Thursday, May 14, 2009

Oh Papi...

Okay. So that was a tough loss. But there were lots of pretty awesome things within the tough loss. First of all, who was that wearing #23, and what have they done with Julio Lugo? Secondly, may we keep the replacement? In all seriousness, Lugo notched five hits, including a double and a run scored. The best part of his performance? A leaping grab of a liner accompanied by a zero in the errors column.

Dustin Pedroia made a leaping catch of his own, and also collected four hits. Pedey is hitting .336 on the season. The downside of the second baseman's day came in extra innings, when he struck out with the bases loaded on a foul tip into the catchers mitt. Having seen the collection of items he slammed around in the dugout, I can only imagine the colorful language he treated the bench crew to. In years past, his anxiety might have been tempered somewhat by the fact that Big Papi hits behind him. Not so this year, as Ortiz is still waiting for his first homerun of 2009. David Ortiz set an AL record and matched an MLB record today, but unfortunately the category has limited glory: twelve men left on base by a single player in a single game. Ouch.

Obviously something is not right. I would like to give Ortiz the benefit of the doubt just a little longer. I can accept that Papi will probably never be his old self, but I would like for him to at least hit his weight. He is the absolute last person I want at the plate right now with the game on the line. (My list, if you're interested, goes Bay, Youk, Pedroia, Drew, Lowell, Varitek, Van Every... Pesky, Ortiz.) There's been some speculation, since the Manny bombshell, that Ortiz was a user, and now that he's stopped, his production has, too. Of course, there have always been whisperings, but now that quiet minority has become a mob, brandishing their pitchforks and demanding blood. David Ortiz has never been connected to steroids, has never tested positive for any PED, but, contrary to American ideals, the perception seems to be that he's guilty (by Manny association) until proven innocent.

It appalls me that Red Sox fans could behave this way. I understand that there is no proof either way, and the circumstancial evidence looks rather damning. However, I say Ortiz deserves our support until there is irrefutable evidence that he did something wrong. Sure, the man looks like a shell of himself (0-for-7 tonight), barely above the Mendoza line, but he was the hero of that magical run in 2004. How can people turn on him like this? Of course, if/when he snaps out of this, he'll have to prove his effectiveness all over again. But he deserves a chance to prove himself, and to clear his name.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Five Minute Musings

I've been really bad about updating the last few days. My apologies, I made my trek home from Hartford Friday, went to the Sox game Saturday (more on that in a second), did the whole Mother's Day thing Sunday, and went to the doctor's yesterday. Today, I have a meeting with a stockbroker (seriously), but I figured I should squeeze in time to write. This edition of FMM will center around ballpark etiquette, paritcularly the bad behavior I noted during my trip on Saturday.

1.) Don't drink to excess, especially at a day game. Saturday's start time was 3:40, sort of an awkward half day/half night game dictated by those idiots over at FOX. Beyond the usual idocy of having a beer an inning (that adds up to around $60), I was sitting in an alcohol free section, and a set of parents with their children were asked to leave with their drinks, so they left their 8ish-year-old children sitting alone while they went off to finish boozing. Keeping it classy.

2.) Don't boo the Red Sox players. Julio Lugo really got it hard on Saturday, as most of the Tampa Bay hits in their big inning found holes on his side of the diamond. In all fairness, there was at least one that should have been an out, but he deserves the support of the fans regardless. When you support the Red Sox, you support all of them, through the bad times and the good. Sure it's fine to pick favorites (I sure do), but booing your own player makes you look no better then a fairweather fan... and if you're a fairweather fan, stop taking up seats at Fenway so the real fans can get in.

3.) Keep your cellphone conversations short, or go talk in the concourse. I didn't pay these obscene ticket prices so I could hear you gush about little Johnny's fist word. Is there really no better time you can think of to talk to your mother in law than in the third inning with two on and nobody out? There was this one really obnoxious girl behind me on Saturday who spent a good two innings on the phone catching up on gossip with her girlfriends, screeching and yelling and giggling at the top of her voice. Don't be that girl.

