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Sunday, October 31, 2004

  Red Sox Have the Best Championship T-Shirts

The gray locker room t-shirts appeared in stores the day after Game 4. But go into Bob's or Dick's or Sports Authority this weekend and you'll see a much wider variety of World Series championship gear.

I almost bought a championship shirt that had the names and uniform numbers of the team, but then I realized the list didn't include Kevin Millar. Kevin was a replacement player during the 1994 strike, so the MLB Players Association has managed to keep his name off the official World Series merchandise. Yet another reason to hate the players union. (Bootleggers at the victory parade were selling t-shirts that did include Millar, but the cops confiscated them.)

There are many other t-shirt designs available, many of which I have only seen available online. I like the design that shows a ring with the Red Sox logo and may order the sweatshirt. What I won't be buying is the "Cursed to First" because, as anyone familiar with the opinions of the formerly Miserable Red Sox Fan knows, I never believed in the curse.

The design I really like, on the other hand, perfectly expresses the sentiments of many: "Now I can die in peace." I bought one of these and am wearing it even as I type this. I also picked up a clever Nike shirt that said, "The drought is over...the reign begins."

Speaking of Nike, didn't you just love that commercial (view here) that ran started after the ALCS? According to an article in the Boston Herald, Nike had no similar ad in case of a Yankees win.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  I Love a Parade

My memories and observations of yesterday's Rolling Rally in honor of the 2004 World Series champions:

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Thursday, October 28, 2004

  Just Imagine How Many Interviews I Would Get If I Were Actually on the Team

One consequence of running a fan site like the Triumphant Red Sox Fan Forum is getting requests for interviews at significant times like spring training, opening day, and (God, I love saying this) winning the World Series. This year, the media, apparently sensing that this was the Red Sox' year at last, have written and printed more than usual on the topic. And the Triumphant (née Miserable) Red Sox Fan has received more than the usual number of media inquiries since the playoffs began.

This morning's column by Worcester Telegram & Gazette columnist Dianne Williamson features yours truly ($ubscription required—e-mail me and I'll forward the article). Excerpt:

Kelly Jefferson of Shrewsbury is one of those over-the-top fans who live and die with every pitch. In the off season, Ms. Jefferson is a perfectly (relatively) normal claims examiner for UnumProvident Corp., whose goals and interests are generally on par with the rest of us — she eats, she sleeps, she works, she bemoans the inexplicable popularity of reality television. Come baseball season, though, Ms. Jefferson is transformed (mutated into an alien life form).

For several years she has run a Web site called The Miserable Red Sox Fan Forum, which this year she renamed The Hopeful Red Sox Fan Forum. She e-mails "daily affirmations" to friends and fans, urging them to think positive. For every playoff game, she wears Red Sox earrings, a gold Red Sox pendant and either a Red Sox shirt or red jersey.

I was also interviewed yesterday by a Health and Science reporter at the Boston Globe for an article about how winning the World Series would affect the psyche of Red Sox Fans. Once I figure out when/where that article is available, I'll post a link here.

Finally, I cut short my already brief post-victory slumber to travel to Boston for a 7:00 AM interview for live Canadian television. The appeal of the Red Sox is truly universal.

And I'm merely a fan. Imagine what the players are experiencing right now...

UPDATE (10/29/2004): The aforementioned Boston Globe article is scheduled to run on Tuesday, November 2. I'll post a link when it's up.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 8)

Ladies and gentlemen, girls and boys, presenting the final 2004 edition of Positive Affirmations.

The universe has unfolded exactly as it was meant to.

There is no need for any other affirmation.

The Boston Red Sox are
and all is right with the world.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

Only two things need to be said at this moment.

Congratulations to the 2004 World Series champion Boston Red Sox.

Loyal citizens of Red Sox Nation, our persistent loyalty has finally paid off.

Further blogging on this momentous event will have to wait until later on Thursday. I have to get a couple hours of sleep before heading into Boston for a 7:00 a.m. interview with CTV (Canadian national television).

Pleasant dreams, Nation.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 8)

Believe me, I know enough not to count my chickens before they're hatched. And I am alone among my fan-friends in calling for a St. Louis win in game 4, just to avoid the embarrassment of being swept. But that doesn't mean I am not confident.

Put a few bottles of bubbly on ice and repeat after me:

  • Error-free baseball at last!
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you, good people of the Dominican Republic, for giving us the wonder that is Pedro. And the wonder that is Manny. And the wonder that is Papi.
  • O-Cab? Columbia, baby. It isn’t just for drugs anymore.
  • Chances are St. Louis would love to have hometown boy Billy Mueller on their side right about now.
  • Let’s go D-Lowe (clap ... clap ... clap, clap, clap).

Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...happy thoughts...

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  To Shave or Not To Shave?

At the beginning of this year's playoffs, I pledged to a number of friends (more than enough for independent corroboration later on) that if the Red Sox won the World Series, I would shave my head. I meant it; I was prepared to do it.

So I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I'm beginning to get cold feet. On the one hand, as I run my fingers over my scalp, I don't feel any odd bumps that would look horrific when exposed. And my hair grows so fast that it wouldn't take more than a few months to get back my characteristically short 'do. On the other hand, it's getting into the cold season here in beautiful New England. Besides, what if I look ridiculous bald as a cueball?

Co-workers are urging me to recant. I admit I will probably do so. I feel terribly guilty about it. But one of them offered a face-saving alternative: instead of shaving my head, I'll color my hair red.

