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Thursday, August 30, 2007

  Much Ado about Very Little

I'm having a hard time getting upset about the last two games. To understand why, take a look at the chart showing the Red Sox lead vs. over the Yankees:

Yes, I realize the Sox have lost two in a row. Yes, I realize that their number one and number two pitchers lost. Yes, I realize the magic number hasn't changed since Monday night.

It is also true that since the Yankees narrowed the lead to four games on August 19, they have lost two games in the standings.

Under such circumstances, surely I can be forgiven for not ranting and raving. Besides, work's a bitch this week and I barely have enough energy to stay awake in the recliner until the end of each game, never mind blog something clever. I'll write a roundup of the entire series tonight.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 4

I shall be @ Fenway, tomorrow night, in Box 90 by Pesky's Pole, doing a Live Blog, via Cell Phone:

I shall be All Thumbs

Yeah, right, no need to worry when you know that by September 15th we will be in second place. The psycological blow will take a couple of weeks for them to get over. No divison win this year, that's for sure. And on top of it, we have helped New York to first place in the wildcard race.

i love how yankee fans want to remain anonymous

I'm more worried about the Yanks getting the wild card than overtaking the Sox. I don't want to see them in the playoffs at all, since they are a dangerous team.

Monday, August 27, 2007

  Magic Number Update

Sleep well, Sox fans. Thanks to tonight's horrid Yankee pitching, the Red Sox' magic number has been lowered without our guys even having to do anything.

(The magic number is the total number of Red Sox wins plus Yankees losses needed for the Red Sox to clinch the division title.)


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  Beatdown in the Bronx?

The Red Sox are coming off a rather decisive rout of the Chicago White Sox, followed by a day off to catch their breath and get deep tissue massages. The Yankees just now finishing a dismal series against the Detroit Tigers, who tonight posted a 16-0 score for their third win out of the four games. What this means is that a confident and rested Boston team will head into Yankee Stadium tomorrow to face a team that is in the throes of a monumental collapse.

And the pitching matchups look pretty good for the Sox, too.

Prognostications aside, the worst-case scenario for Boston would be a sweep at the hands of the MFY, something that at this moment seems more than unlikely. Still, if it were to happen somehow, the Red Sox would still come home with a five-game lead in the standings.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

  What's Wrong with David Ortiz?

It may seem like an odd topic to bring up after this past weekend's offensive explosion by the Red Sox that included three home runs by David Ortiz. But we're almost through with month number five of the 2007 season, and the fact is that Ortiz continues to have a very un-Papi year.

Rick Wilton of ESPN.com commented on it ($ubscription required), noting that "[Ortiz'] at-bats to home runs rate has gone from last season's 10.3 to 19.7 so far this season." Fans around water coolers and in sports bars throughout New England have noticed it too. A year after he set a new Red Sox single-season record for home runs with 54, Ortiz is on a pace to finish 2007 with just slightly over half as many.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that the decline in power is due to Papi's balky knee, the Red Sox' off-season change of hitting coaches, or both. While those may be contributing factors, a closer look at the stats suggests that Ortiz is simply becoming a different kind of hitter. Comparing this seasons production to his averages from 2003-2006 (the only years that really count, since before that he was mostly a part-time player with the Minnesota Twins), it becomes clear that while his power is down, his batting average and on-base percentage are up.

Papi is walking more and striking out slightly less. He has fewer home runs but more overall hits. Since a home run counts the same in the batting average as a homer, it's clear that he isn't merely hitting the ball a lesser distance, which would likely result in homers being replaced with fly outs. He is hitting safely with much greater frequency, which is remarkable considering that every ball hit in play that stays in the yard potentially results in a putout, something that obviously isn't true of a home run. That increase in raw hits certainly isn't consistent with the adverse effects of an injury or the absence of a preferred coach.

More like is the possibility that after four seasons of watching him knock the snot out of the baseball, pitchers are simply adjusting their approach to Ortiz, and he hasn't yet figured out how to adjust to their adjustment. Or to put it more accurately, he has adjusted, but not in the way we (or he) might have liked. Could it be that he has learned how to beat the shift? Spent a few minutes comparing the scatter charts for singles at Fenway Park over the years and you'll notice that a higher percentage of his singles have gone to the opposite field this year and last than in his first three years here.