4.)Don't scream obscenities - be more creative! There was one man on Saturday who was absolutely vulgar, especially towards Mr. Lugo (I think he had also been violating #1). There are children at the games, and beyond that, spouting swear words makes Sox fans look ignorant of the game. Lambast BJ Upton about his dismal OBP, not about what his mother may or may not have been doing last night, and the heckling is rather more acceptable.

5.) Try to limit your bathroom/snack/phone breaks. No one likes having to stand up and have you squeezeby them in those crowded rows at Fenway. I'm not saying you shouldn't go to the bathroom, but maybe if you had 2 beers instead of 4, you wouldn't have to get up every half-inning. Also, most food in the concouses is available from the vendors walking around. One to three times is expected (though I try not to leave at all - I don't like to miss anything!!), but more than four or five is really annoying.

There you have it - my Fenway Five. We all pay ridiculous amounts of money to be at the park, and it's a shame when someone else ruins your experience. Even a blowout like Saturday's can be fun if you decide it will be... heck, we got to witness Julio Lugo's first homerun of the season!

Friday, May 8, 2009

JD will never be a Dirt Dog

So as I was studying for my last final reading the morning's Red Sox news I stumbled upon some comments about JD Drew.  Now, I know JD can be infuriating, especially in the injury department, but the disparaging remarks are getting old.  I actually saw a commenter who intimated that Drew "will never be a Trot Nixon."  What!?  Don't get me wrong, I like Nixon as much as the next fan, but across the board his stats are inferior to Drew's.  Nixon made it look like he was the much superior fielder, but mostly because of his style: he threw himself around the field with reckless abandon.  However, just because Drew lacks the weakness for theatrics does not mean he is an inferior ballplayer.

Yes, we're probably paying Drew too much money, as he is currently the highest paid player on the team, with a 2009 salary of $14 million.  But before you grab the torches and pitchforks, you might want to check who comes in second, with $13 million.  Yes, David Oritz is earning money way above his value so far.  In fact, among the top 10 highest earners, two are on the DL (Matsuzaka [$8.3m] and Smoltz [$5.5m]), a third is coming off knee surgery (Lugo [$9.2m]),and  the two (healthy) pitchers are underachieving for their prior standard (Beckett [$11.1m] and Paps [$6.2m].  The only players on the top 10 list who are performing where their salary should place them are Jason Bay [$7.8m], and Kevin Youkilis [$6.2m].

Now, both Bay and Youk are in fact performing above and beyond their tax bracket, but that begs the question: what is the market for average+ ballplayers?  This is precisely the problem that the Sox front office had in its talks with Jason Bay.  Bay is absolutely an elite player, and the market for elite players has been rather confusing in the past year.  Bobby Abreu signed with the Angels for $5m.  Milton Bradley signed for $10m. We all know how Manny ended up, and his stats are eerily similar to Bay's.

So what does all of this have to do with JD Drew?  It's just an excercise in reality.  When we signed JD, the market was different than it is now, and Theo inked his deal knowing very well that Drew would average 130 games a year due to his balky back.  Remember Drew's Grand slam in the 2007 ALCS?  I don't remember hearing much Drew-bashing that night.  The inimitable Chad Finn called Drew "usually one bloodless sucker in the clutch," and it's true.  Drew may have no feelings (ever.), but he comes through when it matters, and I'd rather have the results than the bravado.  So what if he didn't get a hit in last night's slugfest? He didn't need to.  If it's all the same, I'm a-okay with Drew saving the heroics until Nick Green and Jeff Bailey can't carry the offense anymore.
The man in this picture actually looks excited... Who are you and what have you done with JD Drew?!?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Quote of the Day (Oh, Manny)

Today's quote in not by a Red Sox player, nor is about about a Sox player... at least a current one.  Everyone knows about Manny by now, so I'll spare you all of that.  Suffice to say, this quote is by Ken Rosenthal, and is about Manny being Manny.

