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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Anything Roy Halladay Can Do, Jon Lester Can Do Better

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

You guys? Jon Lester likes his coffee. And he does not like paying for it. So he developed this great plan to 1-hit the Blue Jays and make with the free coffee today, no problem. But then the Blue Jays had to go and counter with Roy Halladay with his show-offy complete games and whatever and that really screwed up Lester’s plans. Except that Kevin Youkilis also likes free coffee. And, let’s face it, he probably likes sandwiches as well. So Kevin Youkilis decided he’d just go on out there and win the game in the ninth with a walk-off single because he was unclear on the rules and whether or not he could still get his sweet tea if the game went into extra innings or what have you.

So, you know, quite the pitcher’s duel. This kind of thing is expected out of Roy Halladay. Seems he does this all the time. But it was excellent to see it from Little Jonny Lester. It was, in fact, reminiscent of a game Amy and I attended two years ago when no one really knew who this Jon Lester kid was and he threw eight innings of one hit ball against the Royals. A harbinger of things to come, perhaps?

Also, Lester’s eight full saved the bullpen, which…actually, you know what? Maybe that’s not the best thing. Although if the bullpenners think they’re being punished for the sucking, I suppose that’s a clear message. “Sit there and be quiet and think about what you’ve done. Oh, and you’re not getting any coffee either.” That seems fair.

As for me, for various reasons it was a night that necessitated vodka and tequila drinking and a midnight frozen yogurt delivery and the 4am discovery of an entire box of shredded tissues thanks to the resident Basegirl mascot so, you know, I can use the coffee. Thanks Jon and Youks!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Of Rays and Chads

(Guess that tax refund came just in time)

So yesterday marked the first annual "Kristen's 86-year-old grandmother and Tampa Bay (Devil) Rays fan sends her a taunting email about the first-place Rays."

And, you know, that's fun. Ignoring for a second the fact that my grandmother shit talks me about baseball which is, frankly, kind of awesome, the whole notion of the Rays and their softball uniforms actually being good at baseball is a little upsetting and disturbing and I'd prefer not to think about it. Basically it upsets the natural order of things for Joe Maddon and his "I work in publishing" glasses to be helming a team that's capable of winning baseball games. Let alone several of them in a row. But I suppose this is what they mean by being the bigger person and giving credit where it's due. It's frustrating, naturally, because the Sox pitching was actually pretty decent, save the bullpen which, OH MY GOD, BULLPEN. What is your damage? Josh Beckett is going to hurt you. And I am NOT going to stop him this time.

If this whole bullpen implosion thing doesn't stop soon, I am going to have words with Mike Timlin when I run this thing in June. Which probably means I'll need to work on my speed, if I'm having harsh words with Mike Timlin. On second thought...

Anyway, blah. Baseball is sad and everyone is sick and I wish to speak of it no further. What I would like to talk about is the fact that when Amy and I were watching the draft on Saturday and taking notes for our eventual piece for InSite, we wondered why the Jets are so damn committed to Chad Pennington and, just out of curiosity, I checked to see if perhaps the already discounted The Chad Fathead had been discounted further. Dudes? IT WAS $9.95. Down from an original price of $98. So
obviously, I had to buy it. Because no game next season will be complete without a rousing rendition of "Pin the T-Neck on The Chad." And, I mean, I almost feel bad for the dude. All the other discounted Fatheads are as such because the player has switched teams or something. Kevin Garnett Timberwolves one or Daunte Culpepper Vikings. Shaun Alexander Seahawks. You know, that kind of thing. And even those are still $39.95. So really, Fatheads really misjudged their marketing of The Chad, I think. Or they were just counting on way more snarky Patriots fans buying them and creating party games. Which, you have to admit, is kind of genius. Although, don't worry, The Chad won't stay up during the week. It's for Sundays only. You think I want to wake up at 3am and encounter a life-size Chad Pennington, complete with mock turtleneck and yachting haircut in my living room? Terrifying.

See? Isn't that more fun than baseball?

Also? Oh, Roger. ::shakes head::

Friday, April 25, 2008

Justin Masterson wanted us all to have free coffee. The bullpen felt we are too caffeinated as it is.

(Photo from Boston.com)

I'm sorry, but that picture up there looks like puppies and sunshine and puppies frolicking in the sunshine, maybe with adorable kittens holding tiny teddy bears saying "I love you beary much!" on their tummies or something. That is how adorable that picture is. Justin Masterson, ladies and gentlemen: Better than Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl.

And seeing as how Dunkin' Donuts is still running their free coffee or tea promotion (with purchase, naturally) the day after the Sox win, I like to think that Little Justin Masterson (he's 6'6" so obviously we're speaking figuratively) did the necessary research beforehand to make sure that it didn't have to be Papelbon getting the win for the masses to get free coffee because, darn it, Clay gave us all a no-hitter that one time, not to mention that Jacoby won Tacos for America in the World Series and really, Lil' J-Mast just wanted to contribute. He thought free coffee would be a nice way to say "Thank you for letting me pitch for your major league team, Boston. Thank you for not crying when the entire team came down with the death flu and the front office was forced to import Little Leaguers from Saugus to put warm bodies on the field."

He sure did try his damndest.

The bullpen, apparently, thinks we're all already too caffeinated as it is.

Speaking for me personally, they might have a point.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Things You Can Tell About Craig Hansen Just By Looking At Him

(Photo, and lots more like it, from here)

So that is apparently a picture of Craig Hansen accepting a check for taking second prize in the Professional Baseball Gamers League, er, tournament. Or something. The league in which Johnny Damon evidently serves as commissioner and players routinely square off against Snoop Dogg. I am so not kidding. (Check out the site for additional pictures).

