Friday, April 29, 2005

Hitting The Panic Button

Another night, another Sox loss. 24 more hours to weep and cry and moan and bitch about the daily crap this team displays on the baseball field. Totally lackluster and non-interested effort tonight, I can’t believe we’re seeing such poor baseball out of a team made up of 125 million dollars. Theo might have to get up off the recliner and make a move soon. Why are balls falling between Damon and Manny in center? Why are so many of Wake’s knuckleballs high in the zone? Start playing smart and win some friggin games.

Some new Red Sox stuff that just hit the market:

Edgar Renteria 0 for 4 Action Figure: It’s all under your control with the Edgar Renteria 0 for 4 action figure! Do you want Edgar to strike out four times tonight, then go ahead! Or would you prefer two flyouts to center and a couple weak grounders? Any way you want Edgar to go 0 for 4, he goes 0 for 4! Just rotate the scroll under the base of the figure to choose how he should get out tonight. We also just added a new feature: the Orlando Cabrera 3 for 4 action figure!

Terry Gets Tossed: The newest computer game from Red Sox, Inc. features Terry Francona getting thrown out of the game, followed by you trying to fire up the team in any sort of way possible. It’s a bad night in Baltimore, with the Sox down 6-2 in the eighth, when Francona sprints out of the dugout and purposely gets ejected just to pump up the team. Now, it’s all up to you. The levels:

Rookie: Someone moves in the dugout.
Veteran: Someone claps in the dugout.
All-Star: The batboy runs out to retrieve the broke bat.
MVP: Manny considers hugging someone, then decides against it because that doesn’t fly with Mr. Henry.
Hall of Fame: Dave Wallace bitch-slaps Matt Mantei.

Millah Does His Best Knoblauch Impression: Just released! Have Bill Mueller throw a gun to first base, where Kevin Millar catches the ball, then inevitably chucks it into the stands throwing back to third! How high you throw the ball into the stands determines your point total. If you tally up your errors in one game, and beat Kevin Millar’s total for the season, you win! (It’s never been done).

Manny And Papi Go Yard: This is, by far, the trickiest game out there. Here’s the deal: You have to hit one home run with either Manny or Ortiz. Easy, right? Well, here’s the trick. Just like in every Red Sox game this season, you can’t get any more hits (single, double) with either of them! Just a home run, then you have to get out every other at-bat. Tough rules, I know, but this is what our company felt best imitated the players. A home run, that’s all, any other type of hit is UNACCEPTABLE.

Time For Dinner, Boomer: Have David Wells consume a life-threatening amount of donuts in under a minute, and keep lowering his ERA in the process. If Boomer eats over 300 donuts in under a minute, his ERA is lowered to an obscure 10.20! If Boomer eats over 500 donuts in under a minute, his ERA might reach LOWER THAN EIGHT! Plus, at the end, we scan Boomer’s body and see how many donuts are clogged inside his lungs. Always fun.

Schill Speaks His Mind: This talking doll replica of Curt Schilling comes with a small speaker near his mouth area just for you to hear everything he wants to say, at any time. Want to hear Schill’s opinion on man-hands and KFC chicken? Just ask, and he’ll give you a 30-minute lecture on the subject, complete with him using the word “idiot” at least eight times. Want to hear Schill’s opinion on Brad Mills’ front teeth? All ya gotta do is ask. Complete with bloody ankle.

I’m. Not. Happy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Nightmare For The Nation

A collapse worth shrugging off and pretending never happened. The bullpen imploding worse than Mount Vesuvius. Clement giving up hit after hit after hit in a game that easily should have been his. I mean, at least Renteria is putting up outstanding numbers, and we are all confident that he’s the guy that will eventually carry this team. And at least Kevin Millar is on a roll, hitting home run after home run and playing outstanding defense. And at least Mark Bellhorn doesn’t look COMPLETELY lost at the plate. I will now slowly remove the gun from my head.

David Wells on the shelf. Just what we need. You look at Boomer’s diameter and already know he’s a slow recovery, but now Gammons and Company are saying he might be out for over a month. There’s no way this team would actually stay healthy for an entire month, that’s an unreachable possibility. We sign this guy for consistency, knowing he’ll keep us in the game, to always control the strike zone, and most of all, give us an average to quality start every time around. With our offense, I’ll take that. But our bullpen is cow dung. And now Wells is hurt for longer than expected.

Our number one and two starters: gone. Now, our ace is a career .500 pitcher who just last night gave up 12 (count em, 12) hits in less than five innings. Splenderific. Theo says the bruise on his ankle has nothing to do with his previous ankle injury, and the team doctors are claiming they caught this injury really early before anything worse happened. What’s that supposed to mean, that if they had discovered this two weeks from now, he’d be on the shelf even longer? We need these guys so the Sox don’t find themselves eight games back of first in mid-May. Our ace, hero and team leader is injured again.

You knew it had to happen sometime. We’re finally back to panic mode in Red Sox Nation.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Ramble On

There’s a different feel to this season. Instead of throwing chairs and banging my head repeatedly on the desk after every loss, I’m more calm and I just shake it off. Yeah, it has something to do with getting an 86-year old monkey of your back, knowing your favorite team isn’t destined to choke every October, and realizing that these April games really don’t mean that much. I may be still basking in the glow of the World Series, but I’m trying, and I swear I AM trying, to break out of that habit. As the season has progressed, here are some odds and ends I’ve noticed out of the 2005 Sox:

I can’t expect much from Edgar Renteria in clutch situations. Sure, he was one of the only bright spots for the Cardinals in last years World Series, but this year he’s repeatedly choked in pressure-packed situations. This is evident not only by his crappy average, but most of his hits have come either A) early in the game or B) with no runners on base. Last night, the Sox were creeping back into the game at 6-3 in the seventh inning. Chen had walked Vazquez to lead off the inning, then Damon singled to center. First off, Renteria shouldn’t be in the two hole anymore vs. righties or lefties, he should be six or seven until he starts delivering consistently. But, Edgar then grounds into the double play and the inning is killed. Game over right there. He’s a phenomenal defensive player, and I still do believe he’s an upgrade from Cabrera, but it’s time to stop pressing.

As for Alan Embree, it’s pretty much Jekyll and Hyde with him all season. One night he gives up a walk-off homer on the first pitch, the next he strikes out four of the five hitters he faced. Unbelievable. This is why Mike Timlin, who is not getting nearly enough appearances this season, should ultimately carry the load as the setup man. Embree is fine in certain situations, but you have to be ready for both sides: the overpowering flamethrower and the meat server. Big, juicy meat that hitter send into a new galaxy.

Johnny Damon has to be the MVP of this team so far. The guy is firing red hot. Seriously, there’s lava pouring out of his jersey right now. Seven hits in his last two games, I think it is. He gets on base, delivers in clutch situations, and is really what a leadoff hitter should represent in the big leagues. I know, one day I’m bashing out of him for a sluggish game, but he always rebounds and makes me look even more like an idiot. This is his prime. Keep it up.

Manny and Ortiz continue their rampage of home runs, but those guys are not getting on base enough. Who knows, maybe if they single and double more often, and Tito slips Renteria in the 5-hole, he can have more opportunities to drive in runs and boost his confidence. It’s either an 0-4 night or a couple dingers for these guys, and we can’t keep winning games like this. Their averages are both looming around .250, something that can’t happen for guys that are supposed to be leading this team to the promised land once again.

Celtics: Ouch. Where is Al Jefferson all second half? Doc screwed up way too many times. The little things killed them, just as in every single other loss. Bad coaching, cold streaks at the end, an all around choke job by the Celtics.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Don't. Mess. With. Papi.