I hope my flip-flop doesn't alter the cosmic forces that have brought us this far.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 3

I think it is very unlike a true Red Sox fan to back down to a "if they win the World Series, I will.....".
I have always wanted to get a Red Sox tattoo (which is permanent) and I said I would go and get one if they win the whole thing. I am actually sitting at my desk drawing potential designs for my tattoo. At least your shaved head will grow back in a month or so. If I were you, AT LEAST get a buzz cut and maybe leave just a little on top. WHO CARES WHAT YOU'D LOOK LIKE, THE SOX WOULD'VE WON THE WORLD SERIES !!! (the Sox are a bunch of IDIOTS too........ :-) )

It's me again...you know, from the above post.... So, what are you going to do??? Are you going to keep your promise and get your head shaved or are you gonna let me and all the other Red Sox fans down? I, like I said I would, am going tonight to get my tattoo. It is the Red Sox logo with the American Flag waving behind it. Oh yea, along the top will say "Keep The Faith". I know we don't know each other but I feel like we belong to the same family (the WORLD SERIES WINNING RED SOX COMMUNITY). Don't let this California Diehard Red Sox fan down and do it for everyone in RED SOX NATION !!!

I am ashamed to say that I have wimped out. The hair remains intact. But I'm getting it cut tonight and will add a spash o' red.

  Justice Is Served, Almost

Ex-Yankee thugs (they're ex-Yankees, not ex-thugs) Jeff Nelson and Karim Garcia struck a deal with prosecutors over last year's nasty bullpen brawl during the 2003 ALCS.

"While sufficient evidence exists to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt, the conduct of Nelson and Garcia does not merit criminal convictions," the [Suffolk County, Massachusetts] district attorney's office said in a statement.

Instead, the two sides agreed that the perps would perform 50 hours of community service and attend anger management sessions.

If I were the judge, I'd have required them to do their community service while wearing Red Sox hats.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Nomar's Cut

The team's playoff money is to do with as the players wish. The bulk of it gets divided among the players. Typically, they also give a cut to the clubhouse attendants and other such people as a thank-you. When a player is traded from the team mid-season, what does he get?

Nomar Garciaparra's magnanimous former teammates voted to give him the same share of the bonus cash that the current players will get. No doubt many of them want to include their friend, one of them until the 2004 trading deadline. He was, after all, part of the team for more than half the season, even if he was injured for a sizable chunk of that time. Jason Varitek thinks it was the right thing to do:

"Nomar was such a big part of getting us to this point and helping this organization," Varitek said. "I'm not taking anything away from the job Orlando has done. I love everything about him. I just wish we could have both of them here."

Personally, I think Tek and the boys are being overly generous. Yes, Nomar was the face of the franchise for many years. Yes, he was a part of the team for most of this season. Yes, he had good numbers in the games he actually did play this season. But to call him "a big part of getting us to this point" is to ignore that the Red Sox have done demonstratively better since left than before. But if the Red Sox players think highly enough of Nomar to give him as much bonus pay as each of them is getting, who am I to argue? It isn't my money.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Who's on First?

David Ortiz played first base last night and the sky didn't fall. It's a good omen.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

  If I Were a Betting Woman ...

... which I am not, I might have placed a couple friendly wagers on the outcome of the Red Sox' various playoff series this year. I know lots of people who are into such things, but personally I'm satisfied just to see what the politicians from the rival teams' cities and states put on the line. It took me until Game 3 of the World Series, but I have done a little research.

ALDS — Mayor Tom Menino of Boston and Mayor Curt Pringle of Anaheim bet food and drink on the outcome of the Angels-Sox series. A Google search turned up no articles about a bet betweeen Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

ALCS — As in the ALDS, the Mayor's wager between Menino and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was about food. Governor Romney and New York Governor George Pataki bet something slightly more personal: the loser would wear the winner's jersey in public. Being a man of his word, Pataki reluctantly paid up.

World Series — Menino is betting the store against Mayor Francis Slay of St. Louis, who himself is putting forth his NLDS and NLCS winnings plus a traditional St. Louis spread to sate Menino's appetite. Gov. Romney again made the jersey bet, this time with Missouri Governor Bob Holden. And because this is the World Series, U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy has a wager with Senator Kit Bond of Missouri for dinner for the winner's Washington staff.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

Enjoy your site. This is by far one of the greatest play-off years. Growing up in Maine, I was told I cannot die until the Red Sox win the World Series, therefore I am immortal. Well, I ordered a casket this morning and I'm buying a plot in Yankee Stadium. Too bad Yaz isn't still there.

  B*tch, B*tch, B*tch

A writer from Richmond, Virginia, tipped me off on an article arguing in favor of giving home field advantage to the team with the better regular season record.

The current system, in place for the second year, gives home field to the champion of the league that won the All-Star game. Do you remember all the —This time it counts!— hype? Well, this is how it counts.

But back to the Richmond.com article. I can't say that I disagree with any of it. It makes sense that the better team would get the advantage of playing more games in their park, in front of their fans. This year, given the Red Sox' current 2-0 Series lead, it also happens that St. Louis (which won 105 regular season game to Boston's 98) cannot possibly win the series at Busch Stadium, while the Sox can by taking 2 out of 3.

Do I like the current policy? No. Do I think it should be chucked? Absolutely. But for the Cardinals to "play the World Series under protest," as the article suggests? That smacks of sour grapes. Everyone in baseball has known since before the 2003 All-Star game how home field advantage is awarded. The time to protest has come and gone.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Cranky Cards

You can't blame Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa for whining. When we were down 2-0 against the Yankees in the ALCS, we did our share of whining too.

The St. Louis skipper wasn't pleased with his team's accommodations over the past weekend. It seems there were no rooms to be had in the heart of the Hub; the best that could be done for them was a hotel in Quincy that evidently lacked the amenities to which the red birds have become accustomed.

