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Monday, July 31, 2006

  A Quiet Trade Day on Yawkey Way

Mindful that it took awhile for the Nomar Garciaparra trade to be announced two years ago (I didn't blog about it until 6:09pm), it's looking more and more with each passing minute that the Red Sox have failed to make a significant move. Perhaps "failed" is the wrong word because it implies they could have made a good move and didn't. As far as I have heard, that isn't the case, although some yahoo who just called in to WEEI was apoplectic about the lack of what he called a "blockbuster deal". Of course he couldn't say what they could have done and didn't; all he kept saying was, "They have to do something!"

So barring a delayed announcement, what we have in the way of pre-deadline transactions is the acquisition of right handed reliever Bryan Corey for minor leaguer Luis Mendoza. It isn't a huge pick-up, but then again we gave up very little for him. And our potentially record-setting defensive infield remains intact.

I can live with that.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

The deals NOT talked about, are often the Big Ones.

  Is John Schuerholz High?

The Atlanta Braves General Manager must be on something if he really expects this to go down (from ESPN.com's Insider):

Jul 31 - ESPN The Magazine's Buster Olney reported that the Red Sox and the Braves have talked about a deal that would send Andruw Jones to Boston for Coco Crisp, Craig Hansen and a prospect.

But according to an executive familiar with the discussions, the Braves made a counter offer, asking for Jon Lester to be the third player.

Suuuuuuuure, Theo Epstein is just dying to sign on the dotted line on that deal. And right after he does that, he can buy some terrific real estate in Florida.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Conflicting Trade Rumors

Last night's rumor, direct from the stands at Fenway Park but uncorroborated as of this morning, had second baseman Mark Loretta traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers for an unknown player or players.

One of this morning's rumors, as reported by Gordon Edes of the Boston Globe, says that the infielder to be sent packing will be third baseman Mike Lowell, not Loretta, and that he is going to the San Diego Padres, not the Dodgers. This new rumor also specifies what the Sox will end up with in the end of it all: infielder Julio Lugo from Tampa Bay and relief pitcher Scott Linebrink from the Padres. According ot Edes, the information came from "a major league executive who said he spoke directly with one of the three teams involved" but was dismissed by "one of the teams involved".

The Boston Herald's Michael Silverman reports another version of a Lowell rumor, this one swapping the infielder for Ryan Shealy of the Colorado Rockies and "a more-than-reputable starter." If there is such a starter on the market, he and his team have managed to keep him well hidden.

Even Edes' unnamed MLB executive seems like a more reliable source than a security guard at Fenway or Silverman's mystery source, but given the changes that can and do happen to deals in the final hours before they are either consummated or abandoned, these rumors are no more reliable than any other until the team announces it or the trade deadline passes.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Sunday, July 30, 2006

  One More Thing... about That Other Trade

Before I sack out for the night, I'd like to quickly mention that I am utterly underwhelmed by the Yankees' trade for Bobby Abreu. Nothing against Abreu, but this (through today)

looks a lot like this (through today)

which is probably why the Red Sox have expressed little to no interested in acquiring Abreu themselves. Besides, neither would come close to replacing this (through just May 29)

That is all.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  HOT Trade Rumor

Just got a text message from a friend who is at tonight's game. The rumor spreading around Fenway like wildfire is that Mark Loretta's wife left the park crying and Loretta is going to the Dodgers. The part about Mrs. Loretta apparently came from one of the ballpark security guards.

This afternoon, while listening to WEEI on my way home from the PawSox game, I heard some talk about Theo trading one of our infielders, all of whom are at the peak of their value right now because of the stellar defense they all have been playing this year. Then when I saw that Loretta wasn't in tonight's starting lineup, I thought, This must be an uncomfortable time for a player to get a night off, just before the trade deadline.

