"Hell may have no fury like a woman scorned but heaven hath no sweetness like a sports fan vindicated." - Samcat

Friday, February 29, 2008

Hey nah, hey nah, my baseball's back!

(Photo from Boston.com)

You have to at least feel a little bit for the BC kids yesterday. They're tasked with being the Red Sox first warm-up in real, live action game time during spring training and they pretty much always take a whooping. Not always to the tune of 24-0 like yesterday but, you know, they're college kids. They have to face David Ortiz and Josh Beckett. Many of them - as evidenced by the picture above - are probably just geeked out to meet these guys, let alone try to beat them. So I give them credit for taking their beating like men. Although Josh Beckett apparently feels no such sympathy.

He didn't actually call the BC players "no respect punks" but you know he was thinking it. Also, am I the only one who finds it a tad bit ironic that Josh Beckett of all people is criticizing college boys for not being on the straight and narrow? Okay, I never knew Josh Beckett in college but I attended my fair share of Dave Matthews Band concerts in the day so I'm pretty sure I knew Josh Beckett in college if you know what I mean. Captain Puka Shell sure feels strongly about this.

But honestly, Beckett is clearly taking happy pills this season as he's appeared charming and funny and downright affable since spring training began. I'm not really sure what's gotten into him. Maybe with Curt injured he finally feels like he's the alpha dog around here and he's stopped trying so hard to be a badass. Maybe he's grown up a little. Or maybe it's all a nefarious plan to lull us into a false sense of security and get the censors to drop their guard enough so that he can let fly with a blue streak of profanity, the likes of which we've never heard. I kind of hope it's that last one. Because crazy Josh Beckett is fun Josh Beckett. And fun Josh Beckett strikes a lot of guys out.

What does seem apparent is that this team remains as fun as ever. What with Ortiz riding in the sidecars (apparently Tito dared him), Tek convincing the Josten's guy that he wanted the 2007 ring sized for his toe, and the Red Sox Dance-Off that's going down tomorrow night (side note: if there's no video footage, NESN is SO FIRED), the 2008 Red Sox seem to be picking up right where the 2007 version left off. It helps that the team is largely the same. Helps the fans too since we don't have to get to know a bunch of new guys. We just get to watch the old guys come back from vacation.

And apparently, lay the smack down on some college boys.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Did Red Sox Players Always Look Like Cartoon Characters?

(Boston.com and IMDB.com photo credits)

Or is that a new thing? Much like the time I commented that Kevin Youkilis reminded me of nothing so much as Yukon Cornelius, I've hit upon an animation doppelganger for Jonathan Papelbon. To be truly accurate, The Rick told me he'd thought of this already.

But you be the judge, is Jonathan Papelbon taking intimidation face (TM) advice (not to mention hair care tips) from Syndrome of The Incredibles?

I mean, right?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Signings and Such

Hee. Baby Tito. Hee.

So none of these things can be considered breaking news but I've yet to weigh in on them, so focused was I on recovering from the surreal experience of Dougie Night. So here goes. The way I see it, the three signings/discussions happening in the AL East right now break down thusly:

The Good (or Super Excellent if we're being honest):
The Sox have given manager Terry Francona an extension that will keep him on the Sox bench through 2011. Fantastic. It is as it should be. Look, we all rag on Tito every now and then and we will continue to do so because we're fans, and that's our job. We all second-guessed the deployment of Eric Gagne at certain points last season - and I'm willing to bet that in retrospect, Tito is all, "Yeeeeeeeeah, sorry about that" - but the fact remains that were most of us faced with the daily challenges and insanity that Francona deals with, we would have run naked through Kenmore Square bellowing about the voices in our heads about three seasons ago. As it stands now, the most likely candidate for that behavior is Jonathan Papelbon (or perhaps Kevin Millar when the O's are in town). My point being, Tito has the perfect mix of baseball know-how, a feel for his players and self-deprecation to make it as a manager in this town. Many have failed before him (we do not speak of Grady). But Tito's doing an excellent job.

What did his contract negotiation look like anyway? Did he just slap down fifteen pictures of Manny doing his Manny things - braiding his hair in the outfield, wearing David Wells' uniform, hugging Wally during a crucial play, disappearing into the Wall - and a video of Paps doing his celebratory jig and say "I manage the inmates from 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' here. Pony up, gentlemen." I see no reason why that wouldn't have worked.

