Thursday, April 30, 2009

Quote of the Day

As I'm sure everyone is aware, Selena Roberts was the reporter who first divulged that Alex Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003.  Well, now the enterprising Ms. Roberts has come out with a book alleging that baseball's most highly paid player used as far back as high school, and even while with the Bronx Bombers.

In a story on's Extra Bases Blog, A*Rod, when asked about the assertions, said "I'm not going there."  Good choice, Alex... but you know what the better choice would have been? Never using in the first place.  Oh, well, that ship sailed years ago.
Asked if he was tired of hearing about steroids, A*Rod said "Ahhh, ya."  I like to imagine that his tone of voice evoked memories of Stephanie from Full House rattling off her trademark quote: "How rude!"

Five Minute Musings

Five quick notes, while I figure out another way to procrastinate.

1.) It's nice to win a game that way, isn't it?  Jonathan Van Every had the game of his life, with not one, but two spectacular catches in the field, and there was that little home run in the top of the ninth that provided the Sox with their margin of victory.  Van Every, interestingly enough, was initially drafted by Cleveland, but never made it further than their Triple-A affiliate, making his major league debut with the Sox last season after he was signed as a minor-league free agent.  Last night's blast was Van Every's first career home run.

2.)  There's a column on called "Five Things We Learned..." and it recaps the previous night's game (I never miss it, and highly recommend it).  However, in today's column, Rob Bradford seems to be implying that Ellsbury is a good leadoff man because his OBP is seventeenth in the majors... Is it just me, or does "good" seem to mean he's be better than most regular leadoff hitters, not somewhere in the lower-middle?  The other part of the Ellsbury piece talks about how he's becoming affective with two strikes... at least that's something that bodes well for a leadoff hitter.  Seventeenth out of thirty? Seriously?

3.) The sun [won't] come out, tomorrow (or today, or all weekend).  That's right, the Red Sox are headed to Tampa for a four-game series with the floundering Rays in that godawful dome.  The Rays are back to their once-familiar place a the bottom of the American League East with an 8-14 record, having just lost a series to the Minnesota Twins.  Thus far, the Rays have lost to the Sox (1), Baltimore (2), New York (2), Chicago (3), Seattle (2), Oakland (2), and Minnesota (2).  Only five of these losses have come at home however, where the Rays enjoyed a .704 winning percentage last year... it should be a good series.

4.) Who would have thought that, 20+ games into the season, the AL East would look like it does.  Boston on top? Check.  New York in third? Understandable.  Baltimore in fourth? Yep.  But... the Rays last? Toronto in second? Huh?  Toronto, we all decided during the offseason, couldn't compete; the only good piece they had was Roy Halladay, and he can only take the ball every fifth day.  The Rays hadn't lost anyone terribly important, and had even added a true cleanup man in Pat Burrell... Well, that's the beauty of baseball: the games aren't played on paper, becasue if they were, everyone would concede to the Yankees, every year.

5.) This: 
Allegedly, A*Roid did take steroids while in the Bronx, and even as early as high school... Tsk, Tsk, Alex, can't you ever stay out of the papers??

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In defense of Javier Lopez

There's absolutely no excuse for botching the play the way Lopez did last night in the bottom of the ninth.  I mean, I know second string Little Leaguers that would have caught that feed from Youkilis.  However, that game was not lost solely on a fielding error by the unfortunate Mr. Lopez.

Remember the third inning, when Lugo got a nearly perfect throw from Youkilis while covering second, and a clean catch would probably have meant an inning ending double play?  Well, E6 dropped it, and instead of being out of the inning, Ben Francisco took Sox starter Brad Penny deep for a three-run homer.  Alright, so Julio just needs to shake the cobwebs off, right? He can't be that bad... but wait.  

Lugo, seemingly determined to make Sox fans forget the two hits he notched last night, made a nearly unforgivable mistake: he ignored a center fielder calling for the ball.  The rules of fly ball catching are simple: the shortstop has priority over the infielders, the center fielder over the other outfielders, and the center fielder over the shortstop.  Lugo, perhaps thinking that a spectacular running catch in short center field would endear him to the fans who have previously disparaged his performance, ran out into Jacoby Ellsbury's territory and tried to make the play.  Now, had he made the catch, it wouldn't matter, but he didn't.  Instead, Ellsbury goes into a slide, seemingly hoping to avoid a collision with Lugo, and Lugo, of course, misses the ball, which bounces off Ellsbury and into left field... I'm just assuming the inimitable Jason Bay returned it to the infield, because I was too busy screaming profanities at my television to notice.

Lugo had this to say: "It's going to take me a little while to get back.  I'm not 100 percent right now. I haven't played for a long time, and I'm going to be off a little bit. I don't have my skills put together. It's going to take me a little while to get back in playing shape and for my knee to feel good and be 100 percent."  Oh, okay.  But if Lugo's not 100%, what is he doing back with the big club? Isn't the purpose of a rehab assignment to get the player back to his full potential!?!? Whew. Deep breaths...

Not that this was a one man show: the Sox made other errors last night, including one on a throw from Mike Lowell, usually an exemplary fielder, throwing over Pedroia's head (cue the "Pedroia is short" joke).  Penny gave up seven runs in 2 2/3 innings, though only four were earned.  

