Saturday, April 23, 2005

Comeback!! Oh, wait... Nevermind

With each pitch Scott Kazmir threw last night in what would turn out to be a crap-tastic 5-4 loss to Tampa last night, I couldn't shake two reoccuring thoughts.

1) Wow!
2) The Mets are SOOOOO stupid.

I'll address these one at a time. For the first five or so innings the Red Sox, maybe the major's best offense, had no chance against Kazmir. No chance what so ever. Kazmir hit as high as 97 on the gun, but was routinely around 95 when he needed it. His breaking ball broke into the strikezone when the Sox hitters weren't expecting it to, and it broke out of the zone when they swung. To use the venacular of the kids, Kazmir was "off the hook."

As for point number two, the Mets are truly, incredibly, painfully, and amazingly stupid for getting rid of Kazmir for a mediocre talent like Zambrano. Actually, let me revise that. Forget Zambrano. They're all those things for simply getting rid of Kazmir at all. Who would think that all it would take to pry a premiere young left-handed pitching talent (like Kazmir) away from a team desperately in need of a premiere young left-handed pitching talent (like Kazmir) is a guy who walks every other batter, but thats ok because he throws hard.

In an unrelated matter, what in the hell was Terry Francona doing sending Alan Embre in to pitch the ninth inning of a tie game? Isn't that why the Sox have Keith Foulke?

Friday, April 22, 2005

An Olde-Fashioned Duel

Last night was like the playoffs. It felt that way to me. Especially the last three or four innings when it became apparent that one run would mean the difference in the game one way or the other. Everyone was standing and cheering. The crowd was about evenly divided between Red Sox and O's fans, with each side making themselves heard. I couldn't even count the number of "Lets go Red Sox!" cheers that came up to support the Sox when they needed it.

Clement was on his game, like Wells before him. To hold a team with a lineup like the O's scoreless for 18 consecutive innings is a very impressive not to mention rare feat. I hadn't been to a game where runs were at such a premium since I saw Pedro throw eight shutout innings against Bartolo Colon back in 2000. I think the Sox won that one 2-0. Derek Lowe got the save.

After the game ended I had a cool moment in the men's room after the game (hold yr jokes for just a moment please). This should let you know how many red sox fans were at the game, by the way. So, I was waiting in line at the urinal and someone shouted "Who's in first place now" and instinctively I yelled "Red Sox!" and everyone in the bathroom (about fifty or sixty people) cheered. It was pretty cool.

And it is true: the Sox are actually back in first place today, thanks to last night's win. Its monumentally early (this is about the millionth time I've written that sentiment) but its nice to be in first anyway. Better that than last place, right?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The Accidental Suicide or Alls Wells that Ends Wells

I didn’t catch much of the Sox/O's game last night. I was on my way back from my girlfriend's apartment in West Philadelphia to my apartment in Old City. The two are separated by about city 45 blocks, so the best way to get back and forth is by subway. Philly's subway isn't great, it’s a bit dirty, and its far from comprehensive in terms of city coverage, but if you live close to it as I do then its pretty convenient.

I had walked from my girlfriend's place to the Subway stop at 40th and Market. My place is at 2nd and Market, so it usually takes about fifteen minutes to get to my apartment once I board the train. So, I was waiting in the station for the train for about 15 minutes before the train came. As it was pulling up I noticed that everyone on the train was getting up. 40th street isn't the stop everyone usually gets out at, so this was a very strange thing, and I mean everyone on that train was getting up to get off the train. As the doors opened and people began to flood off the train, some subway employee began broadcasting over the intercom. This person said that train service was being discontinued because someone had just thrown themselves in front of an oncoming subway train one station down. This morning I found this on

Posted on Thu, Apr. 21, 2005
Man stable after falling between SEPTA train cars

A man fell between two cars on a SEPTA train last night in West Philadelphia, disrupting train service for about 45 minutes. Police said the man, who was not identified, fell between the cars in the westbound tracks of the El at 30th and Market Streets about 9 p.m. He was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was listed in stable condition. Trains began running again about 9:45 p.m.

So, my question is twofold: 1) why would they announce something as gruesome as someone jumping in front of a subway train over the loudspeaker in a train station, and 2) why would they announce something like that if it isn't true? I don't have the answers to these questions, but I'd sure like to ask someone.