The Odd:
Apparently the Sox have signed former Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon to a minor league contract which...okay. I guess I've not been paying attention to the fortunes of Bartolo Colon if he's willing to settle for a minor league deal. I suppose Colon and Schilling can try to out-rehab each other or something and attempt to wrest that fifth spot in the rotation away from Lester/Buccholz but what I'm really concerned about here is twofold: 1) There is no way Josh Beckett is not going to make with the fat jokes, like ALL season. And that's just not going to be helpful. And 2) I am worried that Colon and Dougie might enable each other with the emotional eating. One bad outing and it's straight into the Entemann's for those two. And then no one's happy.

The Truly, Truly Bizarre But Actually Maybe Great:
The (no longer devilish) Rays are considering signing Barry Bonds. Hee. Oh, baseball. According to Joe Maddon and His Tragically Hip Glasses, discussions are mostly just out of curiosity at this point but you sort of have to love the possibility of this, right? Can you just imagine the Rays' brass sitting around all, "Okay, the thing is, we're terrible. Like, we're really bad. And despite our pleas to Major League Baseball, they're not letting us switch divisions with the Pirates or form our own miniature golf league. So we have to get people to come watch us play. And Raymond isn't doing it. What would work? What can we...wait a second! How about Barry Bonds? He's available, right? People really hate that guy so maybe they'll pay money to come to boo him? We can have Barry Bonds Incarceration Night and Perjury Tuesdays. This is genius!"

Oh, baseball. I'm so glad you're back.

Monday, February 25, 2008

"How can you not know 'Lady?' That is just wrong!"

This was like, the most normal thing to happen all night.

First of all, photos from the madness can be found here. The rest of y'all that have photographic evidence can email them to me and I'll add them to the set.

Now, I am of the mind that if you're in a bad cover band that performs at the Kowloon in Saugus on Saturday nights in February, you should OWN that shit. I'm talking sequins and feathers and the whole bit. Mick Jagger it up. You should not be wearing Burberry scarves and yodeling your way through Carrie Underwood numbers. You also should MOST DEFINITELY have some Journey or some Styx or some REO Speedwagon in your repertoire and you SHOULD NOT be snotty when people ask you to play said music. And if you are? Then you should be prepared to be heckled by people from the internets. Honestly, how does one get this far in life - let along be sporting the impressive bouffant of the cover band drummer - without knowing a little "Any Way You Want It?" What is this world coming to?

In retrospect, Amy and I should have commandeered the mic and delighted everyone (read: caused much pain and anguish) with our killer Jovi vocals. Or, at the very least, we could have all sung along to a rousing rendition of Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" modified with Dougie-centric lyrics:

Doug's the man
Goin' to work
Got his bat, got his suitcase
Dreams that someday he just might becoooooome
Starting catcher

Doug! Doug, Doug, Doug! Doug, Doug, Doug! Doooouuuuuug! Doug!

Right. Anyway...

Had any of that happened, I'm not sure it could have topped the sheer spectacle of the ridiculous that was Doug Mirabelli Appreciation Night at the Kowloon in Saugus (commemorative t-shirts coming soon. No, I am SO not kidding).

On a personal note, I got to meet some of my fantastic and hilarious readers which is always good times and never fails to humble me. I mean, these are people who, when they read the sentence, "You know what we should do? Go to Saugus and have a party for Dougie," not only didn't insist that I put down the crack pipe immediately but actually said, "Dude! Sign me up." It's just really nice to know that I'm not alone in my psychosis. And they're already clamoring for the next event.

Also, The Rick and The Sue, parents of Basegirl, joined the festivities and came away with about 25 new friends who are now invited to, among other things, all future family fests, clambakes and probably my wedding. See what happens when you get in good with the fam? You get to come to fests! Though, as Amy pointed out, it's not a true fest without The Rick marching around with a clipboard and trying to browbeat people into participating in a foosball tournament. But there was flaming food and Dougie's head on a stick (courtesy of Sam) so there's that.

