Keeping the Faith
The Florida Marlins have the lowest attendance in the major leagues, averaging only 10,917 people per game this season. As you can see from this picture of Dolphins Stadium (right), there will be plenty of room for transplanted Red Sox fans to turn the stadium into Fenway South for this weekend's three game series. Let's hope they can create the kind of home field atmosphere that can help the Sox continue their winning ways.
Lefty Dontrelle Willis takes the mound for Florida tonight. He is 4-7 with a 4.05 ERA, but for some reason his numbers are much worse at home (1-4, 7.83) where opponents are batting .358, slugging .530, and getting on base .424. His only home start this month was on June 14, when he gave up 4 earned runs on 9 hits, including 2 homers, in 7 innings pitched.
Only two Red Sox now on the active roster have ever faced Willis: Mark Loretta, 2-for-9 with 4 walks and a home run, and Coco Crisp, 1-for-2 with a double. Overall this season, right-handed batters are doing much better against Willis this season (51 points higher batting average, 67 points higher on-base percentage, 30 points higher slugging, and more than twice as many strikeouts per walk), so expect Terry Francona to start Gabe Kapler for Trot Nixon and have Crisp and Jason Varitek bat right. Whether David Ortiz replaces Kevin Youkilis at first base in the National League stadium remains to be seen. If it were up to me, I'd start Youk with an eye toward subbing Papi later in the game if extra offense is needed.
Boston's starter is the recently acquired Jason Johnson, making his Red Sox debut. He has faced five current Marlins: Joe Borchard (1-for-5, 1 HR, 3 K), Wes Helms (1-for-3, single), Miguel Olivo (0-for-3, 1 K), Matt Treanor (2-for-2, 2 singles), and Miguel Cabrera (1-for-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB).
If one picture is worth a thousand words, one back page from the New York Post is easily worth twice that.
The Red Sox' dismantling of the Mets suggests that New York may not be as good as their record would seem to indicate. After all, they play in the same division as, and therefore play a big chunk of their games against, four weak teams who are now under .500. Just imagine what the Red Sox' record would be right now if we had teams like the Marlins and Phillies in our division instead of the Blue Jays and Yankees.
Don't look now, but the 47-28 Red Sox have the third-best record in the major leagues, and their current trajectory is up. In head-to-head standings, they would be a game ahead of the NL East-leading Mets, five games ahead of the Cardinals (NL Central), and seven up on the Padres (NL West) and Athletics (AL West). Only the red-hot Tigers and the solid White Sox have better records (54-25 and 51-26 respectively). We took two of three from the Tigers earlier this month and don't see them again until mid-August. The pre-All Star break series in Chicago, the first Sox-vs.-Sox contest of the season, will answer the last remaining question about how Boston stands up to the other top teams.
With the pitching, hitting, and defense running on all cylinders lately, the usual Francona bashers over at the Red Sox Fan Forum have been quiet. Only this thread was on the front page today, and it seems to have been resurrected from a few weeks ago for the sole purpose of displaying the idiocy of the person who started it.
Tom Glavine (known in these parts as "Billerica's own Tom Glavine") starts tonight for the Mets in the ballpark where he watched many games as a kid. I was at the game on August 31, 1997, when Glavine first pitched in Fenway, and let's just say I'm hoping for a better result tonight. For the record, only two Red Sox who played in that game are still with the team: Tim Wakefield, who pitched in relief and is now in the rotation, and catcher Bill Haselman, who is the Sox first base coach this year.
FUN WITH NUMBERS: In addition to their 2006 domination of the National League (13-1 after last night's game), the Red Sox have a winning record against the AL East (24-16) and the AL West (7-5), but haven't done so well against the AL Central (3-6) due in part to their sweep at the hands of the Twins... They are 21-18 on the road and 26-10 at home... Second in the league against right-handed starters (36-17, behind only the White Sox) but just break even against lefties (11-11)... A respectable 11-6 in one-run games... The Red Sox are on a pace to win 101 games, which is almost as many as the Royals and Pirates are projected to lose (108).
Where would our Red Sox be without interleague play? When the team began its June stretch against the National League East, so began the current 10-game winning streak. Only because of that 2-1 series against Philadelphia in May is Boston not undefeated against the NL in 2006. Even so, no other team has a better record in interleague contests this year. Without it, this wouldn't be a first place team right now.
