Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Rebounding With Authority

Every game against the O’s counts. Sure, the Yankees are always the big guns, the rivals we want to take down, the target the Red Sox are aiming for. Even as early as May. But now we face these pesky Orioles once again, with those same Orioles in first place in the AL East. They’re not the same team that mulled around fourth place in the division, lacked any iota of pitching and tended to play inconsistently all year, almost costing Lee Mazzilli his job. These new and improved Orioles are playing with confidence and heart. They want to overcome the big boys and win this thing. The Red Sox better watch out.

After we fell four games back last night, I was a little panicky. While the Yankees would probably be feeding on the Artists Formely Known As The Kansas City Royals, the Red Sox had the first place O’s at home in a huge, national television series. This was one of the biggest May series in a long time at Fenway. Last night was disappointing, but winning tonight was great, especially with the Yanks currently down to the RoyAAAls. The difference between being three games back and five games back is not only big in the standings, but psychologically it makes you feel a hell of a lot better about yourself. Not that the Red Sox need that, of course.

We know these things for sure- John Olerud is making a good impression in his first week with the BoSox, while Millar is struggling, reeling, and playing with his stance. And we all know who’s better defensively. We also know Wade Miller may end up being the steal of the off season, a guy nobody really took a chance on after battling arm injuries, that wound up in Theo’s hands with a warm hello. He came back sooner than we thought, and delivered tonight with a nice performance. That seventh inning was surely fun.

We know Edgar Renteria is hot. We know Damon will be okay after his collision with the wall, thank god. And hell, we sure know Jay Payton has a rifle in center. Tomorrow is the biggest game of the season- let’s go out and kick some Oriole bootay.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Booming Victory

Mr. David Wells brought me to a better place tonight.

The first inning I was hitting the panic button. I actually uttered the words “this guys career is probably over” after Sheffield lined the second homer of the inning to tie the score at two. Then we poured on some runs with the help of Edgah machine and the “warm weather” factor that seemed to be his excuse for taking dumps all over the field in the last month or so. All is forgiven. Papi had already sent a ball onto the black seats in center, Reggie Jackson-esque. He hit that ball wicked hahhd.

Then Wells seemed to calm down. All of a sudden, the crowd wasn’t getting in his head. His team wasn’t making mistakes and errors behind him. Wells and rookie Kelly Shoppach (this guy is MUCH better than the 0-fer he put up tonight) really worked together well. As inning after inning passed by, I kept thinking I was high or drunk because Wells was still pitching. What is going on here? David Wells, on the mound, in the NINTH FREAKIN INNING??? Am I dreaming?

Then Francona took out the hook, the claw and the shovel and dug David Wells’ complete game into the mud. Damn you sometimes, Tito.

The Red Sox got, count em, more than forty hits in the last two games. They outscored the Yankees 24-4 in those same games. Edgar Renteria is up to .290 and scorching hot right now. At one time in this game he was 12 for his last 14. Manny, at one point in the game, was 7 for his last 7, all singles. Nixon and Varitek are over .300, and Damon is third in the AL in average. Clement is 6-0. Let’s take this sweet momentum to the Pahk and win some more games.

I’ve never felt better about my Sawx.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Boston Massacre

It really doesn’t get much better than that. Some games you have an offensive onslaught, a sloppy game, a game with tons of runs and a back and forth juggernaut. Some games are pitching duels, with the two teams hanging close and one team busting it open at the end. Some games are boring, some games are interesting, some games are classics. But, nothing, and I mean NOTHING (besides Games 4 and 5 of the ALCS, but those were so god damn nut busting) beats what happened today at Yankee Stadium, playing our most hated rival. On their turf!

Seventeen runs. Twenty-seven hits. I haven’t experienced this much overwhelming joy since winning the World Series. I missed that feeling, believe me, I was about to hang myself over my bathtub after last night debacle. We got a little dose of the old Edgah we’re formally known to seeing over the years. We got some Trot magic. We got a big batch of Manny singles. Damon had seven friggin at-bats. That’s crazy. A beautiful game on a tremendous Saturday afternoon (and I mean that in the biggest way possible).

But here’s the trick. The Red Sox have to keep it going.

This team can’t get too over their heads and blow up in the next couple games. We’ve got a major game in the Bronx tomorrow night, then two huge series with the Orioles and Angels. This is time to bare down focus, and sweet mother of Christ, win some more ballgames! We might need 17 and 27 for Boomer tomorrow night, though. Whatever gets the job done.

I loved what I saw today, and I bet all of Red Sox Nation just nodded their head in agreement. 26 hits is something to be really, really proud of. And it was the Yanks.

Friday, May 27, 2005


The Red Sox are slumping, and you know what, this is a wake up call for me. I really don’t like them losing at all, but I’m officially parting ways with 2004 and focusing on this season. It’s hard at this point in time, but this is Red Sox baseball. Not champagne pouring, bear hugging, dry humping and all that good stuff I’m used to, but the good ole frustrating, up and down Sawx I’ve watched for many years. Fine. I figured it would come sooner or later. Actually, better sooner than later.

