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

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Athens v. Spart Part Eleventy-One

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Okay so, I kind of feel like Dustin Pedroia and Jason Bay are a study in opposites. Like last night you just know that Pedroia was strutting through the clubhouse all "Yeah, that's right. Hit a grand slam. That's four - count 'em - four runs at once. 'Cause I'm the man. Don't need no Manny Ramirez. You got Petey." And Jason Bay was probably sitting quietly at his locker, neatly folding his uniform for the laundry people (because he's polite) and just quietly accepting congratulations on his own four RBI night with a shrug and a head nod and some business about "just trying to help the team."

I mean, I know Bay landed on the team with kind of a splash considering who the Sox gave up to get him (I guess that's how we're parsing it now), but despite the fact that he has been every bit the All-Star outfielder they anticipated, I sometimes forget he's even around. He's just so quiet and unassuming and goes about his business that I find myself thinking, "Who the hell bats fifth in the lineup? Who's that guy? Oh, right. Jason Bay." No fault to him, of course, it's just, I guess we're still used to someone a bit, erm, louder.

Not that Pedroia isn't doing his part to make up the difference in personalities. My absolute favorite thing about Dustin Pedroia is how he has the same swing as Kevin Millar but is like half the size. And he absolutely will not back down to anyone. Didn't he get thrown out of a game in Baltimore just a little while ago for arguing with either the umpire or Daniel Cabrera? Or both? Stellar. Lil' Petey is a force and will let you know it. He'd probably also kick my ass for calling him "Lil' Petey." I just like that the guy plays with a grudge. It's endlessly amusing. Plus also, he's pretty good at baseball.

So, yeah. That happened. 11-3. I will take it. Also we got another example of Adventures in Yankee Outfielding thanks to the non-gymnastic work of Xavier Nady which is always fun and good times. And...we haz a Mark Kotsay? Sure.

Perhaps the Sox will sweep it up tonight and close down this portion of the rivalry at the Stadium in style?

Odds that Pedroia's still strutting? It's gonna take Youkilis shoving him in a laundry hamper full of dirty jock straps to shut him up, isn't it?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Athens v. Sparta, Part Eleventy

(Photo from Boston.com)

Except this time - you might've heard - this time Yankee Stadium is just weeks away from going 'splody. So apparently that means...we've decided to honor the situation by pitting Paul Byrd against legendary Yankee Sydney Ponson?

Okay, not really. I mean, that's really happening but I know it's not a Yankee Stadium tribute or anything and thank god. Frankly, there's enough Stadium wankery going around without everyone juggling their pitching staffs to have Luis Tiant facing off against Goose Gossage or whatever. Not that I'd put something like that past either team. Though, if we're going with a classic rivalry matchup, my money's on Carlton Fisk in the fight with Lou Piniella. Sure, Piniella's got the dirt kicking and the umpire insulting down but have you seen Carlton Fisk lately? That man is in shape. Probably kick Piniella's ass and not even mess up his hair.

ANYWAY, none of that has anything to do with last night's game wherein we welcome Tim Wakefield back into the baseball playing ways and Johnny Damon becomes a giant pain in the ass. The thing about Wakefield is that every time I see him pitch at Yankee Stadium, I want to give him one of those affectionate chuffs on the shoulder because if anyone feels ghosts at that place, it's Wake. Yeah, yeah, 2004 and erasing the bad memories and all that but still, 2003 leaves a mark and I can't imagine Wake's ever forgot about that. I give him credit for sacking up every time. I know he's a professional baseball player and all that but I feel like if any member of the Sox comes close to understanding what all this madness means to the fans, it'd be Wakefield. The guy's been around since 1995. That's a lifetime in today's baseball playing years.

I would also like to reiterate, apropos of absolutely nothing, that I continue to love Jed Lowrie. There's that old sports adage that a starter doesn't lose his spot because of injury but I wonder what Drew Bledsoe would say about that and if he'd have any sympathy for Julio Lugo. And I liked Bledsoe. I'm just saying, sometimes the backup shouldn't be the backup. (Do not get any ideas, Matt Cassel).