Obviously, Lopez's drop of the Kevin Youkilis feed that would have meant extra innings was the most visible sign of defeat, since, technically, it was the play during which the winning run was scored.  However, it's important to remember that even if Lopez had made the play, there's no guarantee that the Sox would have won in the extra frames.  I'm a bit of a Lopez apologist, and I'll admit that it's partially because he generally seems like such a good guy (also, slightly hilarious, see his comments in this video).  But I genuinely believe that Lopez has something to offer this team: at this time last year, Sox fans were doubting the effectiveness of Manny Delcarmen, and to this point this season, MDC has not surrendered an earned run.  I have faith that Lopez will pick it up, and really, he pitched a scoreless ninth, except for his own error that allowed an unearned run.

An unfortunate way to end the eleven game winning streak, to be sure, but in the wise words of Kevin Youkilis, "You don't like losing, but we're playing good ball.  There's too many games to sit around and mope.  Just go home, get some rest, and get back at it again." And really, if anyone has the right to dismiss this loss, it's the man who had two of his throws turned into errors instead of outs.
I imagine his thoughts as this picture was taken closely mirror the words we see Pedroia use after he strikes out... But that's just a guess.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Caption me this!

This picture (courtesy of depicts David Ortiz congratulating Jason Bay on his 9th inning, 3 run blast, providing the winning margin for the Sox, who had been held scoreless until that point by Cleveland starter Cliff Lee.  This is what I like to imagine them saying:

Ortiz: How come you can hit home runs and I can't?!
Bay:  Shucks, Papi, you'll get one soon, I just know it.
Oritz: Oh, you got some Canadian voodoo that predicts home runs?
Bay: Errrr... something like that.
Ortiz: Sweet, dude. Oh, nice hit. *walks away*
Bay: *shakes head in disbelief; thanks god Papi didn't eat him*

HA! Sports Illustrated is Silly

So, as a college student, a daily trip to the mailbox is a must.  Normally I don't receive anything more than the usual campus memos about library hours, meetings, and lectures, and the occasional takeout place advertisement.  However, today I got a package from my mom, which confused me, as she hadn't told me she was sending one, and I'll be home in two weeks anyway.

When I opened the envelope and saw that she had sent me the Sports Illustrated (my subscription gets delivered to my house) baseball preview issue, I'll admit to being pretty excited.  Even though I could have read it online on April 6th, when it was published, I hadn't, so I decided to leaf through it and see how their predictions were panning out so far.

I barely got past the first page.  Ben Reiter wrote the page on the Yankees, who SI predicts will win the AL East with a 97-65 record (one ahead of the Sox, who supposedly win the Wild Card).  Halfway through his gushing (nauseating) take on the Yankees is a sentence that made me choke (oh, that's A*Rod's job? Right.): "[New York's] success will spring from its rotation-which is second to none."  

I understand that this was written before the season started, but right now, New York's rotation is second to a lot of people's.  Their team ERA is 6.24.  Ours is 4.18.  Heck, the Kansas City Royals have a sub-4 ERA.  No American League team is pitching worse than New York so far.  All of those expensive pieces? Not panning out just yet.  However, I'll admit that the season is long, and we all know that CC Sabathia at least will work out of the current funk he's in.  If AJ Burnett can stay healthy, he should do well too... though that's  big "if" with his track record.

But really, Sports Illustrated, that was quite the proclamation...

Ohhh, I see now, Sabathia's pitching poorly due to the SI cover jinx...

An Open Apology to Jacoby Ellsbury (sort of)

Alright, I know that I've been pretty hard on Ellsbury in this space, but I fell like my reasoning was legitimate.  After that amazing 2007 callup and Postseason performance, Ellsbury turned in 2008 statistics that were decidedly mediocre.  I understand that the sample size from 2007 was very small, and it was inevitable that his numbers would fall off a bit.  Fair enough, but what got to me was all of the talk this Spring Training that AL pitchers had adjusted to him last year, and now he was making adjustments of his own.

Wait. What?  These discussions drove me crazy.  It seemed like Ellsbury (and Dave Magadan, the Sox hitting coach) had either A) only just realized that pitchers were exposing the giant hole in his swing on the inside of the plate, or B) had realized it last year, but... what?  Were waiting to fix it until now?  Were thinking that pitchers would say "Aw, shucks, we gave the rookie a hard time, let's tone it down."?  Whichever it was it annoyed the hell out of me, because I could have told Ellsbury last May that pitchers were attacking him on the inside half of the plate and he'd better adjust.

However, I have never disparaged Jacoby's defense.  There should be at least one Gold Glove in his future, but I won't guarantee one, because we all know how ridiculously fickle the voters for those awards can be: oftentimes, the best defender doesn't win (see Crisp, Coco, circa 2007).  I understand that Ellsbury is a valuable piece of the outfield: a young (cheap) player who can move around to all three spots and think nothing of it: the man has a 1.000 fielding percentage in every spot out there.  Yes, that's correct, Ellsbury has never made an error at the big league level, and, due to his speed, his range is above-average.

But my major gripe with him has always been the easy fan adoration he receives, especially from the female population (this phenomenon of adoring a below-average yet attractive player irks me to no end; it's part of the reason the rest of us female fans have to rattle off Manny Delcarmen's ERA and WHIP to be taken seriously).  I'll admit that if I'd been allowed to skip a week of high school in 2007 and attend the Postseason games or the victory parade, I might have been one of those girls with a sign proposing marriage to Jacoby Ellsbury.  (My first choice would've been Dustin Pedroia, but he's married.  I'm no home-wrecker.)  He seemed like everything Red Sox Nation hoped for: young, fast, hitting for average and power, and with a great glove to boot.  He looked like the real deal, and maybe he still can be, but after a disappointing 2008, I vowed to stay off the Ellsbury bandwagon until he proved worthy.

