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

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Manny Ramirez wants to know what you're so worried about.

(Photo from Boston.com)

Look, it's a little early for a "Come to Jesus" talk with this team just yet, don't you think? It's two games into the season and Rich Harden was freakin' masterful yesterday (two days ago? tomorrow?) in Game Two of the Japan series. He just was, no getting around that. And while Tek's 0-fer is slightly worrying and Papi's inability to make anything happen could reasonably scare us, let's all just take a deep breath here and realize IT'S TWO GAMES.

Plus, y'all? Manny looks to be fun to watch this season. Between the home runs and the winning the games and the quest for 500 and, in an interview with a NESN reporter, talking about his "agent, Alex Cora" and how he and Cora are looking for "four year deals, you know, to play in Tokyo," Manny's in a good mood. Which can only mean good things for the rest of us.

And now we're going back to exhibition games for a couple of days because, I don't know, that was fake opening day or something? The consensus among those I've talked to seems to be that those games didn't feel real, despite the fact that they'll count in the final standings because baseball is such a game of rhythm - between players and fans and geography and planning - and this series was certainly not part of the familiar rhythm of a baseball season. So I guess we can just call it an international experiment and get on with the season and the Opening Day at Fenway and the Ring Ceremony and the rhythm of baseball we all know and love? There's something to be said for shaking things up, surely, but in a baseball season - which, we all know, is more a marathon than a sprint - some familiarity is good.

So, who's excited about Manny's resurgence? Obviously he's a bad man if we can call last year a "down year." And the Rise of Jacoby? And Tek's robo-knees? And JD Drew's back stiffness? Except, you know, that last one. The more things change, right?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

If you ask me, the sun rises a little too early.

(Photo from Boston.com)

The thing is, baseball is a lovely sport and I enjoy it a great deal and spend a lot of time watching it. But coffee is lifeblood and I cannot possibly be expected to digest baseball before coffee. Trust me, y'all didn't want me rising all bleary-eyed and crazy-haired and attempting to interact with people either at a drinking establishment or at a friend's house this morning. To say nothing of my friends. They're great people and I love them but I usually have to think twice about approaching any of them without a helmet and a pitchfork before a certain hour. It wouldn't be pretty. Most mornings I yell at my coffee maker to "work faster, dammit!" so I'm relatively certain this would have resulted in something untoward going down. Plus, you know, I had to get ready for work. At my real job.

I did, however, pause in my mad hair-drying, boots-finding, cat-moving from on top of new skirt-ing to watch David Ortiz's at bat in the fifth inning. Because it's Papi. And it's a baseball game. And even though it's in Japan and was played, I don't know, tomorrow for all I can tell, some things never change. Papi commands attention.

But they'll replay the game tonight. And tonight I'll have thoughts on it. Tonight I look forward to listening to Jerry Remy wax poetic about all the things he finds odd about Japan and all the things he loves, like the fact that despite the language barrier, he can still order food from the concession stand by pointing to a picture of the food he'd like. Like in Denny's when you can't bring yourself to order a "Moons Over My Hammy" so you just point. Oh, Remdawg. Don't ever leave us.

So yes, I'll have more thoughts tonight. But for now? Coffee.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Mike Lowell: Loves Suits, Henleys, Fairness

(Photo from the Improper Bostonian)

What I wouldn't give for footage of Jason Varitek standing on top of a Gatorade cooler all Norma Rae style, holding a sign that says "Bullpen Catchers Are People Too."

And this is part of the reason I love this team. They stand up for each other and for those members who really have no leverage. Of course Major League Baseball was going to cave in and pay the training staff and coaches to go to Japan. It would have been a nightmare if they didn't. (Curiously, when I was talking about an international incident, I was thinking more along the lines of Papelbon getting stuck in a capsule hotel bed or Pedroia being crushed by a sumo wrestler). But the Sox knew they had the upper hand in this one and they called MLB's bluff. Good on ya, Sox.