I see nothing about this on the Globe or Herald web sites, or on ESPN.com (regular content or Insider). We'll see what tomorrow morning's sports report has to say. I'm hitting the hay.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Injury Woes Continue

Exhibit A: Keith Foulke

It was supposed to be a rehab appearance for Boston's erstwhile closer at AAA Pawtucket. I ordered tickets yesterday, excited about seeing what Foulke could do after his lengthy stint on the disabled list. I even got to McCoy Stadium early, around 11:30 for the 1:05 game, hopeful of seeing some stretching or warm-up tosses.

The starting lineups posted at one end of the concourse showed that Foulke was the PawSox starter. Probably a spring training style "start", I figured, an inning or two and then out. About a half hour before game time, #29 strolled out from the home dugout to the bullpen in left field. I was one of a very few who clapped; most fans, I think, weren't paying much attention at that point.

As we neared game time, both teams' starting lineups took the field for last minute preparations like long toss and one more stretch. Then came pre-game announcements of special contests, the throwing of ceremonial first pitches (including one by a white-habited nun), and the singing of the national anthem. Finally, the home team took the field. Over the PA system came the announcement of Pawtucket's starting pitcher: #19, David Pauley.

Foulke never did pitch in the game. I heard no explanation of why. But according to the Red Sox web site this afternoon, the problem was a sore back.

"He went out to the bullpen and then it was like five minutes before we were ready to start that I got the news he wasn't going to answer the bell," [Pawtucket] manager Ron Johnson said. "Keith came by and said, 'I'm sorry, man, but I can't go out there right now.' So, that was it. All I heard was that his back was stiff."

[ . . . ]

"He had some stiffness so he just didn't want to try it," [Pawtucket pitching coach Mike] Griffin said. "He warmed up. He stretched out and did his long toss. Then, he got up on the mound and he felt tight."

Exhibit B: Trot Nixon

Fast forward about eight hours and 40 miles north, where the big club is facing the Los Angeles Angels in the rubber game of this series on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball. I had had some time to adjust to the reality of the Foulke situation, imagining General Manager Theo Epstein taking to the phones with this afternoon's bad news fresh in his mind. Another reliever, that's what we need, I imagined him saying. Never mind that Curt Schilling was in the process of getting shelled; there were things to take care of beyond this one game.

No sooner did the thought cross my mind than Trot Nixon takes an awkward swing at a John Lackey pitch that completely fooled him. Nixon left the game in the middle of the at-bat.

Trot, don't forget, is in the final year of his contract. The conventional wisdom holds that he'll be looking for a big contract, both in dollars and years, from someone, and that someone may not be the Red Sox. With his status now a question mark with mere hours to go to the trade deadline, I can now imagine the content of some of those GM calls changing somewhat. A pitcher? Sure, we're interested... but what do you have to offer in the way of outfielders?

We may find ourselves quite surprised by what happens between now and Monday at 4:00pm.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

  Engaging in a Battle of Wits with an Unarmed Foe, Part 2

Why, oh why, do some people never learn? By "some people" I mean 1) stupid people who are too stupid to realize they're stupid, and 2) people like me who think they can make stupid people smart.

Since I posted my recent exchange with two intellectually-challenged Yankees fans on the Yankees message board, there have been additional posts. In response to my citation of a Brookings Institution report that referenced U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000, yanxontop406 Ph.D. wrote:

From: yanxontop406
To: triumphantredsoxfan
Jul-24 4:58 pm

The year 2000? You want me to look at data that's 6 years old?

Well, that did it. What little tolerance I had left for this little pinhead left me and I let loose:

From: triumphantredsoxfan
To: yanxontop406
Jul-24 8:55 pm

As a matter of fact, that's EXACTLY what I expect you to do. Why? Because (and you'd know this if you weren't completely brain-dead) poverty rates change by mere fractions of a percentage point from one year to the next, so year 2000 data is more than sufficient for the purposes of this discussion, especially based as it is on U.S. Census data which is only compiled ONCE EVERY 10 YEARS, Einstein.

Besides, you have presented ABSOLUTELY NO DATA to back up your foolish statements or to contradict anything I've said. Your responses are either objectively inaccurate or logically weak (or both) and have value only insofar as they illustrate how little you know.