Well, yesterday (and really, over the entire homestand), Ellsbury reminded us all why we're lucky to have him patrolling center field at Fenway (and it's not because he's like, so dreamy).  Ellsbury has game changing speed, and he's finally getting on base enough to use it (in 40 ABs this homestand, he reached 21 times).  And by now everyone has seen the gutsy/amazing/ridiculous steal of home in last night's game, so I won't recap here, but you get the gist.  Now, Ellsbury is still young, so I'm going to reserve judgement for a little longer so I can gauge consistency.  I'll let you know when I'm a card carrying member of the Jacoby bandwagon though... and if he keeps up his current level of production it might be soon.

I will never be this girl.  However, I'm considering the purchase of an Ellsbury shirt.  A real one, NOT a pink one.

Quote of the Day

This one is, of course, from yesterday, since I doubt any of the players are even awake yet, and it concerns, what else, but Ellsbury's epic steal.

"Jeez, J.D., don't swing."

And who but our friend from the north, Jason Bay, could come up with such a commonplace yet awesome nugget like that?

Bay, who was in the on deck circle at the time of the steal (we can't have two capitalized Steals in Red Sox Nation, that honor will always reside with Dave Roberts), had a better view of Ellsbury's daring move than anyone but Posada, Drew, and Ellsbury himself... I don't really think Pettitte saw him at all, until it was too late.

So there you have it, the Quote of the Day. Tell your friends, it's just like Bay himself: simply straightforward, and wise to the details of the game.  Also, hilarious.
"That was a beautiful not-swing.  Way to take one for the team and not give Ellsbury a concussion!"

Sunday, April 26, 2009

6 things I love right now...

1.) A straight steal of home by Jacoby Ellsbury.  Okay, you know how I feel about him, but tonight, he totally earned all of that admiration the fangirls heap on him every time he takes a breath.  I might even consider getting a #46 shirt... maybe when his OBP is up over .350...

2.) Our ridiculously productive farm system.  Beyond the obvious position players (Youk, Pedroia, Lowrie), the farm system has given us quality arms.  Tonight Theo's strategy of "stockpiling" quality arms was on display, starting off with Justin Masterson (you know, the 6'6" sinkerballer that drives a Mini Cooper) and continuing with Hunter Jones and Michael Bowden.  Love it. So much.

3.) The savvy free agent pickups from the offseason.  This one is in the same vein as the last, but I LOVE that Saito can close when Paps (he of the erratic control) is unavailable, having pitched two straight days.

4.) This team knows how to win.  They pull it together during slugfests and nailbiters, can string together plays and create runs (see Ellsbury, above), or, conversely, slug it out with the best of them.  For instance, yesterdays game? Ridiculous.  Thought I was looking at a football score.

5.) Mark Teixeira goes 0-for-4 with a strikeout, all of his outs courtesy of a Red Sox homegrown player.  maybe this is vindictive, but it just feels so good to see him struggle to hit his weight and commit errors (third inning) while Mikey Lowell hits .324 with sparkling defense.  I wonder how much his wife will love New York when they're getting hate mail...

6.) SWEEPING THE YANKEES!!!! (This one should need no explanation)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Agreeing to Disagree: What to do when you befriend the enemy

Yesterday I remembered why it's difficult, as a Sox fan, to befriend Yankees fans.  My Yankee fan friend and I were walking back from dinner pre-game, and I went on an impassioned rant of what I would do to Joba Chamberlain if he threw at Youk again.  She insisted that Joba would never do such a thing.  I stopped dead.  "Au contrair," I told her, then, remembering that I don't speak French, switched back to English.  I carefully documented all of the times Chamberlain has thrown behind and at the Red Sox first baseman, often near his head.  She insisted he wouldn't do it on purpose, and that he really just had control issues.  I quoted Joba's BB/9 as on the good side.  "He just gets nervous in big games," she claimed.  I scoffed.  We agreed to disagree.

Usually, the two of us have no problems discussing baseball together.  However, this weekend marks the first time since we met that our teams will be facing each other in something besides Spring Training.  I tried to see this issue from her perspective, and decided that if it was someone on the Sox headhunting, say, Robinson Cano, I'd probably behave the same way.  And neither of us really knows whether Joba throws at Youk on purpose (he didn't yesterday, so who knows?), because the only person who really knows is Chamberlain himself.  And since we can't ever really know, we'll have to let it go.

I'm sure we'll find something else to talk about...
Like this guy, and the fact that he's barely hitting his weight.

Best Tweet of last night, RT from abcdude: Since Joba Chamberlain can't get by on his looks, at least he's smart. And a safe driver. 


Friday, April 24, 2009

Five Minute (Pitching) Musings

Sorry I've been such a slacker about this lately, but here are five (pitcher) points from this epic game:

1.) Jon Lester had an OK start:  In an eleventh inning affair, it's easy to forget those who started the game, but Lester went six innings and gave up two runs.  Lester still has not lost to the Yankees in his career, a streak he kept intact tonight with a no-decision.

