Thursday, April 29, 2010

Relay for Life!

Tomorrow night (Friday) I will head to the Trinity College ice rink (it's ice free right now) and walk all night in support of cancer research. That means there's only a little time left for donations! I know what you're thinking: who does this girl think she is, asking for money on a Red Sox blog, but I think cancer research is a cause we can all get behind.

I've written before about how my mother, who passed away in August, became a Red Sox fan for my benefit, so I won't reiterate that story. However, I do have another story of one of Red Sox Nation's own being claimed by the terrible disease.

Karen O'Neil was a teacher at my elementary school (the one I attended as a child, the one my mother worked at, and the one I substitute at now), and though I never had her, she was known schoolwide as the resident authority in all things Red Sox. Mrs. O'Neil had a cardboard cutout of a contemporary Sox player in her classroom every year, along with various posters, pencils, and coffee mugs. She wasn't shy about arguing for the supremacy of her team, and she was one of the only people I spoke to who really believed that the Sox would pull it out that Sunday morning in October 2004, when we found ourselves down 3-0.

Last summer, Mrs. O'Neil offered me a pair of tickets to an early May game (as a season ticket holder, and schoolteacher, she couldn't make a lot of the early games). Though the Red Sox lost (to the Rays, on a Lugo error), it was one of the most enjoyable games I ever attended, and I bought Mrs. O'Neil a Red Sox mug in thanks. I should have known she already had two of them, but nevertheless, she was thrilled with the gift: she was never one to be dissappointed with something associated with the Red Sox.

Karen O'Neil passed away earlier this year, after a long battle with cancer. I like to think she's somewhere in heaven, questioning Tom Yawkey, chatting up Ted Williams, and needling Babe Ruth.

I am walking tomorrow in memory of my mother, of Karen O'Neil, and of Melinda Puglisi, my second-grade teacher. I'm sure all of you know someone who is either fighting or was claimed by cancer, so if you have any money to spare - even if it's just $10 - please donate!

Some Non-Partisan Love for Obama

First let me say this has NOTHING to do with politics. This is not a forum for discussion about anything happening on Capitol Hill... Until they start talking baseball.

The New York Yankees headed to Washington this week in the customary visit to the White House, and their Assistant GM, Jean Afterman, committed a delicious faux pas.

When the leader of the free world picked up the Yanks' World Series trophy, Afterman quipped "Let him hold it. He may never get another chance again." Ummm, that's the PRESIDENT you're talking to, and even if you don't like him, you owe him a modicum of respect.

But no worries, Red Sox Nation, Obama's not a famous orator for nothing, and he had the perfect retort up his sleeve:

"And you wonder why the other teams don't root for you."

Maybe he can't throw, but he dissed New York... Hell, that alone has to help his approval ratings.

LOVE it. No one roots for New York because that is the attitude they project, not only through blunt comments like Afterman's, but in the entitled lifestyle exhibited by their management, fans, and players.

So if you're a Red Sox fan, put down your political leanings for a day. Embrace Obama, if for no other reason than his schooling the Yankees... On an offday, there's not much else you can do.

Also, I just want to apologize for being MIA lately. We're pushing toward the finish line this semester, and work has been piling up. A few more weeks, and I'll be much more devoted. PROMISE.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Excuse me, please...

The Red Sox head off to Toronto tonight, and I have to admit being less than enthused. Firstly, I won't get to watch, and I always enjoy watching Beckett pitch, even when it's in Rogers Centre.

Second only to the Trop in ugliness!

But more than anything, this team is not what I expected as a fan. Now, hear me out, because this isn't going to be a whiny, "Go out and pay too much for Adrian Gonzalez/Prince Fielder/Hanley Ramirez/MC Hammer" rant, but a story of polite bewilderment.

This team is better than they are playing. Yes, the injuries are hurting them early (a hernia and cracked ribs? Seriously?), but the Sox of years' past made it past those difficulties - hell, last year's version had Nick Green, the third shortstop on the depth chart, starting 74 games (but the man did have a 0.00 ERA).

Think he's available for the 'pen?