At one point, a group of be-suited strangers - bachelor party at the Kowloon perhaps? - were dancing with StickDoug on the dance floor, including one dude who, after a couple Tsing Taos, looked so very much like Dougie himself that I feared a small rip in the space time continuum.

I am willing to bet these things only happen in Saugus.

I feel like, the farther and farther we get from the actual event, the more it will seem like a fever dream. Based on a few photos in that Flickr set, I'm not entirely sure the whole thing wasn't an LSD hallucination. Because I'm quite confident that if I were to take the drugs, I couldn't imagine anything more crazy than a table for 30 in a giant ship, complete with plastic leis, volcano mural, cover band playing "Listen to Your Heart" and "La Isla Bonita" and food on sticks. You could not write this shit if you tried. Like in twenty years, I expect to get random emails saying, "So remember that time at the Kowloon? Was there unironic deployment of sequins on the dance floor? There was, wasn't there? And small children dancing with StickDoug in one hand and an egg roll in the other? Okay, just checking." And yet? And yet I'm positively certain it would have been Dougie's jam.

So for all of you that were there, thanks for coming out and making the evening legen-wait for it-dary! And for those of you who didn't (you know who you are) you totally need to come to the next event. Perhaps Kevin Millar Memorial Night staged at the KFC in Revere.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

You know it's a good party when flaming food is involved.

Doug Mirabelli Appreciation Night at the Kowloon in Saugus was, wait for it, LEGENDARY.

Phrases uttered during the evening included:

"Yeah, the Ladies' Room is right behind the giant, mounted swordfish and to the right of the tiki hut."

"Are those complete strangers dancing with Doug Mirabelli's head on a stick?"

"It's really not a party until someone's hair catches on fire."

"I hope that some day, I can be lucky enough to have someone propose to me at the Kowloon."

And "If Dougie had a cooking show, I'm pretty sure everything would eventually end up on a stick. And on fire. And be chicken parm."

Pictures forthcoming but trust me, they'll be worth the wait.

And yes, Sam really did bring Dougie's head on a stick. It's the best we could do since the 28 Signal apparently never reached Fort Myers, thereby forcing Dougie to approach John Henry and say, "Mr. Henry, I need to take the jet. I'm needed in Saugus." Maybe next year.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

New and Improved!

(Photo from Men's Vogue)

Jacoby Ellsbury, that is. Yeah, remember the fleet-footed pre-rookie that Boston fell head-over-heels in love with during the stretch run last season? The inspiring upstart who made veteran Coco Crisp trade fodder? The Natural who runs so fast he kicks up Road Runner cartoon dust clouds in his wake? Get this, apparently he's going to be even BETTER this year.

No-longer-wee Jacoby has reported to spring training looking like, well, check out the picture above. Homeboy is going to need a bigger jersey. Apparently in addition to weight and agility drills, he's also been training as a mechanic. Which should come in handy when one of Manny's vintage cars inevitably breaks down in the middle of Kenmore Square. Jacoby says he's willing to accept "any role the team has for him." I wonder if he knows what he's opening himself up to there. I envision him as the Troy Brown of the Red Sox, only, you know, younger. Fetching Vitamin Water for Papi, playing Connect Four with Tek, shooing the flies off Julian Tavarez's stash of freshly-killed meat. You know, whatever. And, of course, stealing a base or fifty.

In the most recent issue of Men's Vogue, Jacoby talks about his off-season workout plan, the fact that his girlfriend isn't so amused by the legions of women clamoring for his attention (a thicker skin might be needed there), and the fact that his go-to karaoke song is "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," which, Amy and I hasten to point out, we totally knew because if there is one thing you can tell about that boy from looking at him, it's that he LOVES Top Gun. In fact, he's been called "Maverick" on more than one occasion. And I would lay money on the fact that once or twice, after a few too many, he's drunkenly assessed that he feels "The need. The need for speed!" Just another item in the long list of "Things We Knew Before We Knew Them."

No place falls quite so hopelessly in love with players as we do in Boston (with the possible exception of Green Bay) and it's part of what makes us, despite all our bellyaching (though really, that is completely unwarranted of late) such hopeless romantics at heart. Cynics, sure, but cynical romantics if such a thing exists.