Cut Tony some slack for not understanding that Boston is a destination city and that hotel rooms are at a premium year-round; there is no grand conspiracy against him. Give him the benefit of the doubt for not knowing that one of the biggest sporting events in the northeast, the fabled Head of the Charles Regatta, was scheduled, and participants and spectators made room reservations, long before the Red Sox advanced to the World Series (heck, it was scheduled before anyone even knew the American League team would host the Series' opening weekend). Forgive him for presuming that unlike St. Louis, there are actually other big-time sports going on in and around Boston at this time of year. And no, at 4-3 so far, the Rams don't count.

The Cards are down 2-0. LaRussa has every right to be cranky and to use any tactic he can to get his boys fired up—even if he has to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Monday, October 25, 2004

  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 7)

In light of recent events, Red Sox fans of all people know that it really ain't over until it's over. But it's looking pretty good.

Stop talking about a sweep (let’s not get cocky, people) and repeat after me:

  • Not that I’m complaining, but when did errors become good luck in the World Series?
  • Explain to me again what’s so great about Scott Rolen.
  • CURT!!! We love you, man.
  • I’m pretty sure that Mark Bellhorn’s being the Game 1 offensive hero is a sign of the apocalypse.
  • This week’s forecast for St. Louis—low 60°s.
  • We have Pedro in Game 3.

Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...happy thoughts...

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Sunday, October 24, 2004

  Surprises from Game 1

It's a good thing the team that plays the prettiest game doesn't necessarily win, because if that were so, the Red Sox would have been crushed last night.

Pitching — Tim Wakefield's ERA in this Series is now 12.27, which also happens to be the number of walks he is giving up per 9 innings. Bronson Arroyo's ERA is 7.71, Mike Timlin's 6.75.

Hitting — As a team, the Sox have had 13 hits, drawn 8 walks, and scored 11 runs. But they have also stranded 12 baserunners. This is only slightly less surprising than the fact that Mark Bellhorn was the offensive hero for the second time in the last three games.

Fielding — After committing only two errors in the first ten postseason games, Boston had four errors in just one game against the Cardinals. What isn't necessarily surprising is that three of those were by a couple of the Sox' weakest fielders, Manny Ramires and Kevin Millar.

Opponents — St. Louis ace Woody Williams, Game 1 winner in both the division series and the NLCS, got knocked around but good by BoSox bats. His World Series ERA, now 27.00, is more than twice as high as Wakefield's. Kiko Calero's is a stratospheric 54.01. Of the five members of the vaunted Cardinal bullpen who pitched in last night's game, only three did their jobs as advertised. NLCS MVP Albert Pujols and all-star third baseman Scott Rolen went hitless. The play in which Tony Womack took a batted ball off the collarbone was one of the nastiest baseball mishaps I've ever seen, and it's amazing that he has no fracture.

With Schilling on the mound tonight for the Sox, let's hope for a lower scoring game that doesn't go down to the wire.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Saturday, October 23, 2004

  It's Temporarily Official

The Red Sox motto for 2004 was "Keep the Faith". During David Ortiz' post-Game 7 interview in New York, we learned that the players have taken that motto to heart and truly appreciate the faith fans have placed in them.

In the spirit of faith, during the World Series this forum will be known as The Hopeful Red Sox Fan Forum. The end of our misery is so close—let's adopt just a little extra positive thinking to bring it to fruition.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Friday, October 22, 2004

  Coming Up Next, Live on the BBC...

In what could be considered a disturbing trend, I am being interviewed tonight by BBC radio for the second time in less than 2 weeks, talking about (what else?) the Red Sox. The history here is that I was invited both last year and a couple weeks ago to discus the rivalry with the Yankees and the upcoming playoffs on an all-night U.K. talk show on the Beeb's Five Live channel. Tonight/tomorrow morning, I will be interviewed on a different program, "Breakfast", to talk about the World Series. As usual, it won't be broadcast here, but you can listen via the web to live streaming audio or, before the next edition of the program, audio-on-demand.

They're phoning me at 1:45am eastern time (ugh) which will be a much more reasonable 6:45am in the UK. For those insomniacs who may wish to listen to the live show (that's 1:45am tonight, remember) go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/fivelive/programmes/breakfast.shtml and click "Listen Live" in the upper right corner.

If you prefer to listen at a more civilized hour throughout Saturday daytime and evening, go to the same page and click "Listen to the latest Five Live Breakfast" underneath the "wake up" graphic in the middle of the page.

See you on the radio.

UPDATE (11:57AM EDT) — The audio-on-demand link is bringing up Friday morning's program rather than Saturday morning's program. Once I figure out the problem, I will post it here.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  I Lied

Yesterday, I promised to blog today about the articles and columns that appeared in the New York papers about the Red Sox' historic comeback victory to claim the American League pennant. I was in the throes of that heady moment of realization that our boys had managed to stun and humiliate an entire city's worth of arrogant fans and sportswriters. It was a beautiful thing.

Then I woke up this morning to the news that the Red Sox now know their World Series opponent. The St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Houston Astros in Game 7 to win the National League title. So who cares about the Yankees any more? They're history. We have better things to think about now than 25 guys on a golf course.

Now, about those Cardinals. I was actually hoping to draw the Astros, in spite of the apparent consensus that we would do better against St. Louis' relatively weak starting pitching (Jeff Suppan in Game 7 notwithstanding). I wanted the Astros for other reasons: the chance to face Clemens, seeing New Englanders Bagwell and Ausmus playing at Fenway, the whole presidential candidates' home states thing. Besides, the Red Sox don't exactly have a history of success against the Cardinals in the World Series.