So, when I finally made it back to my apartment and flicked on the game (love that MLB Extra Innings!) the Sox were up 8-0 and Wells was finishing off the O's in the 8th. I wouldn't expect this type of performance from him every time out, but it was good to see him do well in a Sox uniform against a team that not only isn't Tampa, but has a real Major League lineup that can hit homers and everything.

Wells allowed three hits over his eight innings of work, walking only one. Thems good results right there. Since I didn't get to see the game I don't know how much of Wells results last night was attributable to the Sox defense, but from reading the Boston Globe's account of the game it sounds like Wells had 'it' from the beginning.

This is good news. Things always look rosier after a win, especially a win like this, but the Sox rotation looks like its starting to round into form. Next step: the bullpen.

I'm going to catch the Sox in Baltimore tonight. I'll check back in tomorrow with a report on the game.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Sox Blow It; Sign Wakefield

How's that for a misleading headline?

Last night the Sox blew a game they should have lost, and signed Tim Wakefield to an extension. First the game, then the contract.

How do you characterize getting out-hit 13-6 and only losing 4-3 in the ninth? Is that good or bad?

Bronson Arroyo pitched well enough to get the win, departing after seven innings with the score at 1-1 lead. Big Papi's two run homer in the bottom of the seventh put the score at 3-1 and put Arroyo in position to get a win for his efforts. Alan Embree came on to face the Jays in the 8th and just like that Arroyo's lead disappeared. The crap parade continued as Keith Foulke came on in the ninth to protect a tie and blew it after getting the first guy and going 0-2 on the second guy. Red Sox starters: 7 innings, one run. Red Sox relievers: 2 innings, 3 runs. Yuck.

Enough about that. In other less depressing news, the Red Sox signed Tim Wakefield to a 1,000 year, $4 Billion contract yesterday. Ok, not really, but with a few simple advances in medical science it could come to that. But even then, not really.

The contract is really a one year contract extension for 2006 at $4 Million with a few incentives. What makes it such an interesting deal is that it contains a provision for a $4 Million option for the next season in perpetuity. For example, after the '06 season the Sox can pick up Wakefield for '07 at the same $4 Million price. No irritating haggling with an agent, no back and forth about 'value', no discussion of money whatsoever. After the '07 season they can do it again for the '08 season. Same price. They can pretty much do this forever. All the options are club options. The decision is up to the Red Sox each off season. Do they want Wakefield next season? If so, fork over four mill and he's yours. If not, decline the option and he's a free agent.

Needless to say, this is a very strange deal. Essentially, this is Wakefield saying 'I don't want to bother with any of that pesky free agency stuff. I want to be in Boston as long as they want me there.' As refreshing as that may be to many fans (and don't many fans need refreshing?) and as good a deal as this seems to be for the Sox, one has to wonder if this deal is really in Wakefield's best interest.

If you listen to talk radio you'll often hear people complaining about the money that athletes make. Some mullet-head will call up and say 'What's the difference between three million and four million dollars? These athletes are all over-paid anyway!" While there are a number of problems with such a statement, I'm going to just address the 'difference' part. So, what is the difference between 3 or 4 Million dollars? Well, the difference is a Million dollars! One Million dollars! That's a lot of money. If someone were offering me a million dollars I'd sure take it. That's what Wakefield is potentially turning down. I'll be the last guy to say that $4 Million isn't very much money, but ballplayers have a limited earning potential and with this contract Wakefield is essentially foregoing the opportunity to maximize that potential. Does he get something in return for this? Sure he does. He gets the assurance that he'll be a Red Sox through 2006 for sure, and as long as he stays around league average probably for a number of years beyond that. He obviously trusts management (to sign a deal like this he has to), and he obviously considers the $4 Million he'll earn each year of this deal to be fair payment for his services.

Let me be clear: I don't think this is a bad deal for Wakefield, just a strange one, especially in light of the fact that just this spring he was saying he didn't want to be the one to go to the bullpen when Wade Miller comes off the disabled list. By signing this deal he's tied himself to a team that has five other starting pitchers signed through next season and in most cases beyond. Wells is on the first of a two year deal, Clement is on the first of a three year deal, Schilling has (I believe) two more years left after this one, and Arroyo and Miller are both under Sox control for next season. That doesn't mean Wakefield won't be a starting pitcher for the Sox, but it does mean he might not be. In either case he'd be a valuable asset to have, but if he wants to pitch exclusively as a starter then this probably isn't the deal for him.