Something's gotta give. One home run notwithstanding, David Ortiz is struggling, and JD Drew is positively anemic - even his generally rock-solid OBP is under par. The defense is making stupid mistakes, and the bullpen is downright laughable. No offense to Baltimore, but when the Red Sox have provided a third of their wins thus far, we have a problem.

I don't know what the answer is, and I suspect the players and coaches are just as confused; it seems like the Sox are hardly showing up for some games, and that's way more worrisome than a few slumping sluggers. Maybe Daisuke Matsuzaka's impending return to the rotation will help (did I really just write that?), or perhaps Tim Wakefield's veteran presence will jumpstart the bullpen.

Save us! ... Daisuke?

And if not? If all is really lost, and the alarmists are right? Well, I'll be able to get into Fenway a lot more this summer... And you know what else? Last time the Red Sox missed the playoffs (2006, for the newbies), they won the World Series the following year. If that's the tradeoff, count me in.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Love is in the air...

I love this man. You might say it's just Spring Fever, that I'm quick to latch on to anyone who puts runs up on that big green scoreboard. And you'd be right. But when you're young, lust can feel amazing enough to be mistaken for love, and this infatuation is powerful.

Second in my affections? This guy:
Rookie Reddick started in center field, and contributed a double and two RBIs to the cause.

It's love.

Let's just hope McDonald can play tomorrow, because after his game-winning hit, "they beat me up pretty good. When I seen [Jonathan] Papelbon running out there, I tried to run away. Somebody got a hold of me.’’

Honestly? I'd run away, too, if he looked like that.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Oh, the Inanity!

There's a reason I typically steer clear of the comments sections of's Red Sox coverage after a loss, and it's only exacerbated at the end of a sweep like today's. The sentiments expressed by certain portions of Red Sox Nation are alarmist at best, and absolutely inane bordering on moronic at worst. Want some examples? After a short post by Peter Abraham quoting Pedroia as saying "When you don't show up, you're going to get beat. Doesn't matter if it's the Rays or (bleeping) Brookline High," and expressing respect for Bill Hall after the man dutifully addressed all questions about his performance in center field, the ridiculousness started:

"bill hall = next edgah wrent-a-reck"
Well thought out, this one, as Edgar Rentaria was signed to be an everyday shortstop, and Bill Hall was to be the fifth - fifth! - outfielder. Personally, I wondered why JD Drew wasn't in center with Hall in right, but that's just me.

"Am I going to get in trouble by suggesting, only su
ggesting right now that Jacoby Ellsbury may be a whus? Nothing broken, only sore and he can't play, can't run?"
First of all, I think the word you were looking for is "wuss." Secondly, yes, you're a jerk, and clearly didn't see the play on which Ells was injured.

"It's true: the Red Sox dominated the Yankees from 2004 on.... PeteAbe decides to switch over to covering the Sox. What happens? The Yankees go on to WIN THE WoRLD SERIES in 2009 and get off to an incredible start in 2009. Curse of MT? How's that working out for you, John Henry. It's the CURSE OF PETE ABE!!!!!"
Beyond the ludicrous amount of CAPS LOCK and exclamation points (!) in this comment, the writer didn't know what he was talking about. Abraham "switched sides" in late September, so he was technically working for New York for most of their WS season. Also, curses are ridiculous (I'm looking at you, Dan Shaughnessy).

"Here is the issue: Papi is off the juice, Lackey can't throw in Fenway, Youk cries to much for a baseball player and your best hitter in April is in the bullpen yuking it up with the other back up catchers."
Lackey and Papi accusations aside, I have to wonder how Youk's intensity translates into a bad team? Also, Jason Varitek is the best hitter is precisely BECAUSE he is "yuking it up" in the bullpen most of the time: smaller workload, better performance... But thanks for playing!

"The cracks are widening. They may be out of the race by April 30."
It's fans like these that make me WISH for a down year so they jump OFF the bandwagon. It's April. Calm down...