You guys? Real, honest to goodness baseball starts on Friday. Jacoby and all the rest of 'em.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Baseball's All the Valentine I Need

(Photo from Boston.com)

I've had yesterday marked on my calendar for a while now. Not because of the hearts and heartache holiday because if you know me at all, you know I don't much go in for that sentimental, lovey dovey crap. (Also, I don't believe it's officially a holiday unless you get a day off from work). But if there is one thing that gets me misty-eyed, it's pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training. As far as I'm concerned, that's the sweetest thing a girl can hear.

Something else to chalk up to the "We don't know it's true but we KNOW it's true" list is Jonathan Papelbon's reaction to opening the season in Japan. While Paps admits that he loves his Japanese teammates and he loves Japan (never having been there but reasoning that that's where his "homies" come from so it's gotta be a cool place), he's not much looking forward to the sushi. Color me surprised. Oh, Jonathan. Don't ever change.

I've said it before but it's worth mentioning again, I'm really excited about this coming season and this team we've fielded. And this time, it's not because we have to force ourselves to be excited as a kind of salve to the past season's failures. Quite the contrary. The excitement this season seems organic. We've got all these new kids. Let's see what they can do!

Normally, the Schilling Shoulder of Mystery would bother me but because Theo and company had the foresight (or incredible luck, one or the other) to not trade away Lester and/or Buccholz, we've got at the very least, two kids who can step up and ably fill Schilling's spot in the rotation. So, you know, I'm rolling with it.

Center field is still not set in stone but does anyone really think that Coco won't be traded before Opening Day?

And who else is looking forward to rookie hazing where they make the young bucks run wind sprints in their underoos or some such nonsense? It can't possibly just be me.

Also, and this is not specifically Red Sox-centric but at the bar last night (yes, I spend Valentine's Day at the bar, what of it?) I saw an interview with Pedro who was most excellently sporting a sweat band and what appears to be a burgeoning afro of Biblical proportions. He was also pretty damn excited about his new friend Johan. Johan who, I hasten to point out, Amy, Greta and I decided - should he ever feel the need - would make a pretty, pretty drag queen. And also he's going to tear apart the National League probably. So that'll be fun to watch.

I'm headed to New York this weekend and hopefully I can get into some barroom discussions with excited Mets fans and report back. I wonder what they'd think of this cross-dressing Santana theory.

This is why I love Spring Training. We can talk about things like whether or not Santana would look better in silver or red sequins and what's going to happen when someone tells Jonathan Papelbon that Pictionary is not an effective method of getting around the language barrier. Let alone the look on his face the first time he's presented with spider maki. Good times.

Friday, February 08, 2008

こんにちは日本に (Welcome to Japan! Or a rough approximation thereof.)

(Boston.com photo)

You guys? Something just occurred to me. Jonathan Papelbon is going to Japan. I mean, yes, technically the entire Red Sox team will be traveling to Japan to start the 2008 season as defending World Series Champs and all that but what I'm really concerned about here is Jonathan Papelbon. Because Japan is not ready for him. No way. No how.

I mean, look at that dude. He is not right. And he's our kind of not right and we've learned to love him for the crazy and embrace the insanity and we've all perfected smiling and not making any sudden movements lest we provoke an outburst of fucko bazoo. But there is no way the entire country of Japan is prepared for this.

I suspect he's already started driving Okajima and Matsuzaka crazy with 4am phone calls about what kind of shoes he's allowed to wear and how he heard they eat raw fish over there and he ain't sayin' nothin' but where he comes from, we use the bait to catch a bigger fish. Then we fry that one up with some tarter sauce, you know what I'm sayin'?

Of course, he's also one of those people who firmly believes that if he speaks louder and more slowly to foreigners, they'll understand him better. Which is really going to be something considering Paps' issues with voice modulation.

So while Jacoby will be ultra culturally sensitive, bowing at everyone and refusing to wear shoes out of the airport just to make sure he doesn't offend anyone, Paps will be yelling about Nintendo and wanting to know where "y'all make them iPod thingies and also, Timlin told me I gotta get some a that Godzilla-b-Gone 'cause I don't wanna get eaten by no monsters, I'll tell you whut."