IF you can present some data, any data, that comes even remotely near to supporting your points, then I'll entertain further discussion. Until then, you're wasting my time. Trying to have an intelligent discourse with you is like discussing Shakespeare with a 5-year-old.

You should have had the good sense to go into hiding with hughesin08 instead of sticking around to further embarrass yourself.

Which in turn prompted this:

From: yanxontop406
To: triumphantredsoxfan
Jul-24 9:43 pm

No I didn't know that, but thank you for the insults. It makes you look very immature. Have a nice life.

What I felt like saying to that was, Hey pal, don't shoot the messenger. It isn't my fault you're a moron. Except that the MLB message boards censors the word "moron". So this morning, I had to figure out another way to say essentially the same thing:

From: triumphantredsoxfan
To: yanxontop406
Jul-25 11:28 am

The insults were well deserved. Under the circumstances, I showed remarkable restraint in refraining as long as I did.

Learn a lesson from this: If you insist on repeatedly acting like a fool, you can expect that eventually you will be treated like one.

I'm not really naive enough to think this person will learn anything at all. Online message boards allow for a level of anonymity that renders the user devoid of any sense of shame or embarrassment, which is why the internet is full of so many people who say such idiotic things. I'd like to think yanxontop406 is a cocky teenager who still has time to develop and improve her/his character, but I have a sneaking suspicion that isn't the case.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

You know, it really is funny when one encounters a nitwit who truly believes they have the knowlege to do battle in a clash of wits. Of course, I mean funny in both a humourous AND an odd sort of way. And while I surely do enjoy a struggle of intellect, I find it all the more encouraging when I discover a WORTHY opponent. Sadly though, it really is shocking how few are capable of doing even the most modest research before they open THEIR FREAKIN MOUTHS!
I mean, really... I simply will not PRETEND to know what I am talking about... Either I do, or someone else has the floor. I guess what bothers me most is the sheer lack of integrity; it is one thing to make an assertion that is based on incorrect information, it is quite another to simply spout off because you just don't want to believe, or want to hear, the facts when they are persented to you.
But when the test of wit and wits is well and truly joined, Ahh, now that is all endorphins and testosterone and adrenaline and that, is a mighty heady cocktail.
Sadly, it's occurance is so very rare.

Monday, July 24, 2006

  Engaging in a Battle of Wits with an Unarmed Foe

Reading other teams' message boards can be an interesting exercise. Most of what is posted is somewhat mundane, everything from chit-chat among online friends to speculation about the latest trade rumors to rehashing the most recent game. But occasionally, you'll find a conversation worth jumping into just to stir up the pot.

So it was last weekend that while perusing the Yankees board, I stumbled upon a thread entitled, "We, the righteous, are under attack." What I thought was some sort of satire turned out to be a tirade by a fan contending that the Yankees and their fans are God's Gift to Baseball and, by the way, terribly understood and utterly unappreciated. The initial post was very little substance and lots of griping about the luxury tax and other things. In the middle of it all was a statement just screaming to be corrected:

From: hughesin08
Jul-21 5:32 pm

[ . . . ] Here's some information you may not have considered (you certainly won't see it on ESPN): the New York metropolitan area is roughly 75% larger than the Boston metropolitan area. However, when you split that market in half to account for the presence of another team (the Mets), the Red Sox are actually drawing from a larger population than the Yankees. Despite this disparity, the Yankees still generate more revenue than the Red Sox. [ . . . ]

You don't have to be a rocket scientist to know this is crap, and far be it from me not to say so:

From: triumphantredsoxfan
To: hughesin08
Jul-22 4:09 pm

[ . . . ] Please cite the source for your above statement about population. I could find no definition of "metropolitan area" that comes close to the stat you cited, i.e. that "the New York metropolitan area is roughly 75% larger than the Boston metropolitan area."

According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2000 (www.census.gov/population/cen2000/phc-t3/tab03.pdf), the New York metropolitan area population was 21,199,865; the Boston metropolitan area population was 5,819,100. That makes the New York area not 75% larger but a much more substantial 264% larger. Even if you split the New York area's population in half, the Yankees' "share" is 82% bigger than the Boston area.

