to be endearing, others… well… it can build rifts. I guess we will need to learn to deal with this situation just like last season.

All I know for sure is that tomorrow at 4:10 Eastern time, Curt Schilling will be pitching against Gil Meche in Kansas City. It counts, it’s real, and it’s about time. I can’t wait.