I assume that Wakefield must know all that though.

As a Red Sox fan, I'm very happy with this deal. Wakefield is a decent-to-good starting pitcher who is equally good from the bullpen. He has developed a reputation (deserved or not) as a yankee-killer, a reputation that only increases his value to the team. Furthermore, by all accounts he's a good guy who genuinely cares about the Red Sox, and the Boston area.

This is another in a series of excellent deals from Theo (Wade Miller, Ortiz, Schilling, etc). The Yankees certainly don't get this type of creativity from their GM. As long as Theo is in charge the Sox stand a good chance of competing, and that's all you can ask for as a fan. This deal is just another example of that.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My Theory That Has Nothing to Do with The Germans Love for David Hasselhoff

Its hard to sweep a Major League team. Any Major League team. Baseball is such that, as George Steinbrenner is finding out, even a $200 Million team can have a bad couple of weeks. Over the long haul (say, about 162 games) that team will likely play better than a less talented team, like the Devil Rays, but in a short time period anything can and often does happen. This is why I'm so happy that the Red Sox swept Tampa (Tampa Bay is a body of water, not a city). Even a team with the obvious problems that Tampa has is quite capable of stealing a game or two or even three from Boston. I should know, the lone game I caught at Fenway last year was August 9th against Tampa, a game in which future Sox John Halama out-dueled future Boston Icon Curt Schilling. It was the last time he had lost a game at Fenway up until Schilling's most recent start against NY.

This leads me to my Pet Theory of the Season That Has Nothing to Do With David Hasselhoff or German People (aka PTotSTHNtDWDHoGP). It all comes down to the Orioles.

But let me back up a second. Last year the Red Sox won 98 games, an excellent showing for the season and enough to capture the wild card in the AL. The Yankees won 101 games and won the AL East. It didn't end up doing them much good, but still that's the Sox goal - to win the division. The key to winning the AL East is Baltimore. Last year the Yankees went 49-27 against AL East opponents. If you take out their record against Boston, who won eleven of nineteen, the record jumps to 41-16. That's a .719 winning percentage, equivalent to a final record of 117 regular season wins (I rounded that figure up from 116.5). That's a ridiculously good record, and it's the product of a lousy Tampa team and a Toronto team that was destroyed by injuries last season. However, the Orioles are another story. They only won 78 games, but their run differential was much better than that leading to a Pythagorean record of wins in the low to mid 80's. Judging by that they were a good team last season that encountered some lousy luck. Still this didn't stop them from rolling over and dying whenever anyone showed up in Baltimore wearing pinstripes. The O's got creamed by the Yankees last season, to the tune of losing 14 of the 19 meetings between the two. Conversely, whenever anyone showed up wearing a red "B" on their hat the O's turned in the '27 Yankees. (I was also in Baltimore to see Curt Schilling get beat by Daniel Cabrera last year, in just about the only decent game Cabrera threw that season.) The O's managed to win 13 out of the 19 games they played against Boston last season. A vicious triangle developed between the teams last season, wherein the Sox would beat the Yankees, the Yankees would beat the O's and the O's would beat the Red Sox.

This leads me back to my PTotSTHNtDWDHoGP. For the Sox to capture the AL East this season they have to break that triangle. They have to beat up on the O's, and even if they fall off a bit against the Yankees they'll still finish with a better record on the season. The reason this is preposterous is that they'd have to do everything else the same, which strikes me as mildly unlikely. However, for some reason I still find this idea interesting to think about.

This is why I'm so happy with the sweeps that took place this weekend in Boston and Baltimore. It appears the O's aren't scared of the Yankees anymore, and it seems that the Red Sox got right back on track as soon as Tampa rolled into town. Both of these are good signs for Boston (and I suppose Baltimore too, but I'm not so concerned with them).

This week the schedule reverses itself and the Sox take on Toronto and Baltimore while the Yankees play Tampa and uh... Toronto. Ok, it doesn't totally reverse itself, but a bit. I'm interested to see if Tampa can split with the Yanks (it's only a two gamer) as well as to see how Boston plays Baltimore.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Mmmm... Tampa Bay...Sox Win 10-0

It sure is nice to just watch a baseball game that, 1) isn't part of some medievil blood-feud, and 2) the Red Sox put away early. It helps when the Yankees implode in Baltimore as well. Never hurts to pick up a game in the standings on the Hired Guns.

