Saturday, September 29, 2012

Five Minute Musings

  1. I haven't had the chance to see Knuckleball! yet, but now I can't wait for this "sequel."  The spoof from's Fan Cave features RA Dickey, Phil Niekro, and old friend Tim Wakefield as a crime-fighting trio.  The video (above) is just about ninety seconds, and it will probably be the best minute and a half of your day.
  2. I don't know if you caught this story from, but it features Manny Ramirez, Johnny Damon, and Kevin Millar jumping into the jacuzzi with Pedro Martinez before a game in 2004.  There's also an aside from Pedro about strategic signing of the inside of the Monster "so Manny doesn't pee on it."
  3. As you know, my roommate and I went to the final home game of the season and unveiling of the All Fenway Team last week.  The whole thing was incredible, and since we temporarily commandeered dugout-side seats (until an usher kicked us out) I was able to take some great photos.  If you want to check them out, there are some posted on the Tumblr attached to this blog, or you can Like this blog on Facebook and see the full album.
  4. Ben Cherington as good as said that Bobby V. won't be returning next season. No one is surprised, but what's next? Varitek is headed to the front office (and as I said in my last post, I don't think it would work - at least right now), and the All Fenway Team Manager is said to be interested in managing in Cleveland.  Who do you want to see in the role next season?
  5. With the playoffs drawing closer, and the Red Sox so far out (and for so long) I've been thinking about whiuch team(s) I want to support through the postseason.  Yes, I'm a Red Sox fan, but I'm also a BASEBALL fan, and I need to have a few rooting interests. I've gone with the Rangers the last couple Red Sox-less postseasons (mostly because I love Ian Kinsler), but I have some other ideas this time around.  Are you going to hop on a postseason bandwagon? Boycott the playoffs entirely? Let me know in the comments!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Return of the Captain

The Captain is returning to the Red Sox.  Not, as some fans hoped, as the new manager - or even as a coach (which is unsurprising if you pay attention, since Tek said multiple times over the course of his career that he wasn't interested in being on the coaching staff).  No, Jason Varitek will be a front office man, as a special assistant to the general manager.

Apparently this position will not require that Varitek be stationed in Boston, as it will include multiple responsibilities like "major league personnel decisions, evaluations, and mentorship and instruction of young players."

I've seen some irate Facebook statuses from fans who think Varitek would be better utilized as a bench coach, and I disagree entirely.  For one thing, if that's not something Tek wants, he would be absolutely MISERABLE doing it in such a high profile situation.  But more importantly, I'm not sold on his ability to retain his authority as a coach among so many players who were so recently his teammates.

I've asked this before, but where was Varitek's famous leadership when the ship was sinking last September?  The inmates were apparently running the asylum, and Varitek either could not or would not do anything to keep them respecting the manager?  I understand that it's difficult to rag on your teammates, but that's why Tek was awarded that "C" - because the fans and the office knew it was a difficult task, and they believed he was up to it.

We'll probably never know the full story of the collapse of 2011, and maybe that's for the best, but the fact of the matter is that Varitek couldn't right the ship any more than Tito, and I'm not sure he'd fair any better as a coach (at least with so many players who are essentially his peers - maybe we can revisit the idea in a decade or so).  I think this front office job will be great for Varitek and the Red Sox.  It sounds like it's flexible enough that they can essentially send him where he's needed, and since he's accepted the position it's obviously something he's embraced.

It will be nice to know that Jason Varitek is once again employed by the Boston Red Sox.  We all know that's where he belongs.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fenway Park 2012 - the final game

Last year, I attended the last Red Sox home game at Fenway Park.  It was September 21, and in the midst of the greatest September meltdown in history, they lost to the Orioles.  As I was leaving the park, I didn't think anything of it (although it stands as one of just three losses that I've witnessed live at Fenway Park).  I figured the Sox would take a few of the remaining six games, and that the Rays would lose enough of theirs for us to make the playoffs.

Boy was I wrong.  I won't rehash my feelings about Game 162 again (i'm sure most of you have similar memories), but I would like to compare how I felt going in to last year's last home game and how I feel going into this year's last home game.

I was offered the tickets just last week, and since I knew I wasn't working on Yom Kippur, I accepted them knowing that the Red Sox had already been mathematically eliminated from postseason play.  I hope the Red Sox win tonight - because I always hope the Red Sox win.  Even if it makes no difference in the fact that this has been a failed season.  Even though the win-loss record will be abominable with or without one more in the win column.

I also would really like to see the Rays miss out on the Postseason, since it was their late-season drama that helped to oust the Red Sox last season.  I know you can make the argument that the Orioles beat us  in Game 162 and gloated too much, so I should want THEM out instead, but I don't see it that way.

Orioles fans have put up with a lot since their last postseason berth in 1997, and I would like to see them go all the way.  The Rays, on the other hand, have had a lot of luck recently, and if I have to sit out the postseason (again) I'd like them to, as well.

A Red Sox win tonight would pull the Rays further out of contention and be a final bright spot in the 100th year of Fenway Park operations.  Tonight, more than most nights, I want the Red Sox to win.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pesky gets sent off in style

When the news hit that just four current Red Sox players made it to Johnny Pesky's funeral last month, (some) fans and media went crazy. They saw the lack of attendance as a slap in the face to Pesky and to the organization he loved, and (most importantly) as a continuation of the season long pattern of a lack of caring, commitment, and effort from some players.

However you felt about that whole fiasco, seeing the player attendance at last night's Celebration of Life at Fenway was heartening.

The entire current roster stayed after their 2-1 victory yesterday afternoon for the festivities, and there were quite a few retired players, as well.  They ranged from the expected (Jim Rice, Tim Wakefield, Luis Tiante, Jason Varitek), to the unexpected but very welcome (Pedro Martinez, Bill Lee, Carlton Fiske, Rich Gedman), to the "oh my gosh what is he doing here?" (Roger Clemens).