So one down, two to go. Two more go-rounds at the Stadium. My rooting interests aren't exactly secret nor subtle so I don't think anyone would be surprised to hear that I will pop some popcorn and watch the place implode but hey, if Tim Wakefield wants to join me, he's more than welcome.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Back to your regularly scheduled blogging

You guys? I'm sorry. I owe you an apology. I've been, you know, distracted. Because I'm totally patriotic and love my country or whatever. (Sure, that's totally it). But as the closing ceremonies, erm, close, I'm back. Promise. I won't neglect you or the Sox any longer. I'm in it for the long run. Playoff push and all that.

So bring it, I'm all in. Let's get this thing going.

And about those Olympics...are Amy and I correct in deducing that the only things you need for a successful closing ceremonies are Jackie Chan, $40 billion, and a shit ton of LSD?

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

"Pitching out of jams all night."

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Honestly, "pitching out of jams all night" should probably be Matsuzaka's middle name. So much does he love loading the bases and working full counts and walking guys that, by all reason, should have struck out, that it's a wonder to me that he's actually 15-2. Which is also why I called Lester the team's ace yesterday. It's just...even Tito thinks watching Matsuzaka pitch is frustrating. That was his word, "frustrating." Probably because you can't swear on TV. Unless you're Josh Beckett apparently.

That said, I will take the result. Jason Varitek, clearly happy that he doesn't have to suffer under the weight of his secret pain anymore, hit another home run and looks like he might, maybe, just possibly if we don't look too closely, be remembering how to hit a baseball. Maybe. No guarantees. But that would be nice.

And frankly, if Kevin Youkilis doesn't get some MVP votes this season, I'll initiate a letter-writing campaign to MLB on his behalf. Won't you join me? In addition to the hitting - both consistent and clutch - he's also been playing first at a Gold Glove clip and is now playing third in Mike Lowell's stead. I'd ask if there's anything he can't do but then I worry that Tito would get some fancy idea about him playing shortstop and honestly, I'm not sure I care to see Youks torn in two.

The fact that the game featured both Matsuzaka and Daniel "spells of wildness" Cabrera and ISN'T still happening is really a wonder and something for which we should all be grateful. Because I love Baltimore, I do. It's one of my favorite cities and Camden Yards is a beautiful park and the fans are good people. But someone is going to die if everyone in attendance is forced to watch the starters walk the ballpark and pitch like they're getting free candy with every ball. And for the Red Sox fans in attendance? I have one word for you: BEHAVE. Don't be that guy. You know what I'm talking about. The guy who calls Camden Yards "Fenway South" and badmouths Dave Trembley and Nick Markakis because he likes hearing himself talk. Stop it. Also, Dave Trembley would probably kick your ass.

Now, I can't be the only one excited about the possibility of Baltimore native Michael Phelps throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at an upcoming Orioles game and the subsequent friendship that'll form between Phelps and Markakis where they'll spend most of their time sitting around in their boxers and eating cereal while watching Sportscenter with occasional breaks for Wii bowling and Go-Kart racing can I? What about when it inevitably becomes a reality show on ESPN 40? Don't tell me you wouldn't watch that. The episode where they get tattoos is my favorite. It would be, as Kim pointed out, like that scene in "Dude, Where's My Car?" where they get "Dude" and "Sweet" tattooed on their shoulders and spend like ten minutes yelling "Dude!" and "Sweet!" at each other. Awesome.

My head is an interesting place to be, people.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wonder Twin Powers Unite!

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

So apparently Jason Bay and El Capitan were engaged in a little game of "anything you can do, I can do better" last night against the Orioles. With Tek hitting what was evidently a towering shot - perhaps as his way of telling everyone that his personal troubles are none of our damn business and can we please focus on baseball now thanks? - and Bay smacking two, it was all Jason Power, all the time. Not bad.