"As if there was any doubt, he is now the village idiot of baseball."

We all know Manny is somewhat of a savant: a genius at hitting, but somewhat clueless (I suspect intentionally) about most everything else.  I for one don't think this is good news, and I don't understand the Red Sox fans who are rejoicing.  Maybe I'm weird; I didn't exactly dance in the streets when A-Rod was outed either, even though Rodriguez was already so easy to hate.  I'm sick of hearing about how my childhood heroes are cheaters.  It's like finding out that the toothfairy doesn't floss or that Santa Claus is an anti-Semite.  No one likes hearing those things... they just hurt.  

For every new name in the headlines, the game takes a little more damage, something MLB doesn't really need in this economic climate, and, quite frankly, a phenomenon that I could do without.  Baseball has been a really good coping mechanism for me: if I'm having a bad day, I like to watch/listen to/write about/obsess over the Red Sox.  Any of my friends will tell you that I have an unhealthy obsession with this team, and with the sport in general, but in reality, baseball has helped me keep my sanity.  The last few years of my life have been filled with bad news, disappointments, and general misfortune.  Don't get me wrong, good things have happened too, and I appreciate every one of them, but the Red Sox have gotten me through a lot of bad times.  You can understand then why this blow to the game saddens me.  

I won't pretend that I never liked Manny, because he endeared himself to all of us before it turned bad.  However, he was not my favorite.  My favorite players have been those who aren't the prototypical slugger (currently Pedroia, obviously).  That's not to say I don't like the other players, because I do.  I feel reasonably secure that my current favorite won't break my heart (unless male-patterned baldness is a sign of PED use...?), but this news cuts pretty deep, for the simple reason that Manny was a stalwart in the Sox lineup all those summers.  Manny was a large part of my baseball obsession, because he was a large part of the Red Sox.  So I for one hope he's telling the truth, because I would much rather keep my current opinion of Manny being Idiotic than have to switch that to Manny being a Cheater.
Stop talking to A-Rod, it can only end badly... STOP IT!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Quote of the Day

First, the explanation: Jason Bay is a ninja/superhero.

Impossible! You say Jason Bay is Canadian, one of our gentle neighbors to the north.  But what better secret identity than the son of a smelter worker in Trail, British Columbia?  If you've seen the new X-Men: Origins film, then you know there's no better alter ego than a Canadian... Sure, Wolverine went for the whole "lumberjack" thing, but Jason Bay doesn't like flannel.
Hugh Jackman likes flannel... and being a lumberjack.

Jason Bay knows it's easier to keep his cover at home in Canada, and it was MUCH easier in Pittsburgh (none of my friends from Pittsburgh understand why baseball is fun... I pity them).  In Boston, Bay has to take sneaky to a whole new level.  For instance, he asked Tito to bat him low in the order so people wouldn't see his conspicuous super strength in the cleanup spot; unfortunately, Youk couldn't go last night, so Super-Bay stepped in.  BAM! Three run homer.  

Even though Boston Red Sox fans would accept Bay's super powers, he still has to hide them, garnering this quote, concerning stealing bases:

"I didn't run one time in Spring Training.  I didn't want to blow my cover."

Jason Bay is a phenomenal base stealer, at least percentage wise.  I for one am convinced that the only reason he doesn't leave Jacoby in the dust every year is respect for the young man's ego coupled with the realization that being a super hero just leads to brawls with jealous Yankees fans.  Jason Bay doesn't want to hurt anyone... Except maybe Joba Chamberlain, and that is one fight I would LOVE to see.

Jason Bay will see your HBP and raise you a three-run homer... Oh, and invisibility, he can do that, too.

(Just want to clarify that all quotes on this blog are collected from other sites, because I don't have the necessary credentials to get into the Sox locker room... and even if I did, it's finals week.  I'm clearly very busy studying.  This quote was found on

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Inter-rivalry bromance (TTT)

Introducing a new type of post: Top Ten Tweets of the game.  For any of you who aren't familiar with Twitter, Google it (then join: it's fun!)