An interesting progression, no? Whether the transformation continues next year, after he has had his knee surgery is uncertain. But what if it does? If you look forward several years to a day when David Ortiz will be aging and, like many sluggers, losing his power, won't it be comforting to know that he doesn't need the long ball to be effective?

This season, we aren't seeing the Big Papi to whom we have become accustomed, but there's nothing wrong with the projected 30 home runs and 108 RBI. If he can supplement that with more singles, he would still be a formidable hitter. I could learn to live with that.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Sunday, August 26, 2007

  Magic Number

By any standard, this weekend just ended was a resounding success for the Red Sox. Could you have realistically hoped for more? I couldn't.

All that makes now an appropriate time to begin a countdown to the playoffs. In baseball, that means watching the magic number.

For those who never quite understood such things, the magic number is the number of wins by the first place team plus losses by the second place team that will clinch the division title. With 31 games left to play for the Red Sox, 32 left for the Yankees, and a current Sox lead of 7.5 games, Boston's magic number is now (drum roll, please)...

So that means, for example, that if the Red Sox go 16-15 for the rest of the season, nine Yankees losses will guarantee the American League East championship to Boston (16 Red Sox wins plus 9 Yankees losses = 25). Nine losses out of 32 games is a winning percentage of .719, a tall order. The better the Sox do, the taller it gets.

For those who prefer visuals to math, here's a graph showing Boston's lead over New York throughout the season:

These two teams face off for three games in New York starting on Tuesday. That series, plus another three-game series in Boston in mid-September, could go a long way toward sealing the deal for the Sox. A Boston sweep would cut the magic number by 12, whereas a New York sweep would still leave the Yankees a game and a half out of first place, all else being equal.

No matter how you look at it, you have to like our chances.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 2

//Oh, and the Yankees lost two of three in Detroit.//

Not only that, but tomorrow night is a chance for the Yankees to lose three of four in Detroit!

Good times, good times!

i like magic and i love those numbers

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

  Meanwhile, in Exhibition Football...

For those who haven't already heard, the Texas Rangers just beat the Baltimore Orioles by the razor-thin margin of 27 runs. Final score 30-3. Among the notable game stats:

The pressure is now on the Dallas Cowboys to score more than 30 points in their pre-season game this Saturday. It would be a real embarassment to be outscored by the baseball team in the next town.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0


In addition to a big win, last night brought a milestone for one of our boys, as Jonathan Papelbon earned his 30th save of the season and became the first Red Sox pitcher ever to save at least 30 games in two different seasons. He had 35 saves in 41 chances last season before being shut down in September due to apparent overuse. That problem shouldn't recur this year because of the backup provided by Hideki Okajima, Manny Delcarmen, a resurgent Mike Timlin, and I would hope Eric Gagné (once he gets his crap back together). A strong bullpen in general, and a healthy Papelbon in particular, will be key throughout the playoffs.

I can't believe I forgot to mention that when I was at last Saturday's game, I saw another milestone: J.D. Drew's 1,000th career hit. It came in the midst of the Red Sox' offensive explosion in the fifth inning, so if there was any recognition of the moment by the players, it would have blended in to the general revelry of the inning. On Drew's next at-bat, a blurb on the electronic scoreboard mentioned the milestone.

So here's offering congratulations to Paps and J.D. May they have many more successes while wearing the Red Sox uniform.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

  More about Those Eight Days without a Post

Now, where were we before I so rudely interrupted myself to witness this debacle? Ah yes, I was recapping my long blogless stretch and was just getting around to...

Thursday, August 16, 2007 — It was a day off for our boys, but that doesn't mean there was nothing going on. The WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund radio/telethon (how's that for a long name?) got underway, to continue into Friday. The Red Sox, as major supporters of the Jimmy Fund, were front and center, with executives, players, and fans participating. I hope you found a few minutes and a few dollars to make a donation.

I am like many Jimmy Fund contributors in that I am motivated by the death of my brother to continue to support the work they do. That might seem counter-intuitive, that I would be so grateful to a place that couldn't save him, but the fact is they gave him the best chance available at the time. So I donate in his memory. The irony is that the money raised today will be used to develop not only treatment and cures for people who haven't even been diagnosed yet, but perhaps also to research how cancer might be prevented in the future. Given that reality, it would be appropriate for people whose siblings (or children or parents or friends) are healthy to pony up some cash, as the chances are it will help someone you know someday. Maybe even you. So if you didn't donate, that's OK—the Jimmy Fund will happily take your money any time. Go here to give something now.