Tonight, it was the rookie Cano and Sheff that did the trick against Wake, who’s quickly returning to the .500 pitcher we’re accustomed to. Edgar had a nice night, but that’s about all the silver lining I can get out of this game. I actually didn’t see most of it ( I know I should be smited) but the highlights look just bad. Randy had his speed up, Manny still sucks, Rivera is back to normal, the Yanks are hot, the Sox are cold and everything is pointing the wrong way.

Boys, we’ve actually got a wall to climb. Let’s overcome this adversity and show the Yanks the real Bostonian steel balls. Maybe Clement will provide another rendition of the Gettysburg Address tomorrow. Let’s hope.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blow Some Steam

Let’s play a quick round of Guess The Sox Player!

1. I make a habit of filling my pre and post game food plate with KFC chicken and shots of Jack Daniels whiskey. I may be a wreck at first base, but who’s the guy that believed, huh? Just the way Sox Nation likes it, then POW! I make another error. Or go 0 for 4. Take your pick. Anyway, I’m a firm believer in humping animals at the zoo, making the ladies happy at all times and grabbing my crotch.

2. Remember when I won the batting title in 2003? Neither do I.

3. Maybe my mechanics are messed up, maybe my changeup is as straight as ever, maybe my fastball doesn’t even clock 89 anymore, but I‘ll be fine. I’m struggling mightily right now, yes, I admit it. If anyone knows of a good orphopaedic surgeon around the Boston area, I’d really like to know. The DL is calling.

4. I like donuts a lot and try to eat them every day. When I forget, I feel really bad because I know I let my body and myself down. Sometimes I like coffee with my donuts too. There’s nothing better than chillin at Dunkin Donuts, eating a 12 pack’a powdered, sippin some coffee and reading Gun and Truck magazine. Some doctors said I should try eating healthy. But who cares, my career is probably over.

5. I love attention. Whenever my wife and I decide to go on another honeymoon or throw down another kick ass pool party with complete strangers, I make sure to buy a camera and tape it all, then send it to ESPN.com so everyone sees this awesome tan I got surfing. Gotta love the good life. I’m planning to write another book this winter titled: The Life Of A Caveman: I Hunt Buffalos For Fun. Complete with CD ROM re-counting my entire life story.

6. I think Tony LaRussa is a complete and total idiot. Worse than all these damn left-wingers that parade this state. He’s just a total moron to do what he did, and I, for one, decided to get my opinion out there on this idiot. To call out a former player the way he did the other day, you know, you must be filled with ignorance and jealousy. He wants him back in the Lou, no doubt. End of story. Excuse me while I make this family of four driving about 50 MPH on the freeway shut up.

7. I’m a Greek God. Tito said my penis was small. He’s right.

8. It’s me again, hey. Since I’m a Lee Dungaree type of guy, I’m gonna tell you a secret. I have this thing fo Johnny Damon’s wife, ya know, it’s getting serious. First, she stroked my hair during batting practice, right in the middle of the friggin field, guys! Then I felt the need to give something back. It went too far. I mean, what we did takes Cowboy Up to a whole new level.

9. I’m sitting in my home eating sushi and watching the Sox. Good times with those guys. I see Tek catch a foul ball and just want to carry his mask back to the dugout for him. I see Damon’s hair swooping in the wind and really feel the urge to rub his upper leg. I see Tizzle hit another homerun and really want to give him a big bear hug. Watch out for the Hebrew Hammer in a ballpark near you.

10. I can’t decide that better word for my overall performance this season: shmuck, debacle, disgusting, ghastly, clusterfuck or just plain bad. I’m leaning towards clusterfuck.

Answers: 1. Kevin Millar, 2. Bill Mueller, 3. Keith Foulke, 4. David Wells, 5. Johnny Damon, 6. Curt Schilling, 7. Kevin Youkilis, 8. Kevin Millar, 9. Gabe Kapler, 10. Edgar Renteria

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

God, Save Us From This Pit Of Agony

I hate the Skydome, or Rogers Centre, whatever those Canadians call it now. I hate it. I always have, and always will. Case closed.

Sad loss tonight, it’s one of those games you wanna puke all over the room and shout at random objects around the house. Painful. A lot of people are already doubting Francona’s decision to bring in Alan Embree to pitch the ninth, especially after watching him give up that walk-off to Eduardo Perez the last time. Zaun and Hudson were both switch hitters, and Embree has been excellent lately. It was the right move, just unfortunately came back to haunt us.

On the bright side, Mueller homered again, but the dark cloud appeared once again as he left the game after being hit around the foot area. At least we have Youk, right. But still, I hope Mr. Under-Appreciated isn’t out for long. He’s a fragile guy, remember when he missed that long stretch last year after a minor injury? We don’t want that again, and it’s too bad, because Billy is becoming one of the best defensive third baseman in the league. No exaggeration.

The Yanks are kickin major bootay in the Bronx, which is worth another head banging on the desk. A-Rod’s gone deep twice, and all of a sudden, they’re just one and a half games behind us in the standings. Meanwhile, the O’s are still playing well, and the Jays are even creeping. The Sox need to step it up tomorrow and grab a big win. I believe in Cornroyo.