Just Red Sox- Devil Rays, huh? Just an old-fashioned, relaxed AL East game at the Trop, right? It doesn’t mean much, just a series-ending meeting with the Rays down in Tampa, correct? Not so fast my friend.

Following two games of more than a fair share of behind-the-back fastballs, curves that hang near the batters head and a bit of tension between the clubs, things finally escalate. First, Arroyo nails Huff in the fifth inning, something that I believe was partially intentional because Huff destroys Bronson on a consistent basis. Then Carter goes behind Manny, who promptly answer with a blast to the left field bleachers. As Francona was arguing with the umpires after the previous pitch, you could just see Manny smiling at the side, plotting his way to get back. It would not have surprised me one bit if he walked up to Tito, whispered “I got this, partner,” followed by Tito frantically sprinting to the dugout to get a good photo. Good stuff.

Next batter, Carter goes over the head of Ortiz. I wouldn’t have much a problem if the pitch nailed him anywhere below the belt, but this was a dangerous ball right up near the eyes. This was obviously intentional and uncalled for in a baseball game, risking a guy’s career like that. I may be coddling my Papi, but Carter needs to go hibernate somewhere, the bastard. Eventually, there’s a nine minute delay as the benches clear and Trot gets naughty with Dewon Brazelton, who is still heated from walking every batter he’s ever faced. All in all, Francona, Piniella, Arroyo, Brazelton, Nixon and Carter got the hook.

As for the game, wow. Massive offensive outburst, highlighted by a gigantic blast by Ortiz to make it 11-1, a ball that supposedly met the catwalk near the upteenth deck. Payton finally delivered with the bases juiced with a salami, the aforementioned Manny homered, and Millar, Renteria and Damon all had solid games. And most of all, nobody, and I mean NOBODY, can beat Cornroyo.

The Sox now go home for a three-game set with the Orioles with mostly the same pitching matchups. We get Boomah on Monday vs. Chen (I’ll probably have another Boomer Thoughts installment), Cy Young Clementine vs. Lopez on Tuesday, and Wake vs. Whoever on Wednesday. Then the Sox travel to Texas for a little West action. Keep it goin, fellas.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Not Enough Wakefield Magic

Mr. Timmaayy kept the Sox in the game, but in the end, the Devil Rays have to win some games, right? Here are some quick player thoughts following a disappointing loss. Eduardo Perez, you son of a gun…

Edgar Renteria: His OBP against right-handed hitters is absurd for a guy making $10 million dollars this season. It’s even lower than Trot’s against lefties, and he has a platoon player in Jay Payton to hit specifically against those lefties. His defense has been stellar, but he’s becoming very close friends with the Mendoza Line and that needs to come to an end quickly. I still think he has the ability to hit .300 this season, maybe he’ll turn it around like Jeter did after his ghastly April. Let’s hope.

David Ortiz: Some people are suggesting that Tito switch Papi and Manny in the order, but Manny might get pissed off and start faking hamstring injuries again, hanging out with random Dominican Yankees at hotel bars and jogging out to left field with water bottles in his pants pocket. In other words, it’ll screw up his focus. Papi may be pressing a little bit here, he’s having an inordinate amount of trouble waiting on off speed pitches. I’m sure he’ll get a hittable inside fastball in the near future, crank it over Saratoga, and everyone will shut up.

Johnny Damon: Really can bug the crap out of you at times, but usually gets the job done. But it’s nothing like Derek Lowe Bug The Crap Out Of You. Johnny got the sac fly tonight, partially helped because the right fielder was named Gomes and therefore he had no chance to get Bellhorn even before he released the ball. Then he got the clutch seeing-eye single to tie the game, like the OC last September against Rivera, only this time it was a MUCH bigger game. For Damon to fight off the Tropicana crowd is unthinkable in that situation, it’s like a chainsaw in your earlobe. But really, he’s just a guy who simply gets the job done consistently. Unless you want him to bunt, of course.

Alan Embree: This years possible slogan: Surviving Alan Embree. Has Mike Timlin gone officially extinct? Is Tito planning to let Embree blow every single tie game for the rest of the season? Yeah, I’m bitter, and I’m sure Wad Of Chew will be fine. I just wanna see Mikey out there more often. That Embree fastball is looking as straight as ever.

God, I hate domes.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Happiness And Sadness

There’s something about winning a 1-0 game that makes the game of baseball even more worthwhile to revolve your life around. You know that every play could decide the game, every groundball could separate the goat from the hero, and every fly ball must find a glove. Every pitch is huge, every call is huge, and most of all, every at-bat could completely swing the game around. When you win a 1-0 game, your defense and pitching comes together for an outstanding effort, an effort that makes you say to yourself, “damn, I guess we are really good.”

1-0 games make for an interesting combination of pitching dominance and every hitter colliding with their collective brick walls. When you’re facing a lineup with two sure Hall-of-Famers (Sosa and Palmeiro), the RBI champ (Tejada), a guy hitting .425 (Roberts), and another All-Star (Lopez), you’re in for a juggernaut right out of the gate. Didn’t even mention Mora, who had three hits last night. I think Francona realized that his team needs to score runs right out of the gate to contain a Baltimore team that killed us last season, but we didn’t even need to pull that out of the ole arsenal. For Clement, Wells and the bullpen to hold the O’s to zero runs over 18 innings is astonishing. A momentum builder. Zero. Zip. Zilch. No runs.

1-0 games also provide the viewer and the actual players with overwhelming drama. Such to the point where Curt Schilling was rocking back and forth in the dugout, no face reactions, biting his fingernails, hoping his team comes out on top. He was even coaching Clement between innings, a nice Creed-Balboa thing going on. You could tell Schill wanted to win this game just as much as Clement, or he was just trying to look good. One of those two.

As for Nomar’s recent injury, I personally think he will be out for the remainder of the season, just re-hashing him as another victim of Cubbie lore. His injury situation is really bad for the Cubs, who continue to struggle with a bullpen best suited for the Birmingham Bees.

Where Nomar was in spring training of 2004 to where he is now is a bigger downfall than Kevin Costner took. The Red Sox were offering him a huge sum of money, he was the hero of the town, and the most popular player in the city. Then he pissed everyone off, wound up out of Boston, they end the curse without him, and now possibly his career is in jeopardy. Big ouch.

Well, the Sox have reached the 10-win mark, and travel to Tampa with Wake, Schilling and Arroyo taking the hill. Not bad. Anybody care for another sweep?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Boomer Thoughts, Part I

The life of David “Boomer” Wells during his first few weeks with the Boston Red Sox, and the thoughts that loom his abnormally large noggin, thoughts that no other but Boomer could create:

Spring Training, March 23: I don’t see what’s so lovable about this team, anyway. Maybe I’m just bitter because guys named Jose Chaquin and Mikel Ordenbach and beating the living crap out of my hanging curveball, but where’s the team chemistry? I don’t see any never-ending handshakes or man hugs I so enjoyed visualizing before I went to sleep every night? Plus, the front office now has me on a tight leash. Supposedly, I can’t go out the night before my start and drown myself in Heineken. Who are they to tell Boomer what to do, anyway?

Opening Day, April 3: Crap, I just got beaten like a pinata by my former teammates. Just great, I go into Yankee Stadium and they boo me, the same Yankee fans that sucked my venom just two years ago. Was it Game 5 of the 2003 World Series that pissed everyone off? I just don’t see why I joined this Red Sox team when I could have actually been a Yankee my whole life. Did you hear that crowd tonight? They were cheering on every pitch, giving standing ovations to every player, hell, even THG Giambi got an ovation. Not many fans do that. If it turned out Ramon Vasquez was juiced up, would Red Sox fans give him an ovation? Didn’t think so.