On the other hand, while we're developing a nice habit of doing things that have never been done before and exorcising old demons, St. Louis might just be the ideal World Series opponent. I wonder who will throw out the ceremonial first pitches in Games 1 and 2. First we could bring in the surviving teammates, then Yaz and Lonnie. This isn't like the Yankees' desparate attempt to summon good luck from the past by hauling out Bucky Dent to throw out the first pitch on Wednesday night. This would be bringing back the heroes of 1967 and 1946 and telling them we're here to win the rematch for you guys.

While the 1946 series ended in St. Louis, the Sox had home field advantage in '67. This year, we again have the opportunity, if the series goes 6 or 7 games, to win it all within the sacred space of Fenway Park. While I can't imagine a more appropriate ending to the ALCS than to win the pennant at Yankee Stadium, if we get the big prize, it should be at home.

Tomorrow night is your last chance to rest up. Starting tomorrow, we embark on the last great adventure of the 2004 baseball season. I can't wait.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Thursday, October 21, 2004

  Headlines from Two Cities

You don't even have to open the New York City newspapers to know what New Yorkers are thinking. They're down on the Yankees. But it's more than that. The sky is falling. The so-called curse—they actually believe in that sort of thing, you know—is no longer. The world as we know it is over. It's downright comical.

New York Post

New York Daily News

New York Newsday

Even the less hysterical New York Times sounds almost apocalyptic

So what about the papers in the Hub of the Universe? They're taking a decidedly different tone, much more—dare I say it—sane.

Boston Globe

Boston Herald

Note the difference: no talk of curses or hexes or ghosts in the Boston headlines. Sure, in the articles or columns there are references, but almost as an aside. We tend not to believe in that sort of medieval nonsense, unless of course it's for the purpose of selling a book (coughDanShaughnessycough) which is analogous to a crooked televangelist's belief in the Mighty Hand of God.

I'd love to delve into the articles themselves, but after five consecutive late nights, I'm cooked. Maybe tomorrow. Sleep tight, Nation.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

A blessing, a true blessing to stick it up all those arrogant yankees fans arse for once

  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 6)

I wonder if anyone this morning is doing Positive Affirmations for Yankees Fans.

Wash the champagne out of your hair and repeat after me:

  • It’s official—the Red Sox have gone where no team has gone before—again.
  • Has Steinbrenner’s head exploded yet?
  • I really don’t remember why we tried to get A-Rod.
  • JOHNNY!!!
  • Bring on the (pick one):
     Astros  Cardinals

Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...happy thoughts...

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0


How sweet it is.

Not only did the Red Sox come from the brink of elimination from the American League Championship Series to win four in a row, but in doing so they did something that had never been done in the history of major league baseball.

Not only did the Red Sox come from the bring of elimination to advance to beat the rival New York Yankees, but they did it in decisive fashion and on the Yankees home field.

Not only did they neutralize the Yankees offense in the last four games, but they managed to humiliate the top four batters in their lineup, who also happen to be New York's most arrogant big mouths.

It's very late and I'm very tired—this is the fifth consecutive late night for me, as it is for many throughout Red Sox Nation. Thank goodness I have a boss who is probably still up watching the post-game interviews and will be as bleary-eyed tomorrow as I will be. Perhaps on Friday, after a full night of sleep, I'll be able to process this a little better.

In the meantime, I leave you with a thought. I am satisfied with this victory, eminently satisfied. Not giddy, not delirious. Satisfied. It's great to have defeated the Yankees. But this isn't what our team came to the playoffs for. They came for the big prize, a World Series championship. This dramatic and historic series win, sweet as it is, is merely a stepping stone to the real goal.

On Saturday night, the Boston Red Sox begin the next phase of their quest. There will be more late nights, more tired days, some disappointment and frustration, but hopefully more elation. I know they can do it. I have faith. I believe.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

  Thoughts from Yankeeland

There is a decidedly different attitude among fans of the Evil Empire. Over on the Yankee board, people are doing everything from demanding Joe Torre's head on a platter to claiming biased umpiring cost them the game ("A-Rod was BLOCKED!!!") to simply sitting down the corner and giving up. These are among the more entertaining entries (with spelling and grammar errors left intact):

OK, we get it. The fans are upset and more than a little tense. But what about the less emotional New York newspaper writers? They're significantly more eloquent, but whether they are preparing their readers for what they believe is a possible but unlikely Game 7 loss for the Yankees or they are truly worried, there is an air of pessimism emanating from the sports pages of Gotham. A sampling:

New York Times

Over at the Times (free registration required), Harvey Araton describes the disquieting and, for Yankees fans, unfamiliar feeling of being unsure if they'll still be here tomorrow:

Scary, isn't it, that knuckle-whitening, nail-biting, curse-inducing and generally foreboding experience of a late night in October when your team's bullpen is perceived as vulnerable, hittable and ultimately fallible. Even if Torre somehow pieces together a workable situation for six innings tonight, there is no way of knowing if the cavalry will come to save him as it has in the past, as Rivera and others did last year.

Araton's colleague, Murray Chass, has a slightly more swaggering tone to his column, but seems to temper his enthusiasm with a small dose of reality:

After the Red Sox lost Game 3 at Fenway Park on Saturday and fell behind the Yankees by three games to none, they might have said - with false bravado - that they would live to play again at Yankee Stadium.

But no one else really believed it. If losing all three games wasn't enough to doom the Red Sox, their 19-8 drubbing in Game 3 said it sufficiently: These Red Sox could not beat those Yankees. At least not this week.

Moreover, the Red Sox were confronted with a historical barrier. No A.L. team had lost the first three games of a best-of-seven series and won the next two.

