Friday, June 30, 2006

Make that 12: Notes from the Thunderground

Things started looking up after an unspeakably ridiculous commute to the game (13 miles=1:45) when I noticed that we were sitting in Section 43, Row 7. "Section 43" being the title of one of the absolute masterpieces of psychedelia (Country Joe & the Fish for those of you keeping score at home) and Row 7 meaning that I would be close enough, if so inclined, to spit in Billy Wagner's eye, well, things couldn't get much better. Hell - Schilling and Glavine were facing off.
After 5 innings of great pitching, Schilling surrendered a two run dinger to Beltran, giving the Mets
a 2-0 lead. Thinking that things nowlooked pretty bleak based on Glavine's strong performance thus far, the hometown nine came back strong with a rare Loretta HR and another run scored. 2-2 after six.
After Schilling blanked them in the seventh, Crisp led off with a beautiful bunt, gaining second on a subsequent steal. A-Gon next at the plate also bunts and Crisp is at 3rd with only one out. Youkilis poked a sac. fly to left and we left the inning with a 3-2 lead after seven. Great baseball here: If someone can cite me an example of back to back successful bunts yielding a man at 3rd with one out, i'd like to hear about it.
The Mets plated the 8th against Timlin. With 2 outs, Beltran lined a base hit. Next up, David Wright launched a shot to center that was certainly a run-scoring gap shot. All of the sudden, Coco leaps, lunges, and stabs the tailing bullet, impossibly keeping it in his glove. Friends, this was the single most amazing defensive play I have ever witnessed - that is not hyperbole. (I watched the replay on TV when I got home and proudly maintain that statement.) That would have almost certainly tied the game, so it's timliness ("Timlin"ess?)and importance are clear. After an almost anti-climactic insurance bomb from Ortiz in the bottom of the frame, we lead 4-2. That would be the final score.
What started out as a taut if slightly uncompelling pitching duel (in the noisy beer-soaked bleachers anyway) ended up becoming one of the most exciting games I have ever seen, and that Crisp catch should be watched over and over. (Johnny who?)
Postscript: With the whole ballpark staying to the very end, leaving was a crowded mess. Meg and I decided to grab a beer at a joint called "Bukowski's" (great name) to wait for the traffic to abate. We walked in and playing on the sound system was Jeff Beck's masterpice "Truth" - in it's entirety! It neatly wrapped up one of the greatest Fenway evenings - out of dozens - i've ever had.
Tom, do you now wish you took that ticket I offered you?

12:55 AM

Thursday, June 29, 2006

11 straight and counting...

This is a good time to be a Sox fan, boys. Every aspect of their game (with the possible exception of any appearance by Seanez or Tavarez) has been top notch. The hitters are clicking 1-9 and the starting pitching has been superb. And the defense... hard to believe. Hell - Manny threw Reyes out at the plate a couple of nights ago. I expect tonight's matchup to be what was predicted for last night, and more. Glavine is having a stellar year and you know Schilling will be at the top of his game. (Sorry to gloat, I'll be there in the bleachers to see it unfold.)
Can we make it 12 and sweep the hottest team in the NL in the process?

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

What are we expecting tonight, Beckett vs. Petey?

First, any update on Peter Gammons' condition?
I suspect Petey will pitch a gem tonight. Will he brush back, come in hard and tight or even hit one of his old pals? I think Beckett's the question mark because he has been somewhat inconsistent, especially in the early innings, though he's been solid of late. But that's one hell of a lineup the Mets have. So probably he gives up a couple in the first and then it's tight from there on out.
The Sox bats have been hot all through the lineup. So that certainly bodes well for getting to Pedro to some degree. We've won 10 straight and will be no big disappointment if they don't win tonight. What I want most out of it is to see Beckett bare down and match Pedro pitch for pitch. I guess it would be fitting to see Ortiz make a difference with a shot off Petey.

I suspect I know the answer to the first part anyway. Anyone give a rat's buttocks about the NBA draft tonight or the Celts in general? Do we want to talk about other sports here, especially during the off season?

Bummer about Gammons, huh?