The current standings atop the American League are:
Interleague records for those three teams are:
Take out interleague games from the overall standings and here's what's left:
No doubt Sox bashers will claim that this proves that New York and Toronto are better teams. The National League, after all, is increasingly recognized as the inferior major league. The American League is a decisive .626 against the National League this season, with all but 3 teams having winning records in interleague action. By contrast, only two NL teams have winning interleague records, with two more hanging on at .500. The AL has won the last eight All-Star games (excluding the 2002 tie) and is 22-12 in World Series play going back to 2000. Yet the Yankees are just .500 and the Blue Jays a pathetic .385 in interleague action this season. Why can't they do what the Sox have done?
One possibility is the influx of National League players to the Red Sox roster. Josh Beckett, Alex Gonzalez, and Mark Loretta were career NLers before coming to Boston; Mike Lowell played all but 7 games of his pre-Sox career in the National League. It's reasonable to believe that the familiarity those key players have with NL teams has helped stabilize the Red Sox during this stretch. The Blue Jays have only former Brewer and Diamondback Lyle Overbay (ex-Marlin A.J. Burnett hardly counts, having been hurt most of the season). The Yankees don't even have that.
There is also a chance that the team happened to gel just in time to face the National League. If so, we can expect this momentum to carry over to the rest of the season. And that would be very good news indeed.
It happened last Friday morning, about 18 hours before the scheduled Red Sox vs. Phillies game at Fenway Park and 36 hours before he was to start game 2 of the weekend series. It happened on the city streets of Boston in the presence of strangers who had no idea who he was. It would have been just another violent episode, like so many others that occur every hour of every day all over the country, if hadn't involved a visiting athlete in town to oppose the beloved local team. Oh, and it didn't help that the victim was about half the athlete's size, not to mention his wife. That didn't go over well among fans of a team didn't cut any slack for two of their own who were accused of similar offenses several years ago.
The incident for which Phillies ace Brett Myers was arrested last week was described this way in one news account:
Myers was arguing with his wife shortly after midnight at the corner of Boylston and Dalton streets, [David] Procopio, [a spokesman for the Suffolk County District Attorney's office], said. The woman and two witnesses told police the 25-year-old pitcher hit her. One witness told investigators Myers also pulled her hair.
"The evidence at this point leads us to believe the victim was struck in the left side of her face," Procopio said. He added that investigators are trying to determine if Myers hit her with a fist or open hand and whether he hit her more than once.
Police responded to a 911 call and found Myers' wife crying and with a swollen face, Procopio said. Officers found Myers nearby and arrested him.
It might have made sense for the Phillies to at least pretend that this was a problem, but instead they have gone all stupid on us. On Friday afternoon, the team issued a poor excuse for a statement:
Out of respect for the privacy of both Kim and Brett Myers, the Phillies will not comment on this incident until the matter is resolved by the Court.
Not surprisingly, the Boston fans were in no mood to wait until the the situation, and when they booed Myers during his start at Fenway on Saturday, at least some of the Phillies' on-field personnel seemed to be in denial about the reason why:
"It didn't surprise me," Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said. "Boston is pretty rough."
Hmmm. So the fact that Myers was booed was because Boston is rough, not because Myers beat the snot out of his wife. Interesting take. But Manuel wasn't the only one in the Phillies organization skirting the issue.
"Baseball is baseball," said shortstop Jimmy Rollins, the team's player representative. "We come here to play baseball. We concentrate on baseball. What goes on in people's personal lives, usually we drop that at the door. You have to. That's the only way we can do what we do. It's hard to bring personal lives into the clubhouse."
It's remarkable how those players think the baseball field is magically insulated from the rest of the world. Another of Myers' teammates expressed similar sentiments:
"I don't think it's going to affect the team," outfielder Bobby Abreu said. "Everybody here knows what we've got to do on the field. It's a personal problem and we can separate it."
General Manager Pat Gillick was even more clueless, apparently believing that what the Myerses need is couples therapy and perhaps a group hug:
"It's a very sensitive issue and anything that affects our players we take very seriously," Gillick said. "He and his wife, we offer whatever support and needs that they might have."