Meanwhile, Renteria speaks out on LaRussa‘s comments about him possibly not being a good fit in Boston:

"I’m surprised. I don’t know why he said that. Maybe they want me back or something. I’m done with St. Louis already, and I play with Boston right now. It’s my house right now, my family. I don’t feel (special) pressure (here). When I play, I feel pressure everyday to be successful. That’s why I’m the kind of player I am."

Word, G.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Gettysburg Address

Matt Clement was awesome yesterday. I’m trying to find better words, but “awesome” is the one that comes to mind. The guy cruised past Braves hitters one by one, making them look absolutely silly with that sinker, and blowing them away with the fastball. Looking back to the last complete game with Pedro against the D’Rays, I can’t remember a better pitching performance in a Sox uniform since then. He sure didn’t look like a career .500 pitcher yesterday.

Besides Lincoln…I mean, Clement’s masterful outing, the offense delivered with timely clutch hitting. The Fenway fans shouted “Yooooooooooooouk!!!” as the rookie entered the box, then he quickly punched a fastball into left field. The Braves would never be the same. In the finale of interleague play (thank god), Manny broke out of his short slump with a big homerun. It was interesting how Manny approached this game- just trying to slap pitches into right field, constantly going the opposite way, really focusing on the ball and nothing else. The distractions didn’t seem to be there.

Another note- the Red Sox must, and I mean MUST, keep Youkilis in the major leagues. Enough with the short stoppages in Pawtucket, this guy is ready. He’s never been more ready. He’s got the major league qualified bat and even flashed some leather in the field in the ninth inning on a tough grounder. First base, third base, outfield…hell, if Tito caught the guy, he’d be fine. It’s not quite Al Jefferson-like, but I really love watching Youk play.

Oh yeah, and Mr. Baseball wants back.

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Champagne Of Free Agent Pitchers

A ball-busting ninth inning capped off a very entertaining interleague matchup tonight at the Fens. Now, I’m completely and fully against anyone who mutters the word “interleague,” and I consider this scheduling travesty the worst part about baseball. It’s just another way to boost attendance and get more asses in the seats, that’s fine with me, whatever.

But the way it messes up the schedules (having some teams play tougher opponents, awkward interleague matchups like Toronto vs. Houston and the DH rule becoming a possible breaking point in the game) can come back to haunt certain teams who need to make a stretch run in late June or July. In my opinion, there should be one, and only ONE weekend of interleague play all season. Have the big rivalries- Mets-Yanks, ChiSox-Cubs, Dodgers-Angels, Giants-A’s, etc. and just leave it at that. The Red Sox play six interleague series this season, which is insane.

As for the game, just a remarkable performance by Wade Miller. This guy might possibly become the biggest and most under-appreciated off season addition in all the Bigs, folks. Take a mid-90’s fastball with a nasty change and a 12-to-6 Zito-esque curve that the AL hasn’t seen yet, and you’ve got a recipe for success. Miller had a no-hitter through four, and just cruised from there. The Artist Formely Known As Keith Foulke gave the Nation a collective shiver in the ninth, but with some luck, came out on top. Mueller got off the shnuck with a pole shot, Tek went yard and Edgah even got himself an RBI. Even though I still kinda sorta miss Cabrera.

One run wins always feel so good. Not only that your team can perform when it gets into pressure situations, but the fans know the team is capable of not blowing every single game. Yes, I understand I made zero point in that last sentence, but it makes sense to me.

Tomorrow, Wake. Sunday, Clementine. Sox. Rule.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Conversation between Terry Francona, Kevin Millar, Mark Bellhorn, Jason Varitek and Kevin Youkilis after David Wells was pulled from yesterday’s game in the second inning:

Wells: Sorry guys.

Millar: Will ya take a look at that bum walking off the mound. Jeez, even 20-year veterans can pitch worse than a guy named Seth Etherton. Lay off the Dunkin Donuts will ya, bud.

Varitek: Hey, don’t get so down on everyone. We’re only down, what, nine or ten runs. This isn’t over yet by any means. We’ve put up boatloads of runs before.

Francona: Cut the shit, captain, the game is over.

Bellhorn: You’re not bringing in Cla Meredith, are you?

Francona: No, I learned my lesson, thank you very much. He’s sent down to the minors. Mark, you better watch you’re back, mister .222.

Bellhorn: Cheap shot, huh, Tito. Remember. Pole. Game 1. World Series. Tavarez. 11-9.

Varitek: Look at Jeremi, slowly walking here from the bullpen. Any player that has the privilege of playing Major League Baseball for this team should run, hell, even sprint, to the mound. Hustle, that’s what it’s all about, guys. Don’t give me that look, rookie.

Youkilis: No, no, I’m sorry, it’s just funny.

Francona: Haha, guess what Youk. I lit a dead skunk on fire in your locker and sent those hookers I kept locked up in the managers office to your house.

Youkilis: Crap, my wife is coming home tonight.

Millar: Why’d you have to pull Wells so early, Tito? The fried chicken platter is practically gone by now.

Francona: Um, he looked as uncomfortable as Keanu Reeves trying to make a formal speech.

Millar: That was too easy.

Francona: He was giving up more runs than Paul Wilson in a typical first inning.

Millar: You mean Kevin Brown.

Francona: He’s gaining more pounds than Renee Zellweger for a Bridget Jones flick.