And yeah, absolutely none of that surprises me. Craig Hansen's waaay into video games? Sure. Craig Hansen wears expensive "rawker" shirts? Totally. Craig Hansen is like totally psyched about the upcoming Nickelback world tour? DUDE.

These are things we just know, people.

But the thing about Craig Hansen is that he's inspired a bit of a bet between Amy and myself. You see, Amy loves him. She wants him to do well. I'd venture we all want him to do well because he's on the Red Sox but Amy has a special, vested interest in this. So we made a bet. If Craig Hansen finishes the season with a sub 3.00 ERA, I have to write a piece for InSite wherein I publicly apologize for making fun of him and cringing in agony every time he takes the field in a major league baseball game.

And we needed something for Amy to wager as well so equally ridiculous, I decided - after several beers, naturally - that JD Drew was going to win the batting title this year. (Possibly those beers were laced with something stronger than hops). And if he does, Amy has to write the same article, apologizing to Drew for calling him "Jessica" and insinuating that he misses a few games at the same time every month because of womanly troubles.

Said bets have been taken to a third party (New Friend Sean, the bouncer at our local) and notarized. And now they're on the internets so we've gotta pay up. It's up to you people to keep us honest.

Now, aren't ridiculous, semi-drunken bets involving miraculous feats on behalf of the Red Sox more fun to talk about than the rare strain of Ebola currently affecting the Sox clubhouse? I think so.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Tuesday Morning Shock and Awe...

...or the things that impress me this morning.

First of all, Abby ran the marathon. Like, the whole thing. All of it. And while that is certainly impressive enough on it's own, she did it while raising boatloads of money for Dana Farber which is obviously beyond awesome. And when Amy and I saw her around mile 23, she didn't even look like she was wishing for the earth to open up and swallow her whole which is really something. Between Abby and Katherine - who ran the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco back in October to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (and who called me from an orange-tinted bathtub full of ice shortly thereafter and proceeded to have one of the most amusing conversations of my life), these are some amazing women I know. Said amazing women have also apparently drugged me and convinced me to do this with them in November so stay tuned for updates on that lunacy. (For the record, I am only half as insane. Half marathon, half crazy, you see?) But now the unforgiving internet denizens know about it so I have to do it. That said, full congratulations and measures of awe are due to Abby today. Nice work, lady.

Secondly on the list of things that impress me: the Bruins. The way I figure it, those boys had no business even being anywhere near a Game 7 so that's something to be proud of. Plenty of the time they flat-out out-played Montreal and turned in some fairly excellent hockey. That and with the nearly pre-pubescent Kessel, Lucic, Krejci, Sobotka and Bergeron, this team surely has the talent to continue to improve in the next few years. I think they've got a lot of promise and I, for one, look forward to watching them next season. Get ready for some more hockey in this space is what I'm saying. Trust me, you'll love it.

And finally, Red Sox. Specifically, little Claybelline (TM Luna) who got his first win of the season and turned in quite a quality start against the Rangers, thus completing the four game sweep. And this without a healthy Tek behind home plate too! Tek apparently being struck down with quite a flu bug. So kudos to Clay for hitching up his big boy pants and getting the job done. And also to Ortiz, who has evidently decided that this slumping thing is not for him anymore and he'll be hitting baseballs now if that's cool with everyone.

Now, as for me, I need to go find some aloe for my sunburn. But you know what that means? It's spring, you guys! Finally!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Something in the Air

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Let me get this straight. There's a robotic camera on the Red Sox bench AT ALL TIMES? And we didn't know this? It's apparently operated by some unseen and mysterious cameraperson who can move the focus all around - the better to capture Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz pelting it with sunflower seeds as during last night's game - but IT'S ALWAYS THERE? You mean to tell me that all this time we've been lamenting the fact that we don't have a dugout feed constantly running in a picture-in-picture box in the top corner of our screen solely for our enjoyment if the game gets out of hand, WE COULD HAVE? This could actually happen and, in fact, is happening? WHY DIDN'T ANYONE TELL ME?

Imagine all the Manny-administered noogies and headpats we've missed? Imagine all the shots of Josh Beckett being surly and taking out his frustrations on the water cooler. Imagine all the times Pedroia sat down next to Tito and starting giving him shit only to have Tito dump a cup of Gatorade on Dustin's head and walk away? Not to mention all the Youkilis/Pedroia Strong Man competitions that have surely gone down with each trying to outdo the other in all manner of competition from footraces up and down the length of the bench to launching Buchholz missile-like towards an Alex Cora proffered target. IMAGINE ALL THE FOOTAGE THAT EXISTS FROM INSIDE THE SOX DUGOUT. We must get our hands on this. Now that we know that such a camera exists, we must do everything in our power to make sure that it's used for at least 35% of any given game. This shit is GOLD, people. We need it.

'Course, constant Sox dugout updates would likely cause Remy and Orsillo to be fired, oh, tomorrow. Did you hear those jokers last night? With Orsillo taking up the cause of Mrs. Remy re: the RemDawg's use of a computer in the dining room and the ensuing old, married couple bickering? Not to mention their discussions of hand and "other body parts" models which lead Orsillo to remark that he's seen Remy by the pool and he has "great feet." Remy was in the - frankly foreign - position of being the straight man as Orsillo just kept throwing out more and more ridiculous bon mots. So to whichever intern spiked Don's coffee, nice work. Keep it up. All this started when the game was still in question too. 4-1 is not insurmountable and usually the Broadcast Bozos don't get their insanity on until the Sox are either leading or trailing by about eight. So this was something to hear.

Guess a David Ortiz grand slam will bring about the giddy.

Oh, right, the actual game. See? Didn't we tell y'all that Papi was gonna be fine? You can't keep a man like that down forever, that's for sure. Maybe it's a good thing they dug up that damn jersey after all.