So, with the help of Hideo Nomo, the Sox finally get back to .500. Welcome back, boys. May you never see the south side again.

Thursday, April 14, 2005


Its amazing to me that Gary Sheffield can take a shot at a fan while the ball is in play and everyone blames the fan. I was watching the game on NESN with occasional switchbacks to ESPN and it was clear to me at the time, and confirmed by multiple replays, that the fan was not trying to attack Sheffield. The fan definitely made contact with his hat, but beyond that it is difficult to say. It is entirely possible that the fan made contact with Sheffield, which should not happen, but Sheffield should not, repeat NOT, be allowed to go back and punch the fan WHILE THE BALL IS IN PLAY!

I don't mean this as a Red Sox apologist, but this is ridiculous. Ok, enough about that.

RED SOX 8, yankees 5. Now thats what I'm talking about. In the over-used words of Terry Cashman, I'm talking baseball. Not Gary Sheffield and his temper. Not a moog Red Sox fan who despite sitting right by the right field foul pole managed to spend more money on beer than he did on his tickets. No. The story here is the home runs given up by Randy Johnson (three by my count including what might charitably be described as a bomb by Jason Varitek that went so far over the monster it caused a pileup on the Mass Pike) (ok, not really). The story here is the lousy umpiring by the entire crew, who not only missed that obvious called third strike on.. wait for it... wait for it... Sheffield! that ended up costing Boston about four runs, but also missed the very first play of the game when Millar's tag was about two minutes too late to get a streaking Womack. The Womack was called out anyway.

I like that... from now on I shall refer to Tony Womack as "The Womack."

The bad calls went both ways, and then to top it off the home plate guy got all sensitive on us and started indescriminantly tossing Red Sox coaches for perceived slights both real and imagined, though mostly imagined. He did this, totally seriously now, because he could "read their lips." Ok, man, is your job as an umpire or a lip reader? I'd say after last night's performance you should start looking for a third gig, cause it's obvious you can't do either.

Depsite all the extracuriculars, last night's game was a rousing success for the Sox. They took a game from the Yanks in which they were outplayed until Tom "Gas Can" Gordon came in and doused the game with his legendary can of gas, leading to a three run outbreak by the Sox. Additionally, they won a game in which Randy Johnson started for NY and you aren't supposed to win those. Especially so when a castoff from the Pittsburgh Pirates starts for your team. If they stole one from us last night when we threw our best pitcher and left about 8,000 men on base, then we stole one right back in the same fashion.

So, now the Yankees leave Boston and I can't say I'm sorry to see them go. The games against them are always exciting and always meaningful (though not always in the way that I'd like them to be), but is it just me or does it seem that the Sox play these guys all the damn time!? Its time to play a team that doesn't have four MVP candidates in the middle of their lineup, it's time to play a team who's roster costs under $200 Million. It's time to play a team that thinks that winning 43% of their games in a season makes that season a rousing success.

Bring on the Devil Rays!

The Evil Empire Strikes Back

This doesn't bode well for the Red Sox: in their three wins they have scored 7, 6 and 8 runs, a seven run average. In their five losses they have scored 2, 3, 5, 5, and 2 again for an average of 3.4. I know the God of Sample Sizes frowns upon such silly exercises as the one above. Obviously there are extenuating circumstances up the wazoo, but right now these are the numbers that we have to work with. Well, I could make up some new numbers, but I think you'd all realize that the Sox haven't become the first team ever to win 200 of their first seven games.

This lack of scoring has to do with a number of different things. First of all, the fact that a number of Sox haven't started hitting yet, most notably Manny Ramirez who was hitting just over .200 when last I checked (last night). Manny has also gone nine games without homering, the longest draught of his career to begin a season. It’s a bit of a loaded stat, but it does indicate that he's not hitting which is why I mention it. Another Sox who has gotten off to a bad start is Edgar Renteria. A bad start may be understating things, as Renteria has made a number of costly errors in the field and seems to ground into double plays whenever he gets the opportunity. He did get two hits last night, so maybe that will signal somewhat of a breakout for him, though I have watched about five of the seven games this season and have yet to see Renteria hit the ball hard.