Also, Jon Lester, who I think can legitimately be called the team ace right now. Especially considering how Beckett stunk things up on Sunday. Frankly, I'm assuming that Beckett and I were both suffering from a hangover brought on by toasting Michael Phelps with an entire bottle of tequila so maybe we should be glad Olympic swimming is over so Beckett can re-focus on pitching and being angry and downloading illegal Dave Matthews bootlegs. And so my liver can recover.

As for Tek, it really isn't any of our business, his personal matters. But if it explains why he's been circling the Mendoza Line all season, well, at least it's an explanation. I guess I think of major league catchers - the good ones at least - kind of like football coaches. They spend all their time watching film and studying the opponents and learning tendencies and strategies that I can't imagine they have that much time for a personal life. Which is not to say that it doesn't suck for Tek, it surely does. But, you know, again, not our business. Though I suspect Papelbon better ready the Hide-A-Bed for when the Papelfetus makes it's triumphant entrance into this world. Uncle Jason will need to be on call for the midnight feedings.

Tonight Matsuzaka goes against Daniel Cabrera which matchup has the potential to set the record for most walks allowed...ever. It could happen, right?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bromances for the Ages

(Awww, now that's love)

Amy and I have a new InSite piece out wherein we explore the different types of sports bromances.

Not to excite you too much but Dunkaroos, the "Ninja Rap" and, of course, Air Supply are mentioned.


Rangers/Red Sox Unclear on Location of Track Meet

(Photo from Boston.com)

No, no, I get it. Totally understandable confusion. Boston/Beijing. Practically the same thing. Both, you know, cities. With...people. And...buildings. Oh, and cars. Sometimes cars too. Completely makes sense to me that the Rangers and Red Sox would therefore get confused and decide to stage an impromptu track meet at Fenway last night. Totally.

Plus, you just KNOW that Dustin Pedroia firmly believes he could be an Olympic sprinter if he "felt like it." Probably thinks that Michael Phelps kid is a punk too. He wins gold medals, sure, but has he ever stood in against a K-Rod fastball? Didn't think so.

Anyway, wild night at Fenway. The game is over, right? I'd hate to think that my friends who were in attendance are still there, forced to move into the bleachers and build a makeshift shelter out of discarded French fry containers and dirty beer cups. Wouldn't want to see them fighting the pigeons for the stray sunflower seeds. That'd be tragic.

That said, how do we all feel about Charlie Zink? I feel like we've been talking about him for years - possibly because knuckleballers are an endangered species - so it's good to finally see the boy called up. Not good that Wakefield is hurt but perhaps he's just experiencing a little Old Man-itis and will be fine in due time. Plus, "Zink" is really kind of fun to say.

Also? Jed Lowrie. What did I tell you? Am I right or am I right? Actually, come to think of it, has anyone seen Julio Lugo and his Aptly Timed Exploding Quad around lately? Is he selling the aforementioned sunflower seeds at a concession stand along the third base line perhaps? That'd be about in line with his skill set.

So. That happened. But when the dust cleared, the Sox had prevailed. Finally. Amy called it the "Choose Your Own Adventure" school of bullpen management and she's dead on. Perhaps we all need a nap before tonight?

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Doing Good

(Kim and her mom)

If I make take a break for a moment from the snark and sarcasm-laden tirades that usually grace this space and speak candidly about something that's of great importance to me...

Reader Kim, who, among other things, is loyal and lovely and showed up to Dougie Night and sometimes makes with the extra tickets to Red Sox games is raising money for the Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk on September 28th. Kim's mom has been diagnosed with the disease and Kim needs all of our help to meet her fundraising goal and take a huge step towards eradicating this terrible disease.

I have personal history with Alzheimer's as my Memere, my mom's mom, also suffered from it. You'll all be getting a similar plea from me next year for marathon fundraising for the same cause. But for right now, let's all support Kim.

Basegirl readers have proven to be a dedicated and loyal bunch and I trust we can all band together in our support for something this worthwhile. Chances are, you know someone who has also been affected by this disease.

So please help Kim out. Donate. Or walk. Or volunteer.

Thanks, guys.

You're the best.