Now, back to baseball.

Friday, August 17, 2007 — One day, two games with the Angels of Wherever-they're-from-this-season. Remember that rain-out back in April? They made it up Friday afternoon as part of a day-night doubleheader. And a fine make-up it was, with the Red Sox knocking around Los Angeles starter John Lackey in the first inning. It was also the major league debut of top pitching prospect Clay Buchholz (I've been misspelling it "Buckholz" with a "k"), who earned rave reviews in allowing three earned runs in six innings pitched before being sent back to Pawtucket immediately after he stepped out of his post-game shower. (Photo by Sitting Still.)

Game two wasn't so hot, with Eric Gagné blowing a save opportunity and taking the loss. To be fair, Manny Delcarmen didn't do his team any favors, allowing a 2-1 deficit to become a 4-1 deficit before the hitters drew a couple walks and whacked a couple hits and took advantage of a wild pitch to take a 5-4 lead into the ninth. It was a short-lived lead. The fans did not take it well, and mere days after he was cheered trotting out to the bullpen between innings, Gagné was besieged by boos.

Then there were the roster moves. Wily Mo Peña was traded to the Washington Nationals for cash consideration and a player to be named (announced just today to be Chris Carter), thus opening up the roster spot occupied for a few hours by Buchholz and later that evening by Jacoby Ellsbury. A game one calf injury to Doug Mirabelli also necessitated putting him on the disabled list and bringing in AAA catcher Kevin Cash as backup for the 15 days Mirabelli is unavailable.

Saturday, August 18, 2007 — It was a pleasant August afternoon, just the right weather for a ball game. But we didn't have a ballgame Saturday afternoon because #&*!% Fox Sports gets all the Saturday afternoon games, so the Sox weren't on until 7:00. That was the bad news. The good news was that the Triumphant Mama and I were there. And it was Tony Conigliaro night, in honor of the 40th anniversary of that errant Jack Hamilton pitch that caught the young star in the face, forever changing the course of his career. (Hamilton is now a popular and successful restauranteur in Branson, Missouri, but to Boston fans, he unfortunately remains the guy who beaned Tony C.)

The game itself felt as if we got two games for the price of one. There was the game that sucked, which was the first four and a half innings when Curt Schilling gave up five runs. My running pitch count showed Curt at about 75% strikes, which didn't seem quite right until I considered that every pitch the bat makes contact with is counted as a strike for pitch-count purposes. The Angels were putting the bat on everything and they were hitting it hard.

Then there was the game that rocked, which began at the bottom of the fifth when the Sox scored six runs, including a David Ortiz grand slam, to take the lead. Curt's 1-2-3 sixth inning, followed by perfect relief by Mike Timlin, Hideki Okajima, and Jonathan Papelbon, preserved the Sox advantage, to which they added four more runs in the eighth for the 10-5 final.

Oh, and Ellsbury was sent back to Pawtucket to make room for Bobby Kielty, who was signed to a minor league contract back on August 7.

Sunday, August 19 — The glee over Saturday night lasted for 16 hours, around which time the Angels started the weekend's final game with two first inning runs. It was all they would need to beat the Sox, who scored a lone run and lost 3-1. Julian Tavarez, tagged to make a spot start, pitched well enough to win, any of the three previous games but not this one. Thus the four-game series ended with a split.

Which brings us to the question of why we began and ended the series with spot starters who weren't replacing anyone in the rotation. None of the regular starting pitchers were injured, and the scheduling didn't require anyone to work on short rest, Friday's doubleheader coming after a day off. It seems that what Francona did when no one was paying attention is bump his rotation two days out, thus setting up a rotation in next week's series against the Yankees of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, and Curt Schilling. Were it not for the insertion of Buchholz and Tavarez, we'd have gone into New York with Schilling, Wakefield, and Lester, which isn't bad but isn't the best we can do either.