This bit of organized rebellion on the part of the Sox even made Keith Olbermann's countdown last night as he dubbed MLB one of his Worst Persons in the World. (Greta's raging crush on The Olbs dictates that we must watch Countdown every night). And Terry Francona wants us all to know that this had nothing to do with the players being selfish. On the contrary, actually, it had everything to do with them NOT being selfish. Granted, some of them didn't want to go to Japan anyway but I'm willing to bet that some of them don't enjoy flying into Tampa Bay and playing a series on a glorified putt-putt course three times a season either but they do it. Anyhow, I approve of them throwing their weight around in this manner. Though really, none of us should be surprised. Weren't these the same guys who bought their bullpen catcher a truck? Nice boys, the lot of 'em.

Also, this goes a long way in supporting my theory that part of the reason Varitek has been so chipper and happy-seeming and, well, robust these past couple of years is because the presence of Mike Lowell means that Tek doesn't have to be the only adult. Lowell shoulders some of that burden and takes the grown up responsibility frequently so Tek can be free to worry about his pitching staff and even have some time to punk the Josten's ring guy. And really, isn't a Happy Tek the Best Tek?

So the Sox are off to Japan where, undoubtedly, some translation snafu or cultural shenanigans awaits. Good times!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

No one tell Pedroia about this.

(Photo from Boston.com)

So, you know, not a lot happening in baseball world, as it were, other than the team is apparently ready to trek to Japan to, no doubt, start an international incident. So I've been trolling around for other baseball news and Greta sent me this from the Baltimore Sun.

Most of you know that Nick Markakis is premiere amongst my non-Red Sox baseball boyfriends so this was, you know, a treat.

"By now, a small group of Orioles had gathered around Markakis, challenging the outfielder to do more. So Markakis, wearing only his white sliding shorts, picked up a chair, lifted it over his head and balanced it on his chin, holding the wobbly chair upright for about 10 seconds."

Ten bucks says Kevin Millar is behind this.

Greta, an Orioles fan, had this to say: "It should be in his contract that he is not allowed to do these dangerous things. He is our Big Baby Jesus. And you know it would be just about right for the future of the Orioles franchise to suffer a career-ending injury balancing a fucking shopping cart on his face while wearing roller shoes."

She is not wrong.

Amy had more local concerns. "We cannot let Dustin Pedroia find out about this. If we do, he's going to take it as a personal challenge and we're going to end up with a second baseman who suffers a freak eye injury after trying to balance livestock on his face or something."

"Yes," I said, "we really need to be sure these two are kept away from each other."

Which really leads me to wonder, what the hell would we have been in for had Kevin Millar remained with the Sox? Can you even imagine El Bencho, Paps, Pedroia AND Manny on the same team? Maybe the Sox didn't bring Millar back not because they didn't want to, but because Tito begged and pleaded and threatened to have another fake heart attack if they did. He's a patient man but there's only so much he can handle. And clubhouse Cirque du Soleil using Tek's sliding shorts as a trapeze is really not something any one man should have to monitor.

The mind boggles.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dougie, We Hardly Knew Ye

Dougie in happier times.

This is the thing: doesn't it sort of seem like the Red Sox front office treats Doug Mirabelli like that dude you date occasionally because you're bored or something but that you never bother to introduce to your friends because you know it's not really serious? Like you're constantly shopping around for someone who's better for you, or maybe more your type, but when no one comes along, you grudgingly consent to take him back and then spin it such that it seems like he should be happy for the opportunity. And then when you tire of him, you just get rid of him, fully expecting him to be there the next time you need a confidence boost. I'm saying that the Red Sox front office treats Dougie like their secret boyfriend and that is just not right.

Especially considering the disconnect with how the fans treat him. Loving Doug Mirabelli has become a cottage industry in and of itself among Red Sox fans. Some of us even have Doug Mirabelli Appreciation Nights at cheesy Chinese restaurants in Saugus, for god's sake. Granted, there's always been a very real tongue-in-cheek aspect to the whole Dougie love thing, but you can't begrudge us that. Who among us wouldn't love to be a backup catcher for the best team in baseball, working once every five days and reaping the rewards including two World Series? We're mostly in awe, is what I think.

That said, I'm sure there are baseball reasons for this move and Kevin Cash will do fine (Is Josh Bard out of therapy yet?) and all that, but that doesn't mean that we have to be happy about it. Theo got rid of his secret boyfriend. But he's our binky. And he's leaving. Again.