Second Start, April 9: God, please let me be anywhere else in the world right now, on any other team in the world, even in Taiwan I’d be more comfortable. As a Yankee, I’d be fine, because that’s where I truly want to be in my heart. I gotta be back in the Stadium, not getting my ass handed to me by the friggin Blue Jays at the Skydome. What has my career come to? And what’s up with Mills giving me the hook when Boomer was just starting to cruise? Joe Torre knows how to manage a ball club.

Last Night, April 20: Boomer, Boomer, Boomer, yes, that’s me, Boomer Wells, pitching like Cy Young, baby. Two straight shutouts, my great teammates handing me 18 runs in those games, everything going my way. All my pitches are hitting the spots, I’m changing speeds with perfection, and I’m finally on track with my catcher Tek. I love my teammates, the city of Boston is really great, and I’m starting to get used to these guys. Wow, was I dominating. Then my boy Varitek makes it 4-0, just keep piling it on, boys. Not that I need it or anything. God, and those puss-ass Yanks are 6-9, the hell with them. I would keep writing but…

Baltimore is a great party town.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Ramon Is Not Our Savior

Really tough, disappointing loss last night, as we all witness the immortal Ramon Vasquez decide the game with the last at-bat. Any other day to get sick, Billy. Francona made a questionable move defensively, subbing in Jay Payton for Manny in the eighth inning, subsequently forcing
Payton to bat in a big situation in the eighth instead of Ramirez. Sure, Manny has some trouble with the sun, but I don’t see any need to make that defensive replacement. It’s too early to mess around like that. Terry Francona’s screw-up meter has officially reached one.

The moon shot from Manuel Aristides was a rocket shot, the longest home run I’ve ever seen hit at Fenway. The ball went over the monster, over the lights, over buildings, over the sun, over the Egyptian Pyramids and over a parking lot before landing close to the Pike! The PIKE!! Not even Big Mac could do that in the 99 Derby. Definitely the highlight of my night. I say it was 485, Gammons says possibly 500.

Then the bullpen squanders the game away again. Embree, who came in with boatloads of confidence and outstanding numbers, gave up a two-run job to Vernon “I’m Doing” Wells (actually, he’s not, hitting around .200), then Foulke continues to stick a pitchfork through our collective backs with another loss. I’m hoping this is just another slow start.

Yankees lose again. Can you believe Randy Johnson lost at home to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a team with 1/14 the payroll and 1/400 the fan base. Facing the Artist Formerly Known As Hideo Nomo, a guy who can barely clock 85 on his fastball. They lost 6-2! I don’t care what month it is. That just plain sucks.

Now we head off to Camden, leaving the friendly confines. Hopefully Boomer and Cy Young Clement can cool down the Orioles bats and that pesky Brian Roberts. Where the hell did this guy come from? At this point last year I was wondering why he isn’t in a California farm league somewhere. That lineup makes me want to pour boiling water down my throat.

I’ve been a little sluggish with just game recaps, I’ll have a more creative article up tomorrow…

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Knuckle Sandwich

Tim Wakefield loves playing for the Red Sox. The Red Sox and their fans love Tim Wakefield. As you might have figured out, Tim-Mayyy signed a new extension today, guaranteeing that Wake will play for the Sox until 2006. This is pretty much like signing a contract for life, because we know, and the organization knows, Tim Wakefield isn’t pitching anywhere else.

As for the game yesterday, well, isn’t this what we’re supposed to be expecting? The Sox taking care of business against the weak AL East teams. Everyone should have seen Manny’s explosion coming, especially with another young, inexperienced pitcher on the hill at Fenway. First Brazelton, now Bush get a taste of what Manuel Aristides brings to the table. For the upteenth time, this guy’s swing is pantheon. Indescribable. One of a kind.

As for Schilling, an average start. Yeah, he struck out ten, but also gave up ten hits. He threw way too many pitches in not many innings, even though most of them were strikes. You can see him gradually improving, and soon enough, he’ll be old Curt again. Plus, he had his wife to worry about in the back of his head. Win #1.

As for the Yanks, they apparently woke up from their nap. Even though it was Tampa and a pitcher nobody’s ever heard of, their bats were rockin and rollin. Still, Jaret Wright did everything possible to get Tampa back in the game. His crappy pitching performance, for the most part, is overshadowed by the blowout.

Tonight, we get Cornroyo against Halladay. Let’s make it six, boys.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Come Together

The Red Sox are starting to come together. Sure, we don’t see the frequent behind-the-back handshakes, head rubbing and hugging like last season, but they’re pitching at a torrid pace and the new guys seem to be enjoying their stay. I noticed Francona always acknowledges Payton and Renteria when they get a hit, or even try to keep them confident with a little pat on the back. Francona jokes with Renteria in the dugout at times, even busting a rare grin out of Edgah. It’s great to see these new guys drive in all three runs today.

The most important player, and definitely the MVP- Tim Wakefield. His knuckler is dancing more than ever, and when he mixes up his fastball and curve to the young hitters, the guy is practically un-hittable. I mentioned yesterday that Wake struggles against the weaker teams- turns out he’s 11-1 lifetime against the D’Rays. It seems like the same thing is re-occurring with the Rays every game this series. They test our pitchers early and send a scare through the Red Sox, but end up walking too many batters and getting in trouble. The youth will learn though, and I’m sure Brazelton and Kazmir will improve on the control issue as their careers move forward.

Also, Embree looked phenomenal today. Mantei was also in control, and Foulke had a flawless ninth for the save. If I am pleased with anything the most today, it’s the work out of the bullpen. If Millar, Billy M and Bellhorn can get going down near the bottom of the order, watch out. The Sox are moving the right way.

Meanwhile, the Yankees really do suck. I’ll let King George sum up the feelings of Yankee fans:

“Enough is enough. I am bitterly disappointed as I'm sure all Yankee fans are by the lack of performance by our team. It is unbelievable to me that the highest-paid team in baseball would start the season in such a deep funk. They are not playing like true Yankees. They have the talent to win and they are not winning. I expect Joe Torre, his complete coaching staff and the team to turn this around."

Always fun when you get a pissed Steinbrenner quote in mid-April. Good times.

Tomorrow we get Schilling on Patriots Day, a yearly tradition that calls for the first pitch to be around 11:00 ET. David Bush, a young gun from Toronto, will face Schill. I don’t see any reason why the Sox won’t keep this going under the Fenway sky…

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Another Day At The Office

Didn’t catch most of the game tonight. Saw the first four innings on-and-off while cringing after every B.J. Ryan fastball in the ninth inning of the Yankees-Orioles game. I can’t believe it’s April, and I care this much. But, figure this, the Yanks are 4-7, in last place, trying not to get swept by their slave Orioles, and have Kevin Brown pitching tomorrow. Did I mention they’re in last place? Did I mention Kevin Brown was pitching tomorrow?

I did catch Manny slap around Dewon Brazelton for a granny and a two-run dinger over the Monster. Great stuff. Just watching Manny’s swing brings chills down my spine, it’s so damn smooth and perfect. I’d give a freakin kidney to be able to swing like that for one day. But, most importantly, he broke out of that “slump” that everyone was talking about. His slump was more like hitting the ball to the exact wrong spot in the exact wrong times, getting robbed of sure hits, and getting behind in the count. He’s Manny Ramirez, folks. I won’t be at all shocked if he bats .500 in the next five games.