2005 United Nations data reproduced on Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_metropolitan_areas_by_population) gives the New York metropolitan area population as 18,718,100 and the Boston metropolitan area population as 4,361,000. Those figures indicate the NY area is 329% more populous than the Boston area; the Yankees "half" is 115% more populous, which for those not mathematically inclined is still more than twice as big.

Naturally, I never heard back from "hughesin08" after handing her/his hat to her/him. But I did get a reply from someone else not sharp enough to know that s/he couldn't possibly win an argument with me.

From: yanxontop406
To: triumphantredsoxfan
Jul-22 5:07 pm

Now take into account the percentages of both populations living at or below poverty level who can't even afford to pay for basic cable to watch even some of the games on ESPN. Do they count as well even though they can't even afford to watch the games on TV let alone go to YS or Fenway Park and buy concessions and merchandise. I'd bet NY has much higher percentage of that population that you're counting as valid.

What a silly, silly person. There s/he is, getting into trouble the same way hughesin08 had, by making statements without checking the facts first. I couldn't resist:

From: triumphantredsoxfan
To: yanxontop406
Jul-23 10:07 pm

You would lose that bet. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce (www.bea.gov/bea/newsrelarchive/2006/mpi0406.htm) the 2004 per capita income in the New York metropolitan area was [$]43,277, and in the Boston metropolitan area was [$]46,060. That isn't exactly a monumental difference, especially when you consider that it is more expensive to live in the Boston area than in the New York area (Forbes' 10 most overpriced places in the U.S. included three Boston metro locations but only one New York metro location - realestate.msn.com/Rentals/Articleforbes.aspx?cp-documentid=648559; also transportation costs are higher in the Boston metro area than in the New York metro area - www.transact.org/report.asp?id=42). Obviously, Bostonians are on average better educated and more successful than New Yorkers, but it is also true that Bostonians have to pay more for the privilege of living in a more desirable area.

This isn't even considering the issue of ticket prices, which are much higher at Fenway Park than at Yankee Stadium. The Red Sox, unfortunately for those of us who follow them, remain the most expensive ticket in MLB.

Imagine my surprise (not) when the master of unsubstantiated claims came back with this:

From: yanxontop406
To: triumphantredsoxfan
Jul-24 12:12 am

Per capita income does not tell you what the percentage or actual number of the population that lives at or below poverty level. Here's a link you should read carefully:
ht tp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Per_capita_income
Pay particular attention to this fact:
"Per capita income gives no indication of the distribution of that income within the country, so a small wealthy class can increase the measured per-capita income far above that of the majority of the population. "
Nice try but no cigar.
Go find relative figures and get back to me.

At this point, I'm starting to feel bad for this unfortunate creature, who was obviously in far over her/his head. In my latest post, I tried to make a little game out of it, just to be a good sport.

From: triumphantredsoxfan
To: yanxontop406 unread
Jul-24 2:08 pm

The onus is on you, not me, to find "relative" (presumably, you mean "relevant") figures. You are the one who contended that the poverty rates fuel the embarrassing lack of interest in the Yankees, even though you know the data doesn't support your contention.

That data, which I found for you because I'm all about being helpful, can be found in a Brookings Institution report using U.S. Census Bureau data (www.livingcities.org/data_books/newyork2.pdf). Scroll down to page 25, where you will see that the poverty rate in 2000 was 21.2% in New York, 19.5% in Boston.

OK, it's your turn again. Throw out some more bogus "information" so I can debunk it with actual facts.

Isn't this fun?

What will happen next? Will yanxontop406 realized s/he is intellectually outclassed and go into hiding with hughesin08, or keep coming back for more abuse? We are waiting with bated breath.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 3

I've said it before: Whenever a Yankee fan talks about statistics, she or he will ALWAYS get something wrong, always in their team's favor, either because they are stupid or are so used to other Yankee fans being stupid that they assue no one will notice the mistake.