The biggest concern for me is that in their seven games the Sox have allowed an average of 6.43 runs a game. While there have been some fielding miss-cues (Hellooooo Edgar!) 95% of this hideous number falls squarely on the semi-able shoulders of the Sox pitching staff. To say they haven't pitched well so far is, again, an understatement. Yesterday was the first quality outing from the bullpen that I've seen, and yes, I did miss the first two Toronto games. But still, Mantei, Halama, Timlin, Embree and even Foulke have pitched at replacement level at best so far. And the rotation hasn't been a whole lot better. The return of Schilling could be a positive sign, as even the runs he gave up seemed to come when he was tiring in the fifth and sixth innings. But the Sox best pitchers shouldn't be taken deep by the Desiccated Remains of Bernie Williams and Jason "I'm sorry for...uh... you-know-what" Giambi. That’s an ignominious ending if I've ever seen one.

The brightest spot so far in this young season is that it's still a young season. There is plenty of time to catch the uh... Blue Jays?...and even more time to humiliate the Yankees yet again this year. I look forward to both. I just have to keep in mind that the baseball season is a marathon not a sprint, and this isn't time to jump off the bridge/throw your beer against the wall/scream swear words while your girlfriend is on the phone with her mom telling her that she's moving in with me. Yet.

Tonight Bronson Arroyo attempts to redeem Red Sox Nation against the Big Mustache, uh, er, Unit and take the series too boot. God speed, young Bronson! The eyes of millions of chip-eating, beer swilling, couch-slouching fans, not unlike me, will be upon you, much like the spinach dip upon our shirts.

Or, put another way: Sox/Yanks tonight. Go Sawks!

Monday, April 11, 2005

John Kruk & Harold Reynolds are Morons!!

John Kruk and Harold Reynolds said on Baseball Tonight on espn the channel that Derek Lowe and Dave Roberts should not have worn Red Sox jerseys when they came back to Fenway for the Ring ceremony on Monday.

Ok, where to start with these idiots...First of all, Reynolds started off by saying that "it was a shame that this [non-Sox players wearing Sox unis] is what we're talking about after the Red Sox put on such a great ring ceremony." Well then, jackass, if its such a shame then don't talk about it! Don't pretend that you don't have any control over what you talk about.

But as to the actual meat of Reynolds' comment, I agree wholeheartedly. He and Kruk SHOULD find something else to talk about! Heres a random suggestion: The Red Sox won the World Series for the first time in 86 years! Why don't you talk about that?

As to their actual argument (predictibly steeped in idiocy), why shouldn't Lowe and Roberts wear Red Sox jerseys? This ceremony was to honor the 2004 Red Sox team that came back from near impossible odds to beat NY, win the ALCS, and then stomp an excellent Cardinals team in the World Series. Both Lowe and Roberts were members of that team. I say "were" for two reasons. 1) as both Kruk and Reynolds point out neither player plays for Boston this year, and 2) both players did LAST year. This ceremony had nothing to do with the 2005 Red Sox team. Nothing. Matt Clement did not get a ring. Neither did David Wells. Why you ask? Because neither player was on the '04 Sox team. But, you say, they both are on the '05 team. Exactly! We're talking two different years, and two different teams, a concept that both Kruk and Reynolds fail to grasp.

Why these two guys have these jobs is frankly beyond me. Not to say that they do a bad job of talking into the camera or that their job is easy. I wouldn't try to advance either argument. But there simply has to be someone out there who can both talk to a camera and who has something useful to say, of which both Reynolds and Kruk do not.

One final note and then I promise to let this matter drop: you know when John Kruk starts talking about the "right way to play baseball" that he's full of shit. That lardass sure played the game right when he played, if by playing it right you mean being an unkempt slovenly pig. Can you imagine him saying this: "A-Rod's problem is that he spends too much time in the weight room. He needs to eat more Ho-Hos. Also drink more."

Good job, John and Harold. I'd say next time just stick to analyzing the sport, but I'd rather you didn't do that either.


You know it's a good day when you get to pound the yankees with your world series championship rings on. After today's 8-1 pasting Joe Torre might find a mirror image of the words "World Champions" on his forehead in tomorrow morning's mirror. This win pulls the Sox into a tie with the Hired Guns, with an impressive 3-4 record. Both teams have beaten each other twice, and lost two of three to a divisional opponent. Two more in Boston on Wednesday and Thursday and then we're rid of their pinstriped asses until a three gamer in NY in the end of May.