Yet the Red Sox did precisely that.

New York Post

Meanwhile, at the Times' less, um, dignified stepbrother, Dan Martin notes that even George Steinbrenner was shellshocked after Game 6:

"Sure, I'm worried," Steinbrenner said after the Yankees dropped a 4-2 decision to Boston, their third straight defeat after jumping out to a 3-0 series lead. "The whole team should be worried. We've got to win it." [...]

Curt Schilling and Keith Foulke helped prevent the Yankees from advancing to the World Series last night, despite the Boss' pregame rhetoric.

Prior to Game 6, Steinbrenner sounded confident, saying, "We're ready, we're ready. We'll get them."

For the readership in a city that actually believe in curses and ghosts, Kevin Kernan serves up this summary of why this time, things just may be different:

[T]he bottom line here is that Schilling was the difference. When he left, the Red Sox were leading 4-1 and the Yankees and their fans acted as though they had accepted defeat.

The man who came to Boston boldly proclaiming he was there to break The Curse, just may have done that last night on a cold night at Yankee Stadium.

New York Daily News

Of course, no sports page recap would be complete without the hysteria of the Daily News, whose back page headline screamed "COLLISION CURSE". Inside, Bill Madden suggests that the Yanks are lucky to have gotten this far:

When you think about it, the Yankees getting to the brink of the World Series with this aging, patchwork starting rotation and what amounted to 2-1/2 relievers Torre really trusted seems nothing short of miraculous. But as they approach the finish line, they're gasping and the pressure of a season is enormous.

Down the hall, Mike Lupica describes Game 7 thusly:

An all-in game between the Yankees and Red Sox after the Yankees thought they had them swept. The Yankees? They try to avoid the single most stunning collapse in the history of the most famous team in sports.

If you ask the players from both teams, to a man they will tell you that skittishness on the part of beat writers does not a game decide. Nine innings must still occur between the white lines tonight. Don't expect the Yankees to roll over. Both teams, especially the pitching staffs, are physically and emotionally spent, but both will give their collective last drop of sweat going for the victory. But if New York's sports media and even a substantial number of fans are having their doubts, you can bet the same doubts have crossed the players' minds. If the Red Sox, exhausted and depleted as they are, can take advantage of that doubt, they may just go to bed tonight as American League Champions.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

Congrats Miserable Red Sox fan to you and all Red Sox Nation on the Greatest Comeback in Baseball History!

Chicago Cub Fans

  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 5)

Our Red Sox keep doing what others say they can't. As Curt says, "Why Not Us?"

Stop kissing random strangers on the street and repeat after me:

  • It’s official—the Red Sox have gone where no team has gone before.
  • The check the Yankees sent to the umpires must have bounced, because they actually got the calls right.
  • All Bellhorn’s postseason strikeouts have been erased by one swing of the bat.
  • Don’t you think the fact that Schilling spilled his blood for Red Sox Nation makes him a little bit like Jesus?
  • We have them right where we want them :)

Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...happy thoughts...

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

  We're Inside Their Heads

When switch-hitter Jason Varitek came to the plate last night batting from the right side, the Fox announcers mentioned that he was playing with Yankee closer Mariano Rivera's. Previously batting only lefty against Rivera in the past, Tek was like a new and unfamiliar hitter. Now we know what unfamiliar hitters do to Rivera: they entice him to blow saves, this time for the second consecutive night and for the fourth time against the Red Sox this year.

If you're a Yankees fan, you think this can't possibly last. So with their team still up 3-2 in the best-of-seven series, they're quite confident they can win one of the next two, right?

Maybe not. It seems that the Red Sox' stubborn refusal to be eliminated has some in the Bronx looking at this team as a new and unfamiliar opponent, one they aren't quite sure how to handle. Bottom line: there is a crack in the facade of Yankee fans' arrogance. No less a source than the New York Times has one sportswriter who has put into print what others may be thinking (free registration required):

[The Red Sox] now return to the gloomy old castle in the Bronx, where a most horrible thing happened to them last October. But isn't this the best way the Sox could sting their old tormentors, by falling behind, three games to none, and then roaring past the Yankees in four straight?

"Unless I'm mistaken, we've won four straight before," Johnny Damon, who carried the winning run home last night, said the night before.

In fact, the Sox had winning streaks of 6, 4, 5, 5, 6, 10, 4 and 4 at different times during the season.

To say the least, it's a long shot to bet on the Red Sox completing a comeback unparalleled in the long and colorful history of major league baseball. Then again, it was a long shot to bet against Rivera on consecutive nights; to bet on the Yanks' losing consecutive extra-inning games; to bet on a battle-worn Boston bullpen holding on until someone could drive in just one run; to bet that the same player, in virtually the same situation, would be the offensive hero twice in less than 24 hours.

As Curt Schilling has taken to saying, Why Not Us? In New York, they're finding it harder and harder to come up with an answer.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 4)

It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood, and yes, Virginia, there is a Game 6.

Pop an aspirin for your hangover and repeat after me:

  • The Yankees have been dealt their first ever back-to-back extra-inning playoff losses.
  • The Red Sox are still undefeated at Fenway in extra-inning playoff games.
  • Ortiz is my Papi.
  • They’re terrified of us, I tell you, terrified.
  • We have them right where we want them :)

Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...happy thoughts...

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Monday, October 18, 2004

  Red Sox Prayer

This made the rounds last year in one form or another. It's worth repeating (slightly modified for 2004) given recent playoff-related events.