You are my queen!

Jere is right. I'm amazed at how often Yankees fans email me "facts" that turn out to me nothing but "words they strung together and hoped I wouldn't research"!

Good for you for throwing it back at them!

By & large, it is my experience, here in the NY area, that "Fans" of The Yankees(I use that term, loosely), many of whom were "Fans" of the '86 Mets(I also use that term, loosely, as I engage in raging discussions with these baboons, who wouldn't know Tom Seaver from Tom Gordon), love wearing shirts like "Got Rings", but have no true knowlege of History(The # 2004 doesn't exist in their parlance).
If one remembers an emaciated-looking Jason Giambi(HGHiamBALCO), in '04 & part of '05, his mysterious spike in home run power in '05, it was when he grew to be larger than life in July, '05, complete with Profuse sweating like a drug addict, acne & a bug-eyed look, told me that he was using a banned substance for which no urine test is available.
To these "Fans", it was a few extra swings in the batting cage;

Utter stupidity reigns in that stadium, as "Fans" have no clue about anything, other than it's a mere "Social Gathering' or the thing to do, in NYC;

I remember one "Lifelong" Yankees Fan, in my youth, who told me that @ no time in the history of the Yankees, was the team ever a victim of a No Hitter, as this was in the 1960s'. It turned out that in 1952, Virgil Trucks of the Detroit Tigers, had no hitted the Yankees & other facts followed;

Accuracy was never a Yankees Fan's Strong Suit.

Friday, July 21, 2006

  We Interrupt This Blog to Bring You a Brief History Lesson

Even the most casual Red Sox fan knows that Fenway Park is the oldest operating ballpark in the major leagues. No other team has spent longer in its current home park. But that isn't the only historical superlative our home town team can claim.

Did you know that the Red Sox are one of four American League teams that has spent the longest time in the same city? There were eight original American League franchises, and four of them ended up in a different city from where they started. They four original and non-nomadic AL franchises are:

The other original AL teams still exist, but in other cities and/or under other names:

You can see that the tendency of franchises to recycle names makes the genealogy of the American League more convoluted than relocation and expansion. The Orioles may have moved to New York, but years later another team would take its place and its name. After the Senators moved to the Twin Cities, another Senators team was established and eventually moved to Texas. The Brewers of old fled for St. Louis and were eventually replaced by a the team originally known as the Seattle Pilots, which in turn was replaced by the Seattle Mariners. And don't forget the (new) Brewers' jump to the National League in the realignment of 1998.

Major League history is even murkier over in the National League, whose history goes all the way back to 1876. The teams that year were the Chicago White Stockings (the future Cubs), Boston Red Caps (later the Boston/Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves), Philadelphia Athletics (not to be confused with the future American League team of the same name), Hartford Dark Blues, St. Louis Brown Stockings (a different franchise from the later Cardinals), New York Mutuals (no connection to the subsequent Giants or Mets), Louisville Grays (so that bat company really does have some deep baseball connection), and Cincinnati Reds (no, not today's Reds). That makes the Cubs the only National League team still existing today that has never relocated and one of the two oldest continuously operating franchises in MLB. But that's a topic for another day.

The American League has been a much more stable league than the National League, and it remains the only challenger to the National league that still survives. That is something to be proud of. The Red Sox can be equally proud of their status as one of the league's four anchor teams.

NOTE: Logo images obtained from LogoServer. Franchise information found at Baseball-Reference.com. Check them both out for lots of other good stuff.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

In 1882, the NY Gothams were established:

They became the Giants & moved to SF for the '58 Season, in their 49th Season in The City By The Bay;

The NY Mutuals were ordered disbanded after the 1876 Season;

The Dodgers Giants Rivalry, was born out of a World Series, played between The AA Champion Atlantics & The Giants(NL).

Thursday, July 20, 2006

  The Low I.Q. of Sports Radio Callers

A motivational speaker named Rita Davenport once said, "I don't believe there are many stupid people, but I do believe they move around a lot." I would add that they all call in to sports radio.