And there you have it, the Reader's Digest version of what happened in the Land of Sox during the week I was lounging in the pool, er, working hard to keep my brother's home secure in his absence. It was a rough job, but I was willing to make the sacrifice.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 2

"It seems that what Francona did when no one was paying attention is bump his rotation two days out, thus setting up a rotation in next week's series against the Yankees of Daisuke Matsuzaka, Josh Beckett, and Curt Schilling."

If it's all the same to you, Tito, I'd just as soon Curt Schilling not pitch against the Yanks next week. Thanks anyway, but I'd like to win the game.

Ha ha! Actually, Schilling would still have pitched in that series even without the Tavarez and Buchholz starts inserted. It's just that now he's pitching the third game instead of the first.

Monday, August 20, 2007

  Eight Days without a Post, Yet So Much to Say

Sometimes there is nothing worth writing about, and sometimes there is too much to write about. I'll use the latter as the excuse for my recent silence. The fact that I was house-sitting for my brother and was occupied by the hi-def television, heated pool, and sweet stereo system had nothing to do with it. Anyway, here's a bit of what I would have written at the time, if I hadn't been floating in the pool on a blow-up lounger, I mean, mentally paralyzed by a plethora of blogging ideas.

Monday, August 13, 2007 — Red Sox vs. Devil Rays = Good Times, especially when Tim Wakefield is pitching for Boston. The knuckleballer, who is baseball's all-time leader in wins against Tampa Bay, allowed a paltry two hits and two walks in shutout eight innings pitched as the good guys got the 3-0 win. It was Wake's 14th victory of the season and the 18th of his career against the Rays.

I was at this game with a group of assorted and sundry Red Sox friends (including my sistah Cruiser, who took this pic). Around the fifth inning, MrsB suddenly gasped, "Oh!" It took several seconds of prodding for her to inform me that she had just looked at the scoreboard. Thinking she was talking about the out-of-town scores, I turned to look toward the monster. No, she said, not that scoreboard. She had noticed the mini scoreboards on the first and third base sides showing Tampa Bay's 0 runs, 0 hits, and 0 errors. Not keeping a scorecard like I was, she didn't realize the situation until that moment.

Wake lost the no-hitter with his second pitch of the seventh inning. I think that's as close as I've ever come to seeing a no-hitter in person.

THE SKY IS FALLING!Tuesday, August 14, 2007 — Michael Levenson of the Boston Globe chronicled the dour mood of certain Sox fans who were sounding more like the gloom-and-doom fans of the pre-2004 days than people whose team still had the best record in baseball.

From the Dominican bodegas of Jamaica Plain to the office canyons of downtown Boston to the souvenir shops of Yawkey Way, the mood was grim, edgy, and defensive yesterday. The team's once seemingly insurmountable 14-game lead over the Yankees had dropped to as low as four. Former Cy Young winner Eric Gagné has brought only heartache since arriving last month, blowing two leads in crushing fashion against the Orioles on Friday and Sunday. By yesterday, the Sox had lost five of their last 10 games. Meanwhile, the surging Yankees had gone 24-8 since the All-Star break.

Snort. As I like to say to the few Yankees fans I deign to call my friends, would you rather be [insert number here] games ahead or behind? I thought so. Hey, I love a big lead as much as the next guy/gal, and I admit that I'd beat Gagné about the head and shoulders if I had the chance, but the mood swings exhibited by some fans puzzle me. I wish I could say we (Red Sox fans collectively, not any specific group including myself) were less prone to such hysteria than our counterparts in the Bronx, but I'm afraid that isn't the case. The day after Wakefield's stellar pitching performance, the whole thing seemed gratuitously negative.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007 — I was feeling pretty good Wednesday morning, what with Wake's two-hitter Monday night and Jon Lester's triumphant return to Fenway Park on Tuesday night (he didn't get the win, but the team did). Too bad Wednesday afternoon's game turned out to be such a stinker. Daisuke Matsuzaka just didn't have it and gave up one more run than the offense could make up for. That's the way the cookie crumbles.

I remain unworried about Daisuke's up-and-down season. I've said it before and I'll say it again: he is having his adjustment year now just like Josh Beckett had his last year. That said, I still roll my eyes every time Butch Stearns, popping up lately on WEEI radio, says he thinks Daisuke will win Rookie of the Year. If they're inclined to give it to a pitcher, Hideki Okajima would have it all over Daisuke. The self-evident truth is that Dustin Pedroia is this year's American League Rookie of the Year, and anyone who doesn't vote for him (barring some horrible calamity down the stretch) is high. (The Dusty pic is courtesy of Sitting Still.)