But I'll tell you what I'm really excited about and that is Jed Lowrie and Jacoby Ellsbury. After Lowrie laced a hit, Remy - in a rare moment of lucidity last night - remarked "He's done nothing wrong. Absolutely nothing." And he's right. Which is remarkable because Jed Lowrie with his goofy ears and his giant, lopsided smile looks for all the world like an eleven-year-old who cannot wait to tell his dad that he met Manny Ramirez. Let alone is playing on the same field with him. "Dad! Guess what? I called Manny off a fly ball today! Yeah, that's okay, he told me not to call him 'Mr. Ramirez.' But I called him off. And he let me! How cool is that?" Awwww, little Jedders. I see big things for that boy in the future. Julio who?

And Jacoby is just...he's Jacoby. He's like Flash Gordon out there. Though I've think we've decided for the purposes of awesomeness to refer to him as "Maverick" because of his "need for speed" and the fact that in an interview he admitted that "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" is his go-to karaoke song. So Maverick it is.

Ken Macha (of all people) made an interesting, Ambien-drenched point during the post game last night when he mentioned that although Jacoby's average isn't terribly impressive (though haven't we learned that batting average is a stupid stat? Billy Bean and baseball-hating computers taught me that), it's incredibly important to have a guy at the top of your lineup who can get on base and make things happen with his feet. Apparently, during the course of a season, a baseball team will be involved in about fifty one-run games (give or take) and if you've got a guy who can wreak havoc on the basepaths and perhaps score from second on a wild pitch (for instance), you're going to win more of those games than you lose. Interesting point. I had not considered the actual baseball game-winning implications of Jacoby's speed other than "OMG SO FAST LOOKIT!" Sometimes it's nice when your blind love is backed up by logic.

So we take game one of the series and look to tonight where Lil' Jonny Lester looks to get things back on track. I've decided he can do it because he's facing Jason Jennings which made me think of Jason Johnson which made me curl up into the fetal position and rock back and forth for half an hour. So based on that incredibly scientific reaction, I think Lester's got this one.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Damn right it was a good day.

(Photo from Boston.com)

Several things happened yesterday to make it excellent. Stellar, even.

Thing one: Manny Ramirez absolutely beating the crap out of Mike Mussina and stealing his lunch money. Just violating Yankee pitching, Manny is. It's a contract year and all that (which, I mean, it's Manny. Do you think he even knows that? Perhaps he's been clued in by his "agent" Alex Cora?) But what Ramirez is doing is just otherworldly. He is a FORCE.

Thing two: Speaking of stealing lunch money, the Bruins. Or should I say, "Bruins, the Bruins what?" Captain Zdeno, Phil Kessel's my hero and all the rest of 'em certainly took it to Montreal last night at the Bell Centre, and have made a series out of it yet. I left the bar after the second period when the score was tied at 1-1 and promptly started receiving text messages with updates. Eventually, it seemed like I was getting one every twenty seconds. It got to the point where I thought my friends were just messing with me. But then I got home and called my brother. He confirmed the score.

"Jesus," I said, "I'm on the T for twenty minutes and they equal their total goal output of the entire series?"

"Better late than never," Kev said. He then mused about his weekend plans. "I got a nice little Saturday planned for myself," he said, "Got a hockey game to play at 10am, then another one at 3, be done in plenty of time, drive to Mom and Dad's house and settle in and watch the Bruins in game six. Nice little Saturday."

"Will you be going to Home Depot?" I asked.

"Not sure. Don't know if I'll have time."

And finally, the third awesome thing that happened yesterday is that bars in Boston now have Sam's Summer on tap. Which means summer is officially coming. It can't get here fast enough.

Finally, if I may use this here space to pimp a few friends of mine, well, it's my blog and I'm going to. First of all, See Abby Run. No, really, you can see her as she's running the marathon on Monday for an excellent cause. You can read all about her training on her site which I've added to the sidebar.

Secondly, Sean at winking in the sincere light is funny and excellent and has some great stuff for you to read. And he even pimped this site despite my unapologetic Patriots fandom. So check him out. (Site also on sidebar.)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gotta Crawl Before You Can Walk

(A rough approximate of Sean Casey last night)

Look, there are some games where it's just better for you to go to bed. Like last night. Because you just knew that wasn't ending well. Two and a half hours into the game and it was still the fifth inning and oh my god, I'm not sure I have the stomach for that.

But the way I figure it, that kind of crap is bound to happen. So we shake it off and we move on to today. And maybe we tell Clay not to wear so many necklaces next time. (We might also want to tell MLB.com to hire some new headline writers because "Chad does rad work against the Red Sox" is just cringe-inducing. Your team of monkeys should do better than that, MLB).

But what I really want to talk about is Sean Casey crawling back towards second base with his batting helmet over his eyes. In a single moment, Casey managed to emulate both past Red Sox first basemen, Kevin Millar (what with the falling down in the basepath) and current teammate Jason Varitek (with the calling himself safe, a favorite move of Tek's). And then Casey proceeded to take abuse about the play for, oh, the entire rest of his life, looks like. From teammates and Jerry Remy alike. And you know if Jerry Remy - he of the most famous on-air air guitar mishap - is making fun of you, you probably looked pretty freakin' ridiculous. Ah, levity. You gotta take it where you can in Yankees/Sox games.

Speaking of levity, Amy and I have a new InSite piece wherein we declare Clay Buchholz our new, bug-eyed, skinny overlord. Check it out. You can also pick up a copy at your local drinking establishment, should you be so inclined. Though I'm sure no one who reads this site even knows what the inside of a bar looks like, and certainly wasn't in need of one last night. Ahem.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Nevertheless, a good time was had by all.

(The Bro and I at the Gahden)

*Disclaimer* Primarily a hockey post coming. Those of you who don't know Milan Lucic from Milan Kundera can skip ahead to the end and the baseball bits.