A case in point is the man who called the Dale & Holley program on WEEI today to complain about the "double-A lineup" Francona is starting in this afternoon's make-up game against the Texas Rangers. Since I hadn't heard them read the starting lineup, I had no particular reaction at the time. But I just launched MLB.com Gameday and got a look at the lineup, and let's just say that whatever that caller was smoking, he got a bad batch. This is today's lineup:

The last time I checked, Mark Loretta, Kevin Youkilis, and Alex Gonzalez are regular starting infielders. Jason Varitek is the regular starting catcher. Coco Crisp and Manny Ramirez are regular starting outfielders. That leaves Gabe Kapler playing right field in place of Trot Nixon, Alex Cora replacing Mike Lowelll at third base, and Wily Mo Peña subbing for David Ortiz as the designated hitter. The inclusion of Kapler makes sense against the Rangers' lefty starter, John Rheinecker. Cora is an effective replacement whose current ERA of .305 is eight points higher than Lowell's. Only Wily Mo Peña's presence in place of David Ortiz as the designated hitter seems questionable, but not after you consider that before he went on the disabled list, Peña was hitting .321 and slugging .482.

The complaining caller insisted that manager Terry Francona was conceding the game by putting Peña in because he just came off the DL. The hosts asked him when Francona should should start using him. The called replied, "In Seattle." For the record, the Red Sox start their series in Seattle tomorrow. So, the question was posed, why is it conceding the game to play Peña today, but it isn't to play him tomorrow? The caller's response was to call co-host Michael Holley a "fraud" because he didn't grow up here in Boston.

If only would-be sports radio callers had to pass an intelligence test before going on the air, we would be spared such inanity.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

  Sweep, Sign, Tub, Crack

The Red Sox news of the day is multi-fold.

In an afternoon game before the Royals leave town, the Red Sox completed the series sweep with their second consecutive 1-0 victory. This game's pitching hero was Josh Beckett, who turned in an eight-inning performance almost as good as Jon Lester's start last night. Beckett gave up a few more hits than Lester did, but he walked no one. Jonathan Papelbon closed the door in the ninth. The back-to-back long outings by the starters is what the bullpen desperately needed.

Hot on the heels of today's win, manager Terry Francona announced they have signed Beckett to a three-year contract extension with a club option for a fourth year. Details of the contract have not been released, but Glen Ordway on WEEI is talking about it as worth upwards of $8 million a year.

At the other end of the age spectrum on the pitching staff, David "Tub o' Lard" Wells threw a simulated game, and all looks good. Evidently I was wrong when I doubted whether Wells would put himself through yet another rehab this season. If he really is in decent shape, this is good news for a rotation that has had more than its share of problems since the heady days of spring training and the purported 7-man rotation (Schilling, Beckett, Wakefield, Wells, Arroyo, Clement, Papelbon). With Wells and Clement on the DL, Arroyo traded, and Papelbon forced to close, there's been no room for further injuries, even with the emergence of Lester.

Unfortunately, yet another problem has emerged from the rotation. Tim Wakefield has a cracked rib, according to an unconfirmed report by the Boston Globe's Gordon Edes. No wonder Wake only went four innings in his last start. The man must have been in agony.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  I Could Get Used to This

After witnessing last week's 11-inning debacle against the Oakland A's live and in person, I was excited to have the opportunity to see Jon Lester again when a friend invited me to last night's Red Sox vs. Royals game. David works for Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and we were to sit in the company seats. I presumed they were the seats where we sat several years ago, just to the home plate side of the visitors dugout and about 3 rows back. That game was against the Seattle Mariners back in the day when Alex Rodriguez was with them, and we were in perfect position to taunt A-Rod with a "Nomar's better!" chant every time he was on deck. It turns out those weren't Blue Cross and Blue Shield seats; they were Fallon Clinic (now Fallon Community Health Plan) seats which David got when his father ran Fallon.