Millar: Haha, he said the word “flick.”

Varitek: GUYS! Can we focus please. The Yankees are getting hot just as we’re beginning to stink up the joint. This Oakland team has a payroll that wouldn’t even suit a homeless person, and we’re losing 9-1. WHAT IS THIS? If we don’t get together soon, we’re gonna find ourselves sitting on a futon in October.

Millar: You know what this means, it’s time to Cowboy Up!

Varitek: You guys suck.

Renteria: Hey guys, what are ya talkin about?

Bellhorn: Speaking of suck…

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Motor City Meltdown

Things are not going too swimmingly in Red Sox Nation. Currently as I type this sentence, I’m electrocuting my nipples and frantically banging my head against the desk. The hellish, devil-spirited, freakin Yankees are in first place, and the Red Sox have stooped as low as tying the Orioles for second. Last night was the biggest roller coaster ride of the season, and I’m not just talking about the Sox game. Things started off well, but Kazmir settled in, and after I had passed out numerous times, the Sox were down 3-1 late in the game. After Lou’s brigade, I woke up and began to pray to my Bill Mueller statue. Didn’t work. Sox lost, and Damon’s hitting streak was snapped.

But the night wasn’t over. The Yankees were up 9-5, but a nice two run rally gave the Rangers hope at 9-7 in the sixth. The next batter hits a routine popup to Bernie in center, and my friends and I let out a collective groan in disgust. There goes the rally, and Rivera is already pacing around in the bullpen. But, Bernie drops the ball, and the Rangers tie it at nine. The place went crazy. We were laughing, pointing, jumping, dancing, starting random Yankees Suck chants and putting up Yankees Choke posters outside of my house. After a Soriano single, it was 10-9 Rangers and life was good again.

Thanks to Extra Innings, we also followed the Orioles-Twins game. We watched BJ Ryan blow a save and the Twins tied it at two in the ninth. Sweet, maybe the Sox will remain in first after all. But then the night went downhill, starting with the Orioles winning the game on a Tejada homerun, then Sierra doubling in two as the Yankees took a 11-10 lead. We were on our hands and knees, hoping, praying for a Rangers miracle, but the damn Rivera is just too good. Night ruined.

To make matters worse, it looks like the Orioles have won the AJ Burnett Sweepstakes. They add a nice starter to complement Bedard, Lopez, Chen and whoever else kills the Red Sox every time we meet.

This is a really big game tonight, with Boomer taking the hill against former Sock Casey Fossum. Let’s shake this off and keep the faith. The Sox will be in first place when the night ends.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Career Drainage

(JS Online Photo)

Jason Giambi stepped out of the batters box on a cold, rainy night at Yankee Stadium. He saw Monument Park, a glorious memorial to commemorate past Yankee greats. Someday Jason knew he was destined to have his name etched in marble and placed out in that park, he knew it was only a matter of time. He stared back at the Twins pitcher, then took a long, hard look at the right field bleachers. He eyed the remaining fans, the few that stuck around through rain delays and extra innings, and guaranteed to himself he would send them home happy. He was confident, cocky, ready to deliver…

This was May 17, 2002. The next pitch turned out to be the high point of Giambi’s experience as a Yankee, a towering grand slam walk-off homerun after being down three runs in the top of inning number 14. Time to jump around at home plate, high-five your teammates, tip your helmet to the fans of New York City, the greatest place on Earth. Nothing could stop Jason at that point, because nobody knew his real secret. Nobody knew anything.

There was some suspicion, but nothing worth arguing about. The headmasters that run this fine sport of ours kept it secret for long enough, why not keep this steroid situation private for another 10-15 years, just the right amount of time for another group of coddled, spoiled, rich superstars to move on. When Jason Giambi steps out of the batters box at Yankee Stadium this season, he doesn’t get the encouragement or cheering he got way back in 2002. Instead, Giambi has become used to the booing, the hissing, the cat-calling, anything else that links him to his exposed secret. He’s the goat, the poster child of a scandal that will undoubtedly taint the game of baseball forever.

In October of 2003, Jason Giambi got to experience his first World Series. Nothing could bring him down now, not after hitting two solo homeruns in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS to help keep the Yankees in the game, beating the Red Sox on an eighth inning rally, and keeping the curse alive for another season. They ended up losing the World Series, and Jason Giambi lost all of 2004. After a newspaper report in the San Francisco Chronicle that explained how Giambi testified in front of a federal grand jury was released, the buzz throughout baseball was unlike one ever heard before. The article exposed Giambi as a player that admitted he used “performance-enhancing drugs” to make himself a better baseball player, a fake player, if you will. Maybe the real reason he won the MVP in 2001, he hit that grand slam against the Twins, the solos against the Red Sox, and any other homerun in his illustrious career may have been helped by the steroids.

Immediately, the innocent and boyish Giambi stared in front of the cameras and choked on his own tongue. He first refused to talk to the media, all of this going on while hitting around .200 and not making the Yankees postseason roster in 2004. It’s really quite scary when you look at the situation- in 2002 when the Yankees grabbed Giambi for an enormous contract, you could just see the glow in his eyes when he held up that jersey, the same jersey so many baseball greats had the privilege of wearing. He smiled at the flashing cameras, shook hands with his new manager and owner, and immediately grabbed the hearts of New York Yankee fans. In early 2005, he held a press conference, telling all baseball fans that he was “sorry” for everything that he’s done. He wouldn’t get into any specifics, like his steroid pal Mark McGwire up on Capitol Hill. All he said was “I’m sorry.”