"Here comes the casual fan "I have all the solutions" comments. As if playing MLB2K10 gives you instant credibility to make big boy moves better than the pros..."
...And fans like this that give me hope for the world. Was this weekend painful? Yes. But no one could have predicted injuries to both Jacoby Ellsbury and Mike Cameron, resulting in a Spring Training-esque lineup. It. Is. April. Everything will be okay. Theo is doubtless working around the clock on something. And if not? Last time the Red Sox missed the playoffs, they won the World Series the following year. I'll take that tradeoff.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Pretending Contenders?

“We’ve got to start playing good,” Pedroia said. “You’ve got to hit the ball good, you’ve got to play good defense, you’ve got to pitch good. If we don’t start doing that, we’re not going to be good. We aren’t going to be a playoff team, I can tell you that. We’ve got teams that want to [beat us badly], so we’ve got to come out and play better.” - Dustin Pedroia, via

Well, the man's no poet laureate, but he has a point. While the rest of the team was falling all over themselves to ignore and excuse the recent performance of the Red Sox, Dustin Pedroia, as usual, was not one to keep his mouth shut.

Hopefully the feisty second baseman is saying as much - and vehemently - in the clubhouse, and his input will help to turn the team around. Because the other guys are right: it's only April, and records often look funny this time of year... But it's not the wins and losses that concern me, it's the way in which they're occurring.

Pedey can see all this. These Red Sox are not playing like playoff contenders - the Twins, Yankees, and Rays have played like contenders thus far. Hopefully things will straighten out, because this isn't a question of talent, but one of execution. As Pedroia says, "We've got to come out and play better."

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Running Game

"Robinson Cano is the only base runner who’s been thrown out by the Sox this year. Hang your head, Mr. Cano. You’re like the one guy in 500 who gets a citation for jaywalking." -Dan Shaughnessy

This is a problem. For all of the Sox' talk of run prevention, the inability of either backstop to stop the running game is a glaring discrepancy. Counting last night's partial game, the Red Sox have allowed 16 stolen bases in seventeen attempts. This is not okay.

I don't know what the answer is: there aren't many legitimate catchers out there, and those who are good are decidedly unavailable, while the in-system catchers are at least 2 years away. Maybe the pitchers need to do more work holding runners on... Throwing over to first once in a while, maybe? (I'm NOT talking to you, Clay Buchholz!)

One thing is for sure: pitching and defense only works when ALL NINE POSITIONS can make things work, and right now there's a glaring hole in the plan.

However, according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe, the steals haven't been too costly:

"I checked it out this morning. Of those 16 steals, nine have led to runs scoring. But only once so far did a stolen base helped lead directly to a loss."

Okay. But what if the Sox end up one win short of a playoff berth? I know there's a tendency to dismiss early struggles, and in some cases that is an appropriate course of action. Now? I think its time to at least consider the possibility that this is the weakness to focus on, and fix. Please, Theo?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stay Classy, New York!

Just when you think it's safe to hate them, the New York Yankees show some class. This afternoon, the 2009 World Champion Yankees (gag) received their World Series Rings in a ceremony at Yankee Stadium.

Ridiculously expensive, just like the team that won them!

In a twist of fate, their World Series MVP, Hideki Matsui, signed with the Angels, their opponents for today, and so he was on hand to receive his ring. When asked how Matsui would be received, pitcher CC Sabathia said "I think people will go crazy. He was a big part of our team, the reason why we won last year."

CC was right. So the players are classy... so what, you say? Well, I hate to break it to you, but the fans showed their appreciation, too. Matsui had one of the biggest ovations of the day, as fans let him know they appreciated his [giant] contributions to their 27th world title.

Pigs must be flying all over the Bronx, because MFY fans have finally shown some class.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Jim Rice is a genetic freak.

Now that Jim Rice is a permanent fixture on NESN's Red Sox Post-Game Show, we get to hear his take on hitting, fielding, and everything in between daily. Obviously, Jim Rice was an amazing ballplayer with a Hall of Fame plaque to prove it, but he's also quite the character.

Rice named The Young and the Restless as his favorite soap opera during his Hall of Fame induction speech last summer, something most men wouldn't be to keen to admit. I'll make no secret of my affection for Jim Rice: though his playing days ended just before I was born, his presence in Red Sox lore transcends generations.