Wednesday's game features the return to the Fenway mound of Curt Schilling. He'll be opposed by Jaret Wright. The Thursday game matches Randy Johnson and Bronson Arroyo. It will be an interesting remaindure of the series for sure. Schilling got bombed in his minor league appearence for Pawtucket. He should be able to turn it on in Fenway against the yankees, but even if he isn't able to, you have to think that the Sox can get to Wright, who looked somewhat more than hitable, giving up six runs in four innings for a tidy 13.50 ERA in his only start of the season against Baltimore. We could have a 13-12 game on our hands tomorrow.

I was in NY this past weekend to catch Johnson in action against the O's and he looked fine, but not nearly Cy Young worthy. I still think he's taking his time rounding into form, but if he stays at his current 3.50 ERA pace then he won't be the difference maker that NY is paying him $16 Million a year for the next three years to be.

So, welcome back to Fenway, Boys. Thanks again.

Sunday, April 10, 2005


Thats the second time this short season that the Red Sox have come from behind in the ninth inning on the road, only to have their bullpen blow it in the bottom of the ninth. Thats a pretty big buzz kill right there. Against the yankees it was Keith Foulke, and today the arsonist de jur was Mike Timlin who, after getting one out, gave up a single and then a smashed double into the gap that ended the game as the runner scored all the way from first.

After my initial anger over this upsetting ending to the game subsided, I looked at the box score and saw that the Sox actually out-hit the Jays. This is good in a way, and in a way it's not. It's good because it means that their offense is working. The hitting with runners in scoring position will come. The Sox will score their runs in time. Of that I am confident. Its not good because they went into the ninth with a chance to win a series on the road against a team that they're better than and couldn't do it.

A few things I'm wondering:

-Why wasn't Foulke pitching in the ninth? Timlin is a good pitcher, but thats not his spot in the game. Usually, or at least hopefully, the Sox would use their best reliever in that situation (which is Foulke) to preserve the tie and give the Sox offense another shot at scoring the winning run. I'll chalk that up to not having Francona in the dugout. However, I don't believe that Timlin was the guy you'd want in pitching in that situation. I really hope this was just a brain fart and not a case of Foulke being held back for use against New York.

-Clement's walk total was huge. Five in six innings. Other than that it looks like he pitched very well. He's always had walk problems, so this is nothing new. The Sox knew this when they gave him a big contract. But I was hoping that somehow the walks would start to go down a bit. A walk an inning is a good way to lose a ballgame, even if you do strike out a guy an inning. That still leaves two guys putting the ball in play against you per inning, and when you hand the other team a free baserunner each inning you are setting yourself up to give up a bunch of runs. As a pitcher you have to make other teams earn their way on base. Essentially, this is the aspect that Curt Schilling fixed which allowed him to go from a decent pitcher to a great one. He still strikes out the same number of guys he always had (maybe even a few less), but he's cut way down on the walks. Clement needs to do this as well if he hopes to be similarly successful.

In better news Yankees lost as well, losing their series with Baltimore at home 2-1. The standings (yes, I know, its too early for this) look like this after six games:

Toronto 4-2
Tampa Bay 3-2
Baltimore 3-3
NY 3-3
Boston 2-4

I point this out not because it is the exact opposite of what I and many others predicted it will be at the end of the season.

Still, it would have been nice to steal Sunday's game and take the series in Toronto. Hopefully we can get the bullpen situation sorted out and get on the good side of .500, preferably this week against NY.

Friday, April 08, 2005


I'm going to New York city tonight to see Randy Johnson pitch (and hopefully lose) against Baltimore tomorrow at the Stadium. As I wil be away from my computer there will be no posts this weekend.

However, in better news, I quit my job this afternoon (well, gave two weeks notice) so soon I will have nothing better to do than to write dumb crap on this stupid blog that nobody will read. Yeah!!

Have a great weekend. More on Monday. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 07, 2005


What a difference a day makes, especially when the season is only three games old, and your team hasn't, you know... won yet.  Just when you think that the whole Sox/Yankes thing is getting, like, SO played out, they come up with another game like last night's.  Picture this: the Red Sox had finally slayed the beast, winning four in a row in a more-than-impossible mission to come from behind and beat the NY Hired Guns in the ALCS.  Then to lead off the next season, the Sox go to NY and get swept.  Ugh!  We all thought that monkey was off our back, right?  Well, think again.  Back to square one. As a friend of mine says, "ya can't win fer lose'n."  Who knows what that means, but talk about falling off the horse that you got back on after it kicked you.  Or something. 