I took a video on my phone of some of the tributes, but ran out of memory before El Tiante was even done speaking, so I'll just link you to a much better video from the Extra Bases blog.

After the spoken remembrances were over, the players left the stands and walked over to shortstop where they each placed a rose on the larger-than-life "6" that had been sculpted into the infield dirt:

(Personal photo)

The players then proceeded over to Pesky's Pole, where they each signed their name, and some left a small message:

(Personal photos)

Once all the players had been safely shepherded off the field, fans were allowed to walk around the warning track starting near third base, and exiting right after Pesky's Pole.  All along the Green Monster were tables with photos and artifacts from Johnny's life, including his minor league trunk, his navy duffel and medal, his ice skates, and various baseball memorabilia.  The last stop for fans before the pole was a table set with four books, allowing fans to scrawl a final farewell to Johnny Pesky.

The entire event was very well done, moving and entertaining in turns, but there is one thing I want to say.  For all the complaining from fans about lack of player attendance at the original funeral, and for this being a FREE event, I was not impressed by fan attendance.  Of course, I myself am a recent transplant to Boston, and if I were still living in New Hampshire, it would not be feasible to come down for this event.  But there are thousands and thousands of Red Sox fans living in Boston, and just a fraction of them showed up last night. Pot, meet kettle.

The fans who were in attendance were very enthusiastic, cheering, laughing, and crying when appropriate - but this lady was my personal favorite:

Great jacket, or the greatest jacket?

Overall, the whole evening was incredible, and I'm glad the Red Sox were able to give Johnny Pesky such a sendoff - if anyone deserved it, it was Mr. Red Sox himself.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Today at Fenway: Celebration of the life of Johnny Pesky

As I'm sure you all know by now, Red Sox legend Johnny Pesky passed away a little over a month ago at the ripe old age of 92.  The Red Sox have planned a formal Celebration of Life for Pesky scheduled for this very evening at Fenway Park, and the event is free and open to the public.

After today's afternoon Orioles game, the park will be reopened at 6pm.  The formal ceremony is from 6-7, but the park will remain open until 9pm, and fans will have the option to walk around the warning track and view exhibits about Pesky's illustrious Red Sox career.

From the Red Sox release about the event:
While the formal portion of the ceremony is set to take place between 6-7 p.m., fans are welcome to stay until the park closes at 9 p.m. Both current and former Red Sox players will be in attendance.

In addition to hearing stories about Pesky’s 70-year career, fans will have the opportunity to walk on the warning track and see displays that illustrate his life as a player, coach, manager, broadcaster, ambassador, patriot, husband, father, and friend. Fans will also have the opportunity to write personal messages that will be given to his family and become part of the Nation’s Archives at Fenway Park.
Will I see any of you there?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A losing season and a rude awakening

It's official. Last night the Red Sox lost their 82nd game (and in spectacular fashion, by a score of 13-3 to the Tampa Bay Rays) to clinch their first losing season since 1997.  That's right, the last time the Red Sox were this bad, I was missing my two front teeth.

I grew up in a generation of lucky fans.  I missed the heartbreak of 1986 by four years, and I was too young during the 1994 strike to really understand what was going on.  Sure, I remember the gut-wrenching end to the 2003 postseason, with Tim Wakefield trudging off the mound dejected, sure he would be the next Bill-Buckner-esque scapegoat, but I remember the euphoria of 2004 and 2007 even more clearly.

The Red Sox of my youth were full of talents like Pedro Martinez and vintage Nomar Garciaparra, pre-traitor Johnny Damon and pre-steroid (at least pre-caught using steroids) Manny Ramirez, original dirt dog Trot Nixon, and pre-Captain Jason Varitek.

I've been spoiled. I got to enjoy this golden era of Boston sports without living through any of the real lean seasons.  Until this year.  I missed watching most of the games this summer while working at a camp, and most days I would check the scores and be more happy than sad that I hadn't seen the carnage live.

And now here we are heading into October.  The Red Sox are about as far from the postseason as I can remember - last year and in 2010 we were still in it at this point.  In 2009, we were swept from the postseason by the Angels.  The Red Sox may not have won a postseason series (or even a postseason game) since 2008, my freshman year in college - but they've been in the hunt every year.

Now that I've graduated, and been dumped into the cold, cruel world, the Red Sox seem to have had the same rude awakening I've had: no one is going to hand you anything.  The AL East is a tough division to survive in, and this year the Red Sox sank.  I'm not sure what kind of moves the front office will be looking at to make next year better than this one, but I have some ideas - starting with taking a long, hard look at Bobby V.

What are your thoughts on the first losing season in fourteen years? Any suggestions for offseason moves? Leave them in the comments.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Hello again!

I've been settling into my new apartment (in Boston!) and my new job, and now that I finally have internet and cable, I thought I should get back to the blog.

Sadly, the best thing that's happened to the Red Sox since I moved down here was the offday yesterday - you can't lose if you don't play.  Honestly, the only possibility of a somewhat happy ending to the season would be if the Sox could play spoiler.

I have a friend from Baltimore, and he posted the following picture to my Facebook last week, along with the caption "How 'bout them apples?"

A discussion ensued with mentions of the possibility of a Baltimore Orioles/Washington Nationals World Series - and I admitted that I would LOVE to watch that.

If the Red Sox have to suck (and apparently they do), I'd like to see a couple of teams who haven't seen the postseason lately (or ever) make a real run for it.  The O's are one game behind the Yankees, and the Red Sox are opening a three game set against the Yankees tonight, and I for one am loving the recent swoon of the Bronx Bombers. Here's hoping we can help them to their own catastrophic collapse.