Although something tells me he's going to take quite a liking to Mrs. Matsuzaka (whom, as Luna pointed out, he will call "Mrs. K") and she to him. Possibly because she'll appreciate the enthusiasm. Or possibly because he'll need a babysitter and Tek is only one man.

Regardless, I kind of can't wait. NESN has dropped the ball on the "Hangin' with Paps and Papi" that I still contend needs to happen but if no one sees fit to follow Jonathan Papelbon around Japan with a camera and broadcast the resulting insanity directly to us, well, someone hates fun. I'll even volunteer. Hell, I could use a vacation.

Also, let's all give a hearty congratulations to Patrick, Amy's younger brother who, besides doing one hell of a Jonathan Papelbon Intimidation Face impression, is also now an official college baseball player. One time he pitched 7 innings of 1-hit ball and caught an entire other game with a burst appendix. Patrick's the real deal, y'all. Look out for him. Good on ya, Patcher.

Monday, February 04, 2008

The Way I Figure It...

...not being an actual member of the sports media has its advantages. Chief amongst those being that since no one is actually paying me for commentary, I don't have any obligation to talk about things I don't want to talk about.

That said, that sucked, I hate it, but shit happens. But no, a suicide watch isn't necessary. I'm Zen, people. I managed to get out of bed this morning and everything. Really, I'm fine. I didn't even break anything. I'm not concerned about the legacy of this football team as it would certainly take something akin to a total frontal lobotomy for me to forget how jaw-droppingly awesome they are. So, it's all good. You miss your chances sometimes but you don't stop loving your team when they lose. I didn't stop loving them in 1990 when they went 1-15 and I'm not going to stop loving them now. And like I said to my mom when I called her this morning to assure her that I was still alive and she didn't need to send anyone to my apartment to remove all the sharp objects, if the 2003 game 7 loss to the Yankees in the ALCS didn't kill me, this certainly isn't going to. We're all going to be fine. So people can stop talking to me in hushed tones reserved for someone who's recently lost a loved one. And, as Greta said as she was leaving my place last night, "I look forward to next season when Belichick somehow tweaks the salary cap and employs the eight-armed aliens from Independence Day on his receiving corps." That really will be something.

Moving on...

To other things like the fact that pitchers and catchers report in two weeks and WE HAZ A SEAN CASEY!

I mean, look at the dude, he surely won't get bothered in any bars in Boston since he looks exactly like 74% of the dudes already frequenting said bars. By all accounts, he's the nicest person on the planet so I look forward to endless tales of him teaming up with the other nicest person in baseball, Mr. Tim Wakefield, and the two of them spending their downtime macrameing outfits for rag dolls for underprivileged children.

I realize that adding a Sean Casey likely means subtracting an Eric Hinske and possibly a Bobby Kielty and that's upsetting because of my largely unfounded crush on Eric Hinske and because if you needed to look at the Sox bench and see one dude smiling like he'd just won the lottery, you couldn't do any better than Hinske. But even I, irrational though I am, understand that Sean Casey > Eric Hinske in terms of the actual playing of baseball. Plus, he's going to be so bewildered by Manny and that'll be entertaining for everyone.

Also, now that other, pigskin-type distractions have been removed, I can fully express my excitement over the whole Santana thing and the fact that, our rookies, we can keep them? Granted, I was waiting for the deal to be finalized before getting too excited about it but Jacoby and Bucky and Lester and Lowrie are ours now. For reals. They're not going anywhere. Not only that, but the Yankees didn't get Santana either and the Mets did us all the very kind favor of taking him out of the American League altogether. So muchas gracias, Omar. Admittedly there are concerns about the length of the contract but it appears that Minaya thinks those are problems for Future Omar.

Plus, I mean, the Mets just got a REALLY good pitcher which, you know, is fun, because I dig the Mets. I follow them and watch their games when I can. And you just know that David Wright and Jose Reyes stayed up ALL NIGHT making a "Welcome to the Mets, Johan!" banner for Santana. With glitter glue. And possibly puffy paint.

So, yeah, all of that stuff is awesome. And Dougie Night is still upcoming, don't forget. I'm choosing to focus on that. Wouldn't it be weird if the Red Sox have turned me into a cockeyed optimist?

Stranger things, I guess.