I think I finally understand the phrase, "Just happy to be here," in regards to the playoffs. You'd think I would have gotten it in 2001 with the Patriots but there has never been any kind of semblance of rationality about my football fandom. But with the Bruins, I'm a realist. So last night's Game 4 against the Montreal Canadiens at the Garden was AWESOME, despite the loss.

The way I figure it, the Bruins are lucky to be in the playoffs at all. It came right down to the wire and they've been playing nearly the entire season without their best player who was lost early to a nasty concussion and post-concussion syndrome. And, you know, frankly, they're just not that good. Not when matched up against faster, higher-scoring teams. So to be able to go to a Bruins playoff game is quite a thing in and of itself. And it? Was INTENSE.

I think I might also know what Orioles fans feel like when the Sox are in Baltimore because holy crap were there a lot of Canadiens fans there. Lots of signs in French, lots of singing, lots of red and blue. B's fans occasionally tried to drown out their Canadiens counterparts with chants of "USA! USA!" (because this is Miracle, apparently), but our northerly neighbors certainly made their presence felt. But for the most part, they were benign. Except for those dudes with the cowbell. I'm of the mind that if you go into someone else's house as a visiting team's fan and you bring a freakin' cowbell with you? You deserve all the abuse you get.

But what a game. The Bruins holding the Canadiens to one goal is notable, as was their smashmouth style of play. And my crush on Milan Lucic is complete and total. Which is just not even right because the dude is NINETEEN YEARS OLD. But he's also fiery. And I like that in my hockey players. I am not alone in this, however, as every third dude there seemed to be sporting a "Lucic 17" number tee (which I absolutely must purchase immediately), and gushing about their man-crushes on the boy.

I wish I had the words to fully express the intensity of playoff hockey. Even in Boston, despite the fact that it's baseball season, the Celtics are top dogs in the NBA playoffs and everyone knows the likely outcome of this series. It's not even the same sport as during the regular season. It's amazing. It's fast and it's hard-hitting and it's fantastic. I realized sometime during the second period that this was the first playoff game I have ever been to, in any sport. It was totally worth it. My sole complaint - besides the loss, of course - is that the Garden employees REALLY need to take some kind of efficiency training or something because good lord in heaven it should not take 25 minutes to buy two beers. SERIOUSLY, PEOPLE THERE IS HOCKEY HAPPENING.

Also, Boston is so very quintessentially Boston as the street vendors very kindly offered you the chance to buy a "I Hate Peyton Manning (Eli Sucks Too)" t-shirt on your way out of the building to salve the wounds of the loss. I'm not saying I did, but...okay, I totally did. I'm petty like that.

I think I'm still amped up. It's either the hockey or the fact that I finally have a new, actual, grown up bed and am no longer sleeping on the floor and it's completely changed my outlook on life. Either/or.

ALSO! Red Sox! Jason Varitek! Home runs and fun! Exclamation points! I got home just in time to see Okajima strike out the first two in the ninth and then Jacoby run down that last fly ball for an excellent final out catch. Sox scores were oddly hard to come by at the Bruins game, other than when we were leaving and a guy had an actual TV ON HIS PHONE. Technology is AMAZING! What will they think of next? Flying cars and robot maids for everyone!

But I hear tell it was a solid performance by Wakefield and, you know, having Jason Varitek pinch-hitting a home run is only going to help your cause. I also hear that the Indians have apparently learned their lesson and refused to pitch to Manny in the ninth. Smart move. Took 'em a while though. And Jed Lowrie is the most adorable thing to ever don a Red Sox uniform, I think. That kid makes me believe in angels and miracles, he was so earnestly happy, showing the ball he hit for his first big league RBI to a NESN reporter. Awwww... Still, hurry back, Mike Lowell.

So tonight we head to New York to play the Yankees (again). But hey, look at it this way, after Thursday, we'll only need to face them 13 more times this season. Good lord.

Bad Men

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Okay, so what happened was that after Jon Lester's struggles, Tito decided to go to Julian Tavarez with the bases loaded and one out and Amy and I just started giggling like mad people because, really, what else can you do in that situation? It's April. You can't wail and moan. You can't gnash your teeth. You can't call for Delcarmen or Timlin, surely. So you see Tavarez coming in with the bases loaded and you just start laughing. And what does he do? HE REWARDS YOUR LEVITY. Julian "Batshit" Tavarez sacked up and struck out both batters he faced in that inning to stop the bleeding and keep the Sox in the game. Extra rations of raw elk meat and the blood of grizzly bears for you, I think, Mr. Tavarez.

And Kevin Youkilis...okay, you know what Youks reminds me of when he gets "hit" by a pitch and flails and moans and just generally acts his ass off? There's this episode of Family Guy, right? And Peter Griffin trips and falls down and lays there on the sidewalk just kind of sucking air through his teeth for about five minutes. It's one of those things that's funny, then goes on long enough to be unfunny, then is still going on and becomes funny again by virtue of being ridiculous. And that's Kevin Youkilis' HBPs for you. (Reader Pamela is a blessed soul who found the clip for me. Admiration and affection are hers.) But it's like, Youks is ridiculous. Even Remy acknowledges that. "Looks like that pitch missed a whole lot of nothing," he said. Basically, Youkilis deserves an Oscar what with the hand-wringing and the grimacing and such.

But really, last night's win was a total team effort. Even Julio Lugo (I know!) got in on the fun. Or rather, Julio Lugo and his seven turtlenecks. "Looks like it's got a thick nap to it," Amy observed. The Indians "prevent" defense backfired and when Lugo led off the ninth with a double, I had a feeling things might break our way. Then a Crisp ground-out and a Pedroia sac fly and suddenly we're tied at 4. Then Papi gets on, which thing has not been happening lately because of some sort of voodoo or what have you that Mike Lowell and Co. attempted to banish with a pre-game exorcism and BAM! Manny Ramirez: Bad man. You could almost feel it coming. That ball might not yet have landed. It's just...Manny, you guys. Manny Ramirez. He is going to be RIDICULOUS this season. Dennis Eckersley was REALLY excited about him a few days ago and as Manny continues on his quest to 500 home runs (current tally: 493), things are just getting more and more fun.