Sorry, guys, but those are all inadequate responses. Myers, by committing a public act (a criminal assault is always a public act, even if it is committed in a private setting) in a public place amongst many witnesses, ceded his entitlement to privacy in relation to the incident. Remember that the plaintiff in the criminal case against Myers won't be Kim Myers; it will be the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. And what the perp needs isn't support from his employer, but a swift boot in the ass as he enters his prison cell. He certainly doesn't need or deserve to be coddled by the spineless dolts who run the Phillies and the rest of Major League Baseball. As the Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board opined today:
Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig just happened to give a speech the same day in Boston to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. "As a sport, as a business and as a social institution, baseball recognizes that there is nothing more important than setting a good example for our children," Selig said.
Nothing, except winning.
As for the half dozen or so pinheads who have called sports radio over the last several days crying the blues about how unfair it is to criticize Myers before he's been convicted of anything, I have a news flash. The presumption of innocence is a judicial concept. It does not bind anyone outside the criminal justice system. It does not preclude me, for example, from having an opinion on Myers' guilt or innocence based on what I have read. It should not preclude the Phillies from taking seriously criminal charges filed against one of their players. Indeed, according to an Associated Press article concerning last year's release by the Baltimore Orioles of pitcher Sidney Ponson:
Every player on the 40-man roster signs a standard contract that includes a morals clause, paragraph 3(a), that reads: "The Player agrees to perform his services hereunder diligently and faithfully, to keep himself in first-class physical condition and to obey the Club's training rules, and pledges himself to the American public and to the Club to conform to high standards of personal conduct, fair play and good sportsmanship."
One could certainly argue that beating one's wife in the presence of complete strangers on a public street does not "conform to high standards of personal conduct".
As I was writing this, Myers announced that he would take a leave of absence for a few weeks.
Myers, Philadelphia's best pitcher, said Tuesday he asked the team for time off so he can "concentrate on this matter and make plans for whatever assistance is appropriate."
[ . . . ]
"First, while I dispute that the facts are as alleged, I recognize that my behavior was inappropriate and for that I apologize," Myers said in a statement. "Second, I recognize that the incident created an embarrassing situation for many people, including my wife and family, my teammates, the Phillies organization, and fans, and I am very sorry for that."
Well, isn't that special? He disputes the facts are as alleged, but he's sorry. Some people never learn.
P**** M******z just addressed the assembled media at Fenway Park prior to the start of the Red Sox series against the New York Mets. I listened on WEEI and took the following notes of some of his remarks:
About the fans in Boston:
They had 86 years of agony... that's why they have so much of my respect.
About whether or not the fans will cheer him when he pitches tomorrow:
If they don't, I'll just have to say they're doing it to back up their team.
About his old teammates:
I have very close friendship with guys like David, Manny, Varitek... They were my true family when I was in the baseball field and when I was in the clubhouse.
About whether he'll be able to keep his game face when pitching against the Red Sox:
Manny and David will get you laughing any time... The other day I had to face Millar with Baltimore, and Millar made me laugh every at-bat, so there's no way I can probably escape from [the Red Sox].
About how he feels about the Red Sox now:
I'm the number one fan of the Red Sox right now... Unless I'm competing out there, I want to see them have success and become champions if I'm not going to be the one [to win].
About the reaction from people on the street since he's been back in town:
Everybody has embraced me just like before... It's the same way they embraced me 3, 4 years back... In the last two days, I've had a lot of love from the people who walk around.
About whether he feels comfortable being back at Fenway:
It's like I've just been away a couple of days.
About his parting of the ways with the Red Sox organization and mistakes he made:
My life had to go on, and the Red Sox had to go on. That was a business decision... I said I wanted to stay in Boston, and I guess the Red Sox took that into consideration and thought that I would take whatever they offered. That was my mistake... I said my heart was here in Boston, and that was a big mistake. Do you all remember when I said, at one point, frustrated, one of the few things I regret saying is that I should call the Yankees my Daddy. Because since then, I've been their grandfather, uncle, everything.
About pitching in Fenway:
It's always special. You don't get this opportunity every day. Do you know how many people go out there every day just to see Fenway Park and the Green Monster?