A Brief Aside — In my vain attempt to find a link to Butch Stearns' remarks about the ROY, I came across an entry at Boston Sports Media Watch that mentioned WEEI's John Dennis and Gerry Callahan. Listeners know that Callahan has been out for a few months now, with Dennis recently being presumably on vacation. Evidently I'm so obtuse that I never considered the more dire ramifications of their respective absences:

If you got up and turned on your radio this morning to WEEI, you found out that Dennis and Callahan were once again not on the 850 airwaves. It seems that Entercom has decided to play hardball with the duo, and perhaps trying to avoid a repeat of the Howie Carr fiasco over at company owned WRKO, has "locked out" D&C until their contract situation is resolved.

At this point, the pair will not be on the air for the biggest day on the WEEI calendar, this week's Jimmy Fund Radiothon. John Dennis, quoted in today's edition of Scott's Shots, says that "Gerry has an important story to tell this year" which would seem to strengthen rumors that have come into BSMW over the last few months that said that Callahan was suffering from throat cancer.

The entry links to the "Scott's Shots" section of the site, where I found this additional tidbit:

Dennis would not elaborate on what that "story" was but it is consistent with some of the deeper whispers that have surrounded the four month hiatus forced upon Callahan due to throat problems and multiple surgeries.

If this is true, then I send out lots of prayers to Callahan. Having a friend who just last fall was diagnosed with and treated for cancer of the larynx, I know a tiny bit about what such patients go through. It's a hell of a battle and I hope he comes out the victor.

I'm off to a Worcester Tornadoes baseball game, so this will be continued tomorrow.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 0

Sunday, August 12, 2007

  Eric Gagne Is Trying to Kill Me

Aug. 2BALW 7-41.0211
Aug. 4@SEAW 4-31.0311
Aug. 8@LAAW 9-61.0100
Aug. 10@BALL 6-50.1344
Aug. 12      @BAL      L 6-3      0.2      1      1      1   

And I hate Kevin Millar.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

It was good to see the Fenway Faithful rise in support of Gagne the other day. And it was even nicer to see Gagne respond by striking out the side : )

Dirty Water

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

  Home Run King

I didn't want to write about it because it has nothing to do with the Red Sox. This, after all, a Red Sox blog. But it's also a baseball blog, and what kind of baseball blogger would I be if I didn't address this very topical issue? What follows, therefore, are my reflections on baseball's home run king.

He was an outstanding athlete since childhood. By the time he made it to the major leagues, he was a lean young man who had honed his skills at the plate and in the field. It didn't take long before was recognized as his league's most valuable player. He won multiple gold glove awards. He racked up several consecutive seasons with double-digit stolen bases.

As a black man, he felt the heat of racism. But instead of letting it beat him, it propelled him to be the best player he could be. His persistence paid off. After more than 20 years as a stellar major leaguer, he broke the most famous record in all of sports: the all-time home run record.

There were those who hated him, wished he would just quit, even hoped for some terrible calamity to befall him before he broke the record. The hatred didn't stop him, he didn't quit, and he staved off injury and the effects of age long enough to capture the coveted title of home run king.

It seems like just yesterday. But it wasn't.

Oh, and did I mention? He retired in 1976, two years after breaking Babe Ruth's all-time record for career home runs, and in those last two years he added a few dozen more, just for good measure. In 1982, he was elected to baseball's Hall of Fame.

He got there cleanly, fairly, and honorably.

A lot has happened in baseball in the last 31 years. But one thing hasn't changed, not yet, not to me.

Henry Aaron is still baseball's home run king. Long live the king.


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 4

your post about the home run king is well written. it could be a post about barry bonds as well. don't discount the racism.

It's a sad state of affairs in the baseball loving world when we're reduced to hoping Alex Rodriguez stays healthy long enough to be the next home run king...

& that's if A-Rod isn't Outed by Canseco

Juice Boy hasn't face a fraction of the racism endured by Aaron, though he'd like everyone to think he has. Aaron grew up poor in the segregated south; BB grew up in an affluent (and predominently white) California community. BB went to college, something not available to Aaron. Those who didn't want Aaron to break the home run record were motivated solely by racial hatred (which is why he was popular with a large majority of the public), while most of the opposition to BB is because of what has come out about his steroid use (hence the widespread disapproval). Hell, Bonds has had white girlfriends, something that would have led to a lynching where Hank Aaron came from.