2.) Okajima's disappointing outing:  Oki-Doki started off the seventh by bobbling a sacrifice bunt, and it only got worse from there.  He loaded the bases without recording an out.  Not good.  Hopefully this was one isolated bad outing.

3.) Javier Lopez was all over the place:  It even seemed like Varitek was a little exasperated with Lopez's wildness tonight, and for good reason, he was ridiculously inconsistent.  I have a bit of a soft spot for Lopez because I think he's hilarious, but come on... this is the MF Yankees, Javier.

4.)Paps was not the out machine I've come to expect: he just hasn't really looked like himself yet this season.  I'll chalk it up to April rust, for now anyway.  However, he did get through his inning (the 10th) without allowing a run, and by striking out Teixeira. Win.

5.) I LOVE RAMON RAMIREZ: Seriously. I can't say this enough.

Last thing: absolute BOMB:

Monday, April 20, 2009

Obligatory Patriots Day Post

Boston Marathon, morning baseball, and playoff basketball/hockey... this day has to be one of the best sports days ever.  If the Bruins and Celtics can pull out wins tonight (both are within the realm of possibility as I write this), this will be the perfect day, beyond the fact that I missed the end of the Red Sox game because I decided that since college costs more than $50K a year, I should actually attend my 1:15 class.  When I left the Sox were holding onto a 3-1 lead, Masterson had just left, and the last thing I watched before I ran out the door was Manny Delcarmen induce that double play to escape the sixth inning.

I kept up with the score via my phone (you can text "red sox score" to GOOGLE [466453] and they instantaneously send you the score), and by the time I reached the classroom, the score was 6-1.  By the time the lecture was underway, it was already 12-1.  I will admit to feeling some resentment towards my professor for making me miss the exciting part of the game... though he mentioned at the beginning of class that he wanted to be watching, too.

That's all I have for today, at least until the hockey and basketball games are over... I love being a Boston Fan.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Five Minute Musings

Five points, based off of five reactionary Twitter posts I made during the game:

1.) "Can you please stop swinging at the first pitch?!?"  This one was the first of the game, in the very first inning, and it was directed towards, you guessed it, leadoff man Jacoby Ellsbury.  Once again, he swung at the first pitch, which resulted in an out.  Does he know what his responsibilities as a leadoff hitter are?  In case he's wondering, he's supposed to GET. ON. BASE.  Ideally, this should happen after he sees a few pitches, in order to wear down the starting pitcher and let his teammates see what kind of stuff the guy has.  FAIL on both accounts.  However, the Pretty-Boy did collect two hits on the night.

2.) "JASON BAY IS MY FAVORITE CANADIAN!!!!"  Bay took the offering from Orioles' starting pitcher Jeremy Guthrie and deposited it in the right field bullpen, making the score 7-2 Baltimore (Drew was on base, having taken a walk).  At this point in the game (bottom second), I was still reeling from the grand slam Nick Markakis hit off of Brad Penny earlier in the inning, and Bay's hit made me hopeful that the Sox' bats could come alive... after all, I'd witnessed it scarcely six months earlier, and the Rays are a tougher opponent than the Orioles.

3.) "JD Drew again!  All those bashers need to STFU."  I will admit to being guilty of Drew bashing at times, but it's all in fun, and always relates to his extensive injury history.  However, despite having a total lack of visible passion (walk? strikeout? home run? All get the same stony faced expression from Drew), he tends to come through when the Red Sox need him.  In this Tweet, I was referring directly to the triple in the fifth inning, but also to his round tripper in the third.  And speaking of coming through, we mustn't forget that Drew carried us through Papi's absence last June, and it's looking like he might have to step up again, as Ortiz's average fell to .158 today...
3.) a. (Bonus Tweet!) "Who are you, and what have you done with David Ortiz?"  Papi looks absolutely lost at the plate so far... I for one am scared.

4.) "Pedroia=Love"  You all already know my thoughts on this topic.  However, this reaction came in the sixth inning, when Pedroia led off with a single, advanced to second when Youk was hit (in the HELMET!) with a pitch, and reached third when Drew walked.  Jason Bay hit a sacrifice fly to left-center field, and Pedroia tagged up and scored, making the score 9-8 Boston.  Mike Lowell would single in another run before the inning was over, but at the time, Pedroia's run was huge.

5.) "Mikey Lowell > Mark Teixeira" This was actually my reaction to Lowell's aforementioned single in the sixth.  However, I would like to quote some statistics to show Red Sox Nation that Lowell is the better deal for Boston.  Mike Lowell is batting .229 with 8 RBIs and 2 HRs, coming off major hip surgery in the offseason, at the age of 35.  Teixeira is batting .160 with 3 RBIs and 1 HR, at the age of 29.  Lowell is owed $12.5 million for 2009, while Teixeira is slated to earn $20.6 million.  Add that to the fact that Teirxeira looks like a small child, and Lowell looks like your favorite uncle, and Boston clearly wins... And just remember the last time a young infielder coveted by the Sox went to the Yankees.  Yeah... I'd say that one turned out in our favor, too.

The two subjects of my posts that uses mathematical symbols.  Picture courtesy of

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Wake Up Call!

(First, my apologies for the bad pun in the post title)
What a game!

Forty-two year old Tim Wakefield had a no-hitter going into the eighth inning this afternoon when Kurt Suzuki broke through with a single to left field with one out.  I may or may not have cussed out Suzuki on Twitter...