At least we have the memories, the pictures and somewhere, in the backseat of my brother's truck, the disturbing reality of Doug Mirabelli's likeness on a stick.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

But How Does He REALLY Feel?

Amy and I were discussing over email the other day how amusing it is that we're getting what amounts to hourly Josh Beckett mood updates. Like the Extra Bases blog is always with the "Josh Beckett: Still Cranky," or the "Beckett, still cursing at reporters." And while we both agree that he's an excellent pitcher and one we certainly don't care to lose to injury, it's all a bit much. Plus, these are the kind of things you have to laugh about, lest they kill you.

So with that in mind, we created a handy little Josh Beckett Mood-O-Meter which allows you to know Beckett's mental state simply by color-coding. We're thinking he should perhaps start wearing colored patches on his uniform or something to alert us to how he's feeling so that we should all know how to proceed.

With apologies to Go Fug Yourself and their excellent Bloat-Watch and Tanorexia Watch (and also, I suppose, to the Department of Homeland Security), I present the Josh Beckett Mood-O-Meter.

Josh Beckett Mood-O-Meter

Monday, March 10, 2008

Nice-Off '08!

The contenders

So Amy and I wrote another piece for InSite. You can pick it up on the street or at your local drinking establishment. For frees even! Here you go:

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Nicer
By Kristen Merrill and Amy Rossi

It’s widely believed around these parts that Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield is the nicest guy in cleats. Wake’s been with the team since 1995 and has always operated in a low-profile, under the radar type way, content to let the resident lunatics like Manny or ego-maniacs like Beckett and Schilling grab the headlines. Wakefield just goes about his business, pitches to the best of his ability (which is sometimes pretty great), and doesn’t say boo when the team steadfastly refuses to score runs for him. Hell, he didn’t even make a stink when Theo traded away his personal binky Doug Mirabelli to San Diego for a few months and Wake was left playing psychiatrist to poor, emotionally damaged Josh Bard. So I think we can all agree. Tim Wakefield: Nice guy. Solid dude. You’d want him to date your sister or be best friends with your brother. The kind of guy you could invite to a family barbecue or even a christening and know he’d be respectful and polite and wouldn’t embarrass you in any way. Stand up guy, that Wake.

But now the Sox have added free agent first basemen Sean Casey who is regarded around the whole of baseball to be the nicest person alive. They call him “The Mayor” because of his genuine affability and all around niceness. Teammates love him and, it would appear, Casey loves and respects them in turn.

So we got to thinking, now that Casey is a member of the Sox and Wakefield is returning for his fourteenth go-round with the team, might there be a bit of healthy one-upmanship among these two paragons of niceness? Might there be a bit of competition? Might the season not play out thusly?

February 20: Sean Casey allows David Ortiz to test his knee strength by getting jumped upon.

February 21: Tim Wakefield allows Mike Timlin to test his bow strength by pulling a William Tell at the practice facility.

April 20: Sean Casey chats with a couple elderly female fans before the game.

April 21: Tim Wakefield appears as keynote speaker for a Red Hat Society luncheon, red hat and all.

May 3: Sean Casey has Clay Buchholz over for a home-cooked meal, so the rookie can have a break from Trader Joe's chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.

May 4: Tim Wakefield invites Clay Buchholz and his mountain of laundry over and separates his whites and colors for him. And lets him pick the radio station on the way home.

May 13: Tim Wakefield visits Children's Hospital before the game and invites three patients to sit in the dugout.

May 14: Sean Casey convinces entire team to play remainder of series in the Children's Hospital cafeteria.

May 25: Tim Wakefield babysits the little Delcarmen child so reliever Manny Delcarmen and his missus can have a night on the town.

May 26: Sean Casey opens up a daycare facility in the clubhouse, with an extra large chair so Manny Ramirez can do macaroni art too. He provides unlimited glitter glue.

June 24: Tim Wakefield stops at a crosswalk to let a field trip of second graders cross the road.

June 25: Sean Casey charters a school bus and drives 45 Boston public schoolchildren to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC.