The kind of racism experienced by BB is like that experienced by, say, Barack Obama, i.e. a small percentage of white people just don't like black people. Aside from that, he has had advantages and opportunities and benefits not enjoyed by 99% of Americans of any race or ethnicity.

Friday, August 03, 2007

  A Tale of Two Games

Sometimes circumstances come together in such a way that I get to enjoy a mini-oasis of baseball in the midst of the drudgery that is my life. So it was this week, when I attended Red Sox games on Wednesday night and Thursday afternoon. I've been to consecutive games before, but this time included a little extra adventure.

It started Monday when one of my online Red Sox friends from a private message board I belong to posted that he had an extra ticket for Wednesday night's Baltimore game and put it out there for the first person who claimed it. "Jim Ed Rice in HOF," as he is known on the board (JimEd for short), has two season ticket out in section 36 of the bleachers, and he didn't have anyone lined up to go with him for that game. As luck would have it, by the time I checked the board six hours later, no one else had claimed it. I figured that already having taken a day off to go to the Thursday afternoon game, it wouldn't be a bit deal to be out late the night before.

I had intended to leave work at 4:15 Wednesday so I would have time to drive to Riverside Station, ride in to Boston, meet JimEd and possibly a few of the other board members for a drink at the Cask 'n' Flagon, and get into the game on time. Unfortunately, work being what it is at the moment (i.e. sucky) I didn't leave until 4:50 and still had to go to the bank because I hadn't gotten out for cash at lunch time. When it became apparent that doing the T thing wasn't going to work time-wise, I drove all the way in and parked at the Landmark Center garage on Brookline Avenue, a few blocks from Fenway. I met up with JimEd, Neena, and SoxGirl79 for a beer, parted company with the two girls, and went into the park.

I had heard about new Celtic Kevin Garnett throwing out the first pitch, and as it turned out we were walking to our seats just as he was coming onto the field. He got a enormous standing ovation. I couldn't help but think about the game I went to right after the Bruins signed Joe Thornton to that big contract extension and he threw out the first pitch at the next Sox game, but by the end of that season he was winning the Hart trophy for someone else. But I digress.

It was toasty out, but fortunately JimEd's seats are close enough to the monster that they are in the shade long before the rest of the bleachers are. Between that and the fact that I had disencumbered myself of my bra before the game even started, I was fairly comfy. It ended up being a perfect night for baseball and there was a lot of great stuff to see in the game. For example: Coco going 0-for-0 with 4 walks; Pedroia 3-for-4 plus a sac fly and 3 RBI; Papi, Youk, and Tek all hitting doubles in the seventh; and of course the win. When Javier Lopez came on in the 7th with two out and a runner at first to pitch to Nick Markakis, JimEd asked me how many pitches I thought it would take Lopez to get out of the inning. Lopez does have a habit of throwing one pitch and getting the out, but I figured that was asking too much so I predicted two. The first pitch was a strike and the second was a grounder back to the mound. Hee!

Another funny moment happened in the middle of the game when, between innings, Eric Gagne walked from the dugout out to the bullpen. He got big applause from the people in the bleachers and down the right field line. I'll bet he has never gotten a standing ovation just for walking out to the bullpen. Welcome to Boston. There were some guys behind us who, at the beginning of the game and at every pitching changed, chanted, "We want Gagne." Obviously we didn't see him in that game, but we did see a Sox win and that was good enough for me.

After the game, I said good-bye to JimEd and walked back to the parking garage, where...my car wouldn't start. The key turned, but instead of the engine turning over, the needles on all the dashboard guages started going up and down, the inside dome light flickered off and on over and over, and the headlights, fan, and radio didn't work. I won't go through the excruciating details of what followed, but the Reader's Digest version is that I had to call AAA (best $48 I spend every year) and waited over an hour for a help to come, during which time I totalled my scorecard from the game while the Triumphant Mama drove to Boston to take me home. Before we could leave, however, I had to steer my car out of the garage while the tow truck guys pushed because their truck was too high for the garage clearance. I told them to tow me to the closest garage, which was at the corner of Yawkey Way and Boylston Street, and I finally got home at 2:45am.