Aside from the near no-no, Wake did exactly what the Sox needed him to do, namely, pitching deep into the game to spare the exhausted 'pen, and keeping the score close to give us a chance for the win.  Every year you hear the mutinous murmurings about Wakefield being too old to be a major league starter (they were more like impassioned cries this year), and every year he goes about his business, quietly providing his fifteen year team with 10-15 quality starts for $4 million.  I'm not sure Red Sox Nation realizes what a bargain this is: Tim Wakefield is the consummate professional, a role model for the younger players and a respected peer for the veterans. 

It's all about the team for Wakefield, which is partly why I would have been so excited for him to achieve this no-hitter, a (mostly) personal feat.  Wake is practically selfless: from the mop-up duty he volunteered for in Game 3 of the 2004 ALCS, allowing Tito to spare the bullpen; to voluntarily taking himself off Postseason series' rosters in 2007 and 2008, in order to give his spot to someone he felt had a better chance to get it done.  Though Wakefield can't help young pitchers with their mechanics, he is an invaluable source of wisdom, demonstrating perseverance and dedication every day.  Wakefield is the longest-tenured member of the Boston Red Sox, having joined the team in 1995, and he has contributed in whatever role the team has asked of him: starter, long relief, hell, he was even a closer!

But Wake wouldn't want anyone to describe his achievements and strengths while ignoring the contributions of teammates who made them possible, so here's a list of awesome plays of the day by athletes not named Tim Wakefield:

Youkilis' awesome tag on the bad throw in the second; Jacoby Ellsbury's catches in center all day; Green's ranging play, and especially that spectacular catch in the seventh; the hits by everyone but Pedroia (poor guy)...

Honorable mentions go to: Kottaras taking that foul tip off his you-know-what and continuing to play like a champ; Mike Lowell carrying on an animated conversation with the home plate umpire while being intentionally walked; JD Drew being the most nonchalant baseball player ever to hit a home run/strike out/make a play/exist.

Oh, and for the record, I blame Don Orsillo for the fact that the no-hit bid got broken up.  You don't talk about that while it's in progress! EVER.  I have long since accepted that my attire, eating habits, GPA, shoe size, etc. have nothing to do with how the Sox play, but I make an exception to my no-superstitions rule when there's a no-hitter in the works.  Perhaps Orsillo should do that same.

And all of a sudden...

Alright, we've learned that old adage is always true: you can never have enough pitching.  The thought a week and a half ago was that the Red Sox had the deepest pitching staff in the Majors.  We had arguably the best top 3 with Beckett, Matsuzaka, and Lester.  Wake is good for 10ish wins every year, and Penny is a rehabbing All-Star.  We have a surefire future Hall of Famer slated for a June Sox debut, and the "B" triple-threat at AAA: Buchholz, Bowden, and Bard.  Try to name another team that wouldn't have rushed to have Smoltz ready in April, or who would have sent a young pitcher with a no-no to his name back to AAA after the kind of Spring Training Buchholz had.  Sure, the lineup looked a little slimmer than we were used to, but we were told to believe in the pitching.

But all of a sudden, the pitching is looking thinner.  While the bullpen was amazing last night (11 innings pitched, 1 run), it is now almost totally worn out, the man who started that game, and your 2009 WBC MVP, Daisuke Matsuzaka has landed himself on the Disabled List with what the Red Sox are deeming "mild right shoulder sprain."  Yes, well, that can happen when you ask a Major League pitcher to pitch high pitch counts with playoff intensity in APRIL.

No problem, right?  Smoltz needs another six-ish weeks, but Buchholz is ready to go... except for the fact that he went just 3 2/3 innings in his last start.  I seem to remember reading somewhere that he had a sore hamstring...? Although I can't find that anywhere so I may be "misremembering," to quote old friend Roger Clemens.   I don't suppose he's looking for a job? (Ok, that might be reaching too far).  

The Sox have recalled lefty relief pitcher Hunter Jones from AAA Pawtucket, and it's looking like Masterson will be sliding into Matsuzaka's rotation spot.  Masterson, of course, went through most of Spring Training with a starter's workload, and he demonstrated that he still has the endurance to make those starts last night when he pitched four sterling innings of relief in last night's debacle.  

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Quote of the Day

"I hope it never gets used."

Today's quote is courtesy of Commander Badass and Sox Ace, Josh Beckett.  Beckett just donated over $100,000 to Children's Hospital Boston for the Josh Beckett Cancer Treatment Room, to which today's quote refers.  Beckett has also pledged $100 for each strikeout he accrues this season:
I think we can all agree with Josh on this one... to donate to the hospital, click here.

In other Beckett news, MLB is suspending #19 for his actions in Sunday's game... who else thinks he'll be calling up Timlin and setting off for Selig's house for some Texas style vengeance??

Another notable Beckett quote, referring to his reaction to the situation in his last start: "I wasn't really in a hugging mood."  The gold just keeps on coming.

The [Good?], the Bad, and the Ugly

The good:
Jon Lester has a great pick off move.  After reading the now-infamous Moneyball, I never thought I would see the Oakland A's of all teams run themselves out of an inning, but that's exactly what happened in the bottom of the fourth last night.  Lester allowed back to back base hits to Ryan Sweeney and Orlando Cabrera, and then erased them both via the pickoff.  Billy Beane must have been freaking out in the parking lot with his white box... [If you haven't read Moneyball, do it.  Right now.]