I hear tell it was a good game.

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

I was drinking tequila. Until 2am.

But apparently Jacoby made a great catch (Alex Cora is aghast. AGHAST!), hit a home run and Kevin Youkilis got hit with a pitch, fell down and writhed around in pain for an hour. As he is wont to do.

Also, the Sox gave Wakefield some run support so he can refrain from putting rotten elk meat in their lockers for another day.

That's all I got. Like I said, tequila.

Oh, and evidently Brett Favre is a Jet now. Okay, homeboy, if that's the way you want things. He does know that playing in the same division as Randy Moss is not the same as playing with Randy Moss, right?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Once and Future Shortstop

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

I know I haven't mentioned it yet, probably because I was afraid that voicing it would scare it away. But last night's triple and Gold Glove-ish play dictates that I say something. You guys? I think I'm in love with Jed Lowrie. Sure, sure, it'd be easy for me to say that simply because he's NOT Julio Lugo. And I mean, honestly, isn't that enough of a reason to love anyone? Know who else I love because they're not Julio Lugo? The guy at the Dunkin' Donuts. The bus driver of the 86. The homeless man who always wishes me a good day whether I give him any change or not. You. My mom. Really, anyone who isn't Julio Lugo is pretty okay with me.

That said, I think I might love Jed Lowrie on his own merits. The boy can hit and he can field and he has that "Aww schucks" look about him which is actually rarer in Boston than one might expect given the insane expectations placed on these boys and the attendant entitlement they often cultivate. But Lil' Jedders as he is known among the Basegirl faithful (that being me and Amy) still looks like the kid on the Little League team who helps the coach out by carrying the extra bats to the on deck circle and will even sweep the sunflower seeds out of the dugout without being asked. I mean, probably he still calls Tito "Mr. Francona." Which, actually, probably makes Tito a little uncomfortable but then again, he's a bit more relaxed these days, minus a Manny and plus an "official" green tea endorsement.

So yes, Jed Lowrie. Acquitting himself rather well, I'd say. Now, let's forget I said anything.

Additionally, Josh Beckett must've taken what I said yesterday to heart and watched some Sam Peckinpah movies while pounding some Red Bull prior to his start. Which...whatever works.

And finally: Now, Brett? NOW you realize that Green Bay doesn't want you back. NOW you're getting the message? After they offered you TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS to stay home, you're just now realizing that maybe they'd like you to stay away? Christ, Brett, I've always liked you and all but you make any psychotic, stalker-ish girls I've ever met look positively balanced. Someone really should have given you a copy of "He's Just Not That Into You." Might've saved us all a lot of trouble.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Close but not quite

(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)

Life has got to be pretty frustrating for Clay Buchholz right now. You gotta figure he came up last year, threw a no-hitter in his second ever major league start and assumed he had this pitching thing in the bag. But then he got the world's most complicated hangnail and was sent down to the minors for seemingly endless rehab starts and he had to start thinking that he was being replaced. Every time an opportunity arose for him to rejoin the big club, there was some reason he couldn't. And then Jon Lester became the go-to young pitcher and threw his own no-hitter, plus everyone seemed to like him a little more and now he's the stopper and Little Claybelline just can't catch a break.

Sure, there was that thing where his dad told Howard Stern or whomever that Clay was sleeping with a Penthouse Pet but really, that was just weird. And not so much about the baseball. And Jon Lester is engaged now anyway so probably everyone is out buying him place settings and food processors and espresso machines and now Clay doesn't have anyone to play Wii Mario Kart with.

Buchholz probably figured this erratic pitching was a phase and he'd snap out of it but now he's winless in his last seven starts and despite a shaky beginning from Royals' starter Gil Meche last night, it was Meche who eventually settled down and the Sox took a loss.

And Clay Buchholz is sad.

Normally, I'd tell Buchholz to trust in 'Tek since that seems to be the cure for what ails most young pitchers (and sometimes older ones, Curtis). But he probably feels like 'Tek doesn't have time for him right now what with him painting the nursery for the Papel-fetus and purchasing outlet covers and Diaper Genies. ("No, Jonathan, it's not actually a magical genie. It's just a diaper pail called...you know what? Never mind.")