Clement shook off a couple shaky first innings and overall looked impressive in his Fenway debut. The team is ripping, the pitching is improving, but I’m worried this bullpen isn’t being tested enough. I mean, these guys looked pitiful in Toronto and New York, and now that we keep blowing out the Rays, there’s not much intense in-game action with the pen involved. Foulke, Timlin and crew are just sitting on their asses making money. And do I mind this trend at all? Not one bit. I’m just a little concerned…

Tomorrow we get Tim Wakefield, by far our most impressive pitcher this season so far. He really steps it up in big games against the Yankees, but tends to blow up against the weaker clubs like the D’Rays. And I’ll get to see what this Kazmir kid is all about.

Have I mention the Yankees are 4-7 yet?

Saturday, April 16, 2005

.500 Never Felt So Good

Finally the Yanks have gone bye-bye (did I just say that?) and we can focus on demolishing other teams with slightly less payrolls. The Devil Rays came into town tonight carrying Hideo Nomo and something called confidence, boosted after an impressive showing last night at home against the Orioles. That game was also played in a dome, their ninth consecutive game in that piece of crap, meaning they’d have to adjust to chilly Fenway. Didn’t quite work out for Piniella’s crew.

Nomo looked shaky from the beginning, not being able to find the strike zone and showing why so many teams have already given up on him. The Sox finally cashed in with a Bellhorn double in the second, going the other way and ripping the ball into the gap. This is what Bellhorn has to do more. Instead of swinging with that massive uppercut and trying to pull the ball of Pesky’s Pole all the time, why not go “oppo” and let your natural talent take over? You’ve got the power, my friend.

Papi likes the Salami and goes yahd later in the second, adding to his early RBI total. The game was pretty much a breeze from there, we added a few, and Boomer kept rolling. Sure, it was Tampa, a team he’s controlled during his entire career, but he just needed to feel victory again. After getting pummeled in his first two starts, and riding the momentum from a few solid innings in the latter part of that Toronto game, Wells was un-hittable. He was controlling pitches, hitting spots, but the fact he wears short sleeves in 40 degree weather still pisses me off…

Edgah is rippin, and if Manny can catch some breaks, this team looks really good. Manny seems to be pressing just a little. He needs to rip on more favorable counts and not send it to two strikes every time up at-bat. When he gets to two strikes, he seems to be tentative and is pulling his head, therefore popping up pitches. Can someone tell me why the hell I’m ridiculing Manny Ramirez’s swing?

Anyway, the Sox win 10-0 and get to 5-5. The Yanks lose 8-1 behind an 0-4 game from Choke-Rod and another Pavano Implosion. They’re 4-6, worst start since 1991. Sounds kinda like last year…

Friday, April 15, 2005

Representing The Minority...

The media's reaction to this incident between Gary Sheffield and that Red Sox fan is making me sick. I still can't believe people are blaming this all on that fan and praising Sheffield for apparently "keeping his composure." First of all, the fan accidentally touched the cap of Sheffield; watch the tape, he's looking at home plate when this happens. Second of all, it's pretty hard to muster that his justified reaction to the incident is to shove the fan in the face in front of him. I personally believe he just lost his cool and did this because he was mad over any vulgur comments he was yelling during the play, not because of the touching of his hat. The fan still has no right to put his hands or any part of his body over the fence and in the field of play, but the praise Sheffield is receiving over this makes me want to throw up. Please.

I think there was no ultimate malicious intent by the fan to hit Sheffield in the face. The biggest deal here is his reaction, something that everybody is backing. Sheff has to realize he is on the field of play in a major league baseball game on national television, with everyone watching him, and you can't react like he did by shoving the fan. I'm sorry, but a normal reaction would be to swat the hand away quickly, not push the fan farther into the stands. Now Sheffield is saying that he was trying to clear himself some room to throw the ball into play!!! Gimme a break, thats the lamest excuse I've ever heard. How about taking a freakin step the other way, Sheff.

And these baseball analysts completely make me insane. Just like the NBA guys after the Artest game, they totally back Sheffield and everything he did during the play. Clowns like him always get protected by these former players that get paid to defend coddled athletes today. Makes me sick. Everyone is saying how it was all that fans fault, and Gary did all the right things. I completely disagree and I'll stand by that to my grave. Also, great job by the security guard getting there A.S.A.P. Even though it would have been fun to see Sheff get ten games in the ropes.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Running Diary: Bronson vs. Johnson

Is there a such thing as a good loss when you’re playing the Yankees? Can that be allowed? Stretching the rules, last nights game proved many things: Curt Schilling is still Curt Schilling, and before the sixth inning, was cruising. We also learned that the Red Sox can’t cash in with runners in scoring position, the same problem that haunted us in June of last year. And most of all, Terry Francona can still be an absolute moron.

Last nights game was even more painful because I was surrounded by drunk Yankee fans. At one point, I think one of them yelled “1918!” Then, THG and Bernie took Schilling deep, and after the Sox failed to score in the seventh and eighth, I knew Rivera wasn’t going to blow another one. Especially up three runs.

And go out and by one of those “Who Needs Johnson, We’ve Got Bronson” pins. It looks great on plaid.

Now for the running diary...

Running Diary: Yankees at Red Sox (4/14/05)

7:35 P.M. ET: The first inning and a half has gone anything but smoothly for Arroyo. The Yanks have gotten three hits already, including them leaving five men on base. This could easily be a big Yankee lead already, with A-Rod lining out to left and Womack hitting a shot to Bellhorn at second with a runner in scoring position in both innings. The Sox are really attacking Johnson early, a decision I completely disagree with. Maybe Tito knows something I don't.

7:44: Welcome to Boston, Jay! I don't think I've ever seen a batter hit a Johnson fastball that hard, that long. That was a frozen rope, all the way out to deep center. I was just hoping it would get in the gap, but the damn thang just kept flying. Payton hits a two-run homer, 2-0 Sox.

7:47: A note on Jason Varitek's C on his jersey. I don't have much of a problem, but it doesn't need to be on the front of his game jersey. I know, I know, he deserves it. But can't it be on the sleeve or above the number? Does Jeter have a C over his New York? Case closed.

7:52: The Other Captain leads off with a double, and Matsui drives him in, 2-1 Sox now. Matsui just amazes me. Arroyo should give him some major chin music, like Pedro in Game 5. Sure, it risks another brawl, but I have a slight feeling Hideki vs. Tek will play to our advantage.

7:56: Damon walks, then steals second. As Rem Dawg points out, the Red Sox HAVE to mix it up tonight if they want to beat The Unit. Steal bases, drop down a few bunts, go the opposite way, just adjust to the fact you're facing Randy Johnson and not Erik Bedard.

7:59: EDGAHHHHH GOES DEEP!!!! Forget what I said in the last post, Renteria pulled that ball in a BIG way in the Monster seats. 4-1, Good Guys. I knew he would break out of it (knock on wood), you just gotta believe!

8:04: Manny and Ortiz K to end the inning, another prime example of the Sox letting up after a big home run. Why not attack and pour on runs now that they've got Johnson on the ropes? As for Renteria, I mean, this guy was absolutely being assaulted all around Boston. WEEI had multiple callers per minute wondering where the hell Cabrera was, and bitching about the fact Cabrera could do this and Cabrera could do that. Patience, everyone. I don't see any reason Edgah won't hit .300.