Jason Varitek still has zero strikeouts this season.  Last season, he struck out nearly once a game, with 122 K's in 131 games played.  Varitek is the only Red Sox batter who has not yet recorded a strikeout.

Nomar still loves us.  The Globe  ran a story this morning about how the 2004 Red Sox shortstops have been united in Oakland this year for the first time.  It's a great read, especially if you like reminiscing about the good old days before Garciaparra was sullen, paranoid, and then practically chased out of town.  Nevertheless, Boston's pre-Pedroia Golden Boy has a soft spot for the Sox in his heart, and says he'd love to return to us.  Also, he can't get through a day without a member of Red Sox Nation yelling "NOMAHHHHH!!"

The bad:
The Sox just aren't hitting.  Besides the once doubted cleanup hitter, and the man who replaced the last cleanup hitter [Youkilis and Bay], the lineup is looking positively anemic.  For all of Ortiz's offseason hints that he needed more protection, it doesn't seem to be the protector that's the problem, but Papi himself, who is 5-for-24 (.208).

Lester's ERA is at an even 9.00.  Ouch.  But hey, no worries, because Lester doesn't think he's pitching that badly... Ahem, though he's now given up 18 hits in 11 inning... he has struck out ten while walking only two, so perhaps the control is just a bit rusty.  Hopefully the Jon Lester we know and love will be back soon... like next week.

Mike Lowell has hit into as many double plays as he has hits.  I'm not a big fan of this trend, although maybe the double play numbers will go down as Lowell's hip continues to heal.  Oh, that has little to nothing to do with it?  Well, I'm still hoping.

The ugly:
Dustin Pedroia is 5-for-38 (.179).  Ok, here I think I can take a little comfort: Pedroia is a notoriously slow starter, having a career .252 batting average for April (.310 overall).  In 2007, if you recall, fans were clammoring for the short second baseman to be replaced.  Thank god Tito doesn't listen to fans.  Personally, I'll stick with Dustin for the long haul.

The #5 starter has as many wins as the rest of the staff combined.  Lester, Matsuzaka, and Wakefield have yet to record a win.  All five losses so far have been charged to the starting pitching.  Is Smoltz ready yet?

Our dear old friend Nomar hit a homah off of Lester last night, adding insult to injury:

Deep breaths... the Sox play again tonight at 10... we have to win eventually, right?

Monday, April 13, 2009

Quote of the Day

"That's baseball.  It's Easter.  I guess the guys just wanted to get together."

Today's quote of the day is technically from yesterday, but whatever.  This was in reference to the benches clearing almost-brawl that Badass Beckett started yesterday.  So who said it? JD Drew:

This picture represents the closest JD has been to fighting anyone, ever:
Pedroia: "Nice hit, dude! We #$#%* won!!"
Drew: "Ouchie, I broke a nail... 15 day DL!"
Pedroia: "Seriously?! i barely touched you."
Drew: *cries*
Tito: *facepalm*

Josh Beckett is a BAMF

"I have yet to hit someone in the head and it's not on my list of fuckin' things to do."

The umpires said that resident badass Joshua Patrick Beckett was allowed to stay in the game yesterday after igniting a bench clearing confrontation with a wild pitch because "The Angels were the aggressors."  While that might be true, we all know the real reason Beckett wasn't tossed was that the umpiring crew was scared of the Texan's famous wrath.

I mean, a man who is unintimidated by Angels manager Mike Scioscia - even threatening to fight him, at one point in the scramble - is unlikely to think twice about waiting out an umpire in the parking lot to, ahem, give him a piece of his mind. Or, barring rational behavior from the fiery pitcher, Beckett might choose to call up his old hunting buddy Mike Timlin and challenge the crew chief, Joe West, to a good old fashioned Texas duel.  So, for all the posturing about Beckett not being to blame, it's obvious that the umpires were just too scared to offend the Sox ace.

But can you blame them?  I wouldn't put it past Beckett to have thrown near Abreu intentionally after he had the gall to call time so far into his delivery.  But does anyone for a second believe that if Josh Beckett really wanted to hit Bobby Abreu, he would have missed?  The only surprising thing about the whole scenario was that Boston's favorite badass didn't go on to win the game by whiffing every remaining Angel and celebrating with a fist pump, an f-bomb, and a tin.

"Come on Mikey, we can totally take him... Stop being such an f-ing wimp."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Game Reaction/Mini Ellsbury Rant

Wow.  Seriously.  Just wow.

I think i may have shaved 2-8 months off of my life watching that last half-inning.  Where was the crazy closer we know and love?  Was he trying to pull a Matsuzaka? I know he's often said he wants to be the best in all pitching categories, but if it's all the same, I'd rather he didn't try to top Daisuke's .000 batting average against with the bases loaded.  Please Papelbon, for the sake of the collective heart health of Red Sox Nation, find your command, and hold onto it.

On a lighter note, Jason Varitek celebrated his 37th birthday today with a single and a double, his first right handed hits of the season.  The Captain is currently hitting .267... hopefully he can keep up some semblance of this production over the next 158 games.

The reigning American League MVP is doing his best to prove that he inevitably will start off slowly every spring, regardless of level of preparation.  Pedroia is hitting .167, including an 0-for-4 performance this afternoon.  The Fox cameras didn't zoom in on him at the plate today, but I imagine that he would have provided us with some colorful language if they had.  Pedroia's partner in crime, Kevin Youkilis, went hitless today, although he got on base via a walk.