That said, I disagree with some of the things he preaches, both as a hitting coach, and a commentator. In Moneyball Rice is described as ridiculing Scott Hatteburg for his patience at the plate, endorsing the [then] Red Sox idea that a walk with a man on base was selfish, that your duty was to hit the ball. Said Hatteburg: "Jim Rice hit like a genetic freak and he wanted everyone else to hit the way he did."

Of course, it makes sense that a hitting coach would have high expectations of his players, but it's absolutely insane to imagine any of them could replicate Rice. One of my only pet peeves with Rice is that he severely undervalues on-base percentage. He's said numerous times that walks are overrated. I beg to differ. First of all, a walk requires that the pitcher has thrown at least four pitches, while a hit requires just one. Making the opposing pitcher work harder is NEVER a bad thing, and a walk ensures that.

Also, a walk is JUST AS VALUABLE as a hit, as each one (a) avoids an out and (b) puts you on first base. This is all old news, but I just can't get over Jim Rice's cavalier attitude toward the base on balls.

Otherwise? I love him to death. Long live Jim Ed!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Red Sox Foundation Welcome Home Dinner

The following video makes me feel like these events might even be worth the $500+ price tag...

Personally, I think Mike Cameron should dress like that everyday.

Five Minute Musings

The theme for this edition of Five Minute Musings is "Things I loved last night" (yes, yes... "That's what she said").

1. Starting pitching: Though we had $68 million dollar man Josh Beckett going for us, I had essentially conceded the game before it started, due to the fact that the Royals had Mr. Cy Young himself, Zack Greinke, warming up in the next bullpen. Despite Don and Jerry's stat that Greinke gave up just two runs all season in the fifth inning last year, he gave up back to back homers to, of all people, Jeremy Hermida and Jason Varitek. And speaking of...

2. Bench players: Honestly, when I saw the lineup included Varitek, Hermida, and Lowell, it looked to me like Tito was conceding the game, as well. However, all three men acquitted themselves admirably. Hermida bashed his first ever homer in a Sox uniform, to tie the game in the fifth inning, while the much maligned Captain homered TWICE, including the initial go-ahead run, and Lowell went 1-for-4 with some plays in the field.

3. The Sox bullpen: After meltdowns in the last few games, the bullpen crew finally got back on track, as Hideki Okajima and Ramon Ramirez each pitched a scoreless inning of relief last night. I have to admit, I was thisclose to writing a post bashing the bullpen yesterday afternoon. I'm glad I abstained.

4. MORE home runs: Kevin Youkilis notched his first homer of the young season, while Dustin Pedroia went yard for the first time since the Opener. Youk's homer led off the eighth inning, while Pedey's came in the ninth, with Ellsbury on base. Pedroia's was particularly impressive, as it came after he was nailed by a Greinke fastball in the fifth inning.

5. The Royals' bullpen: This might sound mean, but I LOVE the sight of someone warming for the Royals (with the possible exception of closer Soria). I Tweeted the following thought during Friday's contest: "I love the Royals bullpen. This is beyond infatuation. This is BEYOND BASEBALL." Yes, it's a bad play on the MLB ads, but it's true all the same. Let's see if we can get back into that pen this afternoon, shall we?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Calm. Down.

Everyone needs to stop what they're doing. Seriously, pause for a second, and take a deep breath. We are exactly three games into the season. Three games, to be exact, against the World Champions of baseball (vomit).

So David Ortiz has exactly one hit thus far. CALM. DOWN. I've heard enough panic in Red Sox Nation. "Papi's done," "Put in Lowell," "He can't hit anything!"


Mark Teixeira has one fewer hit than David, and I haven't heard anyone in New York howling for Cashman to buy a replacement (and we know that it doesn't take much for the MFY fans to start whining about underachievement).

I know that last year's prolonged slump is making everyone far more nervous than they might otherwise be, and, contrary to his claims, David Ortiz has a lot to prove to this team, front office, and fanbase. Theo made it clear that he would not wait as long this year for Papi to come around as he did in 2009 (and, lest you forget, it was close to one third of the way through the season before Tito so much as dropped him in the order). However, we are THREE GAMES IN. One of which was started by one of the toughest lefties in the game, CC Sabathia.