I had to get up at 8:15 Thursday morning so I could drive out to my brother's house and pick up my niece and nephew for the afternoon game, which we got to via the T commuter train, on which the air conditioning wasn't working. We were drenched in our own sweat by the time we got to Fenway at noon, but I had plenty of time while I was sweating to mentally compose an irate letter to the T, the governor, my state representative and senator, and the newspapers. The Triumphant Mama, who had to sing a funeral this morning, had my father (who is not Triumphant, as he's a Yankees fan—oh, the embarassment) drive her to Riverside after she was done, and she took the Green Line, which due to track work, consisted of a bus all the way in. But the air conditioning on the bus worked so she got no sympathy from me.

The pre-game ceremony honoring Bobby Doerr (1937-1951, HOF 1986) was really nice, and when it started with the music from Field of Dreams (the music at the end when Ray asks his father to have a catch) I knew I was a goner. By the time Bobby was driven out in an antique car and to the song "Sentimental Journey," I was crying like a baby. I'm such a sap. It was the 60th anniversary of the first time they had "Bobby Doerr Day" at Fenway, and he talked about all the wonderful gifts the team and fans had given him, including a heater from the Yawkeys for their cabin in Washington which didn't have any heat. (This is where he spent the spring fishing and his wife would cook and can the salmon. He didn't talk about this, but back in the day when I was working for the local cable company and interviewed him for a special project, I heard these stories from Mrs. Doerr.) He kept talking about how much these gifts "helped us out," the unspoken message being that ballplayers at that time made crap for money unless they were the big superstars. Then he thanked a bunch of people, including the current Red Sox team who he said he enjoys watching on TV. So it was fitting that John Henry gave him a high-definition TV. He also made a comment about how great our "little second baseman" is doing this year, which might have been insulting to Dustin Pedroia if it had come from anyone except another little second baseman who just happens to be in the Hall of Fame. The only thing I was disappointed at was that Dom DiMaggio wasn't there. An article in the Boston Globe mentioned that DiMaggio has trouble with his legs and couldn't make it.

The game itself was great, except when Baltimore tied the score at 3. That was Tim Wakefield's only rough inning. He finished at 93 pitches according to my count, and he stayed in long enough for the Sox to take the lead while he was still the pitcher of record, so he now has 13 wins! Hideki Okajima pitched the 8th and Gagne pitched the 9th because it wasn't a save situation. Gagne got another thunderous ovation, so loud that I could barely hear that his entrance music is "Panama" by Van Halen (note to self: add "Panama" to my .mp3 player). He gave up a run on a couple hits but really did look good overall, hitting the low 90s on the fastball in between 70 mph curves. Despite the hits, his stuff looked great. Before the game, I told the kids I predicted a 7-5 Sox win, and it was 7-4 so I was close.

One more thing about the game. We were sitting behind four guys, three of whom were fairly normal and the fourth of whom was totally obnoxious. He wasn't nasty or swearing or drunk or anything like that, but he was booing the Red Sox at every turn (good naturedly, I'm sure he thought), heckling all the players, griping about every ball/strike call that didn't go against the Sox, and generally yelling about something for the entire game. If you guessed that this man was a Yankee fan...you win! He was wearing a Yankees shirt and thought he was so clever. I lost count of how many times he yelled, "Hey ump, try looking out of your good eye." See, this is why people hate Yankees fans—they're the only fans who go into a ballpark where their team isn't playing for the sole purpose of booing the home team. This guy was trying to hit on me the entire game and I was being frosty, but the idiot just didn't get the message. At one point, a woman sitting across the aisle from us took a picture of him, which he posed for when he saw her pointing the camera at him. She said she was going to post it on MySpace with the caption "obnoxious Yankee fan at Fenway Park" and the dimwit thought she was joking. Ay-yi-yi.

After the game, we walked down to the mechanic so I could pick up my car. The ignition switch needed replacing and they totally gouged me—$450 for a repair my mechanic said would cost $250 or so from him. Message: DON'T GO TO FENWAY AUTO SERVICE! It would have cost me more than $200 to have the car towed from Boston to Shrewsbury, so I really had no choice at the time. But I am going to file a complaint with the Attorney General's office, which investigates price gouging if enough people complain. The Triumphant Mama also suggested I drop a dime to Susan Wornick, who loves to do reports on places like that. Who knows, maybe I'll get some money back.