Brain aneurysm - nasty. He's always been my favorite analyst and specifically try to catch his weekly guest spot on Thursdays and Sunday mornings on EEI, not to mention Baseball Tonight. Let's hope for the best. That's one void that couldn't be filled.
Who are your other favorite analysts? I also like Buster Olney a great deal, and HR is always dependable. (Incidentally, Harold has topped Meg's "free pass" list for a couple of years running now. He is a snappy dresser, I suppose...) I'm even warming up to Kruk who continually surprises me with some of his insight, opinionated as he may be.
Locally, Remy is God of course, and DO has come into his own. Still love Joe and Jerry, too. The rest of the NESN crew though... not so much. I find Tom Caron dull and Jim Rice incomprehensible. Only the Eck seems to hold my attention in that crowd. Thoughts?

The Sox Go Rolling Along....

Lat nights win makes it 10 in a row for the Sox. The only question is how long will it last. I don't know about anyone else but the reception that Pedro got last night between innings after the video clip was shown was great to see. I wonder how much the year of seperation had to do with it, especially when comparing that reception to Damon's. Granted he went to the National League, not the SpankMees, but he didn't have a lot of good things to say about the organization when he left. Although if I remember right he went of his way to exclude the fans, even then.

It seems the '86ers are finally get their due, there are 2 articles in the Globe, one from yesterday the other from today:

Review of '86 ceremony

Shaunessy's take on '86 Team

The second linik is to an article by Shaunessy, who normally annoys the hell out of me with his perpetual negative vibe, but is well done. The only thing missing was Buckner, it would have been great if he could have made it to yesterdays pre-game. He off all that the members of that team deserves the standing O. With out his bat in the line up all year that team is a .500 team instead of a should be championship winner. It was good to see Boggs and Hurst in the broadcast booth last night with Remy. I'd forgotten that Remy had started the year and retired early on when Barrett won the starting job. The ripples of 2004 continue to mmove across the pond of the Nation. Could Sox fans be so positive about the '86ers with no Championship?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Yuke, Yuke, Yuke...

It's been a long time since I had a favorite Sox player but this guy plays the game the way I like it played, hard all the time (don't go there), smart all the time, clutch most of the time; an all-around player who gets it done with half the tools of guys who do much less. All praise to Big Papi, which I'll get to in a moment, but without Yuke Papi gets no chance. (Long remember Bernie Carbo)
I've had my superstar favorite players like Yaz (my boyhood idol) and JimEd, but the kind of player who I always preferred to favor were the likes of Rick Miller, Carney Lansford, Rick Burleson or Marty Barrett.
Using a different sport to show this tendency: I own a Bruins sweater. Who knows what player's sweater it is? But I can see if Yuke keeps this up, I may have to break down and spend all that money on a Sox uniform. And it's actually easier to spell than Yastrzemski!

Do you think we can keep this a secret much longer from the other're probably better off not pitching to Ortiz?

Nine straight wins before we play the Mets.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Spoiled Rotten

That is me, spoiled rotten. As mentioned by AA, Me, my SO, and he and his, went to Saturday's gem of a game. Yeah, we were thinking a gem would be had solely due to the fact that we were testing driving standing room seats in the right field roof Bud Seats. Well, it got even better.

First, I for one didn't know Schilling was pitching. Second, the booing of Myers AA mentioned was a treat. From all reports I have heard and read, getting boos should be cake compared to what this MF should be getting....anyway, at times I love how smart and on top if things Sox fans are. They knew he was pitching. However, I did think, after a Sammy or two and a Bud or two, that the chant/boo could be expanded into something like, "If that was your wife at the plate, I bet you could hit her." when attempting brush someone back.

Ok, back to being spoiled..Saturday, we started at Game On, which is a good sport bar, if you ask me. It's at Fenway and owned by the Sox. One of the smarter things that ownership crew has done. Aside from listening to 80's tunes and a terrible remix of a Stones song, EEI was in attendance and the Germany V. Equador? was on the numerous flat screens. Fenway has come along way - owning a sports that has the balls to play soccer the day of the game. The food is great, although the lobster bisque was a mediocre. Yeah yeah, I know, "Sir, please return your Man Card to the front desk." Lobster bisque at a sport bar? Yup I love food, which could be fodder, for another blog.

