Sunday, February 22, 2009

Possibly the cutest thing ever.

The Sox are wearing their home uniforms today as it is team picture day.  If you all recall, the home whites were the only set of uniforms that didn't get an overhaul this offseason.  

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Quotes of the Day

"I'm really, really, good at minding my own business." -Josh Beckett, when asked about A-Rod

"He looks tremendous." -Terry Francona on David Ortiz

"One game away from the World Series.  If that doesn't motivate you, you've got to pick another profession." AND "I like ice cream.  I never eat ice cream anymore, it sucks." -Dustin Pedroia

*images and quotes courtesy of, as there's no way my parents would let me skip a month of college to go down to Spring Training.

Papi and Lugo; Pedroia and Ellsbury

I love them.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Five Minute Musings

Five quick points while I should be writing a paper:

1. SPRING TRAINING!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited.  Seriously.  Words cannot describe how great a day it is, even though it was so windy that I thought I might blow away walking to class.  But, to be honest, I'm just happy that there will now be actual baseball-related material to talk about.  I'm already sick of talking smack about A-Rod [who knew that could happen?].

2.  Josh Beckett is reportedly in great shape [not that they would say anything if he wasn't].  Apparently he scored better on a shoulder-strength test than he did even back in 2007.  You know, that year when he won 20 games... and I think there might have been some Postseason dominance, maybe a ring...?  Beckett is currently playing for a 2010 option that will automatically vest if/when he makes twenty-eight starts.  The option is for $12 million, and here's what Josh had to say back in 2003 when he signed the deal: "I didn't go for top dollar.  I wanted to play here.  I've already made quite a bit of money in this game."  Wow.  I don't think I can adequately express how much I love that the Sox have so many players who just love to play - oh, and to win.

3.  Jon Lester was one of the first players to get to camp, and is reporting that he's put on a few pounds of muscle since the end of the 2008 campaign.  Hopefully it will be enough for him to hold up for the whole season like he did last year.  On another note, here's hoping that the Sox FO do the right thing with this guy and lock him up long term.  I for one don't really think that they'll extend Beckett past 2010 [although it's possible, as he'll only be 30 years old], and Jon Lester definitely has the makings of an ace.  Obviously something about Portland, Maine is a good influence on young players.

4.  Justin Masterson might be as whipped as Mark Teixeira.  Again according to, he bought a Mini Cooper becasue his wife wanted one.  I'll just tell myself that's as far as it goes... hopefully Mrs. Masterson doesn't suddenly decide she doesn't like the stores on Newbury Street.  But seriously.  Watch the video.  Masterson is quite the character.  In pitching related news, Justin will be going through Spring Training as a starter, and likely make the switch to the 'pen closer to Opening Day.

5.  Hideki Okajima threw 78 pitches in his bullpen session today, more than any other Sox player.  John Farrell quipped that he looked ready to start the season.  Brad Penny also looks to be ready for some serious baseball, throwing off a mound for the first time since he was shut down in September.  He credits the Sox doctors with helping him get over his injury, and was seen joking around with fellow recovering-ex-Dodger Takashi Saito.  The last of the rehabbing new-additions, John Smoltz, will be taking it slow, as the Sox don't have any pressing need for his arm right away.

So, there you have it: spring is here... or tantalizingly close, at the very least.

Seriously.  Watch it.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

[Almost] Spring Training and the "Steroid Era"

Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester have already reported to Fort Meyers for Red Sox Spring Training.  Did I mention I love these guys?  In other spring-related news, it was warm enough in Connecticut this morning to wear shorts to the gym.  There's the proof: the snow will melt, the grass will grow, and there will be baseball again.

Thursday can't come soon enough; I'm really tired of this whole "off-season" thing.  I mean, does any really care where Manny ends up anymore?  I mean, as long as he's far, far away from Fenway Park, it's alright with me, and all signs point to the Dodgers, or possibly the Giants [although I have learned never to count the Yankees out].

In other news, no one is surprised that Alex Rodriguez allegedly failed a steroids test in 2003.  Mazz has a good piece about it in the Globe today: at this point, we can only guess who else is on that list.  Would anyone be blindsided if it came out Nomar was using while in Boston?  We already know about Mo Vaughn and Eric Gagne.  Who else could be on the list?  Jason Varitek is looking smaller these days, though the official explanation is that he never regained his weight after an illness early last season.  