Enter Alex Rodriguez, aka A-Rod, aka A-Hole, aka Lightning-Rod (as in for criticism).  Actuallly, wait.  I'm getting ahead of myself. 

Enter Mariano Rivera, aka Mo, aka... well, Mo.  So, Rivera's the best closer since the Eck plied his trade in Oak-town way back when Jose and Mark were ass-jabbing each other in the clubhouse bathroom before the game.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  The Red Sox have owned Rivera to a greater degree than any other team in baseball, which is to say not much.  Still, for all the games he's beaten the Sox, Rivera has given some memorable games back.  The Varitek/A-Hole slugfest last July, where Billy Mueller homered off Rivera to win the game.  Then there were games 4 and 5 of last year's ALCS.  I won't recount them in detail, but suffice it to say the Sox got to Rivera then too, though the task handed to him in game 5 was an almost impossible one. 

That brings me to yesterday.  With the Sox down 3-2 (again) going into the ninth inning Torre goes to Mo (again).  And the Sox get to him (again).  Well, kinda.  Mo didn't have his best stuff though if you listened to the NY announcers never does against Boston. After loading the bases he K'd My-Man-Trot Nixon (the official Red Sox of FPE).  Then up comes Manny, who hits a not-particularly difficult grounder at A-Hole at third.  He was about to get out of the inning.  All A-Hole has to do is field the ball, throw it to Womack at second who will send it on to Tino at first to complete the game ending double play.  Game over, Yankees sweep, Daaaaaaaaa Yankees sweep. 

Except no! 

Re-enter A-Rod. I didn't see it live, but I did see it replayed about a thousand times in slow motion, and you can see as the ball gets there A-Rod's eyes get bigger and bigger, like a little kid standing in front of an on-coming car. The ball gets there in between bounces, and hits the heal of A-Rod's glove, bounces up and falls harmlessly to the ground. A-Rod grabs at it, gets part of his hand on it, and drops it again! When he its it, Manny's gotta be thinking that the game is over, but when he looks up it's like Christmas in April. Thank you Santa-Rod! Thanks to A-Rod's accidental generosity, one run scored to tie the game. After that Mo imploded (again).  When the dust had cleared the Sox were up 6-3 and Torre had to go get Mo. As he walked off the mound the boos of the short-memoried yankees fans rained down on him. 

The Sox added another, but it didn't matter at that point. You never go into a series hoping to win one out of three, but if you have to win only one this would be the one to win, and if you get to chose how to win it this would be how I would chose. A ninth inning comeback against the other team's best reliever aided by a cruicial error by the other team's best player. Redemption!  The season isn't over after all! 

So, who's in who's head now?

Wednesday, April 06, 2005



OK, that one hurt.  Although my enthusiasm for this season is not extinguished, I will admit it took a beating yesterday as Jeter's homer sailed over the fence not ten minutes after I loudly proclaimed my love of all things Varitek.  Nothing like waiting five months to get smacked in the nuts, huh?  Well, a few more nut smack'ns (sounds like a cereal, eh?) won't kill me.  

Just debilitate, not kill. 

Still, despite getting blown out on opening day (thanks Boo!-mer)  and having our best reliever lose the game in the ninth inning to the over-rated captain of our arch rivals, I'm not worried about the Red Sox season.  Maybe its because I've learned patience, and the value of sample size, or maybe its because I've had several drinks and a few white pills I found in my girlfriend's cabinet (Mydol?), but either way the point remains the same.  I'm not panicking.  Not now, not yet.

I do have some concerns, however.  Concerns which in the glare of victory might seem cute and fuzzy, but when groping around in the darkness of defeat feel a bit like the tail of what might turn out to be a grizzly bear. 

Concern #1: Relief pitching

Foulke isn't going to be the first pitcher ever to go through the year with a 0.00 ERA.  We were pretty sure about it before yesterday, and now we're positive.  But my concern isn't with Foulke who, like all relievers, will have some rough patches but, unlike all relievers, is really an excellent pitcher.  My concern lies with the rest of the bullpen.  There isn't anyone besides Foulke and Halama in the Sox pen who isn't either oft-injured or old, or both.  This might not turn out to be a problem, and I'm the first one to admit that Theo Knows All, but there is more than a little bit of risk being assumed here.  Old players frequently break down.  Oft-injured players frequently get re-injured.  Bullpens are fixable on the run, as opposed to oh, say... starting rotations (I'm looking at you, Brian Cashman) and I trust Theo to fix whatever needs to be fixed when it requires fixing.  The only problem is this: the way you find out if its broken is that it breaks.  When the bullpen breaks that means you lose a number of games you could have won.  This isn't a good thing for a team trying to compete with the likes of the NY Hired Guns, the LAofAofAofA smallballers and the Oakland Geniuses among others.    