8:09: Two on for the Yanks for Womack, including an astounding Williams at-bat. He really, really kills us. Even with a salad fork sticking out of his back and the fact the Yankees might screw him over in the offseason.

8:14: Jeter jusssst misses being rung up by the home plate umpire, but apparently he didn't call it because his name is Derek Jeter. Now we have Sheffield up and the bases loaded in a 25-pitch inning. I'd continue to type if my fingers weren't shaking and my heart currently undergoing an irregular beat.

8:21: Horrible call by the umpire AGAIN, causing mild-mannered Papa Jack to go insane and get thrown out. At least the guy got his money's worth. Then Matsui gets another hit, drives in two runs, and the game is tied at four. Unbelievable. Thanks a lot, you, I have to keep this family-oriented.

8:25: Another two-out run as Slappy gets a cheap single, giving the Yanks a 5-4 lead. All of this because this ump doesn't have any nuts. The crowd is silent, and I'm about to throw a chair. Arroyo's thrown about 200 pitches in under four full innings, and this inning couldn't be going any worse right now.

8:31: I'd be extremely surprised if the Sox get to Randy at all for the rest of this game. He used up the bad pitches, now he's got the lead = no chance. I hope I'm wrong....

I'M WRONG!!! LEAD DIRT DOG GOES WAYYYY OUT OF THE PAHK AND THE RED SOX TIE IT AT 5!!!! That ball was over EVERYTHING, it probably landed somewhere on Saturn. To lighten the mood up even more, my mom tells me that she's "bought some really nice new towels." She's always fun.

8:34: Johnson dislikes a call, so he starts yapping. Then, he gets the exact same pitch to be a strike and throws his hands up like "it's about time, soldier." After that moment, the umpire remembers the Yankees are the team he's supposed to be favoring.

8:37: Pretty entertaining game to write a running diary for, as Tito is then ejected after another horrid call by the home plate umpire (who knows what his name is, I hope he's tied to a tree in Harvard Square overnight). I haven't seen a worse umpire since that Angels game last July when Papi chucked some bats on the field. Mueller grounds out to end the inning, as all the umpires react to a screaming fan by throwing him out of Fenway and proceeding not to explain why.

8:45: The Unit's etiquette hasn't been great tonight, I'll tell you that right now. I don't care how bad the ump is (and holy crap, he's been DREADFUL, more inconsistent than John Kerry's view on the War In Iraq), Johnson has officially become a slobbering, arrogant Yankee. As for the game, 1-2-3 innings for both teams and we're going to the sixth.

(Getting dinner. Be back in 15....)

9:08: I'm back. Top 7, Embree on the hill, Slappy squinting. Biiiiiiiiiiiig swing and a miss, and A-Rod K's. He hasn't missed that much since the time he skipped a stair at 4:30 A.M.

9:18: HUGE inning for Embree, very impressive as we get past the seventh. The game is slowly shifting momentum towards the Sox. As for the Yankees, I HATE THEM, I HATE THEM, I really, really HATE THEM. As Johnson struts to the mound to pitch another inning, I still wonder why the hell we didn't work the count more earlier in the game. If I were the Red Sox manager, Payton would be facing Tanyon Sturtze right now. Ugh.

9:23: Remy puts it perfectly as Payton gets screwed over by a bad call: "Some of the pitches Johnson wasn't expecting to get earlier in the game, he's getting for strikes right now." One more bad call and I'm throwing a sharpened ax this Gibson fella when he returns home tonight.

9:28: Should we be surprised that Eric Frede still has his job?

9:29: Enter Sandman who walks Tino to lead off the inning. I'm currently vomiting all over the laptop, and I swear my remote just asked me Bernie Williams batting average.

9:35: Good God. Williams strikes out, Crosby steals second. Womack then strikes out, and here comes the biggest at-bat of the young Red Sox season.

9:39: Wow. Deep breath. Foulke delivers an amazing 3-1 pitch, one too hard to look at because it appears easy to hit, but breaks away at the last second. Jeter still gives it a ride to right, but Payton twists and turns to the ball. Inning over. I AM Spartacus, and I'm off to get a Pepsi.

9:42: Gordon in the game for the eighth, even my mom pointed out that he chokes. Damon leads off the inning with a single, and I actually think we're going to win this game....yes....we are....please....we are....

9:46: RENTERIA IS ON FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE!!!!! EDGAH DESTROYS A GORDON PITCH TO CENTER, DAMON SCORES, AND THE RED SOX LEAD 6-5. THE CROWD IS CHANTING "MAN-NY" AND I'M SHAKING WITH DELIGHT. Foulke coming in for the ninth with a one run lead at the very least, and this is our game to lose.

9:56: I can't believe what just happened. Sheffield goes after a fan after he unintentionally swipes him trying to get the ball. He barely touched that monster. If someone touches your face, you don't go after the fan with a punch, are you kidding me?? Don't these idiots learn? After what happened with Artest, he still doesn't understand? This rivalry is unreal. Meanwhile, Tek triples off Gordon and the Sox lead 8-5. This is all going to be shown on SportsCenter a million times, so don't worry if you missed the play.

10:02: Guess who's due up first in the ninth? Gary Sheffield. I'd do anything to be at Fenway right now.

10:05: Artest golfs a pitch off the Monster for a double. Matsui up. This game is anything but over.

10:13: HUGE OUT! Manny catches a Rodriguez fly ball on the warning track in left, possibly the highest ball I've ever seen. I may have temporarily fallen unconscious during that period of time.

10:18: Foulke has successfully been behind every batter this inning. Posada pops out on ball four, then Giambi looks like a stiff staring at an easy pitch to rip. Sierra is on deck. 8-5. Two outs. 3-1 count. I don't want to see Sierra in that batters box.

10:21: THG walks, bringing up Ruben. Foulke looks worse than I've ever seen him before. This is a bad, bad, bad combination.

10:22: RED SOX WIN THE GAME!!!!! Varitek makes a tremendous play on a pop up, and we take the series. Foulke looks like a man who just got let out of prison, and I could not be happier.

Time to watch Baseball Tonight and get complete reactions on the incident. What a game, what a win, go Sox!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Somebody Special

Sometimes things are just meant to be. During the winter of 2003, Curt Schilling was destined to join the Red Sox. People from above sent Theo to that Thanksgiving dinner. He was meant to help deliver their first World Championship in 86 years, and do it in a heroic, gut-wrenching fashion. The 2004 team was meant to be, and Curt Schilling was meant to be a key part in that cause for a ring. In that quest, Schill had to give up a few starts the following season. Big whoop…


Tonight, Curt Schilling will take the mound in pursuit of beating the Yankees one more time, a team he’s had excellent success against in his career. Tonight, the Yankees are looking for revenge after a Game 6 disaster in which the hurting Curtis The Great blew fastball after fastball by the disgruntled Yanks. I remember saying to myself after that game, “even if we lose Game 7, I will vow never to forget his unbelievable performance tonight.” It was that remarkable.

Now you might be saying to yourself, “it’s a new season, FORGET ABOUT IT!” I can’t. Everytime Schilling steps onto the mound for his warmup pitches, I’ll remember that performance in Yankee Stadium, with the team’s back to the wall and all the pressure in the world focused on him. The guy was about to collapse on the mound. And he wasn’t doing it just for him, he was doing it for all those fans that never saw the Red Sox win the big dance.

Will he be effective tonight? Who knows. This is an experimental game, to see whether he can mix up his pitches, have some command and maybe even strike out Ruben Sierra another four times. If Schill struggles mightily, no doubt the media will jump over this with sayings like “last year was the last straw” and “this guy has jumped the shark.” Real Red Sox fans know this guy isn’t even close to being done. If he gives up eight tonight, then five his next start, then two the next start, there’s an obvious improvement there.