The Blue Cross and Blue Shield seats? They were in L17, which for those of you who have never experienced such things, is a luxury box. I WAS IN A LUXURY BOX!!! The box numbers go up as you move away from home plate, with the "L" boxes on the left side and the "R" boxes on the right side, which means we were down the third base line. If you look at where the third base ball girl sits and then go straight up, there we were. Great seats...unlimited hot dogs, ribs, chicken sandwiches, chips, peanuts, veggies/dip, pizza, ice cream, cookies, water, soda, and alcohol...and a wonderful air conditioned room behind our seats which allowed me to cool off briefly every few innings. That was the best part because it was 95 degrees in the shade at game time and I don't think it was below 85 by the end of the game.

And the game (there was a game, you know) was great. Before first pitch, we were talking about how great it would be if Lester could go seven innings but we'd settle for six. In our wildest dreams we never imagined eight innings of one-hit ball. He was amazing—lots of ground ball outs, which I hope means he is learning to trust his infield. Jonathan Papelbon pitched a perfect ninth inning and was, well, Jonathan Papelbon. I don't have my scorecard with me, but I know he didn't need many pitches to get those three outs.

While the Red Sox may have had outstanding pitching and defense, what they didn't have was much offense. Good thing they didn't need much. In talking to friends over the last couple days, I mentioned that I had never heard of last night's Royals starter, Duckworth, or most of the Kansas City staff. I believe the way I put it was, "I wouldn't know the Royals pitchers if they knocked on my door and said, 'Hi, we're the Royals pitchers.'" I heard an interview with Tony Graffanino on WEEI yesterday afternoon and he was saying how the Royals are starting to play much better baseball. It looked like it last night. I'll tell you what, I'm eating my words about Duckworth and the rest of the Royals pitchers. I still don't know who the hell they are, but at least last night, they could pitch.

Today is getaway day for the Royals, so it's a 1:00 game. Let's keep our fingers crossed for the sweep.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

Offense... They don't need no steeenking offense. Okay, well they actually do... and it would be great if it came back and soon. But heck you have to go back 90 freakin years for the last time the Sox posted back to back 1-0 shutouts, that is amazing.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

  (Red) Sox Lose in 19 Innings

And I don't care. It's over, we're in first place three games ahead of the Yankees, and it's the All-Star Break.

First half thoughts will be forthcoming.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Thursday, July 06, 2006

  I Want the National League Back (or, Death to the Devil Rays)

We practically sweep interleague play, but we can't beat the Tampa Bay Devil Dogs. I mean, come on. I know the baseball gods have a sense of humor, but this is a bit much.

I can accept getting shut down by Scott Kazmir. He's an excellent young pitcher who is in the early stages of becoming a superstar. But when did Casey Fossum turn into Sandy Koufax? What gave Carl Crawford the idea that he was the next Jackie Robinson? When did Tim Corcoran start channelling Walter Johnson?

Speaking of ballplayers named Johnson, Jason Johnson is lucky he didn't give up more runs than he did. You have to give the guy credit for gutting it out. But he just doesn't have it. Based on my limited observations going into last night, I would rather have taken my chances with Kyle Snyder.

If the offense doesn't come alive tonight to preserve Tim Wakefield's unbeaten streak at Tropicana Field (not to mention to avert the sweep) I'll really be cranky, and no Bob Ryan pep talk will help.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 2

There was some Justice, in that David Ortiz drove in 6 including a Grand Salami in the 9th:

He's key, unlike that "Pepsi Driver", who was selected as a MADISON AVENUE MVP, by the Writers(Baseball or Comedy, I'm not sure).

Perhaps, A-Fraud should be called "Pepsi Mc Blulips"!

That's all he's good for.

Monday, July 03, 2006

  Our All-Stars

Baseball fans, in their wisdom, elected three Red Sox players to start the All-Star game in Pittsburgh on July 11. Outfielder Manny Ramirez is an All-Star for the tenth time in his career, though he may not actually play. For David Ortiz, voted in as a first baseman, this is his third appearance. Second baseman Mark Loretta makes it for the second time. Rounding out the Red Sox presence is rookie closer Jonathan Papelbon, one of four pitchers chosen by American League manager Ozzie Guillen.