The point is, the time to point fingers and gloat has passed [OK, maybe we can gloat a little].  Until the other 103 names on that list with A-rod are released, I for one will be operating under the assumption that at least one of my childhood heroes was a juicer.  The sad truth of it is that more players than we would like to believe were artificially enhanced, and that the most famous among them never needed to use.  Roger Clemens would have been a shoe-in for the hall before he ever met Brian McNamee.  Barry Bonds was one hell of a player, and would have been remembered fondly if he had never heard of BALCO.  And A-rod is a natural.  As much as it pains me to say it, Alex Rodriguez might be one of the most athletically gifted ballplayers of his generation.  However, once you get linked with steroids, your legacy is forever tainted [just ask Mark McGwire's brother].

Hopefully baseball can recover from this [although, if more people boycott, I might actually be able to get tickets].  But the "Steroid Era" is not over.  It won't be over until every last player who used has retired.  And A-rod still has nine years with New York.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Around the Horn: Jason Varitek

So, as we all know by now, the Sox captain will be back for at least one more year [in all probability for two].  I can't decide how I feel about this, however, because as much as Varitek [apparently] means to the pitching staff, he's just not who he used to be.

I understand that catching is scarce in MLB these days, so Varitek is realistically the best option for Boston this year.  Ideally, Theo would/will trade for a young stud for Varitek to train as his replacement, but the pickings are pretty slim: Miguel Montero, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, or, in a perfect world, Taylor Teagarden.  Unfortunately, Teagarden, who is the best all-around player of the three [check the stats] is rumored to be unavailable.  His [and Saltalamacchia's] team, the Texas Rangers, covet Clay Buchholz, but they won't do a straight up swap for Teagarden, and the Sox won't trade Clay for Salty.

Until the Sox find their catcher of the future, Varitek's it, and the fact that the pitchers hold him in the highest esteem is nothing but good news.  Here's hoping he has a marginally better year with the bat now that his divorce has been finalized.  It's also worth noting that the stomach flu that circulated in the Sox clubhouse last spring hit El Capitan rather hard, and he lost more than 15 pounds that he never really gained back in 2008.  Varitek is a notoriously hard worker, so I think it's reasonable to expect him in camp next week [NEXT WEEK!] in good shape, ready to put the offseason behind him and go for another playoff run.  Maybe he'll even throw out a base stealer or two...

A-roid is reporting that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for two different types of steroids in 2003.  I am SO glad he didn't come to Boston.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Around the Horn: Jason Bay

"Jason Bay is like the dutiful, pretty second wife who does everything right … and yet, I can't stop thinking about the soul-wrenching tramp who married me first and broke my heart." - Bill Simmons

I think that about sums it up. As good a player as our favorite Canadian is [and he's good], he'll never be what Manny was. But would we want him to be? I'm on the fence on that one: on the one hand, some of the things Manny pulled were hilarious and endearing, but they just got to be too much.

The Boston media was skeptical of Jason Bay at first.  They knew that he couldn't replace Manny, but let's face it, we didn't want Manny, at least not the way he was behaving.  We were looking for vintage Manny, before he turned into a prima-donna.  However, what's most remarkable about the Jason Bay trade is that we got almost identical production out for Bay that we could have predicted from Manny [assuming, of course, that he decided to play].

In 100 games for Boston last season, Manny hit .299, .398 OBP, .529 SLG, with 20 HRs and 68 RBI.  In just under half that many games [49] Bay hit .293, .370 OBP, .527 SLG, with 9 HRs and 37 RBI.  Now, I understand that Manny was dogging it on his way out of town, however, if he hadn't been traded, I can only assume he would have quit for the rest of the season.  There's no way to prove such a thing, of course, and I hope winning meant more to him than that...

There's also the small fact that Jason Bay is a good defensive outfielder, and a consummate professional.  A lesser man would have gotten all worked up about replacing one of the greates right-handed hitters in the game.  Not Jason.  He knew that he wasn't there to be Manny... he was just their to play baseball, cooperate with his new teammates, and go for a championship.  All of these things Jason Bay has done, all we can hope for is that he'll keep it up, and since his carreer stats are similar to what he produced down the stretch, and he's almost as well liked in the clubhouse as Sean Casey, I'll hazard a guess that he has a productive 2009.

I'll end this with my apologies to Jason Bay [even though he'll never read it]: in making this entry about why Bay shouldn't be compared to Manny, all I did was compare him to Manny [oops].  However, I will end with the best Jason Bay quote I've encountered thus far.

"It's just a tiny little nick, but it hurts when I get champagne in their." - Jason Bay, after scoring the winning run in Game 4 of the ALDS, the first postseason series he ever played in.  I love this guy.