About what he considers to be his legacy in Boston:
The way baseball used to be in Boston was clap when you did good, boos when you didn't. In the seven years I was here, I got to see how Boston took a different spin, the stadium, you saw the Dominican flag running up and down, the K crew... Baseball wise, I did what I was supposed to do. I didn't do anything extra.
About his health:
It's a little better. But I did have a little bit of a struggle in the last month or so.
About whether he could foresee ever coming back to Boston:
I don't know. But I doubt it, because this [Mets team] is a team that right now is on the brink of becoming a championship team... If we win, I don't think anybody would want to change a good thing going. Maybe that's what happened in Boston. We had a good thing going, and some of us had to go away and so did the championship.
About whether he was surprised by the reception Sox fans gave to Johnny Damon:
No. Once a Red Sox, you're a Red Sox forever... and he went to the wrong uniform. And thank God I didn't have to make the same mistake.
Hmmmmm... I may have to reconsider that whole nameless thing.
The answer to yesterday's question, "Where were all the Yankees fans" during New York's Sunday evening game against the Marlins, remains unknown. But we do know where they weren't: in the seats at Yankee Stadium. Yankee fans tend to make the following excuses for why fewer than 7,000 people bothered to go to that game:
Yesterday afternoon, the Red Sox played a make-up game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Fenway Park. The circumstances were as follows:
One might expect that there would be fewer than 7,000 fans in the stands. Yet according to the official box score published online by Major League Baseball, the attendance was (drum roll,
That's 94% of capacity, a far cry from the 12% of capacity our neighbors to the southwest pulled in on Sunday evening.
What conclusions can be drawn from this comparison? It could suggest that Bostonians are more likely to have jobs that allow them the flexibility of a personal day, though I can't imagine that most people who had Saturday afternoon Yankees tickets had work obligations for a Sunday evening. Maybe the Red Sox attract kids and students, who are out of school for the summer, at a higher rate than the Yankees do. Or perhaps it's simply an indication of the fans' dedication (or lack thereof) to their respective teams, like the number of people who bail out when their team is losing or the weather stinks.
I'm glad we Red Sox fans support our team.
The New York Yankees and Florida Marlins were rained out at Yankee Stadium on Saturday, so the game was made up last night. According to the official box score published online by Major League Baseball, the attendance was (drum roll,
The Red Sox and Phillies were rained out yesterday afternoon at Fenway Park. That game will be made up this afternoon. The weather forecast calls for a cloudy, damp day with a 20% chance of showers through the afternoon. It's a work day for most people. Oh, and the population of Boston is about 7% that of New York.
I'm betting the Sox will come close to filling Fenway Park.
They were @ home, watching "Yankeeography-Ken Phelps", with George Steinbrenner(With Back to camera)being played by Larry David:
Or was that "Seinfeld"?
Twenty-five years ago tonight, the longest game in professional baseball history ended in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. It was an epic for the ages, setting a number of professional baseball records, but nobody realized it until after virtually all of the game had been played.
The game between the AAA International League's Pawtucket Red Sox and the visiting Rochester Red Wings, then the Baltimore Orioles' affiliate, began inauspiciously enough on Saturday evening, April 18, 1981, following a brief delay because of electrical problems at McCoy Stadium. It was the night before Easter Sunday, and it's likely that no one was yet thinking about playing again on Sunday afternoon. The game was tight, with the PawSox down 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth, so they probably felt good about tying the score to force extra innings. The only problem was that neither team would score another run until the 21st inning, when Rochester scored once in the top of the inning and Pawtucket tied it in the bottom of the inning. 2-2 after 21 innings of baseball.
During the next 11 innings, the temperature would drop, the fans would leave, and the officials would argue about whether or not there was a league curfew to worry about (the rule book the team had said yes, the umpires' rule book said no.) Play continued until someone got hold of International League president Harold Cooper at home in the wee hours of Sunday morning. Cooper ordered the game suspended after the current inning was completed, which finally happened at 4:09am on Sunday, April 19. Word is that besides players and staff, only 17 of the 1,740 people who were there when the game started were still there when it was called.