On this day, he seemed stunned with himself and stunned that everyone was treating him this way. All he wanted to do was play the game he loved, stare out onto those right field bleachers once again and hear the approval of the fans as they watched another hero show his talent. He blushed, fought back some tears, all while hoping for this day to come to an end. He just wanted to start over, it was easy to tell. Maybe he never realized what he was actually doing. He was cheating, cheating at the expense of opposing teams, players and baseball fans everywhere. And he knew it.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe one individual could come so far to accomplish his goal of being a star in professional baseball, only to see it all slip away so quickly. Once that report was leaked, he knew his career might never be the same. It’s worse, his career is practically over. There was rumor he would be sent down to the minors last week, then he was doused with a beer cup at the Yankees-A’s game two nights ago. You could describe the fall of Giambi as a dive down Niagara Falls, a spiraling hurdle from the top to the bottom. Cheating will do that to you.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Ode To Head Dirty Dawg

Dear Mr. Christopher Nixon,

You’ve been there in the clutch. You’ve been there during the ups, and you’ve certainly been there for the downs. You’ve been there when the team had come so close once again, and you’ve been there on the brinks of a World Series sweep. You were the one that spilled the water cooler in the Red Sox dugout after Booney’s home run. You were also the one that delivered three doubles in Game 4 of the Series. As a Sox follower, it gives me no greater pleasure to see you succeed.

Calling out A-Rod this winter was classic. Dynamite. Splendid. Perfect time, perfect quote, really sums up the guy very well, I must say. You and Tek are the original Dirt Dogs, the guys that are on the top step of the dugout when Blaine Neal gives up another grand slam, or on the top step when Edgar Renteria chokes with a runner in scoring position. When you cremated that Putz fastball last night, the joy spread around the Nation.

As a whole, we’d live to give you thanks for your competitiveness, heroism (yes, you read that correctly) and constant energy you bring to the team. You are the face of the franchise in many ways- starting with the dog poop helmet and ending with the crap we always seem to find on your baseball pants. Hustle is what you’re all about. You’re a gamer, Trot.

I probably would be cursing your ass off if you’d struck out in that situation last night, I’m not gonna lie. But things turned out for the better, and you gave us a needed victory. The Yanks are hot, but who cares. We know who will be there in the end, Trot. So whatever happens this season, we all know you’ll be trotting near Pesky’s Pole for years to come.


Red Sox Nation

Friday, May 13, 2005

Stick With Foulkey

Nobody in the Red Sox organization, nor their fans or supporters, should even possibly consider moving Keith Foulke out of the closers role. Not only is he one of the most proven and established closers in baseball, but the guy freakin led us to a World Series title last season. He’s hit a small bump in the road, it happens with every closer. Everyone needs to put the shot glass down and think about this logically. Think about how much he’s done for this team last year and even the tough saves this season, especially the ones in Detroit with one-run games. Timlin and Embree have been good, but Foulke should be the closer all season long.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Falling For The Diva

(Getty Images Photo)

Alright, I’ll admit it. I miss Pedro.

I miss the quirky, fun, tactics he’d put on in the dugout. I miss the high-fiving, pointing and bobble heading. I miss looking at the schedule and knowing we’re going to win almost every single Pedro start. I miss his grimacing look as he steps out of the dugout to the approval of the fans, the fans who used to leave their seats to get a Fenway Frank when the Red Sox were batting, just so they wouldn’t miss one masterful pitch. I miss the strikeouts and the leg kick and the way he was always so calm and smooth.

Do I disagree with Theo when he didn’t sign Pedro? No. It was the right move, no doubt. Not only is he grossly overpaid by the Mets, but the Sox countered with Matt Clement, Wade Miller and David Wells, all for the same amount of money. This year, Pedro might win the Cy Young. But there’s no way I give him that kind of money at his age, with his velocity slowly but surely decreasing and arm problems beginning to unfold. But I miss him so much in a Red Sox uniform. After Game 5 of the 1999 ALDS, I never, ever, in my wildest dreams, thought Pedro would wear a different teams uniform again. Those magical seasons were unbelievable, but these last few weeks, I’ve been wishing he was still a Red Sock.

I miss the weird hair curls and the head shaking with Manny. I miss him and Schilling going back-to-back. I miss the Fenway crowd rising to its feet before every Pedro two-strike pitch, wanting, hoping, knowing it will be a K. The WEEI signs in center field, displaying every strikeout. Just watch Game 3 of the World Series sometime, you’ll see what I mean.

Why am I bringing this up now? I’ve just been thinking about it. Just spilling my thoughts on paper here. What I don’t miss is the constant whining and complaining. What I don’t miss is the loathing for New York, the smile in his eye whenever someone mentions the city or his next scheduled start there. You could almost tell he had one foot out the door. I don’t miss him walking out early on games, not showing up for team meetings, and the public exploding whenever the management and Pedro didn’t get along. I don’t miss the agent, I don’t miss the selfishness, but I do miss the pitcher. I’m willing to take in all the negatives for the positives.