So maybe Buchholz just needs to be surrounded by some good pitching? Sure, why not? Lester certainly did his part in his last start so tonight it's up to Beckett, who has had his own problems of late. So...time to sack up and show Claybelline how it's done? Thought so.

Monday, August 04, 2008


(Photo from Boston.com)

Jason Bay has an exceedingly good PR team. Or so it would seem. Perhaps it's just his apparent willingness to get important hits, play the field like he means it and say all the right things. But still, things appear to be going well for the gentleman.

Jason Bay has never fielded this many interview requests. I guarantee it.

Of course, it's early times yet, and Red Sox fans have nothing if we don't have long memories. Point being, we aren't going to forget the guy who left anytime soon, no matter how well Mr. Bay does. But I like to think we'll continue to be this welcoming to the newcomer. At the moment, it would appear that we love him and he loves us. It's a regular mutual admiration society going on here. A lovefest for days.

Especially from Tito. Tito LOVES Jason Bay. I caught part of his postgame press conference on Saturday and he looked as though he'd gotten a good night's sleep for the fist time in ages. Which, come to think of it, might actually be true. "I guess I didn't realize he was so fast," Tito said of Bay, "He just turns and plays that ball off the wall and gets it in so fast. I didn't realize that." Understandable considering that previously "playing the ball off the wall" often meant "disappearing into it."

So right now is the era of good feelings which is always nice following a trade of this sort. A sweep is the best possible way to begin Life After Manny, especially with the new guy contributing in such a big way. Of course, we also do revisionist history here in Boston so if the team should fall to the Royals and drop further out of contention, I expect the Manny Lovers to come out of the woodwork and demand some sort of reversal of the trade. Not gonna happen. Jason Bay is our left fielder now. Learn it. Live it. Love it.

Now, what can we do about trading Ken Macha to Kansas City? Look, I'm sure Macha's a nice guy, but he is Ambien in a suit. Yesterday, Amy and I were at the Coolidge Corner Clubhouse watching the pregame interviews from Yawkey Way and admiring the way in which Lou Merloni was sleeping with his eyes open.

Amy: He is staring at Ken Macha and fantasizing about biting him in the neck.

Me: "I know one hundred ways to kill you with this headset, Ken."

Amy: Or he's playing tic-tac-toe with Kathryn Tappan.

Me: He is just staring at the side of his head. Just staring. Is that his listening face?

Amy: It's his "I will bite you and it will be so quick, no one will notice. You'll fall to the floor and Kathryn and I will continue discussing Matsuzaka's pitch count without you" face.

Me: I think I might love Lou Merloni.

Amy: I know you do.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Gone, Baby, Gone

(Photo from Boston.com)

And Manny washes his hands of Boston...

I don't know. Maybe I should have more to say about this. Several thousand other people already have, most more eloquently than I ever could. Maybe I should be more upset, or questioning the motives behind the trade or wondering how Manny will fare under Joe Torre but honestly, I reacted to the whole thing with a shrug. It's like I said yesterday, in the relationship between Manny, the Red Sox and the fans of Boston, it feels like we've been breaking up for years. This just makes it official.

Honestly, I didn't think they were gonna trade him this time either. I figured a team in the midst of a playoff race which, frankly, has been stinking it up of late, wouldn't trade a future Hall of Famer just because of some chemistry issues. It seems I underestimated the depth of those issues. And if that's the reason? Then I applaud the team. If this truly becomes a matter of addition by subtraction, then good for them.

Because the bottom line is that none of us know Manny Ramirez. We think we do because we assume he's the carefree manchild who high-fives fans in the middle of double plays and lovingly strokes Julian Tavarez's head in the dugout. But really, none of us know him. He might be every bit the harmless, tiny flag-waving, overgrown kid we assume. But I suspect he's much pricklier than that. And that the situation was more complicated than we, as fans are ever going to know.