The biggest moments of the day went to Mike Lowell and Jason Bay[X2], as both men went yard during the course of the game.  Lowell's came in the fifth inning and tied the score 2-2.  Bay hit his pair in the seventh and the ninth, collecting a total of three RBIs.
Ellsbury's day wasn't nearly so productive, and the more I watch him, the more skeptical I become about his potential to be a leadoff hitter in the major leagues.  He had one good at bat today, in the first inning: he didn't swing at the first pitch, and got on base [single].  His next at bats saw him flailing at the first offering like a 4-year-old at a pinata, and he didn't manage to get to first base again.  It's getting to the point where I literally cringe when he comes up to bat.  

Maybe I'm too hard on Ellsbury because I feel that he gets easy fan adoration for being the resident pretty-boy.  My favorite players have always been those who work as hard as they can every day to make up for some shortcoming: bad body, limited agility, wrong stature, etc.  I love that Youk has matured from the Greek God of Walks into the premier hitter in the AL; I can't wait for Chris Carter to get some playing time; and don't get me started on Pedroia [I'll wax poetic for days - just ask my friends].  Ellsbury's been that presumptive professional athlete all his life, and as excited as everyone is about him, I'm not going to jump on the bandwagon until he proves that October 2007 was more than a fluke.  I also refuse to buy an Ellsbury jersey on principal, as every obnoxiously drunk female fan I've run into at Fenway in recent years has been sporting one [I know not every girl in a #46 shirt is obnoxious, but I can't be lumped in with those who do fit that stereotype].

So that post turned from a game reaction into a mini-Ellsbury rant... my bad.  I'll try to be more organized in the future, but I just had to get this one out.

Enough Already...!

OK, after the last loss, I tried to be rational, and even optimistic.  Since that didn't work, I'm going to go off on my first Official Rant of the 2009 season.

First of all, even though Ellsbury managed to get on base twice last night (a new season high!), he really needs to stop flailing at the first pitch every time he comes to the plate.  Really.  This is way beyond impatience, it's as if he's trying to prove all his doubters wrong with a single swing.  Here's a tip for the leadoff man: leave the whole "wounded pride" thing to Pedroia, he does it better than you.

Speaking of Pedroia, how on earth did Figgins snag that "laser" down the line that Pedroia hit in the sixth?  Number fifteen didn't look pleased (though the NESN camera people have finally figured out not to close in on his face after disappointments)... 

Tim Wakefield, by the grace of God (and some great defense behind him), managed to grind out a quality start, and the game was within reach until the bullpen gave up three runs.  I thought pitching (and especially relief pitching) was supposed to be the backbone of this team?!?  I guess I can deal with a bad outing from Masterson, I just wish it could have come while we weren't mired in a losing streak and in last place in the division.

So ends the (abbreviated) melodramatic rant.  I know this is an overreaction, and that we're four games into the season and that there's no reason to panic, but sometimes acting absolutely ridiculous and ignorant makes me feel better (hmmm, I wonder why Rush Limbaugh isn't happier?).

Oh, and for a more personal note, my friends SO don't get the extent of my devotion to this team... one of them actually asked if he could put in a movie near the end of the game last night!  Seriously?!? I've been waiting for this since last October, and you want to watch something previously recorded instead?!
I like to picture Youk saying something like "Nice job getting on base... you DO know you're supposed to do that more than once a week, right?"

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Looking on the bright side...?

Six good, or at least vaguely humorous, notes related to the Sox loss today:

1.) I could easily become a fan of new Sox reliever Ramon Ramirez.  You know, the guy we got from Kansas City in return for the center fielder who hits them game winning home runs.  Though Ramirez didn't win us the game, he kept that outcome within the realm of possibility by bailing out Delcarmen with a 1-6-3 double play in the eighth.  Ramirez pitched 1 1/3 innings and allowed one hit and no runs.

2.) NESN needs to be careful about its cameras following Dustin Pedroia after he makes an out at the plate.  Yesterday, the home viewers clearly watched him mouth, "Fuck you, ump! Piece of shit! What the fuck?!" directly after he struck out in the eighth.  Perhaps thinking they might avoid such antics today, the cameraman decided to avoid the close up directly after the out, and waited to show the feisty second baseman until he was safely back in the dugout.  Fail.  Pedroia dropped the most vehement f-bomb I've ever [not] heard, as soon as the camera closed in on him.  Watch out Red Sox Nation, or the FCC might be closing down our game feed.

3.) How ridiculous is Kevin Youkilis?  The Goatee went 3-for-4 with a walk today, improving to 8-for-11 in three games.  That is a .727 average.  I know that Youk has to come back to earth eventually, but he sure is fun to watch in the meantime.  The only bad thing about Youk's day was the timing of his hits... if he could have moved one to the ninth-the only time he was retired all game-the outcome might have been different.

4.) Jason Bay hit an RBI triple.  Any triple is rare, and I was thrilled for Bay, but to be honest, my favorite three-bagger of all time had to be David Ortiz chugging around the bases near the end of last season.

5.) In sort-of related news, I was watching the first half of the game on ESPN Gamecast in my Constitutional Law class, and when Matsuzaka gave up the first homerun, the guy next to me looked over and sighed.  When he gave up the second, I swore.  My Sox fan neighbor looked over and pulled a Pedroia, only the sound wasn't muted in class.  I'm pretty sure the Professor thought we were upset about the case we were briefing.