hmmm,,, after a few Sammys we left and entered the park to Gate C, grabbed another Sammy... (hmmmm lost count)...then climbed the stairs to the Bud Seats. I was smart to grab a Sammy enroute because we were going to be standing in the Bud Seats for 3 to 4 hours and of course, that's all the sell - Bud and the equally "yummy" Bud Light, ugh. ;-)

Our perch was not bad, although we did have to look around a few people. From standing room, you can't see from the middle of right field back to the wall, which sucked because I could see Trot do his thing. We had a great time. The game was great, but around the end of the 7th, My Sweet One, chatted with a friend of hers, who works for one of the radio stations broadcasting at the park, that conversation led to another example of how spoiled rotten we had it. This friend got us into the broadcast box from the 8th inning on!!! Yup, I saw the Kid smoking them and of course saw the Big Man launch the ball to win the game. UNREAL.

From the vantage point, you look down on Varitek and Papelbon. You have no up and down perspective of the pitch, but a great view of left and right over the plate. I was amazed at how far off the plate many of Papelbon's pitches were. I guess when the pitch has as much movement and velocity as he can bring the batter needs to decide to swing well before the pitch goes wide of the plate. One last comment on the experience... when you are in the broadcast booth you can't talk, because your voice will carry onto the broadcast! So, when Papelbon was getting it done, I had to bite my tongue. When Papi hit the homer, I must have looked like a mime with ants in his pants. Good Stuff. Go Sox.

Great Sox Week End...

So the Sox have won, I think, 7 straight, but that could be 8, but either way they haven't lost in a week. A question I keep hearing from the casual fan is "Why do they keep pitching to Ortiz?" The answer is simple, Manny. You get pitches to hit because the guy behind you is a good hitter. Someone asked me this morning, "Why did the Twins let him go?". Here again the answer is Manny. The Twins didn't have any one hitting behind the gu, so he got no pitches to hit. This is one of the reasons Manny is so valuable to the Sox and one of the reasons I can't believe that Sox fans would rmotely consider trading him away. We must remember that the reason we have Big Papi instead of David Ortiz is that Manny makes him better, no Manny means no Big Papi. They tried that experiment the year before, and it failed. They swapped Ortiz and Manny in the line up, lo and behold Ortiz's average and RBI production dropped, until they swapped them back. Papi knows this to be true, hence his passionsate appeal during the off season last year to hit third with Manny hitting clean up. I think all will agree that Manny is the best pure hitter in the American League, others may perform to his level for streaks, but not over a whole season, and definately not when the games on the line. The perfect example of Manny's influence was Saturday's game. If Manny isn't hitting behind Ortiz, he gets walked with out hesitation. But with Manny there, they little choice but to pitch to him.

Big Papi is a great clutch hitter, I don't mean to take anything away from him. Especially when you look at the pitch he hit 500 and some odd feet yesterday. The damn thing was down and away, nearly out of the strike zone but too close to take. Only great hitters hit a pitch like that as far as he did. My point is that with out Manny he doesn't get the chance to hit that pitch, he'd already be standing on first with the intentional walk.

Friday, June 23, 2006

"In this corner... Brett Myers!"

Yup, according to, Phillies ace Brett Myers punched his wife and pulled her hair on Boylston St. last night and was promptly arrested, released when his wife posted bail.

Myers is scheduled to pitch tomorrow, facing Schilling. Since Tom, myself, and the women are scheduled to go to that game, is there any doubt that we'll witness the savage Sox fans giving him an earful all game long? He might as well wear a bullseye on his uniform."Myers Arrested"

Thursday, June 22, 2006

What am I going to do?????

No Sox on tonight, the US is playing Ghana at 10AM and I have to work! It's a good thing it's bowling night. I think they are showing a Sea Dogs game on NESN though. the Connecticut Defenders, I think this is the same franchise as the Norwich team. They are affiliated with the Giants now and not the Spankees.

Link of the day is to an article in the Globe about steriod use by Paxton Crawford while with the Sox from '99 '01:


So the question is, will this ever go away and what does Baseball have to do to ensure it does?

Dishing out a little sumthin' sumthin'...

Loretta: 3-5. Nixon: 3-5. A-Gon, Papi, Varitek: 2-4. Lester: 10 Ks. Bring on anyone, bitches...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Sox Wake up........finally

For the first time in four starts the Sox offense showed up when Wakefield was on the mound. It's good to see him get a win finally. He's been pitching well and has put the Sox in position to win at least three of the previous four before last nights gem.