Our Father, who art in Fenway,
Baseball be Thy game.
Thy kingdom come,
World Series won on earth
as it is at the Cask 'n' Flagon.
Give us this day our Pedro Martinez,
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those of poor Bill Buckner.
And lead us not into depression,
But deliver us from the curse.
For Thine are Manny, and Schilling, and Big Papi
forever and ever. Amen.

OK, now everyone go out and light a candle, chant, make a novena, sacrifice a small animal, or whatever you do. Meet you by the television at 5:00.

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  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 3)

I don't work on the weekends, so I did no affirmation after the 19-8 debacle that was Game 3, which is probably a good thing because I had nothing positive to say. This morning, however, I was buoyed by a Game 4 late-night win in extra-innings to stave off elimination.

Wake up, wipe the crud from your eyes, and repeat after me:

  • I'm guessing the Red Sox like being the only team that can beat Mariano Rivera.
  • Bill Mueller is the Bernie Carbo of 2004.
  • David Ortiz is the Pudge Fisk, and the name suits him better too.
  • Who needs sleep when your team won?
  • We have them right where we want them :)

Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...happy thoughts...

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  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 2)

The first edition of affirmations was well-received, so I decided to do another after the Sox lost 3-1 in Game 2.

Take the noose from around your neck and repeat after me:

  • Pedro pitched well and the bullpen held.
  • Don't worry about Curt's ankle. He has one just like it on the end of the other leg.
  • Offense? They just needed a night off.
  • The Yankees are cocky and smug, but now they have to come to OUR house.
  • We have them right where we want them :)

Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...happy thoughts...

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  Positive Affirmations for Red Sox Fans (Vol. 1)

I prepared the following last Wednesday morning in response to all the depressed Red Sox fans coming to my office for an uplifting therapy session after the Red Sox' 10-7 Game 1 loss in the ALCS.

Come in from the ledge and repeat after me:

  • We scored against all but one Yankee pitcher, including the one who took a perfect game into the 7th inning.
  • We got unexpected bullpen help from Leskanic and Mendoza, in addition to standard-bearers Embree and Foulke.
  • Even after most teams would have been mentally beaten, our boys believed they could come back—and almost did.
  • Forget Schilling's ankle—the real reason we lost is that I didn't wear my Red Sox earrings yesterday. I have them on today. Fear not.
  • We have them right where we want them :)

Happy thoughts...happy thoughts...happy thoughts...

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

  ALCS Game 1 Live Blogging

Friends and family may know that it's been a hectic last couple weeks for me, but tonight I'm settling in to watch the game and blog my thoughts and comments. (Thanks, Mom, for the use of your computer and high-speed internet connection!)

Look for updates at least every half innning. Feel free to post your comments at the bottom of this entry. Enjoy, and GO SOX!

PRE-GAME COMMENTS — The Sox made one roster change since the ALDS: Kevin Youkilis is out, Ramiro Mendoza is in. According to Theo's WEEI pre-game interview, they opted to carry an extra pitcher just to make sure that the health of the pitching staff wasn't an issue. Whatever that means.

On the Fox25 pre-game, Shonda Schilling answered a question about Curt's ankle by saying that the only body part that matters is his pitching arm. Let's hope she's right.

Speaking of Fox, this is a national broadcast on the Fox network, with my least favorite commentators, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver. I have often said that I am mortified to have to say that that blowhard McCarver once wore a Red Sox uniform. Not only doesn't he know when to shut up, but what's with the bad dye job?

But I digress. Tonight's Sox lineup doesn't look too odd: Damon, Bellhorn, Ramirez, Ortiz, Millar, Nixon, Varitek, Cabrera, and Mueller, with Schilling on the mound. For the Evil Empire: Jeter, Rodriguez, Sheffield, Matsui, Williams, Posada, Olerud, Cairo, and Lofton, with Mussina pitching (note that Williams is in the CF with Lofton DHing).

Mere minutes until game time...

PRE-GAME POST SCRIPT — Did I mention that I hate FOX? Evidently they have no one creative producing their game telecast, because all they ever do is bring up the stupid curse. And what was that little Nomar thing? I guess they haven't heard that Nomar's on the golf course and we're leaving him in the dust.

KEYS TO THE GAME — The Red Sox have to get to Mussina early and score at least 2 or 3 runs before he settles down. It will also help if they maintain their patience at the plate and take a few balls to get to the bullpen early. FOX, which has Al Leiter in the booth in addition to Tweedle-Dee and Tweedle-Dum, was just saying the exact same thing about the Yankees getting to Schilling. The difference, of course, is that Mussina has a bit of a history of giving up runs early; Curt does not. Naturally the FOX dimwits don't know that. Sheesh.

TOP OF THE 1st INNING — First pitch at 8:20 EDT... Damon strikes out swinging... Mussina throws 4 consecutive strikes to start the game before a 2nd pitch ball to Bellhorn... Bellhorn flies out to Williams in CF... Manny grounds out to Olerud and Mussina barely beats him to the bag. 0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 0 LOB

Mussina looked good in the first. Maybe Big Papi can shake him up a big in the 2nd.

BOTTOM OF THE 1st INNING — Jeter 3-for-21 vs. Schilling, according to the windbag... Jeter flies out to Trot in RF... the home plate ump calls strike 3 to Rodriguez a ball... Rodriguez also flies out to Trot... I wonder if Sheffield ever strains himself wiggling the bat like that?... Sheffield doubles to left field with 2 out... RBI double by Matsui... RBI bloop single to center by Williams... Schilling needs to stop and breathe for a minute... Posada hitting .222 in this postseason... and he grounds out to Bellhorn to end the inning. 2 RUNS, 3 HITS, 1 LOB

Schilling threw nearly twice as many pitches (21) as Mussina (11). Is it the ankle as alluded to by Leiter?