I miss Pedro. I think you get the point.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Gravy And Biscuits

The guy battles, the guy works hard, the guy continues to believe and believe and the guy eventually will deliver. That guy is Kevin Millar. The heart of Red Sox Nation, the leader of Cowboy Up and the Idiots, the man who almost lost his lunch looking at Manny’s hair the first day of spring training. He did not give up. He did not let up. Even though we doubted him, he knew the big home runs would come. Tonight, the dramatics were at an all-time 2005 high as Edgah, Jay, Wade, Mantei and all the newcomers got to experience their first walk-off at Fenway Park.

And it was ironic that is was Kevin who hit the big home run. For many reasons. First of all, he decided to play the role of Captain Train Wreck at first base, making two errors and costing Bronson of a 5-0 record. The second error came on such a easy play as stepping on first base. Maybe he was surprised Bronson threw the ball to first? Who knows what’s going through his head. Bottom line: He screwed up big time. It’s not that he made up for his bonehead plays, he made us completely forget. Time to jump around, party, flip some beer kegs around and take a stroll down near the Hahhbaah. Red Sox baseball at its best.

The story of Kevin Millar this season is really quite simple. He’s the streakiest player to put on a Red Sox uniform in a really long time, and this year is some more of the same flavor. He can go months hitting around the Mendoza Line, strutting his way through the clubhouse, lightening up the players, helping his teammates, continuing to keep that “improved” work ethic and whatever superstitious crap he might come up with. Then he can go months hitting over .300, but he still helps his teammates, jokes around, eating his KFC, doing the same stuff he’d do if he were struggling.

He’s such a great character and great guy, you just know he’ll come around for your team. As he said before Game 4, “this is how we like it, down and out, and then POW! Sox Nation takes over!” Down and out and then POW! Kevin Millahhhh takes over. Walk-off. Sox win.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Doubleheader Dandy

(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Thoughts after Game 1:

Like the game yesterday, very calm, relaxing, just an easy victory. I was leaning back in my seat the entire game, and that rarely ever happens. The team is really coming together now. Winners of four straight, six of seven, our fill-in starters getting the job done, Millah finally delivering. Most of all, I just love the way they came out and dominated this game from the first pitch to the last. Like Friday, they got an early lead and never gave it up, the pitcher stayed steady throughout, and the bullpen didn't allow anything. I've never seen Mike Timlin look so sharp, and now Ordinary Foulke is back to Extraordinary Foulke.

Other news:

- Wade Miller will make his first start in a Red Sox uniform tonight, facing Ryan Franklin in the second game. If he gets knocked around, which I actually expect will happen, everyone has to understand this is his first time pitching on a big league mound in almost a year. He's battled freak injuries to get here, and the Mariners will come out hungry, not wanting to get swept. Look for Miller to struggle early, but continually improve as the season goes on.

- Nomar's rehab will be pushed forward a month almost ending his season. The Cubs look pathetic anyway, so I don't think he'll be rushing back to get in any sort of pennant race. The tear is worse than anticipated. As for Pedro, he gave up five earned at the Crew last night, but earned the victory. Pokey is coming back from the DL soon for the Mariners, and I really, REALLY miss Orlando Cabrera.

- The Sox sent down Blaine Neal today. Too bad it was about two weeks late.

Celtics thoughts:

Worst game of the season last night. Just a horrible display of basketball. Every possession it was one guy dribbling around with the ball, the other four guys standing around, then nobody boxing out for offensive rebounds. Pathetic. They had absolutely no ball movement, the team looked like they've never seen each other before, and sometimes I wonder what Doc is thinking on certain substitutions. Congrats to the Pacers, though, they battled and fought with a ton of heart all the way through. Overall, the Celtics did pass expectations this season, all the young guys got convincingly better and the team is on the rise.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


(AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

Matt Clement and Bronson Arroyo are both 4-0. Obviously, Arroyo’s been much more impressive posting his record, and Clement usually gets a lot more run support. The bottom line: When these guys take the hill for the Red Sox, the team doesn’t lose. Whether it’s delivering with a clutch RBI double in the ninth or putting up an onslaught of runs early, it seems like the team really gets it done with these guys on the hill. Yesterday was another great example- some early runs, Papi crushing a Moyer fastball, Mueller finally having a big game- the pieces were all there. Out of every game this season, that was one of the most satisfying.

Was it the most exciting? Not exactly. But, I’ll take it any day of the week. The Sox do have some things to worry about in the near future, including Johnny Damon’s leg and Edgar Renteria’s finger. They’ve already got Schill and Wells on the shelf. Millar is down near .240 with no homers, and it’s beside me why he’s still hitting in the 5-hole. Why not move Tek up a slot? He’ll probably hit .320 with 20 homers after the break, but right now he does not look comfortable at the plate.

The team is running on all cylinders. As I mentioned before, we have our aces. The team has won four straight. Even Vasquez is getting the occasional hit, along with Payton. I really like what I’m seeing out of the Sox, and hopefully we can keep this going for a while.