I have to agree with AA that Cora has been on fire lately. I've always liked him, he's a smart hard working player that keeps the defense on it's toes. Not to mention he seems to come through when they need that key hit. Another guy that has quietly been improving at the plate is Gonzalez, he's brought his average up to .250, which is very acceptable with his gold glove caliber defense. Finally Jeter won't win the glove by default this year.

It was also good to see Kapler get the reception he did last night, what was it two standing Os. He's an original dirt dog and will always be a fan fav. He seems to be running normally, a good sign with the achilles injury of last season.

And how about the Sox defense, best in baseball if I hear that right last night. Fielding percentage of .995, so much for last years team being better defensively than this years.

As for the offense the first 7 regular hitters in the line up all have a OBP of .340 or better, 3 of which are over .420.

On a personal note, the boy and I have been doing some batting on the front lawn, I've been working on that knuckle ball. So last night while watching the game Remy is talknig about how effect Wake's knuckler was and the boy pipes up, "Hey Dad, you throw a lot of knuckle balls, they could use you!". Gotta love the perspective of the eight year old. I'll bask in the glory of doing no wrong and having super guy status while it lasts, I hear that changes somewhere around 12 or 13.......

5 in a Row. Love the NL

Ok, I didn't watch last night's game or the one before, but they are winning; beating the bad teams. Maybe this spell will provide momentum, if that really exists. AA, his Mrs., myself, and Miss M are going to the game Saturday to watch the game in the Bud Seats. We won't have table; they are standing room, but they should awesome, all Bud drinking aside;) Let me catch up: ... The Sox now have Papelbon, Lester, and Hanson up? Schilling and Beckett seem to have their collective shit together, and of course, Wake is Wake, clicking along if Charlie Watts. So Matt Inclement is gone, Wells is not Well, so the No. 5 spot in the rotation will be revolving door? Am I missing anything? I heard yesterday that the Tito plan for relief was Hanson, Timlin, Papelbon, in the 6, 7, and 9th, respectively? yeah buddy. Faster, Mean, and Nasty.

So I think the equipment truck can stay parked for a bit longer; no need to prepare for next quite yet.

Now that's more like it!

Finally, Wakefield received some long-deserved run support while pitching a gem. The knuckler was particularly effective last night - he barely threw the fastball (such as it is) which is what he's relied upon in too many outings this year. To date, "Wakey" (in Francona parlance) has quietly amassed some very nice numbers which are not fairly reflected in his win/loss record. (Again, that pesky run support issue.) His ERA after last night is 3.82 - not too shabby for your number 3 guy.
Another encouraging sign is that the bats seem to have woken up from top to bottom, with some unlikely folks basking in the glory. Cora continues to be a silent ace-in-the-hole with his smart defense, head-up baserunning, and timely hitting. Loretta is likewise hot again and, reluctant as I am to say it because Tom will become moist and impossible to deal with, Trot is playing like an all-star.
The stinky residue from the hideous series in Minnesota last week is now but a faint memory. They seem to be back on track. Let's hope they keep it together.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Snyder who??????

So was I the only one expecting to tune to NESN last night and see a guy in with a pot belly wearing a white t-shirt with a pack of smokes rolled up in the sleeve and a tool belt standing on the mound? I sure didn't expect to see a six foot eight Bronson Arroyo look alike.

I guess you know things are going your way when you sign a guy that wasn't good enough for the KC Royals to keep around and he goes out and gives you five good innings and gets the win. It seems that now they have to figure out what to do with him. With the days off falling as they do the Sox won't need a number five guy until July 1 so they have time to figure out who's doing what and when.

On the reality check side, I still saw Sox hitters hacking at the first pitch, once following a four pitch walk and another after a five pitch walk.

I must say though that last night was better than it has been lately. There were some timely hits and some great small ball being played. This is what I expected to see more of when the season started. There were several hit and run plays on last night, some worked some didn't, but the fact that it was being done was good to see. I liked the fact that, down by a run, they bunted both runners over to put the go ahead run in scoring position and avoid the inning ending double play. This time it worked great the next guy gets a single and drives them both in.