10.) "I know I want tickets to the Pedroia gun show!!!" Melky Cabrera tried to stretch a double into a triple in the bottom of the fourth inning, but Drew corralled it and gave Pedroia a great throw to relay in to Mikey Lowell for the out.  Pedroia has an absolute cannon, which we don't really get to see because he's the second baseman.  Also, props to Drew for getting to the ball so quickly and being so spot on with his throw.  (Below: The Dustin Pedroia gun show.)
9.) "Big Papi loves him some Yankee Stadium."  David Ortiz has traditionally mashed at Yankee Stadium, so what better place to get him back on track?  Tonight Ortiz went 1-for-3 with two walks, bringing his average to .225... If the first step is hitting your weight, Papi needs another game or so (he's listed at 230)... but he's successfully hitting everyone else's weight except for Hunter Jones (235), Brad Penny (230... yeah, right), and Jason Varitek (230). (Below: the Curse of Big Papi.)
8.) "Captain Jeter's range is soooo bad... I love it."  Don't get me wrong, I have more respect for Jeter than for any other Yankee (except possibly Rivera), but he is not a productive shortstop anymore.  For all of his crazy pirouettes, Jeter can't reach a dribbler that I would even expect Julio Lugo to make a play on.  I wouldn't want to be the one to tell him he has to switch positions... (Below: Jeter throws to first... unfortunately, the runner is already at second.)
7.) "Oh, but it's so nice to watch Teixeira struggle." The Yankees first baseman went 1-for-4 with two K's (both courtesy of Beckett).  There's one guy who can't wait for A*Rod to come back... if only because it will take some of the scrutiny off of him.  Oh, and speaking of hitting your weight? Teixeira isn't even close (.198 average, listed at 220). (Below: Epic, expensive, FAIL.)

6.) "Joba's obviously upset that Youk's not in the lineup tonight.... I wonder who he'll throw at instead...?"  Though Joba had exceptional control tonight - the NESN commentators were waxing poetic about him - he still managed to do this...

5.) "Guess Joba just likes to hit the cleanup batter... Youk? Bay? Doesn't matter to him."  Hall of Fame Pitcher Dennis Eckersley was in the booth tonight, and was immediately up in arms about Joba's bean ball pitch.  He called it "obviously intentional," as well as "inexcusable," especially since Joba had been putting the ball exactly where he wanted it all night.  I just think Joba's pissed that his mom got caught dealing meth. (Below: Joba's mom.)

4.) "Wow. Do you think NESN's cameras could zero in on someone else when Pedroia is packing a HUGE lip?" I mean, I know he's one of the most recognizable people on the team, but seriously... He's not someone you zoom in on in the dugout.  If he's not dropping vehement f-bombs, he's packing a bomb.  Obviously, the whole spitting tobacco juice thing is super attractive AND healthy, so I understand why NESN would want to showcase it to America's youth. (Below: Pedroia, packing a lip as usual.)

3.) "I'll take hit batsman to load the bases, for $600, Alex." The Yankees intentionally walked JD Drew in the eighth, which is probably a good call, since he has no feelings and is a great hitter when the pressure is on.  Add that to the fact that Jeff bailey was scheduled up, and I would make the same decision.  However, the Yankees bullpen is just a big bowl of suck this season, and Bailey got hit with a pitch to load the bases.  The Sox would score two runs in that inning. (Below: Alex Trebek loves the Red Sox. No really, he does.)

2.) "Nick Green, will you marry me?"  Now, I know what you're thinking, and it's not just the potential for free baseball tickets that led me to make this proposal.  The Sox have won 15 straight when Green starts, and lost all four when Lugo has.  Green has a .283 average, while Lugo is hitting a dismal .214 (at least he's beating Teixeira!).  All other things being equal (they're both rather error prone), I'll take Green... At least until Lowrie is ready. (Below: Green practicing his Jeterian pirouettes.. coming soon, the patented fist pump.)