And then, you know, Papelbon happened. 'Nuff said.

Greta is in New York for work and was watching the Toronto/Baltimore game at a bar with a bunch of Orioles fans. They called me a couple times because we're all friends and such. And after the game, Zachary called to "congratulate" me on taking sole possession of second place. "And you," I said, "should be congratulated on having the wherewithal to sign Kevin Millar."

"Second place!" Amy said, "we're movin' on up!"

"To the East high! We finally got a piece of the pie-ie," I added.

"I love pie-ies!" she said.

"Yeah, we need to sleep now," I said.


Tonight, the Sox send Wakefield to the hill to face Paul Byrd for a potential sweep of this mini-series in Cleveland. I will not be watching because I will be ensconced in the balcony of the FleetGardenArena doing the "Bruins, the Bruins what?" dance like those kids in the NESN HD commercial below (seriously, I love that commercial so much) and annoying the shit out of any trespassing Canadiens fans all night. Go Bs!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

I’ll be honest, when it got to be 11 o’clock last night and we were still in the fifth inning and I took my mental well-being, the length of the season and, you know, sanity into consideration, I decided to go to sleep. Doesn’t mean that when I woke up at 3 am, I didn’t check the final score. ‘Course, at the rate the game was plodding along, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to find them still playing.

But it appears that Matsuzaka did that thing he did so often last season when he got himself into jams but then, for the most part, managed to work himself out of them. Which is encouraging, even if the jams themselves are a bit worrisome. Joe Morgan, in and amongst his nonsensical ramblings did get one thing right when he praised ‘Tek for calming “Matsuzaky” down and coaxed him through the trying fifth inning. ‘Tek’s the man, you guys. Even Joe Morgan’s addled, Moneyball and computer-hating brain can see that.

Saturday night’s game was just rife with old-fashioned drama and despite how sick I often get of Boston/New York ballyhoos, the game was great. A two-hour and 11 minute rain delay – and you absolutely knew the game wasn’t going to get called because A-Rod was facing Papelbon with two on and two out and there is no way MLB wanted to deal with the Yankee whining, had they called a rain-out – just amped up the intrigue. Luckily for all of us, Paps was just not having it and promptly struck out A-Rod. I’m guessing I’m not the only one who imitated Paps’ fist pump.

I also loved when Josh Beckett gets in his pissed off mood. His “I have better shit to do, I’m just striking these jokers out so I can get out of here and go buy Kamikaze shots for those Northeastern sorority girls.” And when that doesn’t exactly work out for him – as when he gives up a hit or, god forbid, allows a run, his body language is excellent. Very “this is really interfering with my Pemican and Jack Daniels time.” Pissed off Josh Beckett is the very best Josh Beckett there is.

As for Friday…pffft. Whatever. At least Buchholz’s start was encouraging. Mike Timlin, perhaps not so much. But I’ll take two out of three for sure.

In unrelated news, congratulations to the BC Eagles men’s hockey team for taking home the national championship on Saturday. Way to represent the Hockey East, boys. Nice work.

And it appears that I won’t be attending a Bruins elimination party tomorrow night after all as they managed to pull one out in overtime at the Garden last night against the Canadiens. Will wonders never cease? Go Bs!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sean Casey: Baseball Badass

(Photo from msnmedia.com)

Sean Casey doesn't want you to worry about Mike Lowell. Sean Casey is gonna take care of things. He's gonna be getting hits and playing solid defense and worrying about the baseball end of things because he just wants you to have a good time. Because, after all, isn't baseball supposed to be fun? Sean Casey thinks so.

Sean Casey also apparently
hangs out at the Kowloon (thanks to Kim for the tip), which is AWESOME beyond words. I KNEW I picked the right Red Sox Boyfriend. I wonder if he too was disappointed in the house band's lack of knowledge of Journey and REO Speedwagon. Sean Casey strikes me as a man who's gotten down to "Separate Ways" on more than one occasion. It might be his ring tone even. If I ever get confirmation on this I'm afraid I'm going to stalk him relentlessly until he agrees to be my best friend. There are just no two ways about it.

ANYWAY...astute readers have pointed out that with Wakefield pitching and Casey playing first, the Sox might've resorted to Care Bear Staring the Tigers into submission. But actually, it was slightly more complicated than that. And really, a bit tougher, which I think is a positive sign. Aside from Julian Tavarez giving credence to reader David's belief that he should just quit now and open the Julian Tavarez Feline Training Academy (seriously, you guys, I have some hilarious readers), the Sox showed some fight. Every time the Tiger bats woke up and tried to make a game of it, the Sox fought back. It was highly encouraging. And scoring 12 runs for a Tim Wakefield start has to make Wake feel good. After all, we know how this team has traditionally felt about scoring runs for poor Timmy.

Now, however, might be the time that Jim Leyland starts wandering the dugout pantsless in an effort to terrify his players into winning. Because, damn. At the very least, he's going to outfit his bullpen coach with a BB gun and give him license to wing a reliever every time he throws a ball. Or he's going to replace the postgame spread with expired K rations until they can get their shit together. I'm sure that'll go over well.

Apparently the Yankees are coming to town. Tonight. Already. Sigh, is it time for this so soon? Other than the fact that I'm greatly enjoying New York Yankee Shortstop Controversy '08, I'm not sure I'm ready for this. At least I'll have tequila.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Had to happen eventually

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

For once, I can sympathize with JD Drew. In that picture, he looks for all the world like someone has taken his puppy away and is simultaneously forcing him to eat lima beans and liver. Do. Not. Want. I believe is the correct phraseology.