July 3: Sean Casey appears on NESN wishing everyone a happy Independence Day.

July 4: Tim Wakefield travels door to door, dressed as Uncle Sam and carrying sparklers while delivering singing Independence Day telegrams to all Greater Boston residents.

July 13: Tim Wakefield adopts a dog from a local animal shelter.

July 14: Sean Casey adopts a local animal shelter.

July 22: Sean Casey buys his wife flowers. Just 'cause.

July 23: Tim Wakefield hires Joe Cocker and a string quartet to serenade his wife with "You Are So Beautiful" during a private, candlelit dinner at the top of the Prudential Center.

August 7: Sean Casey drops in a game of kickball with some local kids in South Boston.

August 8: Tim Wakefield invites all Boston youth to play kickball on the Fenway outfield while he personally mans the hot dog stand. Unlimited ketchup for all!

September 1: Tim Wakefield brings a chicken parm sub to the park for Doug Mirabelli as a special treat to thank him for being a friend.

September 2: Sean Casey hires the chef from Il Trattorio in the North End as Doug Mirabelli's personal chicken parm chef.

September 16: Sean Casey writes Terry Francona a heartfelt note, expressing his appreciation for being a member of the team.

September 17: Tim Wakefield papers over the billboard overlooking Fenway with an artist's rendering of Tito and the lyrics to "The Rose."

October 1: Sean Casey offers to be removed from the playoff roster in order to give one of the young guys a chance.

October 2: Tim Wakefield smiles sagely and says, "That’s so 2007, my friend."

Amy Rossi is a 2006 graduate of the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She lives in Brookline, makes killer biscuits and has a bizarre weakness for Chris Capuano, Prince Fielder and the rest of the Milwaukee Brewers. She likes her Sox red and one day hopes to own a panda bear which she will name "Pinkie."

Kristen Merrill is a 2002 graduate of Emerson College. She lives in Brighton with resident feline Rocky Dave Roberts Markakat and several dust bunnies. Kristen is a freelance writer who runs the popular sports blog "Basegirl" (www.basegirl.blogspot.com). She's a sucker for Boston sports teams, straight tequila and power ballads. Particularly Journey.

Worried? What, Me?


Josh Beckett appears unconcerned about these so-called "back spasms." He wants you all to chillax and take in some South Florida rays - not "Rays" though - and just enjoy the fact that spring is coming soon and it'll be baseball season and it's totally okay if Josh needs some extra time because, you know, Bartolo's doing really well and he's sorry for calling him "Rolo" like those little chocolate and caramel candies but it seemed funny at the time and, you know, it's all gonna be fine. Seriously. It's totally cool.

At least, that's what I'm projecting because reality is that it's 27 degrees out, our ace is having back spasms and had to leave the field, I am so broke the IRS is probably going to repossess my cat and force him into some kind of feline labor and everyone but me gets to go on vacation to someplace sunny and warm. So I'm a little cranky.

BUT! Jason Varitek did start off my morning by conjugating the word "grind" for approximately ten minutes during an interview on SportsDesk which is better than Wheaties in terms of starting your morning off right. So at least there's that.

So maybe I'm in denial about Beckett's back. Can you blame me? How're you all dealing with this interminable wait? Anyone taken up cross-stitch or something?

Friday, March 07, 2008

Payday for Paps

(Photo from the Boston Herald)

Jonathan Papelbon is stoked. As he should be. He's going to be making $775,000 next season. Which is less than the apparently $900K he thought he was owed but is still a hefty chunk of change.

I wonder if I should start negotiating like Papelbon. Just start holding news conferences telling people that I believe I'm worth a 100% pay increase. And then I'll pretend to be happy when they only give me a 60% one.

I haven't been talking about Paps' recent spate of blabbermouthery (some interesting English language choices I made in that sentence) because I was kind of hoping that he'd just shut up and it'd all go away. And while I can see his argument, I can also see the other side of it. That being, you're still new here, kid. Give us another year or so and try to scrape by on your $400,000 plus and prove that you can stay healthy and dominating and we'll talk about a pay raise. Maybe start shopping the sales. Get a BJs membership. Carpool with Buccholz and Jacoby.