But, the Red Sox staff does need a boost. They need something to build off of. And what better motivational builder than watching a 39-year old guy coming off ankle surgery throw an absolute gem? You’re telling me David Wells wouldn’t take notice?

If you thought his ovation on Monday was loud, just wait till tonight. He's ready, the fans are ready, and the Yankees are ready. Curt Schilling was meant to pitch for the Red Sox, and tonight he’ll show you why.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Day Of Celebration

Some things you just never forget.

Today made you feel proud to be a Red Sox fan, which until last October, was a definite rarity. Today made all of those pains and sufferings almost worth it, just so the momentum and anxiousness builds and builds, all culminating in one of the greatest celebrations in the history of sports. And that team, and all Red Sox Nation, fully deserved it.

With each player being introduced to a standing ovation, a chill going down my spine as this team tipped their cap to the Fenway fans, there was actually a connection there. Dave Roberts and Derek Lowe traveling to the city from their new teams, just to enjoy one last day with the 2004 Sox. The current players, the old players, the guys who reversed this franchise into a new winning attitude. And Dr. Charles Steinberg for creating a day that, year after year, seemed impossible.

Dom DiMaggio, Yaz, Johnny Pesky, Lonborg, Rice, Dewey…all those special players who thought they’d never see this day coming, it was a sight to see. All of the Red Sox receiving their rings, just glancing at that chunk, if you will, of diamonds glaring right back at them, and bouncing off the Fenway sunshine. Usually championship rings are gaudy and hideous, but this one was 86 years in the making.

We can’t forget that jumbo pennant covering the Green Monster. First the early championships, then the final, long awaited gigantic flag as big as Rhode Island pouring over the others. 2004 World Champions. They did it, they did it, they freakin did it.

Not too many days do Boston legends gather from around the state, and country, to honor a franchise they have nothing to do with. Bobby Orr, who symbolizes courageousness and popularity to its strongest, simply whispered to Mr. World Champion Bill Russell, “this is pretty nice, isn’t it?” I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that I nodded in approval. The ovation for Tedy Bruschi and Richard Seymour was something nobody will ever forget. For a fan base to support and get behind one of their heroes in such a fashion was simply phenomenal. And you know I hate using that word.

Then the new Sox came out and kicked major Yankee ass. A surprising gesture by the Yankees, giving a standing ovation to the Red Sox after they received their rings, something I didn’t see coming at all. I figured they’d just prance around the clubhouse until an umpire told them to enter the field or something. But no, Jeter and Torre at the top step, applauding their bitter rivals. Mariano Rivera smiling and clapping as the crowd gave him a standing ovation following many disappointing performances against the Red Sox. The Yankee team did something that took a lot of guts and class, and they impressed me today.

As for the game, it simply concluded a perfect day. We jumped on Mussina early, got to see a nice little A-Rod error, saw Sheff misplay a ball in the sun, a homer on the monster by Belli and Keith Foulke, once again, closing it out. Just a little icing on the cake.

There’s no better feeling in the world right now than one of a Red Sox fan.

(Pictures below by

Tedy And Bobby

Ailing Tedy Bruschi and local legend Bobby Orr, along with Celtic great Bill Russell, throw out the first pitch at today's game. Both received standing ovations and most likely a ring sometime in the mail in the next week.

Barber Shop At Its Best

Just staring at Manny Ramirez and Johnny Damon's hair makes me gurgle, but those rings bring a smile to my face. And the smiles. Everyone is happy.

Superman Breaths

The postseason hero, Curt Schilling, gets a huge hand from the crowd in appreciation of his battling and courageousness last October. Superman is back in theatres this Wednesday.

Papi Likes The Bling

David Ortiz holds up his championship ring for the Fenway crowd, one of the best-looking rings in the history of sports (and yes, I'm biased).

Davey And Tito Reunite

Great friends on and off the field, manager Terry Francona hugs ALCS Game 4 hero Dave Roberts after he received his ring. Roberts and Francona both got enormous ovations.

2004 Red Sox Team

The 2004 team, one that will never be forgotten in Boston lore, makes its way to the championship banner.

Fenway, Glorious As Always

The view from a porch at Fenway Park, overlooking the great ceremony and re-vamped diamond. The ownership installed a new playing surface, something that will reduce...what the hell am I talking about, LOOK AT THAT VIEW!!!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Jays Fly To Another Victory

Another loss ends a 2-4 road trip, something not expected before the season began. The pitching staff has all sorts of problems, mostly David Wells, who looks like he’d rather be eating glazed donuts at 7 Eleven than pitching for the Red Sox. Right now, the ace is Tim Wakefield. No, that does not look good on paper.

I didn’t see the game, and unfortunately had to resort to recaps. Ted Lilly dominated us for the majority of the game, only giving up a sac fly to Jay Payton early. Converted starter Miguel Batista, who the Sox kill year after year, gave up a game-tying single in the ninth against- who else- Edgar Renteria. Yeah, yeah, I know, Cabrera would have done it too. Then, the reliable Mike Timlin blows the game in the ninth by giving up an RBI double to Orlando Hudson. A sad way to end a sad road trip.

Sure, it’s “only April” and “Manny will start hitting”, and the best one: “Wells just needs time to focus.” Whatever. I hope everyone is right, because seeing Boston in the cellar, I don’t care how early in the year, brings me to a dry heaving state. It’s great that David Wells didn’t walk anybody yesterday, it’s just unfortunate that all of his pitches were meat served on a silver platter. And it’s great that Matt Clement has a young, ready arm and plenty of upside, but he needs to throw the ball over the plate with consistency. It’s all about execution.

In other news, the Yankees lost their home series to the Orioles, featuring choke jobs from the new additions. Wright was hammered, and Pavano was literally hammered. As much as it pains me to say this, I hope he’s doing alright. We get Wake against the Moose tomorrow. Oh yeah, there’s some kind of ring ceremony going on before the game, I just heard about it.

We return to the friendly confines of Fenway Pahk. Let’s sweep the Yanks, boys.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Disaster City

What a painful game. Everything went wrong- the defense was horrible, the command wasn’t there for the pitchers, and the umpiring wasn’t at a major league level. Some bright spots, including a nice pinch hit by Renteria, Nixon finally getting back on track, and a three-run jackaroo delivered courtesy of Big Papi. But, the bullpen let the team down in a big way:

Matt Mantei: Sucks. This is an outing he hopes to forget. Mantei faced four batters and gave up three singles, including the run to give the Jays a 6-5 lead. The big problem is this: his velocity is there, but he isn’t mixing his pitches up well enough. You could just see Catalanotto waiting for that fastball to rip for a hit. And when the NESN cameras showed him on the bench after the hook, it appeared he didn’t even care. Grade: D-

John Halama: Really sucks. Halama comes into the game after the Mantei disaster and doesn’t retire a batter. The first walk I don’t blame Halama for, Koskie had one of the best at-bats I’ve seen in a while. He just kept battling and battling, and you knew the walk was inevitable. Hillenbrand gets a crap single, then Halama loses all control of his brain and hits Hinske with the bases loaded on a 2-1 count. Absolutely no excuse for that. I learned something today: When you pick up a pitcher that was dumped by Tampa Bay, usually you shouldn’t have any expectations. Grade: F

Blaine Neal: Really, really sucks. I hope I never see this guy pitching for the Red Sox again. If Theo doesn’t release Neal by the end of the week, I’ll start eating gravel. Seriously, he may be the least effective pitcher I’ve ever seen grip a baseball. In the Yankee game I felt like riding to the Stadium and re-arranging his face, now he gives up a grand slam to Zaun on the straightest fastball ever. I swear I heard God say “What the hell kind of pitch was that?” Then Neal brings out that wince he’s perfected and starts rubbing the baseball forcefully. Get him off the team, NOW. Grade: F-

I will now light myself on fire.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Good Times, Really Crappy Times

Thanks to the guys at Surviving Grady for the idea:

Conversation between Mariano Rivera and George Steinbrenner following the Yankees April 6 loss against the Red Sox, where Rivera blew his second consecutive save:

Rivera: Boss?