And really, while not a one of us wants the losing, what we really don’t want is the losing of our third baseman. Or should I say our WORLD SERIES MVP third baseman, Mike Lowell. Because, look, I love Sean Casey possibly more than I should (classic Baseball Binky right there), but there’s a reason he’s a bench player. ‘Course, he hit just fine last night so that was promising, but I’m not looking forward to games without our Puerto Rican George Clooney manning the hot corner. Now Lowell’s a gamer, so he’ll likely try to get back as soon as possible, and I’m sure he will. But what I’m concerned about is how this sprained thumb is going to affect his hitting. I hope that it doesn’t become a nagging thing that dogs him all season. Let us all hope I’m projecting here and we really have nothing to worry about.

Of course, despite the loss, part of me is a teeny bit happy for the Tigers. Except that Edgar Renteria fellow because I’m had just about enough of that guy, I’ll tell you that much. But I was concerned that one more loss and Old Man Leyland would start shooting players just for fun. Extinguishing his cigarette butts on Carlos Guillen’s hat or perhaps forcing Magglio Ordonez to wear his flowing locks in braided pigtails until the team started winning. Pretty sure he’s already started referring to them as “panty-waists,” so I’m sure there was more coming. I delight to think of what Gary Sheffield, obviously known for his calm head and sense of reason, will think about that.

As for Jonny Lester, well, he’s had better days, surely. And I’m sure he’ll have better days again. Last night just wasn’t his night. It was, apparently, Edgar Renteria’s night. And while that’s nice for him and all, I must point out that he once agreed to appear in this photo shoot. So, you know, make of that what you will.

Tonight, Wakefield attempts to hone the battery with Kevin Cash (respectfully sporting the Doug Mirabelli Memorial Facial Hair, I see), and shut down the now “explosive” Tigers lineup. But it’s Timmy, so you know he’ll be nice about it.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Ring It In

(Photo from Boston.com)

Okay, NOW baseball season has officially started. Unfortunately, due to work obligations, I was nowhere near either a computer or a TV yesterday so I've yet to see the entirety of the ring ceremony, not to mention the game. I was doing Harvard Centennial type things, one of which included listening to Robert and Jonathan Kraft speak and which I cannot write about because it was off the record. Suffice it to say that I want the Kraft family to adopt me. Like now.

As for the Sox, I have seen only the snippets that NESN has been airing on SportsDesk and noticed that a) Dougie looked mighty sharp, perhaps in an effort to make Theo jealous, b) Matsuzaka also looked sharp in an entirely different yet very encouraging way, and c) the Bill Buckner thing surely would have reduced me to a sobbing, hysterical mess.

I also managed to catch some uncut locker room footage of our own little Second Base Elf talking about Buckner and how great it was to see the ovation for him. "People forget how great a player he was," he said, "and they judge him by one error that fucked shit up." I've got a sneaking suspicion that Pedroia might challenge Beckett to see who can make best use of the seven-second delay this season. Excellent.

So good on ya, Red Sox. Way to usher in a new season. The winning helped too, surely. And if Matsuzaka is gonna be our stopper this year, well, that's plenty encouraging now isn't it?

Of course, in the "Kristen dissolves into tears" portion of the event, you couldn't do any better than this. The Tedy Bruschi/Terry Francona friendship is one of my favoritest things in all of Boston sports. I love it so much. And I love them so much. And the mutual respect and love they have for each other - and the empathy because of the serious health issues they've both faced - is wonderful and probably rare in this era of giant egos and even bigger paychecks. It's refreshing and it's sweet, which is a word not often associated with sports when you're not talking about champagne.

I wish I had more to add on the subject but as I've not seen everything yet, it'd be merely conjecture at this point. I look forward to watching the Ring Ceremony when I get a chance. I'm sure I'll have more thoughts at that time.

As for tonight, the Sox finally put their last Opening Day (total count: 4) behind them and get down to the business of playing some baseball. Little Jonny Lester takes the mound tonight and here's hoping he's fueled by the fire for another ring.

Oh, and I managed to score playoff tickets to next Tuesday's Game 4 match-up between the Canadiens and the Bruins. So, in all likelihood, I'll be there live and in person to see the Bruins get eliminated from the playoffs. But it's playoff hockey! It's excellent!

Anyway, happy baseball season, kids.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

America's Pastime. Key word being "AMERICA."

(Photo from Boston.com)

Don't know about you guys but I'd be perfectly okay with never having to play another game outside of the U.S. Freakin' Canada. Being all, you know, North and shit. With the Blue Jays and their irritating retro uniforms and their fireworks show indoors (brilliant idea that, forcing the teams to play through dissipating smoke for six innings) and their Toronto Baseball Rock and Roll Circus or whatever. Had about enough that, I'll tell you what.

(I kid. Toronto is actually a great city. Don't want to be playing baseball there anymore though. We're allergic to it).

And that's how Frank Thomas chooses to thank me for loving him when I was a kid? That's what he's gonna go and do? It's like that, is it, Frank? All right then, that's the way it's gonna be.

Frankly, I'm probably a little cranky because right now, the Orioles are the good child what with the staging walk-offs and making with the comeback wins and all that and the Red Sox ruined a perfectly good hangover Sunday (look, one needs to drink plenty of tequila if one is going to get up on stage at the Coolidge Corner Theater and dance along during the Michael Jackson sing-along. And yes, one did.) So my already throbbing headache was exacerbated by not only the losing but also the fact that all games played in Toronto are broadcast in some kind of Vibra-Vision that makes my TV look all unnaturally bright and rainbow colored.

And the losing.

And Julio Lugo. Because if homeboy THINKS he's starting this season with a fresh slate with me and he wants to be going and making three errors in a game, he's got something else coming.