Ordinarily in such circumstances, the suspended game would be completed before the next game played between those two teams at that location. But both teams were tired, so the league agreed to hold it over until the Red Wings' next trip to McCoy.
And so it was that on Tuesday, June 23, 1981, an hour before a regularly scheduled 7:00 game, the Pawtucket Red Sox took the field to pitch to the Rochester Red Wings in the 33rd inning of a game that had begun 66 days earlier. By that time, all the baseball world and most of the rest of the world had heard about the record-setting game, so there were thousands more people there for the 33rd inning than were there for the 32nd. One wonders what went through their minds when Rochester failed to score in their half of the inning.
Nor could one blame the PawSox for coming up to bat thinking, Alright already, let's get this done. One hit batter, one single, one intentional walk, and no outs later, Dave Koza (right) placed himself into the repository of great baseball moments with a bloop hit that scored the winning run and ended the game. After two months and five days, after 8 hours and 25 minutes of baseball, after 33 innings, after 219 at bats and 195 put outs and 283 defensive chances and 39 hits (but only five runs), it was over and all the records were official.
Where did they go from there?
The game also featured two former major leaguers:
Years later in a videotaped interview, Joe Morgan told me he was angry when the game ended. He wanted it to last 40 innings, he explained, to ensure it would never be surpassed. It's a sentiment he has expressed many times to many different interviewers. His players and their opponents were no doubt glad he didn't get his wish.
I got the list of longest game players who made it to the big leagues on Wikipedia. Articles about the longest game, its players, and the anniversary celebrations can be found everywhere, including the Los Angeles Times, the Huntsville (Alabama) Times, the Waterbury (Connecticut) Republican American, the Arizona Daily Star, and the Syracuse (New York) Post-Standard. A children's book about the historic event, aptly entitled The Longest Game by Steve Krasner and illustrated by Susan Starkweather, is available from Amazon.com or at the McCoy Stadium souvenir shop. Images of the official scorecard adorn publications such as the back cover the Society for American Baseball Research's Baseball Research Journal #33. On a large section of wall in the concourse of McCoy Stadium hang articles, pictures, and the actual home plate from that game. And if you ever get to Cooperstown, New York, you can see Bill George's original scorecard in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ojeda was in the trade that sent '86 World Series Arsonist, Calvin Schiraldi, to the Red Sox;
The Tragedy in Florida, with the boat, killing a couple of his Cleveland Team Mates played heavily in his own inneffectiveness;
Nice to see Geddy, come home!
Wow. Talk about a flashback. Thanks for the memories.
Teach them well and let them lead the way. And last night, they did. Or one of them, at least. Jon Lester got the win as the Sox swept the Washington Expos. And he did it in spectacular fashion: six innings, one run, and ten strikeouts in six innings for his second major league victory. His ERA is 2.76, and don't tell me that doesn't have you breathing a big sigh of relief in light of the bad-to-worse news about Matt Clement and the utter lack of any information at all about David Wells.
But I digress. What about those young 'uns? Jonathan Papelbon is settling nicely into the role of Closer of the Decade, and evidently the team intends to have his peers from the farm join him for the long haul. Craig Hansen is back in preparation, presumably, for taking over Mike Timlin in the set-up role. Manny Delcarmen has a chance to get more consistent playing time and stabilize his performance, à la Kevin Youkilis. Javier Lopez (the young pitcher, not the veteran catcher) has been brought in to add a lefty arm to the bullpen. Could we see this in a future game?
Five years from now, not a single one of these guys will be more than 33 years old; a couple won't even be 30. Aren't we glad Theo and Company didn't give up the pitching prospects for some washed up "veteran" who will be retired within a year and a half? (Note: Please don't e-mail me about the
Bill Simmons, a.k.a. The Sports Guy and one of my favorite sports columnists, recently wrote this:
I'm afraid to even type the words "I was dead wrong about Mike Lowell." It's like talking during a no-hitter. In fact, forget I mentioned it.
May 23, 2006, column on ESPN.com, possibly referring to his November 22, 2006, column
Simmons, like most of us, might have hoped that the 2005 Lowell was an aberration, but we were prepared for the worst. That's why we breathed a collective sigh of relief when the front office picked up J.T. Snow, who could take over first base if/when Kevin Youkilis had to move back to third to bail out Lowell's ass.