TOP OF THE 2nd INNING — Buck says that Ortiz is .069 against Mussina... Papi grounds out to Olerud at 1B.. Millar grounds out to Jeter at SS... Trot pops out to Jeter to end the inning. 0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 0 LOB

It's early in the game but all Yankees so far. Sox have to get something going on the offense in the next inning or two. Expect Schilling to settle down in the bottom of the inning.

BOTTOM OF THE 2nd INNING — Microscopic strike zone by Marsh behind the plate... Olerud grounds out to Bellhorn at 2B... Cairo flies out to Manny in LF... Lofton strikes out swinging to end the inning. 0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 0 LOB

Much more economical inning by Schill, only 7 pitches to get 3 outs. That bodes well for the rest of the game. Next inning I'll take a look at pitch velocity.

TOP OF THE 3rd INNING — Varitek flies out to Matsui in LF... Cabrera pops out to Olerud in foul territory... Mueller pops out to Jeter at SS to end the inning. 0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 0 LOB

Mussina hit the low 90s on the radar. He's now up to 34 pitches once through the batting order. Now that the Sox hitters have all seen him, let's get the rhythm going.

BOTTOM OF THE 3rd INNING — Jeter singles to center... Rodriguez gets an infield hit in spite of a great effort by Cabrera... Sheffield walk to load the bases... 3-run double into the RF corner by Matsui... Leiter is actually adding some valuable commentary re: Schilling's delivery and mechanics... Bellhorn throws out Williams at first... Posada lines out on a sacrifice to Damon in CF... Olerud walks on 4 pitches... the lefty Myers is up in the pen... announcers saying Tito should pull Schill and try for an offensive comeback... Cairo flies out to Damon to end the inning. 4 RUNS, 3 HITS, 1 LOB

Schilling is throwing 90 max, but not very often. He's clearly off balance. Look for Myers in the bottom of the 4th.

TOP OF THE 4th INNING — Leskanic now warming, which makes more sense than Myers... Damon strikes out looking... Mussina is throwing more balls now... Bellhorn strikes out looking... Manny strikes out looking to end the inning. 0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 0 LOB

Believe it or not, Mussina is up to 50 pitches. There might be hope to get to the bullpen after all. If we're lucky, we'll get a crack at Heredia.

BOTTOM OF THE 4th INNING — Schilling is out, Leskanic is in... Damon strikes out looking... McCarver just called Bronson Arroyo "Brandon Arroyo", not that I'm surprised... Lofton walks to lead off... Leiter seems convinced Schilling is hurt, but doesn't think the game is necessarily over... Jeter walks after falling behind 0-2... Rodriguez grounds into a double play, Cabrera to Bellhorn and Millar... Mendoza warming up... Sheffield strikes out to end the inning. 0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 1 LOB

Surprising (at least to me) inning by Leskanic. After consecutive walks (nerves?) the defense does him a favor and he mops up with a K. I'm guessing he'll be back to start the next inning.

TOP OF THE 5th INNING — Just cleaned up a couple typos... Buck says the "P" word... Leiter says the "N-H" words... Ortiz strikes out swinging... Why is FOX playing the Jackson 5???... Millar strikes out and is thrown out after the passed ball... Nixon grounds out to Mussina. 0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 0 LOB

Well, this is getting old. Can the Sox get Mussina out of their heads?

BOTTOM OF THE 5th INNING — Welcome visitors! Just checked the counter stats, and lots of you are checking in... Mendoza on to pitch... Manny makes a great running catch on a Matsui fly ball... Williams grounds out to Bellhorn at 2B... Wakefield loosening... Mendoza hits Posada on the toe... Olerud singles to shallow LF... Cairo lines out to Cabrera. 0 RUNS, 1 HIT, 2 LOB

The FOX announcers are being uncharacteristically complimentary of the Red Sox (McCarver: "Schilling at 85% is still better than most pitchers"). I'm pretty sure that's a sign of the apocalypse. Either that or Leiter has simply raised the bar. Big improvement over The Brother of He Who Shall Not Be Named in last year's ALCS.

TOP OF THE 6th INNING — Now would be a good time for Varitek to make me smile... But instead he strikes out swinging... McCarver spouting useless trivia... Cabrera flies out to Sheffield in RF... Mueller flies out to Matsui in LF. 0 RUNS, 0 HITS, 0 LOB

As the late great Lloyd Bridges once said, looks like I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.

BOTTOM OF THE 6th INNING — Wakefield pitching... Lofton hits a leadoff homer to RF... "Wakefield gave up the home run in last year's blah blah blah"... Jeter grounds out to Mueller at 3B... Sheffield doubles to LF. RBI single to the RF corner for Matsui... Williams flies out to Manny in LF to end the inning. 2 RUNS, 2 HITS, 1 LOB

FOX clearly has no new material. And they say the presidential debates were repetitive.

TOP OF THE 7th INNING — Damon strikes out swinging to open the inning... WOO-HOO!!! Double to left-center by Bellhorn... Sox foil Mussina's aspirations once again... Manny grounds out to Jeter at SS... Ortiz singles to RF... McCarver talks about "Brandon Arroyo" again, but this time Buck calls him on it... 2-run double to LF by Millar... Millar goes to 3rd on a Posada passed ball... Nixon hits an RBI single to center field... and that's the old ball game for Mussina... Worcester's own Tanyan Sturtze comes on in relief... Varitek goes yard to RF! 2-run homer... Sturtze is throwing some heat... Cabrera strikes out to end the big inning. 5 RUNS, 5 HITS, 0 LOB

Ah, the memories. Remember back in 2001, when Mussina took a perfect game into the 9th inning, only to have it broken up by batter #27, pinch hitter Carl Everett? It was the only worthwhile thing Jurassic Carl ever did for Boston.