Now it's still too early to freak out. I get that and I know it. Probably the Orioles aren't going to be winning lots of games by virtue of Luis Hernandez walk-offs (though their outfield o' excellence and youth is starting to scare the crap out of me), and it's unlikely that the Tigers are going to go 0-162 (though if they wanted to hold off on breaking that losing streak for a few more days, I'd be thrilled). Water eventually finds it's level...or something. Point being, the Sox will likely be fine. Tek's hitting. Jacoby's hitting. Hell, even JD Drew is hitting. But, you know, there are concerns.

I suppose you could just say I've turned a watchful eye upon them and I'm paying close attention. Step to it, gentlemen.

Also, unrelated to baseball but Boston sports news nevertheless is that the Bruins managed to back their asses into a playoff spot after all. I'd be wary of saying something because the last time I mentioned them, they proceeded to be done with the winning and lost all of the games in a row. But they're matched up against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs and as they've already got a historically epic losing streak going against Montreal, things really can't get much worse on that front. So perhaps it's time to invent a drinking game to at least revel in the black comedy of it all.

In fact, maybe someone should do that for the Red Sox too.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jonny Boy

(Photo from Boston.com)

What did I tell you people yesterday about Varitek hitting the home runs? Yeah, that's what I thought.

And little Jonny Lester, who, I am always surprised to hear, has the voice of an actual grown-up man and not a Dennis the Menace sidekick that I always expect him to sound like. I think it's just, with everything Jon Lester has gone through - much of it so much bigger than baseball - we as a fan base have coddled him and tried to protect him and wanted only good things for him. Which is a noble pursuit, obviously. But we sometimes forget that he's a big boy and as far as baseball is concerned, he can handle that on his own. He's dealt with bigger stuff, this baseball business ain't no thing. Personally, I will always remember the shot of his parents in the stands in Cleveland during his first game back last season and the look on his mother's face. You can't really describe it, but you know what I mean. So much relief and fear mixed with the sheer will for something good to happen. She looked like a mother, basically. I think of that look when I think of Jon Lester, more even than the fact that he was the winning pitcher in Game 4 of the World Series last year. And so when I see Jon Lester do something awesome on a baseball field, like his 6 2/3 of scoreless pitching yesterday with only one runner advancing past first base, I think of his mom's face, and what she must look like now. But then I also try to remember that Jon Lester does not want to spend the rest of his life as Cancer Survivor Jon Lester. He just wants to be a baseball player. And that's what he's focusing on.

But I will still totally get him that puppy if he wants it.

Sorry, I got a little philosophical and deep there. Mostly unintended but, you see, I broke my bed last weekend and I've had to sleep on the sleeper sofa in my living room and I think the change in scenery plus the fact that I can fall asleep watching baseball has given me some weird dreams and deep thoughts. And also a cat who has chosen to start sleeping ON MY HEAD. I live a very bizarre life, people.

But as for the baseball, can we all calm down about David Ortiz's lack of power now? Four games into the season is really not the time to be freaking out and losing our collective shit, I'm thinking. By Ortiz's own admission, he's been "fighting a lot of [expletive], man." But the dude had off-season knee surgery. Also, he's not a small man. It's gonna take some time to recover. Plus, he's been flying all over creation and I don't care how roomy the seats are, that's not gonna be terribly conducive to proper stretching techniques. But he's going to be fine. He's Papi, man, he's practically super human.

Oh, and I'm not sure how long it lasts but if you're not already, you should take advantage of the free preview of MLB Extra Innings that's going on right now. Greta and I watched the Orioles comeback win over the (Devil) Rays last night and it was a sight to see. It was also something to hear what with Jim Palmer, sorry, Hall of Famer Jim Palmer being all know-it-all Jim Palmer-y and Greta queuing up "Orioles Magic" on her laptop and singing it directly into the face of my terrified cat. Which, since it resulted in a win, is now going to have to happen pretty much every day until it stops working. I'm sure Rocky is thrilled.

But finally, what would you give to hear a Red Sox/Orioles game called by Jim Palmer and Dennis Eckersley? I have no verification on this but I'm pretty sure they hate each other - probably stemming from an incident with a "lady friend" back in the day - and I think there'd be a lot of insults flying about feathered mullets and hair helmets and by the sixth inning, someone would probably have to step in and separate them when Eckersley started making snide comments about "The Money Store." It'd be comedy gold. We need to make this happen.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Matsuzaka Mania

(Photo from Boston.com)

Whatever, y'all, that was a home run. Not that it ended up mattering because Tek's "double" provided the go-ahead and eventual winning run anyway but don't be thinking I won't bring that up later on in the season when people are all, "Tek has no power," "Tek can't hit home runs," and all that business. Because he clearly can, but the major league umpires refuse to allow it. IT'S A VAST CONSPIRACY, I TELL YOU.
Or not. I just need coffee.

I have to admit, it was kind of nice to see both of my binkies get in on the RBI action, though really, if there is anyone out there who ISN'T counting Jacoby as one of their own, personal binkies, I would very much like to borrow the sensory deprivation chamber they've clearly been living in.

Now, can I see a show of hands for those of you who were surprised that JD Drew was scratched again? Yeah, that's what I thought. We've gotten disturbingly used to that news in Drew's short tenure in Boston. I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't wish the guy harm or anything - especially since evidence from spring training would indicate that he is, in fact in possession of some semblance of a personality - but come on, dude.

Amy and I engaged in some early game text-messaging - as one does - last night and continued with an email conversation this morning.

Me: Re: Travis Buck. I was not aware that lead singer of Nickelback played for Oakland.

Amy: Chad is following us.

Me: I hate it. Why can't it be the Jovi? He loves the sports. Additionally, we are going to have to talk about Matsuzaka's hair at some point.