Steinbrenner: What the hell are you doing out there on that mound? You’re embarrassing me and the entire city of New York, you know that right? (makes weird grunting noise)

Rivera: I know, I’m struggling a little bit. But if your prized possession doesn’t boot a routine grounder, we win the game. I don’t see the big problem here.

Steinbrenner: Listen, the 10 million I’m supposed to be paying you doesn’t fall out of the friggin sky…

Rivera: Boss, this won’t happen again. It really won’t happen again.

Steinbrenner: Too late.

Rivera (confused): Too late?

Steinbrenner: We’re going with Flash for a while. You seem like you need a break, just hang low for a while.

Rivera: Hang low? What? Do you have any idea how much I’ve done for this franchise? I’m the greatest closer of all-time and you’re going to bench me because I blew a couple of freak games? Do you have any clue how hard this is?

What the hell do you want me to do? Wear really fancy sweaters and not smile at the cameras? Attempt to beat up Jason Varitek with his mask on? Play some sax with Bernie?

Steinbrenner: I know, I know, it’s just that all the blown saves are really starting to piss me off.

Rivera: Time to face the real problem here, Boss. You’ve got a first baseman that’s injecting chemicals up his ass, and another that’s seven years past his prime. Your 252 million dollar Choke Delight continues to provide nothing but average numbers and average defense. Your center fielder is wilting away. And we haven’t even seen Jaret Wright blow a game yet…

Steinbrenner: …And a closer that walked David McCarty and Doug Mirabelli in the ninth inning. Can you drop this check in Alex’s mailbox on your way out?

Rivera: Yes, boss.

(passes Billy Martin on the way out)

Martin: Man, I know exactly how you feel.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Win One For The Skipper

It’s now official: The Boston Red Sox own Mariano Rivera.

We needed this victory very badly, even though it’s early April. First of all, any win against the Yankees deserves recognition, especially when you do it in this type of fashion. Yesterday was nut-busting, just painful. Today Rivera blew up again, this time showing a lack of control I’ve never seen before. Never in my life would I ever consider the possibility of seeing Joe Torre take the ball from Mariano Rivera. Ever.

It’s really hilarious when people think of Yankee fans as the most knowledgeable and passionate in the game. Stuff like the fans showing professionalism and class, total bull. Today, those “fans” booed Rivera off the mound in one of the most senseless acts by a crowd I’ve ever seen. This guy has been a key contributor in four World Series victories, is the rock that holds your bullpen together and is regarded as the ultimate postseason closer. Yet, your fans seem to forget all of that in booing Rivera following an April disaster. He hit a rough patch, everyone needs to acknowledge that this happens to every player at one point in their careers, I don‘t care if you‘re Xavier Nady or Mariano Rivera. But to see them boo him, a guy who has done wonders for the Yankees, is unbelievable in my mind.

Moving away from that topic, it was awesome to see Renteria come through in the clutch, driving a single into left, making the game 6-3. He was being hammered in every area of his game by the Boston media, but today pretty much clinches the game for his team. Now people can remember the All-Star this guy really is.

Now, I don’t know what a “true” Yankee really is. I guess they resemble the guys that won championships in the late 90’s, the Scott Brosius, Chuck Knoblauch, Paul O’Neill, Bernie, Jeter types. Maybe the Red Sox are right, maybe Alex Rodriguez is not a true Yankee. It just seems very fishy how nobody stood up for him after the Nixon “clown” incident, and now after he had that horrid error. E-Rod cost the Yankees the game. Period. He fields that grounder cleanly, bring out the brooms.

The lineup is starting to come together, the bullpen looks tremendous (especially when Timlin went chin music with Jeter), and Wakefield pitched great today. I think that win will really pick us up and carry the Sox to a series win over Toronto this weekend.

If I didn’t make it clear, thank you E-Rod. And getter better Tito.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Captain Clash

I didn’t get to the game until the top of the ninth, with the Red Sox down 3-2, and Mariano Rivera strutting his stuff to the mound. I was actually confident about this situation.

If there’s a plus coming out of this game, it’s the fact the Red Sox have Rivera’s number. It’s been three straight games the invincible Rivera has blown a save against the Sox, something that’s got to send chills down the spines of Brian Cashman. Not to mention Joe Torre hitting himself with the bat some more times.

Then Foulke made a bad pitch, and the clutch Derek Jeter sent the fans home happy to the tune of Frank Sinatra and the satisfaction that their pinstripes are back on top. Everyone’s pissed at Renteria, not only for his lack of hitting, but his defense. Manny can’t hit the broad side of a barn. People want Mientkiewicz instead of Millar. Everyone calm down and check out the calendar.

Clement review: His usual. He keeps you in the game, something the Red Sox offense should feed off of, but is not overpowering. Don’t expect many great games from him. This is why his ERA is low, but his win total is not high. His mound demeanor is average, but overall, Clement was mediocre today.

Besides Keith Foulking it up, the bullpen looks great. It hurts that we’re losing to our main rival, especially in this fashion. But we got to Mariano The Magnificent, and this was a definite improvement from Sunday night. Time for Wake to pick us up tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Revenge Of Small Proportions

Everyone calm down. Put down the knife, the pepper spray and poison. Slowly drive your car away from the bridge and walk away from the porch ledge. It’s alright. There’s 161 to go.

Bottom line: This is the game the Yankees have been waiting for all winter. It was sort of a revenge from last year, just to wake the Red Sox up and tell remind them who’s still the king of baseball. Boomer didn’t want to be in that situation, and everybody noticed.

The great thing about this rivalry, and about baseball, is that momentum can change at any point. Right now, the Yankees are confident. Matsui has gotten off to a tremendous start. They know they have that psychological advantage back the Red Sox carried all offseason. But don’t expect these idiots to fold right away and get all worried. Don’t even expect David Wells to get worried. They, and us Red Sox fans, know it’ll be fine.

Sure it was a big opening day game, but we have a while to go. There are even question marks after Day 1, though. Renteria looked painful trying to swing the bat. Maybe it was nerves. Will David Wells hold up for the season? Maybe it was the Yankee Stadium pressure. So many maybe’s, thank God it’s not October.

Clement takes the mound tomorrow. I’m thinking seven strong.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Here Comes The Sun

(Boston Dirt Dogs Photo)

Tonight the ancient rivals take the diamond for the first time in over five months, and it actually counts. The real lineups are issued in, the superstars take the field, and we can begin just another baseball season.

That’s the thing, it’s not just another baseball season.

The Red Sox are defending a World Championship. They begin this giant quest to repeat against the team they embarrassed last October. And yes, I’m talking embarrassed. Whatever Yankee fans say, they never, ever believed that was possible. It happened, and now the Yankees get a chance to erase the blackboard and write a new script this season. It’s on now.