My only concern is how long will Sox fans stomach the small ball when it doesn't work like it did last night. I'd like to see the Sox management be committed to this type of play. They have the tools to be very effective with it and it complements the big guns of Manny and Papi, turn some solo jacks into two and three run homers.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Situational Hitting.........NOT

Before I start the rant, let me say I'm a big Varitek fan, not as big a fan as AA wife perhaps, but still a fan.

The situation is this:

Top of the eigth, 2 out, bases loaded, pinch hitter called to the plate, the pitcher is getting tired and having problems with location. So I'm thinking the hitter should take a F***in' pitch, see what the pitcher's got for stuff and make him throw you a strike or two. But no, first pitch swinging at a ball up near the eyeballs!

This has been a chronic problem for Boston hitters for years now, here again, I love Nomar, he's still my favorite player, but the guy had/has no concept of situational hitting. I can't count the number of times I've seen a guy walk on four pitches only to have the next guy hack at the first pitch. In the eigth last night the only guy who had a quality at bat was Trot, as much that it pains me to encourage the southern cousin. He took a pitch, then got one he could lift out of the infield and drove in the run in with a sac fly.

This is a recurring theme with this team that goes back a few years. I've lost count at how many times they load the bases, nobody out and can't push across a run. Leaving me screaming at the TV "Get the f***in' thing out of the infield!!!!"

I think it's time for a talk with the squad about situational hitting, anyone have Francona's cell number?

No comment.

Well, maybe one... but not about the three-day dick slapping that just occurred. No, it's about the inane "home field" rule that a ball that would have traveled 450 feet can be called a single (or an out if the rebound had been caught) simply because it hit a f-ing roof lamp. How stupid is that? I realize that these situations are probably extremely rare but is there any doubt that Ortiz's ball wouldn't have been about 20 rows up? I can't imagine that anyone who was there (umpires included) couldn't have pictured that bullet putting a fist-sized dent in the back wall of the stadium. Yet it remained a single and, thanks to ice-cold Manny, an eventual double-play, erasing that which would have created a tie-game in later innings. A bad rule in an awful stadium, and it took them out of the running early.
Not that they even remotely deserved to win, of course.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Perhaps not so Riske after all...

I believe that while Lopez is considered a lefty specialist, he is not as "specialized" as Mike Myers (our recent definition of such a pitcher) in that he isn't all that bad against righties. In essence, I think he'll be specifically be called upon for those Giambi/Thome type situations but, unlike Myers, won't necessarily be pulled after the one hitter.
Hey - it never hurts to have an extra lefty in the stable, especially when a mediocre (at best) righty is all you're giving up in return.

Riske for Lopez?

That's interesting from the perspective of Lopez being a lefty that no one wants to trade. Are the ChiSox heavy on lefties, since this guy's been doing so well but left down in AAA? Seems they need a righty bad to make that trade. I'll take it, I guess. But if he's a specialist against only lefties, then we're down another arm in the bullpen for all practical purposes. (By Zebster)

I'm looking forward to seeing how he does, as AA states in his post, he can't be as specialized as Mike Myers. I haven't seen the numbers but he has to be better against righties than Myers. (LC)

Sox Pitching Getting Socked

I remember having conversations during the off season that went basically like:

"We may not be able to hit as well as '04, but we finally have pitching......".

The only question was who was going to be the fifth starter and who were we going to trade for some more offense? No one wanted Wells or Clement, the only guy anyone wanted was Arroyo. So off he went to the Reds. I don't think I'm the only one that questioned the trade for Willie Mo Pena when it was announced, and I know I'm not the only one to question it now. It's said you can never have too much pitching, and the Sox are seeing that ring true so far this season. Faulk has been up and down at best, Tavaraz (as my cuz the Zebster will tell you) has been a major disappointment, Riske still has yet to really prove he's legit in Boston, and Beckett, well we have seen the roller coaster, and it's scary. Wells can't seem to stay healthy, his uncanny knack for strange injuries continues, Seanez has times where it seems the ball has a negative pole to the strike zones negative pole. Wouldn't the guitar man look good in a Sox uniform right now? Willie Mo may turn out to be the next Manny with some grooming from Papa Jack, but the question is, and it's always the question, is the prospect worth more than the known?