6.) This video.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Around the Horn; Opening Day Edition

My favorite moments from yesterday's game, in [batting] order:

1.) Ellsbury, CF: Not a great place to start, as Pink-Hatted Nation's favorite poster boy was the only Sox starter to go hitless.  Nevertheless, I read over at Toeing the Rubber that a fan actually tried to hug Ellsbury as he made his way to the field during introductions... Three guesses as to the color of the besotted fan's headwear.

2.) Pedroia, 2B: Boston's biggest mouth took the second offering from Ray's starter James Shields over the Green Monster to put the Sox up, 1-0.  To all those who wondered how much the MVP would regress this year: he heard you, and he begs to differ.

3.) Ortiz, DH: One of the question marks heading into the season, Papi followed Pedroia's homer with a hit of his own, albeit a less dramatic one.  Still, an Ortiz who looks comfortable at the plate is something we can all look forward to.

4.) Youkilis, 1B: Youk was the only Sox player to notch two hits yesterday, with a single and a double.  That guy down in the Bronx we were all so anxious to sign four months ago?  Still hitless on the season... against the Orioles.  I'm trying to contain my glee.  On a related note, Youk was offended that the home town writers had picked the Sox to fall to the Cubs in the Fall Classic.  Now that's confidence.

5.) Drew, RF: Our good [and fragile] friend JD, beyond a single and an RBI, safely made it down to the field.  According to, #7 felt "like a gorilla at the zoo."  Personally, I'm just happy he didn't manage to get a splinter on the way down and end up on the 15-day disabled list.

6.) Bay, LF: In the first Opening Day since 2001 with someone not named Ramirez manning left field, the resident Canadian had a productive game: a hit, an RBI, and a run scored.  And he didn't even trip Jack McCormick during pregame introductions.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'll take it.

7.) Lowell, 3B:  The worry with Lowell coming in was that he might not have the necessary speed on the basepaths (apparently that's part of the reason he's batting seventh, the other being that Tito likes to alternate left/right).  However, Lowell hit a stand up double out towards left-center field yesterday: he doesn't need to be Jacoby Ellsbury (in fact, Ellsbury doesn't need to be Ellsbury, the way he played yesterday) if he keeps hitting "rockets." [term trademarked by Dustin Pedroia]

8.) Lowrie, SS: The newest farm system product to start an Opening Day, Lowrie only went 1-for-4, but he did make a nice pick on a tricky play and get the ball over to Youk for the out, a maneuver I'll believe Lugo can make only if I see it.

9.) Varitek, C:  El Capitan started his ninth straight Opening Day in a Sox uniform, a team record for a catcher.  Tek did his best to silence those who have been predicting another abysmal offensive season by going deep in the sixth.  To the catcher's credit, when asked about the homerun after the game, he declined to comment, saying that "three-fourths" of his job is behind the plate.  If there's one thing we can count on Varitek for, it's class.

SP: Beckett:  Facing off against "Big Game" James, Josh Beckett showed the Rays what a real gamer pitches like.  Beckett struck out ten while pitching seven innings of two-hit ball, and dropped at least one F-bomb that was visible on NESN's camera's.

RP: Okajima: Oki hit a batsman and walked another before striking out the third batter he faced.  Apparently, Francona put him in for the righty-lefty-lefty trio coming up, as he can be affective against both... just not yesterday, but that's alright because...

RP: Masterson: The 6'6" sinkerballer came in and allowed a double steal on his very first pitch, then surrendered a hit that allowed both inherited runners to score.  However, he emerged from the inning without further damage, preserving a 5-3 Sox lead for Paps in the ninth.

Save: Papelbon: After an offseason during which he set a record for arbitration eligible closers and made several questionable comments during interviews, Paps settled right back in to his actual job, striking out two of the three batters he faced and earning the save.  And as for the questionable quotes he offers? Well, that's just Paps being Paps.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Why I love my Yankee fans:

I know, I know... blasphemy.  But let me set one thing straight: I don't love ALL Yankee fans, just mine.  And what do I mean by my Yankee fans?  Those friends that we all have whose only flaw is loving the Bronx Bombers.  If such a problem can be accepted, there has to be a good reason: for instance, my friend and pseudo-roommate, Becca, is from Manhattan.  She loves the Yankees like I love the Red Sox... that's a lot.

So how are we such good friends?  It's because we both love baseball.  The love for the game, for players who play right, whether they are named Dustin Pedroia or Derek Jeter, brings us together.  In fact, we're leaving tomorrow for New York, to watch the Yankees play the Cubs in the new Yankee Stadium, or, if the weather doesn't cooperate, to watch the Mets play the Red Sox at the new CitiField.  Of course, I would rather we watch the Sox while she would rather see the Yankees, but whichever happens, we will both be happy, because we will finally be watching [exhibition] baseball again.

She knows what I'm talking about when I mention the shortstop logjam, and I can follow her excitement over the NYY pitching staff.  Almost no one in my life will even pretend to listen when I start quoting Dustin Pedroia's newest interview, but Becca does... sometimes reluctantly (this is a multiple-times daily occurrence).  We can talk about the Steroid Era, uniform changes, and obscure statistics, and our only conflict is about which team we want to win in the end, and while that may seem like the biggest problem possible, we deal.

Wanna know the best part?  She thinks A*rod is a dork, too.