Everyone is clamoring for Mike Lowell to get his at-bats. Well, I have news for you: the front office has already decided that Mikey is not the answer. In fact, they decided this almost six months ago, when they traded him to the Texas Rangers. The deal was thwarted by Mike's bum thumb, but the Sox have made it clear that Lowell is only on the team until they find a suitable dumping ground for him. As I have said before, the situation is hardly ideal: Lowell deserves nothing but respect, and he's in a tough situation.

And as for Papi? He's earned the right to the benefit of the doubt for longer than one series against arguably the toughest team in baseball. If this truly is the end, Tito will probably stick with Ortiz far too long (being too loyal to veterans is one of his only flaws, as far as I'm concerned).

But back up off the Tobin Bridge, people. The Sox are headed for a three-game set in Kansas City tonight, and David deserves our support, for at least a little while longer.

Unless, of course, you're ready to forget what he can do when everything clicks...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Phenom in Flux

Jacoby Ellsbury is no longer the young star we saw in the 2007 playoffs, but a twenty-seven-year-old outfielder who has gone through a lot of changes in the last year, the most obvious being a change in position.

However, left field is hardly a new experience for Ells, as he played 80 games there before this season. If anything, he should be flattered to patrol the stomping grounds of Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice, and by all accounts, he does understand the history of his position.

Ellsbury also elected to trade in his ubiquitous #46 for #2, once Brad Mills took off for the Astros and left his number behind. The shedding of a high number for a low one is another symbol of Ellsbury's growth from a precocious phenom to a solid everyday player.

As you know, I've not always been the biggest Ellsbury fan - the nickname "Golden Boy" that I bestowed upon him was as much a dig as a complement. However, I have always wanted Ells to do well: it doesn't make sense for a fan of the Boston Red Sox to wish ill on any team members. Heading into 2010, Ellsbury has a few things to prove: he needs an OBP closer to .390 than last year's .355 (and he's had some promising patience thus far, albeit sans results), and he needs to be more efficient in using his speed in the outfield. No more talk of what he can become. The man is 27 years old; this season, let's see what he is.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Beyond Perseverance

I love Dustin Pedroia. Love, love, LOVE!

League Projections

Last year’s Major League Baseball season ended (in November, no less) with the New York Yankees jumping all over the field and spraying champagne into each others’ eyes. For some, it was the celebrated end of a drought, and for others, it was proof that everything, even baseball’s highest achievement, is for sale. However, regardless of how you feel about the Yankees, it’s time to finally put 2009 behind you, because Opening Day is here at last.

Opening Day is like New Year’s Day, the first day of spring, and release from a federal prison, all rolled into one glorious package: it’s a ritual of renewed hope. On Opening Day, the Kansas City Royals have the same record as the National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies. Fans of the hapless Nationals (yes, they have fans) can brag about the artificially inflated batting average of Adam Dunn, and Seattle fans can swear that “King” Felix Hernandez’s ERA will stay below 1.00 all season long.

However, though hope springs eternal, it will eventually be time to face the facts: baseball by its very nature wears down players, it is, as they say, a marathon, not a sprint. These men play 162 games in just over six months, and fatigue and injuries are all but inevitable (just ask the New York Mets). National and local publications have been putting out baseball previews all over the country for the last month, and though most MLB rosters will look vastly different by August, here come the projections for the end of the marathon.


Western Division: Both Sports Illustrated and Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA rankings pick the Colorado Rockies to win the division, followed by the Dodgers, the Giants, the Diamondbacks, and then the hapless Padres. The Rockies have a solid rotation in a mediocre division, and their lineup is solid, anchored by SS Troy Tulowitski. Things to watch: Arizona’s Brandon Webb tries to recover from injury, San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum looks for a new contract, and San Diego’s Adrian Gonzalez looks like trade bait. Off the Monster take: Rockies take it.

Central Division: Both ranking systems have St. Louis taking the division, with some dispute over the middle, and Pittsburgh finishing in last (yet again). The Cardinals have one of the best pitching 1-2’s in baseball, with young righties Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright (who were second and third in NL Cy Young contention), and a lineup boasting Albert Pujols. Things to watch: Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder is looking for an extension, the Astros have a new manager in Brad Mills, and the Cubs are at 101 years and counting. Off the Monster take: Cardinals win it.