There are a few, well ok two, bright spots. Schilling and Papelbon have performed to expectations, perhaps Papelbon beyond that. There have been some dim spots if you will Van Buren for instance had pitched well until being called back up for last night's game. I have to say that Pauley pitched well for a AA call up, especially in enemy territory, and his future looks bright.

The Sox need some stable, reliable arms, and I don't see where they'll come from. We have prospects that will help the big club in a year or two, but right now the Sox need help. Isn't it funny though, when looking at other teams, we can sit back and say they had a good season, after all it was a building year, but when it comes to the Nation's Team, we can't be so patient. Maybe one ring can't negate the 86 years of "Next year...".

So goes the Nation......

Tavarez must go!

Red Sox fans, didn't your heart sink into your metaphorical scrotum when you saw Julian Tavarez come out to pitch at the start of the 12th? This guy has turned into an absolute headcase. His stuff is electric, at times he's unhittable but more often than not he can't find the strike zone and then the hitters can just sit back and wait for the right pitch with which to break your heart. In this case an overkill grand slam by Jason Kubel (thanks for the career highlight, Julian) that wiped out one of the best pitching duels of the season, Curt Schilling vs. Johan Santana. And Mike Timlin, just coming off the disabled list, could only go one inning, after two nearly perfect innings by Papelbon.Wouldn't you rather see the rookies get some experience in these situations, as it was obvious even before last night that Tavarez is far from reliable? And to waste a game in which both Varitek and Gonzalez contributed at the plate is a crying shame! And don't even get me started on Coco Crisp trying to pull every pitch into double plays!Tavarez has one save this year -- an absolute disgrace to a marginal stat -- a game where he entered with a five-run lead, walked practically everyone in site and was bailed out by the arm of Willie Harris on a play at the plate that would've tied the game."I beg Red Sox management to get rid of this guy (he's had enough chances to prove he can't do it) and let's find out what stuff these kids are made of.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Weekend with Bro

So while the Poots were off in NYC for the weekend, I headed on down to Bro's for some sibling bonding. Friday night we went out to eat at a local TexMex place with a more tradition menu than most "Mexican" restaurants. I had the canista de puerco. Mmmmm, thick slices of pork seasoned with Mex spices with refried beans and rice, which you could eat separately or roll all together in a tortilla with sour cream. Plus we had a Dos Ecces and sampled some different Tequilas.

Saturday morning we started with Bro's special cheesy scrambled eggs and bacon and then headed off for the Sam Adams Brewery tour. I liked how the "tour" was an expeditious run-thru of the process so that you could hurry up to the sampling. LOL We got to take home the 7-ounce sampling glass, and we had the Boston Lager, Summer Ale and Honey Porter. I bought a t-shirt "take pride in your beer."

Then it was off to Fenway. We ate some grub at Game On, checked out all the souvenirs at the souvenir shop and then went on to the guided tour of Fenway Park...pretty cool indeed, though not as thorough as far as access to the park as we had hoped. But we did get to go up on the Green Monster and learned a fair bit of trivia about the park and the team. We had hoped to go inside the Green Monster and or onto the field but no such luck. We killed some time before the ballgame (came across an anime convention -- no, we didn't go but saw enough w/out going LOL Munchkin would've loved it)

So off to the ball park early to watch some batting practice and get ready for the game. Would Curt Schilling get his 200th win? This game wasn't one Bro already had tix to, so he got special tix for the game. Wow, were they great. Thanks Bro! Nice and spacious with our own table. So I kept score of the game for the first time in ages. We were just left of home plate looking right down on it and could see the whole field. Well, Curt didn't have his best stuff but over 7 innings gave up 4 runs and the Sox scored 6 for a win and Curt's 200th win. Pretty cool to have been there.

We spent Sunday putting up Bro's ceiling fan, listening to the beer drinkin and Merle Haggard cd's I'd made for him; then watched some of the Indy 500 and Sox game before I headed back to Maine. Thanks for a great time, Bro! I got home in time to watch the Coke 600 and guess who won? That's right, Kasey Kahne! Woooo hoooo!

The picture? Me that night at Fenway from our seats, wearing my Sam Adams t-shirt. Picture taken by Bro with my cell phone.