1.) "LOVE PEDROIA... Pedey throws out Jeter (his BFFL) for the last out, completing the sweep."  There are so many good things here: Jeter's out, we win, SWEEP.  But after the WBC, we know that Pedroia and Jeter have a bit of a bromance going on, so we should be thankful that they can bear to play each other.  Hey, it could be worse, Pedey could be bosom buddies with A*Rod.... except he thinks A*Rod is "a dork."  (Below: inter-rivalry bromance.)

Best Friends For LIFE!!!  As long as we're winning, I'm okay with this.

Quote(s) of the Day

Both of these gems are from the same man. The first is referring to the size of the visitors' clubhouse at the new Yankee Stadium, but could also easily be describing the speaker's tribulations at the plate thus far:

"I got lost."

Notice that was in the past tense, because, due to a two-double, two walk performance last night, David Ortiz looks to be moving past his slump.  Only time will tell, but in the meantime, we can take comfort in the fact that Manager Terry Francona is all but too loyal to his veteran players.  Said Oritz of his skipper's handling of the situation: 

"I don't see Terry as my coach anymore.  I see him as my dad.  He's been so great to me that every time he talks, I'm nothing but ears."

That might be the cutest quote I have ever heard from a Sox player.  Also, I can't help picturing Tito teaching Ortiz to ride a bike, or giving him advice on girls, or any number of fatherly endeavors (hilarious mental pictures).  Well, if Oritz is going to hit like he did last night, he can call Brad Mills his uncle, John Farrell his cousin, and Kevin Youkilis his sister for all I care.
"Yeah, I like to think of Pedey as the family pet... like a dog or something..."

Monday, May 4, 2009


There is entirely too much going on in my life this week.  It's finals week here at Trinity College (the home of basic cable and no NESNplus), and I have four of them (English tomorrow at noon, Constitutional Law Thursday at nine, American Political Thought Thursday at noon, and Urban Politics Friday at 3).  Yes, I have the very last final, all but ensuring that, by the time it's over, I won't be able to leave Hartford in time to catch the Sox play Tampa Bay once I get home (maybe that's a good thing, judging by this past series....).

Am I truly expected to be able to focus on studying when the Sox just lost three of four down at the Trop, and are now heading to New York to play a pair in that brand new launching pad in the Bronx?  I mean, in the grand scheme of things, what's more important: Charles Dickens' Bleak House or the fact that David Ortiz went approximately 0-for-5,084 this weekend?  The evolution of the Supreme Court's interpretation of privacy or our starting rotation possessing a 5.50 ERA?  I mean, I can see where the whole "right to privacy" debate might affect me, but the only Bleak House I'm worried about is Fenway Park if Ortiz doesn't stop impersonating Mo Vaughn - and fast.

Alright, the Yankees series will be over after my English final, but then there's Cleveland, and then Tampa Bay (luckily at friendly Fenway), and If you think I'll be able to focus while watching Justin Masterson try to get back on track (Wednesday night), or hoping Tim Wakefield continues his torrid pace (Thursday night), then you haven't been paying attention.  This could be a problem.  However, if the Sox can win 3-4 games out of their next five, and I escape the semester with a 3.4ish GPA, I'll consider this week a success... If I can even get through it.
My friend Becca and me at the new Yankee Stadium during their exhibition against the Cubs on April 4... Yes, she's the Yankee fan.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Calendar Boys: Where is Papelbon's Mojo?

Since Trinity College doesn't get anything more than basic cable, I couldn't watch the game last night on NESNplus, so I won't be writing about it (by all accounts it was a disappointment, so hopefully no one will be too upset).

However, as yesterday was May 1st, I had to switch my calendar page, and, being the obsessive compulsive fan that I am proud to be, it's a Red Sox calendar (obviously).  This month the picture is of the inimitable Jonathan Papelbon.  I'll admit to being a little disappointed last month when I turned to April (my favorite month, after October) and saw that the photo was of Jacoby Ellsbury.  Now, I've made my feelings about Ellsbury pretty clear, and the way he started off April didn't exactly inspire me to have confidence in him... if fact, I'm quite sure I dedicated at least one Off the Monster rant to his seeming inability be be a productive leadoff hitter.