Eastern Division: In another instance where SI and PECOTA agree completely, the Phillies are predicted to win it, followed by the Braves, the Marlins, the Mets, and the Nationals. Philadelphia has built an American League style lineup, and just added the best pitcher in baseball, Roy Halladay. “Doc” Halladay routinely won 17-20 games in the AL East, with an ERA hovering around 3.25. That’s death for an NL lineup. Off the Monster take: Phillies take the division, Braves take the Wild Card.

American League:

Western Division: SI and PECOTA could not be more different here: the former picks Las Angeles to come out on top, while the latter takes Texas. Though the Angels lost ace John Lackey and infielder Chone Figgens, they still have a formidable lineup and rotation, along with one of the best managers in the game. Off the Monster take: Angels take it, but the Mariners (led by Cliff Lee and Felix Hernandez) will present a challenge.

Central Division: All SI and PECOTA can agree upon is that Minnesota will win the Central, and the Royals will finish last in spite of reigning Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke. Minnesota has lost closer Joe Nathan for the season, a tough break for a team celebrating an extension for hometown hero (and AL MVP) Joe Mauer. The White Sox seem to be the overlooked horse in this race, with Mark Buehrle and Jake Peavy heading the rotation. Off the Monster take: the Twins win the Central, but it’s close.

Eastern Division: In what is generally accepted to be the toughest division in the game, it’s no wonder that our two authorities disagree: SI has New York winning it, Tampa Bay second (Wild Card), and Boston in third. PECOTA has the Red Sox taking it, with the Yankees as Wild Card winners, and the Rays in third. They both agree that Baltimore will be fourth, and Toronto will mourn the loss of Roy Halladay with a last-place finish. Off the Monster take: New York takes the division, Boston the Wild Card – but it’s going to come down to the wire with the top three teams.

Tampa Bay has a legitimate MVP contender in Evan Longoria.

Of course, it’s likely that we’ll look back at these predictions and laugh – you can’t predict injuries, break-out rookie seasons, or blockbuster trades. The league’s going to look very different come October. But right now… who cares? Sit down and relax – baseball season is here again.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

In Defense of JD Drew

I was in class the other day, listening in (okay, eavesdropping) on a conversation about the Red Sox. The participants seemed to have a good general grasp of the team; at least, they knew all the players - even the scrubs and the new acquisitions. However, there was one comment I just could not let go:

"JD Drew hates baseball."

Yeah, and he obviously HATES his fans, too.

Um, no. If Drew HATED baseball, he would have called it a career after the first few million bucks. Is JD the most enthusiastic player in baseball? Of course not, and you could even make the argument that he's not even the most enthusiastic guy in right field (I'm pretty sure the umpires show more passion). It's easy to see why JD has not endeared himself to the vast majority of baseball fans, but he's an extremely skilled player all the same.

JD Drew had the misfortune of replacing an absolute fan favorite in right field, the original Dirt Dog, Trot Nixon. Nixon never had a clean uniform by the third inning, as he dove all over the field, trying for any advantage he could. Not offense to Trot, but Drew doesn't NEED to do that: his physical gifts and superior positioning make diving for balls or bases unnecessary, and why risk injury when you can just as easily get there standing?

There was a fan on Twitter this evening who said Drew should soon be arrested for theft, as he steals his salary every game. This is absurd. Drew, by virtue of having the highest salary on the team, has a great big target on his back. The fans want their money's worth, and that's okay, but what most people don't realize is that Drew is a very valuable commodity.

JD Drew has a career OPS of .896. If you take out 2007, when his young son was ill for most of the season, that number jumps to .949. For a guy who is speedy enough to steal bases and get to most balls (10.5 UZR in 2009, 2nd best in baseball for his position) - in Fenway's vast right field, no less - JD is very good with his bat.

Pedroia has enough passion for the two of them.