As for the Yanks, OUCH. This team is a complete and total mess. All their pitching is old and injured, the bullpen blows every game they enter and the defense laid a massive egg last night. Jeter, Tino and A-Rod all screwed up on groundballs. Just a complete mental breakdown from the richest team in baseball, a team that should be running away from the pack right now and simply dominating. It’s falling apart for them, and I’m loving every single second of it. The best part? Seeing the Frozen Cashman Face once again.

Possibly Gonzo tonight if they can get the game in. Oh and by the way, GO CELTICS!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

It's Halama Time

(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Didn’t see the game last night, but there are some things in the box score that stuck out in my mind. First off, Renteria continues to press, committing two errors. If there was a tenth spot in the order, he’d probably be hitting there right now. Millar goes hitless once again, and with Mirabelli delivering a Salami sandwich, the Big Show guys on WEEI are already talking about the possibility of moving him to first base against lefties. I don’t see that idea so far-fetched.

Adding to that, Halamamamama brought out his balls of steel in a spot start and was great. We got past the Gonzalez-Halama experience with a split, something I definitely hoped for on the road against a solid Detroit team. Now we get Wake, Arroyo and Clement (actually in the opening day rotation) the next three days. I guess anything is better than being the Yankees right now and Kevin Brown, who got his ass handed to him by the Devil Rays last night. He gave up eight earned, a boatload of hits and prompted Mel and Torre to vomit all over the mound. Robinson Cano and Some Guy Named Haan were called up today. Fun time to be a Yankee fan.

As I didn’t see the game last night due to those friggin Celtics, I’ve decided to look at two big moves Theo made in the off season and see what has transpired so far this season:


Addition: Edgar Renteria: .238, 2 HR, 9 RBI, .298 OBP, .352 SLG, .947 Fielding, $8 million
Subtraction: Orlando Cabrera: .253, 3 HR, 9 RBI, .321 OBP, .410 SLG, .985 Fielding, $6 million

This is looking like Theo’s worst decision in the off season. You’ve got a star and an outspoken team leader in the palm of your hands, a guy who loved his stay in Boston, played a massive role in your championship run, but you let him slip away. They instead pursue Edgar Renteria for more money, and they’re getting much less than the amount the Red Sox owe him this season. He’s behind in almost every offensive and defensive category to Cabrera. He’s one of the worst statistical players on the team with runners in scoring position. Sure, I’ll give him some more time, but right now it looks as if Cabrera was the better choice.

#2 and #3 Pitchers:

Additions: David Wells and Matt Clement (combined): 5-3, 8.91 ERA, 55.1 IP, 78 H, 32 ER, $10.5 million
Subtractions: Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe (combined): 5-3, 4.47 ERA, 84.1 IP, 57 H, 21 ER, $17.8 million

It’s really amazing when you look at those numbers. Not only is Wells on the shelf, but Pedro and Lowe combined have given up 19 less hits in almost 30 more innings than Clement and Wells, including an ERA more than four total points less. But it’s not all about statistics, and we all knew the Red Sox could not sign both of those guys for that amount of money. Lowe’s ERA is extremely small compared to his lifetime showing with the Red Sox, and Theo was not ready to hand over 44 million to Pedro over four full seasons. Overall, Pedro and Lowe are much better pitchers, but Clement and Wells will be just fine in Boston.

And breaking news as I finish this article: Wade Miller looks to start Sunday!

Monday, May 02, 2005

Eight Things I Learned This Weekend

Busy weekend, so I unfortunately lost my record of 48 straight days with a post. Maybe it’s good luck after all. The Sox, currently treading water without the help of Boomer and Schill, went into Texas and took the last two. Sure, we avoided another Foulke collapse, Billy M having to play second base and no Tito and his Big Wad of Chew, but they survived. The offense has to keep putting up these runs with Jeremi Gonzalez and John Halama pitching the next two days. This might get ugly, folks.

Eight things I learned this weekend…

1. Everyone needs to be patient with Keith Foulke. This season has been a roller coaster ride for every Red Sox fan once this man shows his face out of the bullpen, it’s like you already know this is going to get interesting. That’s just the type of closer he is, I guess. If his curve and change are dropping, running in on hitters and moving all over the zone, nobody can touch him. But he tends to go on these streaks, making games interesting, just holding on, or sometimes even blowing it altogether. Well, Keith, it needs to stop right now. Seriously, enough with the drama. I can see May being an outstanding month for Extraordinary Foulke.

2. Kevin Youkilis is the real deal. Just watching him rip pitch after pitch on Saturday night gave me the willies. A team this rich, with tons of money to spend on high-quality players, could have taken the high road (like the Yankees) and screwed over their farm system. But no, Theo and Company are looking at top prospects such as Hanley Ramirez, .413 hitting Kelly Shoppach and much more out of steaming hot AA Portland for the future. Youk is just the first. This guy has an outstanding eye at the plate and when he gets a good pitch- BAM! Maybe playing Billy over at second for the long term is not such a bad idea.

3. The biggest surprise of April is Johnny Damon’s bat. Through all of his book signing and tours around the world, honeymoons, marriages and appearances in People magazine, I figured he’d enter the season on a downward angle. Sort of stoned from all this attention and fame. The lesson always: I’m an idiot (get it, ha). Johnny comes into this series with Detroit hitting a blistering .356, 16 ribbies and his first homer on Saturday night, part of a back-to-back job with Mr. Trot. He’s scored 17 runs, stole four bases, and is really, REALLY helping my fantasy team. Definitely the Red Sox MVP in April.