Look, I don't like it when professional athletes bitch and moan about money because it forces me to not like them for a little bit. I like to live in a world of puppy dogs and rainbows where they all play for the love of the game and they're just so excited to play for the fans that they can't wait to get out of bed in the morning. I know that isn't true. But there are those occasional players who make you believe it more than most. Papelbon is one of them. So to hear him start bitching about money is disillusioning. And I'm sorry, but you're not Mariano Rivera...yet. You might well be some day but there is an element of longevity necessary to demand that kind of thing. You could get there, but you've got to be patient.

Hopefully, this whole thing is settled in such a way that both sides are content and we can go back to Papelbon shaving his head into interesting crop circle configurations or taking the mound in camo face paint for the added intimidation factor. I like that Papelbon much better.

As for the game yesterday, I will tell you this: I might never get tired of the sight of Doug Mirabelli hauling ass around the bases with Jacoby right on his tail. And I do mean *right* on his tail. A ground rule double, er, ruling saved Dougie from getting Jacoby's cleat in his ass but I don't think we've seen the last of that particular brand of fun this season. Doug Mirabelli: Head Down, Running Hard.

Also, did you hear? Jacoby's defense is pretty good. He's making web gem catches in Spring Training games while poor Coco is having groin issues and a root canal. That poor guy just cannot catch a break.

And finally, Derek Lowe appears to have pulled back a bit on his eventual morph into Brad Penny but I am still not convinced that they're two separate people. If someone can find me a picture of the two of them together, I'll consider it. But I know how you kids are today with your computer and your Photoshop and your interwebs. Sort of like how it looks oddly wrong to see Joe Torre in a Dodgers uniform. Right? That's weird, isn't it?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Tank'd Up

(Photo from the Washington Post)

The Patriots signed safety Tank Williams to a one-year deal yesterday. And yay, defense and all that but I think what we really need to focus on here is that the Patriots signed a man named "Tank." This could be a new thing for the Patriots. They could just start signing people with the best names. Next up, Max Strong. Then maybe T.J. Houshmandzadeh because it'd be fun to make New Englanders learn to spell "Houshmandzadeh."

I'm pretty sure this is how Jen drafted her fantasy team a couple years ago. Once she ran out of good players to draft, she just started picking the people with the best names. I'm fairly certain she ended up with at least one "Deuce." I'm also fairly certain she beat several of us that employed "strategy" and "statistics."

Can we get Juice Williams yet? How about John David Booty? Heh, "booty." I'm twelve.

But this whole Tank Williams thing could have promise. I love the nicknames Tom Brady gives to people like "Vrabes" and "Bru" and "Jab." But Tank is already built in. And as soon as he hits people the Tank puns will be flying. Good times.

But the best part? Is that we'll probably get to see Bill Belichick try to say "Tank" with a straight face during a press conference. It's the little things that keep me going, people.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

I was just thinking...

A few things:

First of all, kee-rist, Bruins. Sorry I said anything. Damn. Never mind. Didn't mean to inspire some epic performance anxiety there. As you were. No one's paying attention, promise.

Secondly, Randy Moss is back where he belongs, catching touchdown passes from Tom Brady for the next three seasons. As it should be. I've been largely ignoring the existence of the Patriots for a while now for several reasons, chief amongst them that rumors of the current player exodus make my head hurt. And also, if I don't talk about them, they can't hurt me. Which is how I'm still dealing with that whole Super Bowl thing leading several people I know to believe that sometime in mid-June after, I don't know, a Julio Lugo strike out or something, I'll just break down screaming, "Why, Tommy? Whyyyyyy?" What they're saying is that I haven't fully dealt with the pain yet. I don't plan to. It's easier this way. That said, maybe Tom Brady can end his hunger strike now? And someone can get on the horn and book Air Supply to sing at Brady and Moss's commitment ceremony? Can't you just see it? A touching rendition of "Making Love Out of Nothing At All?" It's a beautiful thing.

(That appears to be my second Air Supply reference in two days. Possibly I should see someone about this.)