Amy: I decided that Matsuzaka's mullet is where he stores his powers.

Me: I think that must be it. That has to be the explanation, right? What I am puzzled about is the color. It's reddish. Is he dying it?

Amy: It looks like he used henna. Maybe he's going to unleash his inner weirdo fashionista bit by bit. And by the last year of his contract, we won't even bat an eye.

Me: God, I hope so. Like we think he's all timid and quiet and whatever. And he's on a team with Manny so... But we forget he was totally a rock star in Japan. I can't wait until he starts wearing like leather suits and feather boas on charter flights to away games.

Amy: And giant bow ties.

Me: Obviously. I mean, it's a slippery slope. Last year it was the five-toed socks. This year, bow ties for everyone. I look forward to this.

Amy: As do we all. He's going to start sneaking in an entourage soon. We're going to learn that "translator" and "massage therapist" are just euphemisms. I can't wait till he starts requesting bottles of water that are comprised solely of the moisture found on one thousand dew-soaked lilies.

Me: And Tek will be all "GIVE THE MAN WHATEVER HE NEEDS." Because I think we're about two months away from Tek carrying Matsuzaka around in a pack on his front like a kangaroo just so he can physically prevent him from any ill that might come his way.

Amy: Maybe an ergonomic sling? To shield his face from the prying eyes of the media?

Me: YES.

Amy: He will only grant interviews to the press if he can hold a tiny monkey on his lap while speaking.

Me: And the monkey will have it's own translator.

Amy: And he won't answer any questions the monkey doesn't approve of. Also, FYI? The monkey wears a bonnet.

Me: Once again, I must reiterate my firm belief that we should run baseball.

Amy: I'm sayin'.

But hey, if a henna'd mullet or a fedora made out of penguins or a pet monkey is what Matsuzaka needs to pitch like he did last night, I say make with the goods. Because that is how I like my baseball, and I'm willing to turn over my leather goods and shiny fabric. We all gotta make sacrifices, after all.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Opening Day, er, Night. Anyway, we mean it this time.

(Photo from Boston.com)

I don't know about you, but I'm sort of looking forward to seeing baseball games broadcast at, you know, normal baseball times. Like 7:05. PM that is. Lest our international friends be getting any ideas. And I realize there's a reason for keeping the Sox out on the West coast to open the season and all that but in attempting to keep the players on a relatively normal sleep schedule, they've completely fuzzed up their fans. I mean, it's not just me, right?

5:30am, 10:40pm, 10:00pm. It's madness. What's next? A game at 4:31am? Don't get any ideas, MLB. We'll put up with a lot for the Red Sox but that doesn't mean we have to like it.

I watched a fair amount of normal time baseball yesterday including some of the Royals/Tigers game at the gym in the early goings and remembered that Justin Verlander is pretty good (though his bullpen apparently doesn't care), and Miguel Cabrera is seriously just getting bigger. Or so it seems. Then, over burgers and beers - because what's Opening Day without burgers and beers? - Greta and I watched David Wright do his damndest to make sure the Mets aren't blowing any leads to any Marlins this year, Johan Santana do dirty, dirty things to National League hitting (Greta: Seriously, what Santana is going to do to the NL this year is downright pornographic), and Jose Reyes not having the best day.

Also, Eric Gagne blew a save to the Cubs and Fukudome which...that one's too easy, right? The Brewers eventually won on a Tony Gwynn, Jr. sac fly but Eric Gagne has apparently spent the off season not bathing, not shaving, and not putting down the fork. "He just looks like he smells," my dad said when I talked to him last night. "I mean, the guy was great for the Dodgers and everything but doesn't he just look like he smells?"

"It's probably a playoff beard," I said, "isn't he a Canadiens fan?"

"Maybe he shoulda stuck with hockey."

Additionally, Greta and I observed that instead of retiring, Brett Favre has apparently aged backwards and is now pitching for the Brewers. Because you could tell me that the dude in the ski cap and parka sitting on the top step of the dugout and watching intently yesterday was Opening Day starter Ben Sheets, but I know it was Brett Favre, Jr. Would you put anything past Packers fans?

And the Orioles, well, things were promising with a lead-off walk by Brian Roberts, a bloop hit by Nick Markakis (who's number tee I wore to the gym for good mojo because, I don't know, he appreciates running?) and a wall-ball double by Millar. But that was pretty much the end of the good times for the Orioles. Because...yeah.

So while all that was fun and yay baseball and all that business, I must once again express my impatience for some Red Sox baseball. Like now. Because Paps isn't really Paps until he's Paps at home and Papi and Manny aren't really doing their Wonder Twin routine unless they're doing it for us. And Tek isn't really striking out unless...okay, yeah, that one translates. Sigh.

There's gonna be a lot of pontificating in this space over the course of the season. A lot of yelling and probably some stern words for a catcher or outfielder or reliever or such. I'll undoubtedly call Josh Beckett "Fat Head" at least once and I'm sure I'll implore Schilling to "shut up and pitch" on several occasions. But there will also be love and support and offers to buy Jon Lester a puppy if that's what he really wants. There will be judicious use of alcohol in it's many forms and perhaps, if you're lucky, you'll get to read the results of a night of tequila and bad baseball. There will be untoward things said about Jacoby Ellsbury (if you're his mother) and other, more vindictive untoward things said about JD Drew and Julio Lugo (if you're JD Drew or Julio Lugo). There will be steadfast love of Jason Varitek, deserved or not and there will be wonder and amusement and a little bit of fear of Jonathan Papelbon. There might also be pictures of Mike Lowell in a suit, should he choose to be photographed as such. That's how we roll around these parts. If you're new here, you'll figure it out. If you've been here before, thanks for sticking with me. It's good to have you along for the ride.

Baseball season is upon us. Ready for the rollercoaster?