By last night, I was completely exhausted and felt grimy from sweating all day. I finish totaling my scorecard and wanted to take a shower, but was too tired even for that. I slept like the dead last night and feel like a new woman today. This evening, I'm meeting up with Sistah Booklady in Wareham a Cape League game. Baseball, baseball, baseball!


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 3

In the NL Stadium in Queens, Yankees Fans, wearing A-Rod Jerseys, are serenaded with "Gay Rod...Jeter's Lover" & other not so niceties:

They're as welcome as Nazis in a Jewish Neighbourhood.

& they come in, looking to start fights,feeling brave after 9 Beers or so

But, not to worry, Much of RSN-NYC is there to put them in their place.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

  The Sad Life and Death of Rod Beck

With results from post-mortem toxicology reports still pending, police in Arizona have revealed that cocaine and drug paraphernalia were found in the home of former Red Sox reliever Rod Beck after he was found dead on June 23. Apparently it was nothing new.

Beck's wife, Stacey, released a statement about her husband's death. In it, she discussed his addiction to drugs.

"While we were all deeply saddened by the death of Rodney, he suffered from a debilitating, degenerative brain disease called addiction," she said. "The last three years, we have seen this disease progress and destroy the person we knew. Unfortunately, the details of his death are not pretty or palatable."


Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 1

I was wondering when they would finally let us know about this. I guess the results were released a little quietly. That is appropriate, I guess. I really liked Rod Beck as a player.

  Why Gagne?

At home last night and at work this morning, I have been besieged by questions about just why the Red Sox felt the need to acquire Eric Gagné before yesterday's non-waiver trade deadline. Those who are somewhat uncomfortable make one or more of the following points:

Let's address the last point first. Which power hitting outfielders were available? The (Red) Sox tried to get Jermaine Dye from the (White) Sox, but his offense hasn't exactly been impressive this season. Ultimately, he just wasn't worth what Chicago wanted for him, which reportedly included a top pitching prospect. So in the absence of acquiring an outfielder, should Theo have refrained from making any other trades? Of course not.

As for the value of the players we sent to Texas, they are arguably worth more to the Rangers than they are to us. Why? Simply because the Red Sox have a plethora of young pitchers who are considered better prospects than Gabbard, and Murphy is in line behind two outfielders already locked in to long contracts (Coco Crisp and J.D. Drew) and a more highly rated outfielder of the future (Jacoby Ellsbury). Both those players, however, can make a greater impact in Texas for the kind of money a struggling team can afford.

Then there's the question of the need (or alleged lack thereof) for another arm in the bullpen. The adage that you can't have too much good pitching is always true, but the fact is that the Red Sox don't have too much solid bullpen help right now. Mike Timlin's balky shoulder is a problem again. Brendan Donnelly will undergo Tommy John surgery this week or next, thus ending his season and probably washing out next season as well. Okajima, who has had no health problems so far, is projected to pitch 76 innings this season, a lot for a set-up guy. And don't forget what happened to Papelbon last last year, when he was shut down after September 1 with a fatigued shoulder. Gagné addresses all these concerns: he can spell either Okajima and Papelbon when needed, can provide an extra sure inning toward the end of a game, and will reduce the usage of the rest of the bullpen. Would you want to be an opposing team down by a run or two after six innings, knowing you have to face Okajima in the seventh, Gagné in the eighth, and Papelbon in the ninth? Neither would I.

Which leaves the concern about just how long Gagné will stay here. Frankly, that's the last thing I'm worried about. This deal was designed to make the team stronger down the stretch, in the playoffs, and hopefully to a World Series victory. If he decides he likes it here and the team wants to pursue keeping him around, a deal will get done. But make no mistake: this trade was designed to benefit the team in 2007. Anything beyond that is gravy. And please, don't even think Larry Andersen for Jeff Bagwell. Gagné is a well-known player with a track record of success. End of discussion.

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Cheers of Red Sox triumph so far: 2

one other point about the Gagne deal that probably should not be overestimated. It keeps him out of the Yankees bullpen!

Always an important consideration.

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