Fortunately, by the end of the Month of Ellsbury, Golden Boy was was batting .273, which, on the surface, isn't really that impressive, but in the last two weeks he has been hitting at a .321 clip.  Perhaps that steal of home inspired him to not swing at the fist pitch get on base more often.  I'm convinced that once he learns to do that, he'll be a respectable leadoff man (meaning on base) and be able to utilize his game changing speed.

Now, on to my actual point.  Papelbon (Mr. May, on my calendar), has been somewhat less than impressive this year.  Though the closer boasts six saves and a 1.74 ERA, he has also allowed six walks.  Paps only allowed eight walks over the entire 2008 season.  He's also hit a batter.  Just one, you might ask? No big deal, except for the fact that he hasn't hit anyone with a pitch since 2007.  Papelbon has had an effective career thus far not because he can throw 95-98 MPH, because lots of pitchers can do that.  The Sox closer is effective because he throws at such velocities with pinpoint control, and has a splitter he can throw to keep batters off balance.  

There have been some worrisome signs from Mr. Papelbon during the month of April.  The control is not where we have come to expect it to be, and though he is first in the league is saves right now, it's only a matter of time before those walk totals come back to bite him.  There's been some talk that John Farrell is working with Paps on some minor mechanical adjustment: hopefully that will help him get his pitches where they need to be.  I would like it very much if Papelbon continued the trend of the player on my calendar improving during his month.  (Julio Lugo is in November... when this year's World Series is... gulp.)
Unfortunately, Josh Beckett's scheduled Month of Improvement isn't until August. David Ortiz? December. Oh, dear...

Friday, May 1, 2009

There can be only ONE...

So, I was on Twitter last night while I watched the game, and I had an epiphany.  Cyn at Toeing the Rubber asked "Who broke Josh Beckett?"  And it came to me.  Now, I have to give credit to Texy over at Center Field for this post, without which I never would have figured out Josh's problems.

Obviously, as I said on Twitter, "The pitching gods are mad that he tried to clone himself in Lester... There can only be ONE Josh Beckett." Now, without that insightful post from Center Field, I might not have noticed the alarming rate at which Lester is transforming from Beckett's protege to some sort of creepy clone of the man with the soul patch, but it all fits together now.  Obviously, some higher power of baseball is upset... I can only imagine that if Lester were right-handed like Beckett is, the top 40% of our rotation would have already been struck by lightning.  Or maybe a plague of locusts.

I mean, think about it: the two were already similar, just by virtue of both being tall, fireballing badasses who were drafted straight out of high school.  Now, Beckett seems to have made it his mission to make Lester his carbon copy (this would be more awesome if either of them were pitching better).  I say enough is enough.  Obviously, someone is upset at this travesty.  Only Josh Beckett is allowed to talk of "executing pitches" like it's the be-all, end-all.  Only Josh Beckett is allowed to go on crazy hunting trips with Mike Timlin (in all fairness, I don't know if this has technically ever occurred).  And only Josh Beckett can pull of the awkward soul-patch, under the chin goatee thing (seriously Lester, this is a bad look).

I also decided that Beckett is allergic to Tropicana Field... I mean, I know it makes me want to vomit.  So all we have to do to get the vintage Beckett back (beyond getting the heck out of Tampa) is get someone to slap some sense into Lester and give him the advice that every fifth grader needs: "Just be yourself.  I promise we'll still love you."  Once we have two distinct pitchers at the top of the rotation, I'm confident the pitching gods will lift the plague they've put on the Boston starters (all those under the age of forty, that is).  I'm not religious, but if the pitching gods want a sacrifice, I'm offering Matt Garza: we'll ask Coco Crisp to fight him in a steel cage match... everyone knows that Coco owns Tampa Bay pitching, at least in fist fights.

Can someone explain how Lester is listed as three inches shorter than Beckett?