Is baseball his passion? Of course not, and he'll never be a Dustin Pedroia or Kevin Youkilis in that regard. But a man who hated baseball would never put up the numbers he does. I was disgusted to hear the home town fans booing him on Sunday night: let's keep it classy, Boston. JD Drew earns his keep, and I'd like to see him get the appreciation he deserves.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Around the Horn; Opening Day 2010

Last year on Opening Day, I went down the Red Sox batting order, listing my favorite moment for each player. This year is a little different: because I was actually present at the game, some of the greatest moments weren't manufactured by the players, so I'll do my players list first, and then give you the best non-baseball moments at the end:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, LF: I know it might seem less than spectacular to some of you, but I was blown away by the patience Ells displayed during his at-bats last night. He struck out twice, and didn't reach base in any of his five plate appearances, but at one point I saw him take five straight pitches. I see an improved OBP in his future, and I like it.

2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B: Yesterday marked the second time in as many years that Pedey went deep on Opening Day. Last year, it gave the Sox the lead, as it came on the first pitch he saw all season, but this years was even more inspiring, tying up a game that had seemed out of reach. However, I also enjoyed the dive he took into first base, despite the fact that he was erroneously called out. I thought he was going to go all Mike Tyson on umpire Angel Hernandez.

Clearly, he was safe. Also, Sabathia is a large, large, GIANT man. How do you even get that big?

3. Victor Martinez, C: Ignoring the awkwardness in being the only person not named Jason Varitek to start behind the plate on Opening Day in many years, VMart did a good job, stroking a double in the sixth inning, and scoring the Red Sox' 4th run of the game.

4. Kevin Youkilis, 1B: YOUKKK went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI, 2 doubles, and a triple. Honestly, the triple was my favorite, mostly because it's likely the only one he'll have all year, and watching the Greek God of Sweat hustle around the bases is entertaining, to say the least.

Run, Kevin, RUNNN!!

5. David Ortiz, DH: Not a particularly impressive night for Papi, who has something to prove coming into the season. Theo is going to tolerate far fewer 0-for -3 lines this year than he has in the past. On the bright side, Ortiz managed to draw a walk.

6. Adrian Beltre, 3B: Tied things up the first time, in the bottom of the fifth. With two men on, he drilled the first pitch of the at-bat into center for a 2 RBI single. Also, made some verrry nice rabs in the field.

7. JD Drew, RF: First, let me say that it's absolutely disgusting that the home town fans were booing Drew, before he even had an appearance. For the record, he did have a hit, and I'm so over how underrated he is, especially in a town that claims to be so enlightened about baseball matters.

8. Mike Cameron, CF: They promised us a fan favorite, and I'm seeing one. Apart from snagging every ball that came near him in center field, Cameron went 2-for-3 with a walk, and a run scored. He's also rumored to be hilarious.

9. Marco Scuataro, SS: Scoots (that's what I've decided to call him) had an almost identical line to Cameron's, but with an RBI. A shortstop who can hit the ball AND catch it? Somebody pinch me.

Mikey Lowell got the longest ovation of anyone not named Johnny Pesky last night, and when he tipped his cap, it was obvious that he was touched. It's nice that the fans can appreciate what Mikey's done for us, and even if he's gone by May, he'll always have a place in my heart.

Pedro embracing Johnny Pesky brought tears to my eyes. Okay, Pedro's appearance in general brought tears to my eyes, but when he knelt down next to #6, I couldn't contain them. Johnny looked, well, old... and I have to admit it scared me a little, but he lit right up when Pedro was there.

Minor leaguer Ryan Westmoreland was in the house last night, and since the last thing we heard was that his brain surgery had been successful, I was thrilled to see he was healthy enough to come to Fenway Park. Westmoreland is not only one of the most talented prospects, he's younger than me, so it's nice to see him healthy.


Bring it like Beckett

It's official. Barring some extenuating circumstances where the world gets taken over by alien rodents that elect him as their leader (or some sort of trade), Josh Beckett will be in a Red Sox uniform until 2014.