We now know what happened instead: Not only is Lowell batting .312, but his defense places him a strong second in the American League with a .980 fielding percentage and four errors. He has the league's best zone rating, a statistic that measures "percentage of balls fielded by a player in his typical defensive 'zone,'" according to ESPN.com. Not bad for the guy whose cumbersome contract we were forced to take in order to get Josh Beckett.
What makes Lowell's defense that much sweeter is that it nicely complements that of his teammates. Just next door at shortstop, Alex Gonzalez, who has committed only one error all season, leads the league with an unfathomable .995 fielding percentage (that's 10 points higher than the next best at that position). He also has the best zone rating in among AL shortstops. Gonzalez' other half in the Red Sox double play combo is Mark Loretta, whose three errors and .990 percentage is bettered only by Kansas City's errorless Mark Grudzielanek.
Youkilis' four errors place him at second worst among the league's first basemen, but in reality he's much better than that because the it's a much tighter race, with all qualified fielders within 11 points of each other in fielding percentage. He ranks a bit higher in zone rating. The observable fact is that Youkilis has quickly become a solid first baseman.
Captain Jason Varitek ranks sixth among qualified catchers in fielding percentage and CERA (ERA of Boston pitchers while Varitek is catching) and is tied with Minnesota's Joe Mauer for best in passed balls (thank God someone else has to catch Wakefield). His percentage of runners caught stealing is in the lower half of the league, but that is widely thought to be at least as much because of the slowness of his pitchers' deliveries as with Varitek himself.
In the outfield, Manny Ramirez is fifth among AL left fielders in fielding percentage; Trot Nixon is in a virtual tie for second place among right fielders; and a menagerie of center fielders including Coco Crisp, Wily Mo Peña, Willie Harris, Dustan Mohr, and Adam Stern are error-free, though none has enough games to qualify.
The American League Gold Glove winners in 2005 included Varitek, who was the first Red Sox winner since Tony Peña, also a catcher, in 1991. The gold standard for Gold Glovers at Fenway remains Dwight Evans, who won eight of them. Since the award was established in 1957, Boston players have won Gold Gloves in 24 different seasons. In eight of those seasons, the award went to more than one Sox player. Three Sox won it in 1968 and 1979. Could 2006 be another multi-Gold Glove year for Boston? I'll go out on a limb now and predict it will.
Two and a half months into the 2006 season, it is abundantly clear that Kevin Youkilis has settled in at first base. Actually, that was clear two and a half weeks into the season. With doubts about the effectiveness of third baseman Mike Lowell quickly forgotten, there was no longer any reason to think Youkilis may have to go back to his old position. That meant the first base platoon of Youk and veteran J.T. Snow never materialized, and Snow was left without playing time. Now, in the absence of any reasonable trade possibilities, the team has designated Snow for assignment. If within ten days the Sox don't trade or release him, or if someone else doesn't pick him up off wavers, he could choose to accept an assignment in the minors.
Baseball players want to playthat's what they doso it was no surprise that Snow asked last month to be traded to a team that would put him on the field more than once in a blue moon. He didn't pull a Jay Payton or mouth off about being disrespected, but he was open about his displeasure.
"The more you sit around, the more you feel that each day that passes is another day in your career that's gone," the 38-year-old Snow. "This is something different for me. It's not fair to myself or the team...
"This was the best option," Snow said of his offseason considerations. "I understand the situation fully. The organization and the team has been great."
You can't blame him, but neither can you blame the team for not just trading him for a bag of balls. GM Theo Epstein reportedly put out some fielders, but there wasn't sufficient interest. Now the team has essentially forced their own hand: either move Snow or get nothing for him. I doubt he'll accept a minor league assignment.
Q: Who is this?
A: This is tonight's starting pitcher for The Olde Towne Team. Buckle up and get the Pepto Bismol ready.
Thank God for the hapless Atlanta Braves. The perennial National League contenders, who have fallen to last place this season, foiled Rudy Seanez' attempt to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by allowing six Red Sox to score with two out in the eighth inning of last night's game. The win completed a three-game sweep of the Braves and placed the Sox back into first place in the AL East.