A battle of 40-year olds tonight, as David Wells is pitching the game he’s feared his entire life. When he arrived at spring training and admitted he called the Yankees to see if they were interested in him, he was still a Yankee at heart. When spring training ended, he started to come around. And as this season wears on, and Wells is taking whiskey shots with Damon and Millar, he’ll dissolve into this idiocy and become a true Red Sock. David Wells forgets things quickly.

Randy Johnson doesn’t really quite understand how huge this rivalry is, and Wells does. Unless the Yankees score tons of runs early, I think Wells and the Red Sox will prevail tonight. Boomer knows what this rivalry is about, he’s pitched huge games right in the middle of it. Remember when he came in relief in Game 7. It might take the Unit a little bit of time to get back into Cy Young form, and Wells may surprise some critics tonight.

Bottom line: Baseball is here. Baseball. Friggin Red Sox-Yankees baseball. I’m actually ready to move on, I want to defend this thing. I want the journey to begin happily, and end joyously, in Yankee Stadium. Let’s go Boomer, and let’s go Sox.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Enter Sandmen

Let’s move on to the bullpen, a group that I think is the strongest in baseball. They may be sort of shaky in the regular season, but there’s no group of guys I’d rather have in October than Foulke-Timlin-Embree. And with the addition of Mantei and signing Myers, it can only get better.

Closer: Keith Foulke

In my opinion, the MVP of the World Series had a roller coaster 2004 season. He was rattled in spring training, to the point where teammates and the front office started getting worried whether he could handle the real pressure. He was awarded the save in his first opportunity, but May and June resulted in more blown saves than expected. Then he settled down, and in August, was by far, the best closer in baseball. He didn’t blow a save during the entire postseason, coming in for huge innings against the Angels, and the now famous “ball-busting” bottom of the ninth in Game 6 at Yankee Stadium. Not to mention, throwing nearly three innings in both Game 4 and 5 at Fenway. He closed out every single World Series game.

Foulke has the nastiest changeup in baseball. If he gets that baby working, not much can stop him. With Rivera’s recent struggles against his rivals, it won’t surprise me at all if Foulke is labeled the best closer in baseball sometime this season.

2004 Stats: 5-3, 2.17 ERA, 32 saves
2005 Prediction: 5-2, 2.11 ERA, 37 saves

Righty Setup: Mike Timlin

This tall, lanky right-hander doesn’t back down to anyone. Yeah, he was a little shaky last year, especially when he faced Vlad Guerrero in Game 3 of the ALCS. But, like the whole bullpen, was practically un-hittable in the postseason. I’ve always thought Timlin was under appreciated in Boston and in the world of baseball, and with all the late inning home runs the Sox hit, I can see his wins flying up from last year. Age might catch up to him though.

2004 Stats: 5-4, 4.13 ERA, 1 save
2005 Prediction: 6-2, 3.99 ERA, 1 save

Lefty Setup: Alan Embree

Francona must really like this guy, for they share that big wad of chew which is famous around Beantown now. Embree is a flamethrower that uses primarily his arm. I’m really surprised he hasn’t need some sort of rotator cuff surgery yet, but there’s always 2005 for that! Embree and Timlin are great friends and are often talked about together, hence the identical 4.13 ERA. And I swear to God, I will never use the word “hence” again. This guy could be a nice closer on most teams.

2004 Stats: 2-2, 4.13 ERA, 0 saves
2005 Prediction: 1-2, 4.12 ERA, 1 save

New Face: Matt Mantei

Anybody remember when Matt Mantei was the premiere closer in baseball? Everyone feared him. Now, after some tough injuries, his arm feels healthy and this guy is ready to explode. Mantei can reach back and get up to the high 90’s on his fastball. This guy was sort of an under-the-radar signing for Theo in December, but he sure won’t be under the radar when talked about as a key element in the Red Sox World Series run.

2004 Stats: 0-3, 11.81 ERA, 4 saves
2005 Prediction: 2-1, 2.45 ERA, 1 save

Sixth Starter: John Halama- 7-6, 4.70 ERA
Situational Lefty: Mike Myers-
5-1, 4.64 ERA
New Addition: Blaine Neal- 1-1, 4.07 ERA

Friday, April 01, 2005

Jump Starter

Since there’s three days left until Randy Johnson throws the first pitch to Johnny Damon at Yankee Stadium, it’s time to dissect the Red Sox roster and analyze the strengths and weaknesses of each and every Fenway prowler. Today will be the rotation…

(yes, I realize that’s the exact same intro I used yesterday, we’re on a low budget here, folks)

Ace: Curt Schilling

The ultimate warrior will most likely be on the trainers table until as early as April 13. That date would mean his first start of the season would be at home against the Yankees, but there’s no need to rush the ace. Schilling finished second in the Cy Young voting with 21 strong wins, pitching over 226 innings and striking out 203, a great stat for a guy his age. I look for his stats to decline a little bit with his age and injuries, but I’d take him on my team any day…even if he is a slobbering right-winger.

2004 Stats: 21-6, 3.26 ERA
2005 Prediction: 18-5, 3.42 ERA

#2: David Wells

About three years ago today, I hated this guy’s guts and hoped he’d burn in hell with Yogi Berra, but now he’s a Red Sock. What can I do? No, I’ll never forgive him for saying Fenway Park should be knocked down, he was probably just bitter because the Sox ripped him apart that day. Anyway, Wells was an excellent pickup because of how he controls the plate. He never walks better and always keeps a steady ERA. With Miller coming back in June, he could be the #2 starter, but for the early stages of the season, I’ll take Boomer.

2004 Stats: 12-8, 3.73 ERA
2005 Prediction: 14-10, 3.74 ERA

#3: Matt Clement

Last year on the Cubs, Clement got almost zero run support. He also tailed off at the end of the season, and his record really doesn’t show the great job he did. Clement is one of the best bright arms in the game, evident with his large strikeout total and low ERA. His wins can only go up now due to the relentless and powerful Red Sox offense. Plus, Clement has already developed a relationship with experienced catcher Jason Varitek, and knows what it is like to work with a well-oiled rotation.

2004 Stats: 9-13, 3.68 ERA
2005 Prediction: 19-7, 3.18 ERA

#4: Bronson Arroyo

Arroyo really gave Sox fans hope he’d become a solid pitcher in this league with a valiant effort in Game 3 of the ALDS. He finished the season strong, and after some great innings out of the bullpen in big games, the Sox and Francona really believe he can continue to climb the rotation and not constantly be talked about going to the minors. With more experience, his numbers will get better. But be patient with Arroyo.

2004 Stats: 10-9, 4.03 ERA
2005 Prediction: 14-10, 4.06 ERA

#5: Tim Wakefield

Wakefield is prone to average regular seasons, but picks it up when it really matters. It seems like Wake either pitches a gem or gets beaten around pretty bad, evident with his high ERA. Wakefield loves to pitch for the BoSox, and that knuckler seems to float even more when facing the Yankees. I see him being just as effective as last season, not better or worse.

2004 Stats: 12-10, 4.87 ERA
2005 Prediction: 13-11, 4.62 ERA

#6: Wade Miller

Miller’s on the shelf until June, and the Sox brass is considering this a major midseason pickup. Miller has the heart of a lion, and one of the best combination of pitches in the bigs. But, his mechanics are very prone to injures because he uses mostly his arm. After successful surgery and some good spring workouts, this guy could be a major valuable piece in the 2005 Red Sox puzzle.

2004 Stats: 7-7, 3.35 ERA
2005 Prediction: 12-4, 2.76 ERA