Which is why this is hard. Because how does a team justify to its fan base, pulling off a trade like this? Honestly, I'm not sure they have to. The Boston Red Sox, for all intents and purposes, are one of the role model franchises for Major League Baseball. They have money, sure, and they can afford hired mercenaries when they need to. But they also have an impressive farm system which has, over the course of recent seasons, netted us such players as Pedroia, Ellsbury, Papelbon, Lester and Buchholz. Players without which, we would have never won a World Series last year. So it's a combination. And because of their financial clout, the Sox are often able to absorb the hit of a trade or signing gone bad (Eric Gagne, BK Kim), and soldier on, relying on the lesser know and less expensive players to step up.

Of course, through it all, there's been Manny.

Or, more accurately, there has and there hasn't. Because sometimes, Manny wasn't there. You don't need me to reiterate instances of Manny failing to act as part of the team. If you think about it, you can remember them without too much effort. And that is part of the problem.

I learned a long time ago that wins and losses and championships are always going to mean more to the fans than to the team. By necessity, they have to, otherwise the players would never get out of bed the morning after a devastating loss. But as fans, we still want to know that our players care. It's why we loved guys like Trot Nixon. It's why I still miss Kevin Millar. It's why, frankly, I'm sad about seeing Brandon Moss go. Manny never really had that.

I am quite certain that Manny loves playing baseball and I have defended his carefree attitude before by saying that he probably doesn't understand what people get so worked up about seeing as how baseball is a game and games are supposed to be fun. And there's some validity to that. There is truth in it. These men play a little boy's game for a living and they do it for insane amounts of money, fame and adoration. They should absolutely have fun. But with that fun comes the responsibility to your fans, your teammates and your own legacy to the game. You have to respect it.

Despite being relatively young, I'm a baseball purist. I don't like sushi at the ballpark and I want Fenway Park to stand forever. But I also want my players to know what it means to me, personally, to watch them hustle out an easy grounder. I want them to understand, on some fundamental level, that their performance affects my mood. I want them to know - when their pitching and offense and defense and timely hits and talent and luck come together to result in a championship - how that feels for me, as a fan. I want them to understand how heartbroken and devastated I am after a playoff loss. That's their responsibility and it's perhaps a burden to some. But it should be an honor.

I would never claim that Manny Ramirez isn't anything other than a fantastic baseball player. He absolutely is. But there is a reason I never fell in love with him like I did with Jason Varitek or Trot Nixon or David Ortiz. Those guys felt like they belong(ed) to us. Manny felt like he thought we belonged to him. And when you do things like tell the fans they don't deserve you and react like a spoiled child when someone doesn't get you the tickets you need (that act particularly really soured me on Manny of late because of my soft spot for older people, especially old baseball men), you are not treating us right. Because people in Boston love the Red Sox. Before it became everyone's favorite bandwagon to love to hate, Red Sox Nation was a real thing with real fans who would sell everything they owned to see the Sox win. It still matters that much to some people. Those are the people who deserve the respect of their players. Those are the people who someone like Manny, in his current incarnation, doesn't deserve.

So that's that. The trade's done and we move on. Jason Bay - an All-Star in his own right - comes to Boston and I'm choosing to focus on what the Sox have gained rather than what they gave up. Because they always tell us that professional sports is a business first and foremost, and, as a fan, that's often hard to swallow. But the Red Sox have their reasons. I am choosing to respect them.

Maybe the fact that I am not all worked up about this means I'm a bad fan. Maybe I'm just done with the drama and am anxious to get back to fundamental baseball, wins and losses, double plays and strike outs. Or maybe this will hit me in a few months and I'll decide it's the worst thing the Red Sox have ever done. I doubt it, but I doubted they'd ever trade Manny. Stranger things have happened.

So, like we do after every Sox loss, we move on. We go forward with a new left fielder and a new perspective. No one is above the game and no one should be bigger than it. You don't get the Hall of Fame named after you, you get to be part of it. Our parts are just changing.

Apparently, I did have something to say after all.