Other notes about the weekend series: The sweep brings Boston's June record back up to .500, where they also were after June 3, June 5, June 8, June 10, and June 11. The roller coaster month has consisted of a W, L, W, L, L, W, W, L, W, L, L-L-L (sweep by Minnesota), and W-W-W (sweep of Atlanta)... The Braves, who have been known to fail to sell out playoff games, have seen their attendance dip this season. But GM John Schuerholz, in an interview on WEEI last Friday, acknowledged that the Red Sox would fill those empty seats. Indeed, while average attendance at Atlanta's last weekend series was 32,160, the Sox series drew 51,038, 49,364, and 48,826. The seating capacity of Turner field is 50,096... Braves pitcher John Smoltz, while miked for Fox's "Sounds of the Game" on Saturday afternoon, noted the presence of Red Sox fans with a mock PA announcement, "Ladies and Gentlemen, stand up and welcome YOUR BOSTON RED SOX!"... Congratulations to Jon Lester (left) on his first major league win Friday night. The 22-year-old prospect pitched 6 innings of five hit, one run ball... How about our hot-hitting pitchers? Josh Beckett, who has said he enjoys hitting, has a .429 batting average including a home run. He added a third hit, a single, on Saturday. Curt Schilling singled last night and is now 1-for-2. Currently disabled Matt Clement also has a single and a .333 average this season... Jason Varitek's 3-RBI performance on Saturday made up for his baserunning blunders in the same game, when he was caught stealing and was picked off second... Kevin Youkilis' offensive production continues to keep him in the games, even when David Ortiz supplants him at first base in DH-less National League parks. Youk played left field Saturday and third base yesterday. His batting average is .319 and he has 45 walks... Boston's Jekyll-and-Hyde bullpen was nearly perfect Friday, solid on Saturday, and horrific last night. The only really reliable relievers are Mike Timlin (2.05 ERA) and Jonathan Papelbon (0.25 ERA, 23 saves)... Speaking of our golden closer, it isn't too early to start lobbying your local sportswriters to consider Papelbon for postseason awards. At the rate he's going, he will be a serious contender for Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards... If one Papelbon is good, two must be better. I wonder how long it will be before we see Jonathan's younger brother, Josh Papelbon (right), a sidearmed pitcher who was drafted by the Red Sox a couple weeks ago... If Edgar Renteria's success with his new team has you wondering if he could have done the same thing if he had stayed with us for another year, forget it. Edgar admits that he just doesn't have the disposition to play in the pressure cooker that is Boston... Nothing to do with political correctness, but that tomahawk chop thing the Braves fans do annoys the snot out of me... Remember the days when interleague play in general, and the Atlanta Braves in particular, were not kind to the Red Sox? Neither do I.
If a famous novelist were to write a book about my reaction to last night's 12 inning loss to the Twins, this would be it.
It was another great start wasted. This wasn't a 2-1 or 3-2 loss where the other team was just
Curt Schilling gave eight terrific innings, and left with a tie game, but what do you do then? The only two reliable relievers we have are Jon Papelbon and Mike Timlin, and they had already pitched by the time the 12th inning rolled around. Papelbon threw 22 innings in two shutout innings, and Timlin went an inning in his first appearance fresh off the disabled list.
What were the options? Keep Timlin in longer? He has gotten into a routine of pitching one inning per game, and if you want him to be available on a regular basis, you really need to stick to that, especially to avert another injury.
So in comes Tavarez, and he does the folowing: strikes out Joe Mauer, hits Michael Cuddyer with a pitch, gives up ground-rule double to Justin Morneau, intentionally walks Torii Hunter, and serves up the gopher ball to rookie Jason Kubel.
Who would have been better? That is today's $64,000 question. The options aren't pretty.
None of the above takes into account each pitcher's record against the Twins' hitters.
Based on all the above, it should be obvious to anyone who follows the Red Sox with any regularity that there were no better options. But evidently it isn't obvious enough, since WEEI's Dale and Holley are at this moment having the identical discussion with armchair managers throughout New England.
No, we didn't lose last night because Terry Francona brought in the wrong pitcher. We lost because Francona didn't have a better option.