Additionally, apparently Sam Cassell is all set to join the Celtics after being all pissy about not getting playing time wherever he was before. Yeah, no, I don't much care about that but what I do find HIGHLY AMUSING are the headlines saying things like "Cassell unhappy with playing time. Demands trade." Or "Cassell to join C's. Looks to increase playing time." Because I like to pretend it's Matt Cassel, Tom Brady's backup who is throwing conniption fits about playing time and demanding to be traded to the Celtics where he can really contribute. Two sport athlete, that Matt Cassel! Who knew? Hee.

And finally, evidently rumors of Bartolo Colon's demise have been greatly exaggerated. Which, you know, is good for the Red Sox. Too many pitchers is a good number to have. It can only make the rest of them that much more competitive. And hungry pitchers is good pitchers. Perhaps a poor choice of words considering who we're talking about here.

Oh, also, if you haven't watched footage of Cookie-Off III, just go do it right now. No, right now. "Millar and Kapler are always Sox." Truer words were never spoken, my friend. Kevin Youkilis gets that one right, for sure.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Dance, Dance Revolution!

(Photo from Boston.com)

Amy sent me the above picture yesterday and I opened the email while I was doing that Sunday morning, lazing around on one's couch thing and I laughed and then wrote back to her, "Who made that? Was it Sam?" because it NEVER OCCURRED TO ME THAT IT MIGHT NOT BE A PHOTOSHOP. I never even considered that it might be a real picture. Which, given Papelbon's dancing fool history, might've been a silly assumption. But it's not like people haven't been spending all their free time since October Photoshopping Paps' head onto everything from Russell Crowe's "Gladiator" physique to Michael Flatley's waxed-chest Lord of the Dance.

I guess, according to Paps, we should all be expecting some impressive solo sparkly glove and fedora jobs soon. Michael Jackson videos were apparently his dancing inspiration, you see. Which scares me for a few reasons. One of which is that that's one of those things we would have made up. And another is that I'm not lying when I say that Amy and I spent a fair amount of time at the gym on Saturday "playing basketball" which, of course means "attempting to remember choreography from the 'Thriller' video." And I feel like anything that one has in common with Jonathan Papelbon is one step closer to the nuthouse.

"Gosh," I said, "he sure is special."

Amy responded, "If, in 15 years, there is a tell-all biography, none of the information will surprise me. Closeted transvestite with a speed habit? Yeah, probably. Eats Play-Doh before every game? Sure."

"It's getting to the point," I said, "where it surprises me when he does something normal. 'Jonathan Papelbon had a turkey sandwich and orange soda for lunch.' WHAT?!? Freak."

"Dude, I know."

And this isn't even touching on Dustin Pedroia. Pedroia is the kind of person, we decided, who, when he realizes he's not going to be good at something, makes the biggest, loudest show out of it he possibly can. Because if he's going to be made fun of, it's going to be on his own terms. Which I respect, because I am totally like that. Which is why when I sing along to songs, I do it very loudly and painfully to those around me. I really commit, is what I'm saying. Probably Dustin and I would get along. We could have some road trip sing-a-longs. Some capers, perhaps. I'd get him a stack of phone books and we'd take off down the road singing along to some Air Supply and really committing to it, you know?

I think I just ripped off a Jack Kerouac novel though I remember there being a distinct lack of Air Supply in On the Road and if you ask me, the book is the poorer for it.

Of course, Mike Lowell had to show everyone how it's done for he is Mike Lowell: Professional. He also felt bound to point out that salsa is much more difficult than meringue which is what his teammates had been doing and I, for one, am not going to argue with him. Because if there's one thing I'm even worse at than singing? It's dancing. I know only that Mike Lowell appeared to have stolen something from Dougie's "Miami Leisure Nights" collection as he was swathed in yards and yards of South Beach-type fabric. I'm hoping this was a thematic thing and Lowell hasn't taken to dressing like a Cuban night club owner. Personally, I'm a fan of the suited, Secret Service Agent look.

As for the game, well, apparently Craig Hansen still has some things to work on. Those being "pitching the baseball" and "throwing strikes." Good thing it's still early. The hotly contested Mayor's Cup will have to wait another day.

Oh, and one more thing. Bruins. Shhhhh. That's all I'm gonna say.