4. The signing of John Olerud is a threat to Kevin Millar. It’s been an interesting five months for Kevin Millar. Following the Jack Daniels incident and the possibility of the Sox brass choosing Dougy over him to play first base, Millah dug in deep and got in the best shape of his life. He was quoted on MLB.com as saying he “does pushups just to keep the night going by.” He gets the job, manages to hit the same amount of home runs for the Red Sox as me in April, and now learns that a healthy John Olerud may take his place at first base. Do I think Olerud will be any more than a backup? No. But, if Millar doesn’t start driving in some runs and continues to put up 0 for 10 slumps, he better watch his back.

5. Matt Clement needs to develop some control. That’s the bottom line with this guy: When Matt Clement throws the ball over the plate, he’s practically untouchable. His sinker is impossible to make contact with when located properly. In the first couple innings vs. Texas on Sunday, Clement walked a grand total of five batters and got out of huge jams both times, only surrendering two runs. In the latter innings, his control was there and the Rangers looked clueless. Once this guy develops consistent control, I’m ready to call him the #2 starter.

6. Bronson Arroyo is always improving. Even with his funky delivery and dork-type attitude, Bronson Arroyo knows how to pitch. If you think about it, he’s improved from the minute he arrived in Boston. He started off the sixth or seventh starter coming over in a trade, just barely making the roster and primarily used in junk games. Then, he became the fifth starter and gradually got better as the year dragged along. After Game 3 against the Angels, everyone had a clear faith in this kid for years to come. That faith is now at an all-time high. He has turned into a dependable and reliable starter for this club.

7. The Yankees are in all sorts of trouble. I know, it’s barely May, and of course they’ll turn it around. But there are so many gaping holes in this roster, I can’t believe this team has a 200 million dollar payroll. Paul Quantrill and Tom Gordon blow game after game while Mariano Rivera is practically rotting in the bullpen. Actually, yesterday it was Stanton who rolled over. Kevin Brown is washed up. Jaret Wright is a surgery waiting to happen. Posada, Giambi and even Matsui continue to struggle mightily. I’m not saying this as a belligerent Red Sox fan who despises the Yankees, I’m saying this as a baseball fan. I guess George will just have to reach into his wallet even further, but even that hasn’t worked recently.

8. Peter Gammons and I both agree that Miguel Tejada is the MVP (hey, it rhymes).

Peter Gammons article (ESPN.com, May 1):

There are several factors that have gone into the Orioles' best start since they held down first place for the entire season in 1997, not to mention proving that this is the best home for Sammy Sosa.

Baltimore's offense leads the majors in runs scored, mainly because the top third of its order is unrivaled: Brian Roberts (.465 on-base percentage, 1.182 OPS and eight home runs), Melvin Mora (.376 OBP and .952 OPS) and Miguel Tejada (.417 OBP, 1.154 OPS and nine homers). Pitching coach Ray Miller has done a marvelous job teaching the art of changing speeds to Erik Bedard, Rodrigo Lopez and Bruce Chen, while young right-hander Daniel Cabrera continues to learn. The O's bullpen has stopped the bleeding, with closer B.J. Ryan (21 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings pitched), Jorge Julio (one earned run allowed in 12 2/3 innings pitched) and the surprising Todd Williams (one earned run allowed in 12 innings pitched).

But the players point to one man as the main reason for the club's turnaround. "There's no doubt in my mind that Miggy [Tejada] is the best player in the game," Roberts says. "Start with his position. He's by far the best at a [the] middle-infield skill position. Then, if you watched us every day, you'd see [Tejada's] RBI are not a fluke. He has an uncanny ability to knock in runs.
Then, most of all, there's his energy. He is always up, pushing everyone and making the entire team better."

"I've never been around anyone like him," B.J. Surhoff says of Tejada.

"I played with Pete Rose and coached Kirby Puckett," Orioles hitting coach Terry Crowley says, "and Miggy is just like them. He is the best player in the game, hands-down. Like Rose and Puckett, he puts it out there every day, and they are those rare players off whom teammates feed. You can crunch every number you want, you can't put a premium on the energy one player can bring to an entire team. This franchise changed the day he arrived."

Adds a Red Sox official: "We watched him from the stands during BP. And we could not believe his energy, his enthusiasm, and how teammates feed off him. He is special."

Not to mention durable. "If some kid comes to the park to see me," Tejada says, "I had better be on the field." In the last five years (2001-2005, as of May 1), Tejada had played in 548 games, most of any player, and his 500 RBI rank third behind Albert Pujols' 504 and Alex Rodriguez's 501.

My April Awards (Red Sox in italics):
MVP: Miguel Tejada, Orioles Johnny Damon
AL Cy Young: Jon Garland, White Sox Tim Wakefield
NL Cy Young: Roger Clemens, Astros
Most Improved: Jamie Moyer, Mariners Bronson Arroyo
Disappointment: Barry Zito, A’s Edgar Renteria