Concern #2: Me freaking out

Theres really not much to say about this.  The title kinda says it all.  If the Sox lose today to the yankees then you can expect me to retract everything I've said about sample size and patience, and then fall on the floor and roll about in a pool of my own fluids.  Fortunately this is a website and not a television so nobody would have to witness the sight firsthand.

And now it's time for what I hope will be a re-occurring feature here at FPE.  I live in Philadelphia, and as such do not have access to Boston, Fenway Park or the Boston Red Sox players.  But, even given my proximity to nothing Red Sox related, I still have a few questions that I'd like to have answered.  So, this feature will be called "One Question for..." and in it I will post one question that I would like to ask a player, broadcaster, sportswriter or anyone of prominence to the Red Sox.  I invite whomever reads this to steal the question and ask that person.  Don't worry about crediting me.  This isn't about credit, this is about bringing information to light.

So, without further poo-poo, I present One question for Edgar Renteria: Who is the offensive and defensive sinkhole you've been replaced with? 

Monday, April 04, 2005


Ok, old joke I know.  But what can you say?  Its only one game in a long (read: looooooooooong) season.  Everyone knows Randy Johnson is a better pitcher than David Wells.  If the Red Sox had a chance to trade Wells for Johnson straight up, they obviously would, contracts and all.  But you try to make due with what you have, and the Sox just weren't able to do that last night, falling to the Hired Guns 9-2 in a game that wasn't quite that close.  Still, and this is my party line for the day: I'd rather have game seven in October than "game eight" last night. 

But it wasn't reassuring that the Sox looked hung over (and they might have been, we're looking at you, Kevin Millar) all game.  After the first inning, everything they touched turned to poop.  Wells didn't have much, and what he did have the Yankees hammered, totaling ten hits against Boo!-mer.  Hey, at least the Sox got to work their bullpen, using seven guys (Seven guys!?!?). 

You have to love ERAs after the first game.   27.00.  Quite an ERA to be sure, but that's the ERA that two members of the Sox pen have at this point. 

Still, you'd be fooling yourself to think that if the Yankees are healthy they aren't as good as Boston.  They are as good, or better. The question is, can they stay healthy?  I'll match Schilling and Johnson up, man to man, but if Schilling isn't healthy then you have to go to plan B.  We all saw how well that worked and that was plan B for the team with actual depth. 

Behind the shiny new 9-2 veneer, the best laid Yankee plans are already going awry.  Kevin Brown's Paleolithic era back is starting to show signs of crumbling.  Its hard to know if its from just normal wear and tear or if we're still dealing with shockwaves from Kevin Brown's The Wall, part one.  Regardless, the Yankees scratched him from his scheduled start this Friday vs. Baltimore, and just to make extra sure he won't be pitching anytime soon, put him on the DL.  So, trivia time!  Question #1: Who was the first of the '05 Yankees to be put on the DL?  Question #2: Who won't be the last?  The ages of the Yankees starters have been discussed ad infinitum, ad nauseum, but you should know that if you add the ages of Kevin Brown, Randy Johnson, Carl Pavano, Jaret Wright, and Mike Mussina, you get a person older than Baseball itself.  Kev-dy Pav-ight-ina was born in a log cabin in 1829.  The son of ten hard work'n and somewhat bewildered parents, he/they built up his/their arm muscles through a combination of log splitt'n, ball scratch'n and... well, that's probably more than enough of that. 

So, my point: last night, while a big  game and nice to win, wasn't the real test.  Every inning that one of the geriatric Yankees doesn't pop something in his arm, every inning that something doesn't explode in their leg, is an inning closer to the World Series.  But, as my dad once said when talking about my chances of meeting Miss Right, "It only takes one [pitch to blow yr arm off]."  Well, dad, one down and four more to go. 


And now, an update from the Here's Some Perspective File: Which team has the longest streak of opening day wins?

Answer: Tampa Bay, with five.