Though the fierce Texan didn't have his best stuff last night, I'm ecstatic to see him at Fenway in the foreseeable future, preferably telling Heidi Watney to shut her pie-hole and get out of his way. In all seriousness, Josh Beckett's signing means that for the next three years (at least) the Red Sox will have a 1-2-3 of him, Jon Lester, and John Lackey. Daisuke will be here too (unless his arm flies off while he's attempting to comb his hair, or something equally ridiculous), and Clay Buchholz is under Red Sox control until after the 2012 season. This rotation is absurdly stacked, and I like it a lot.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

36,000 of my closest friends...

This morning, I went to the dining hall to get a quick brunch before I head off to Boston for the game, and I managed to become best friends with half of the workers, and mortal enemies with the rest.

I was sporting my "Fenway is Where I Pray" shirt, and one of them told me he liked it: "You should wear that every day," he said. I replied that it was, after all, Easter, which was good for a hearty laugh. Now, being in Connecticut means that I'm smack in the middle of the divide between Red Sox and Yankee Country, so there are a fair amount of fans on both sides working at and attending Trinity College.

At this point, one of the Yankee fans chimed in. "You'll be crying tonight," he told me with a grin. I decided not to get into CC Sabathia's April statistics, or the fact that Mark Teixeira is a notoriously slow starter. Instead, I went with something short and sweet:

"Nope. I'll be at Fenway Park, on my feet cheering with 36,000 of my closest friends."

See you there!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

What [Not?] to Wear.

As most of you know by now, I'm going to Opening Day tomorrow night (what a strange sentence...). I'm having a bit of a struggle deciding which of many Red Sox shirts to wear, and I thought you guys could help me out. (Don't worry, I'll do a pitching preview tomorrow before I go!)

This one always makes me laugh. Beyond its obvious double-entendre, the shirt says "I never forget my fandom," which is certainly true of me.
I don't think I'll go with this one, mostly because I'll be in the presence of the actual Green Monster (though, alas, not atop it), and it seems strange to wear it while at Fenway Park.

My version of this shirt has "PEDROIA" and #15 on the back, so it has the wonderful duality of being a shirt that represents my favorite player and a sentiment I support.

This is the frontrunner so far, it being Easter Sunday and all. I don't want to offend anyone's religious sensibilities, though.
I bought this one for my mom last Mother's Day, and it says "MOM" #1 on the back. I know it meant a lot to her, and it's one of my favorite things to remember her by.

This one is great because it (a) rhymes and (b) it's about Dustin Pedroia. As you know, I LOVE HIM.

Again, about Dustin Pedroia. Also, I wore this to ALDS Game 4 (clincher!) and ALCS Game 5 (epic comeback) in 2008, so it's known to be lucky.Self explanitory. Opening Day is all about renewed hope and belief that your team will be playing deep into October, and I'm all for that.

So what do you guys think? Let me know in the comments, or via Facebook, Twitter, or email if you prefer. I'll take tons of pictures tomorrow, so never fear.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Happy New Year, Red Sox Nation!

I've spent much of the last week and a half screaming intermittently. Before you get all worked up, they have been screams of excitement: a few times every day, I remember that not only is Opening Day so close, I'm actually going to be there, and I simply have to vocally express my happiness.

Of course, I told all of my friends that I had tickets to Opening Day as soon as it happened, and they were happy for me, but they didn't really understand. They think they know the extent of my fandom - it's hard to ignore the constant wearing of Red Sox paraphenalia - but it's hard to truly express what this team means to me in terms that can be understood by those outside of Red Sox Nation.

My religion on Facebook is "Boston Red Sox." To put that in perspective, Merriam-Webster defines religion as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs." The beliefs? That the Red Sox are the best. Devotional and ritual observances? Buying hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise and tickets, and making the six-hour round trip to Fenway at a moment's notice. Moral code? Yankees suck. And voila! You've got yourself a religion!

In all seriousness, I spend more time thinking about the Red Sox than anything else: when I'm bored in class, I doodle field diagrams and possible lineups on my notebook.

My computer background is a rotating set of 20-something Red Sox pictures, including one of my favorites, which is especially fitting for today:

So, for those of you out there like me, who worship at the foot of the Green Monster, draw baseball doodles on your work, and scream intermittently (and increasingly frequently): HAPPY NEW YEAR! The wait is almost over!