The choice of a Perry Mason Novel to describe that psycotic little bleep, TAVARASS, is perfect.
Maybe, TAVARASS should slap Slappy McBluelips;
Then again, I think that he needs to be sedated.
Theo Theo he's my hero goes out and gets a couple of zero's
I love David Ortiz. Not just like, or appreciate, or admire. And not just because of his hitting skills, great attitude, or commitment to the team. I love Papi because he is a fantastic ballplayer and yes, he is adorable too. How can you not love a guy who, like he did last weekend, rescues his team with yet another dramatic walk-off homerand then tells reporters afterward that he did it because "My team needed me"?
So it is with a sick feeling and a vague sense of disloyalty that I have decided to write-in Kevin Youkilis as my choice for American League first baseman at this year's All-Star game. Believe me when I tell you that nothing would make me happier than to be able to vote for Papi. The problem is that this year's midsummer classic will be played in a National League park, so there will be no designated hitter. No designated hitter, no Papi. It breaks my heart, but there it is.
Ortiz is on the ballot at first, of course, but it's almost by default. When the ballots were set, the Sox were looking at a Kevin Youkilis and J.T. Snow platoon at firstmaybe. Even that much wasn't certain because of questions as the season began that Youkilis might yet end up back at third base if Mike Lowell stunk up the place. Not only has Lowell been better than anyone dared dream, but Youk has taken to his new position so well that Snow finds himself with a fraction of the playing time he was almost certain he would have.
Ortiz? He plays first base, but only during the seaon's few interleague road games. He does a good job. Not great, but solid enough that if that were his regular position, whatever defensive deficiencies he might present would be more than mitigated by his tremendous offensive performance. Even with an uncharacteristically low batting average this season, his productionhomers and RBIputs him among baseball's very best once again.
Youkilis is certainly no Ortiz at the plate. But he more than holds his own and he has played an impressive defensive position. Perhaps not since Jeff Bagwell was transplanted across the diamond promptly upon his acquisition by the Houston Astros has a player made such an impact so quickly after a similar move.
That's why on my All-Star ballot, I am writing in Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox, first base. Even though he won't get it, he deserves the recognition. Perhaps AL manager Ozzie Guillen will make it right by choosing Youkilis for his bench. As for myself, I certainly won't shed any tears if Papi wins the fan vote, but deep in my heart, I will have to concede that he shouldn't have.
But I'll still love him.
For me, it's an easy choice. Don't vote for Drew, only vote for two outfielders, and write in Youkilis as an outfielder. That way I can still vote for Ortiz at first (I could write in Youk as a first baseman, but then I am left with Drew on the ballot over Papi, and that ain't right either).
Young Jonathan Papelbon, thrust into the closer role this season despite widespread presumption that he would be in the rotation, has been otherwordly in the first two months of his official rookie season. Just how good has he been? Let the numbers tell part of the story.
Papelbon already holds the major league record for consecutive saves by a rookie (the previous record was 16), and with each subsequent conversion he breaks his own record. He is far from the all-time consecutive save record held by Eric Gagne (63 from August 28, 2002, to September 24, 2003), but at the rate he is going, the single season save record by a rookie (37 by Seattle's Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2000) seems to be inevitable and the overall single season record (57 by the White Sox' Bobby Thigpen in 1990) is a realistic possibility.
Of course, what the numbers don't show is his steady demeanor, his intensity, his presence, the way he utterly baffles hitters. There is not a hitter or a team that has solved him.
We are witnessing something extraordinary.
Thank You, Kelly, for serving as my inspiration, for my blog, "Random Fandom Red Sox NYC." Today is the 1st Anniversary of my blog.
And WOW, what have I been missing. Thank you Michael, for providing the link here. I just became any every day reader. www.peteronall.blogspot.com/ And go Mattie, for a victory before the foray into NYC. Where we will win!
As I live in this burgh called NYC, where The RED SOX Crowd is loyal & Vociferous, tonight is "Play By Play Night", drowning out the likes of Michael "Y2" Kay & his band of Bloholes from The "NO" Network, @ Professor Thom's @ East 14th Street & 2nd Avenue.
I'm finally adding a load of links to my blog;
If you click on the link "Kelly The Great", it comes right to this blog.