The absence of several other Red Sox, including Curt Schilling, from the roster has stirred controversy here in New England. Schilling was not one of the five starters selected by the players, and he was subsequently passed over by Guillen despite the fact that he is among the top AL pitchers this season. Among qualified starters, he is tied for first place in the league in wins, fifth in strikeouts, seventh in innings pitched, fourth in walks plus hits per inning pitched, first in strikeouts per walk, and twelfth in the league in ERA. That's impressive for any pitcher, especially an old one.

Schilling makes ESPN.com's Keith Law's (Insider subscription required) list of players who didn't make the team but should have, although he isn't on the poll of the biggest snubs.

Of course, the fan selection of Ortiz at first base reflects a problem in the other direction. Ortiz, despite his tremendous offensive production, hasn't played enough at first base to even seriously qualify for consideration, as I wrote previously. But those are the kinds of anomalies that come from such a ridiculous method of choosing all-stars.

Former Sox making All-Star appearances include National League pitchers Bronson Arroyo, P**** M******z, and Tom Gordon, and shortstop Edgar Renteria. Shortstop-turned-first baseman Nomar Garciaparra has a chance to be voted by the fans as the NL's "final man" to round out the roster.

Congratulations to all those chosen, and good luck to the American League. Remember, home field advantage in the World Series is riding on this game.

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Saturday, July 01, 2006

  An Evening of Milestones

The Red Sox' interleague series in Miami is turning into an eventful one. Last night, a Marlins loss ended Boston's 12-game winning streak. Tonight, Doug Mirabelli and Alex Gonzalez ended the team's Major League record 17-game errorless streak.

But tonight's game, which started a new winning streak, is more memorable for some milestone achievements by Sox players. Tim Wakefield took the mound for his 300th start in a Red Sox uniform and walked away with his 150th major league win. Manny Ramirez had two home runs, the first of which was also his 2,000th career hit.

Ramirez is a virtual certainty for the Hall of Fame, which is funny when you think about how downright flaky he is. The TriumphantMother and I had discussed this a couple weeks ago, and she was somewhat surprised when I referred to Manny as a future Hall of Famer. His lackadaisical attitude and frequent trade-request controversies may distract people from his tremendous career accomplishments even as we watch him add to them game after game. But since becoming a full-time major leaguer with the Indians in 1995, he has batted under .300 in only two seasons, hit fewer than 30 home runs only once, and batted in more than 100 runs in all but one season. And don't forget his arm: he has five seasons of double-digit outfield assists. At 34 years old with no signs of slowing down, we can expect to see much more production from him on the back end of his already remarkable career.

Wakefield will never make it to the Hall, but that doesn't diminish his value to this team. He is known for doing whatever is asked of him both during the regular season and in the playoffs, putting his best effort forth whether as starter, reliever, or closer. He keeps himself healthy, avoids controversy, and contributes greatly but quietly to the community. He also happens to be putting together a fine season at the ripe old age of 39 (he'll turn 40 in August). Tonight's game brings his ERA to 3.90; he's on a pace to pitch 212 innings this year. Only poor offensive support in many of his starts has kept his wins down; five of his losses and two no-decisions have come in games in which he gave up three or fewer earned runs.

In other notable notes from tonight's game, Alex Gonzalez extended his modest hitting streak to 11 games with a ninth inning double. He also had one of Boston's two errors, but it was only his second of the season. David Ortiz joined Manny with two home runs; Ortiz and Ramirez combined to bat in nine of the 11 Red Sox runs. Alex Cora, replacing Mark Loretta at second base for the evening, went 2-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored from the two spot. Mike "Mr. Double" Lowell had three doubles in five at-bats. Youngsters Manny Delcarmen and Craig Hansen each pitched shutout relief. Another young arm, 22-year-old Jon Lester (3-0, 2.95), gets the start on Sunday afternoon against Florida's 22-year-old Josh Johnson (7-4, 2.20).

Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

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