BOTTOM OF THE 7th INNING — Embree relieves Wakefield... Posada grounds out to Bellhorn... Embree hitting mid-90s... Olerud flies out to Manny... Gordon warming for the MFY... Blowhards talking about the Yankee bullpen coming apart this season against the Sox... Cairo singles to RF... Lofton flies out to Manny to end the inning. 0 RUNS, 1 HIT, 0 LOB

I admit that I thought this game was over when it was 8-0. I thought there was a slim chance to come back from 6-0, if we could somehow get to the bullpen, but after that, no. Once again this team has taught me a lesson about faith. (BTW, if I may be girlie for just a minute, Embree would be more attractive without a cheek full of chew.)

TOP OF THE 8th INNING — Gordon now pitching... Infield hit by Mueller... Damon strikes out swinging... Bellhorn flies out to LF... Bloop hit to center by Manny... Rivera warming in the Yankee bullpen... Big Papi comes to the plate representing the tying run... 2-run triple to left-center by Ortiz... Rivera relieves Gordon... Millar pops up to Jeter at SS to end the inning. 2 RUNS, 3 HITS, 0 LOB

Think we can entice Rivera into blowing yet another save?

BOTTOM OF THE 8th INNING — Tilmin comes on for the 8th... Jeter grounds out to Cabrera... More compliments from the announcers... It's as if I'm living in some bizarre parallel universe... Applause for McCarver, everyone, for getting Bronson's name right... Rodriguez singles to LF... Sheffield singles to RF... Time for Timlin to remember how stellar he was in last year's playoffs... Matsui pops up to SS... 2-run double to LF by Wiliams... Manny just misses making the catch, Williams goes to 3B on a bad throw... Foulke coming on... Posada lines out to Mueller to end the inning. 2 RUNS, 3 HITS, 1 LOB

What's up with Timlin? This is a concern. On to the 9th with 3 runs needed.

TOP OF THE 9th INNING — Nixon pops out to SS on the first pitch... Rivera launches one over Posada... Varitek singles to RF... Cabrera singles to short LF... Mueller to the plate as Buck talks about his prior heroics against New York... Mueller grounds into double play to end the game. 0 RUNS, 2 HITS, 1 LOB. NY 10, BOS 7.

POST-GAME WRAP-UP — Obviously I'd rather have a win. But the Red Sox have to leave the park very buoyed by what they were able to do to make this a game. And the Yankees know that no lead is safe. Bernie Williams is giving props to the Sox in the post-game interview. I do believe our boys have made themselves known. I'm pumped going into game 2.

Thanks for visiting, folks. Pleasant dreams.

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  Live Blogging Tonight

In honor of game one of the American League Championship Series, the Miserable Fed Sox Fan will begin live blogging at 8:00pm EDT and continue until the end of the game. Look for updates at least every half inning.

Go Sox!
Spank the Yanks!

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

  It's a New Ball Game

On the morning of September 27, with the Red Sox 3.5 games behind the Yankees in the division standings, I had a grand plan for the last week of the season. I figured that if the Red Sox could sweep three games from Tampa Bay and Minnesota could sweep three from New York, we would be only a half game behind the Yankees going into the final series of the season. With a win in our extra game (a makeup of a rain-out at Baltimore in July), we would need only match the Yankees win for win to end the season tied in the standings. Our 11-8 record against them in the season series would break the tie, and voila! the Red Sox are your 2004 American League East Division champions.

It would have worked perfectly if the Red Sox and Twins had cooperated. Instead, the Sox gave one away to the Devil Dogs and the Twinkies folded like a cheap suitcase, and all of a sudden the last series of the season meant nothing more than playoff pairings, which might not have been any different if we had finished in first place. That said, our boys are in the postseason, so it's time to look not back but forward.

There are some interesting predictions coming forth from sports media-land, and they are betraying an uncharacteristic confidence in the Olde Towne Team to get it done after a long drought. Six of 16 ESPN contributors named Boston as their World Champion pick, more than picked any other team (Jayson Stark even lists his reasons.) Two of four prognosticators over at CBS Sportsline also pick the Sox. I haven't seen any Sporting News predictions as far as the World Series, but they have linked to Fox Sports projections that include the Sox as Divisional Series winners in five against Anaheim.

Of course, the games are played by the players on the field, not by the writers on a computer. I like the thought process, though, not to mention the consistency. Bandwagoning by the press? I doubt it. These guys know what they're watching, and what they're watching is the best all-around Red Sox team in at least a generation or two.

Did you hear about Rally Monday? Major League Baseball decided it would be fun to have a rally in every playoff city the day before the postseason officially begins. So at least 5,000 people, including me, showed up at Fenway last night for some off-day fun. A quick check of other team web sites failed to turn up attendance figures (except for the 10,000 who showed up in St. Louis, not surprising for a team that led MLB in wins) but evidently fans in Atlanta are so apathetic that the Braves used their rally announcement to promote an ALDS ticket special—buy two tickets to Game 1 and get Game 2 tickets free. Here in Boston, you have to submit yourself to a lifetime of indentured servitude and sell your first born child for Standing Room Only.

The latest statement from George M. Steinbrenner, released at 2:05 PM EDT on October 4, 2004, clearly shows an old man going around the bend: "I'm just hopeful—hopeful that the pitching is OK and that we are playing championship baseball. I am hopeful for New York and I want to give New York a championship." That's it, in its entirety. Folks, you can't make this stuff up. Makes me realize how lucky we are to have a team whose owner is, you know, sane.

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