Thursday, April 30, 2009

Jon Van Every: Putting the "Van" in "Vantastic"

He definitely was pretty Vantastic last night. Hitting, catching, RBI'ing... how can you possibly ask for more? I am continuously impressed with our farm system. Really, how cna you not be? These guys really want to be in the show, and they're working so hard to prove they belong here. It's incredible to realize that a large percentage of our roster could right now be replaced with minor leaguers who want their shot, and we would still probably win games. Lots of games.

I need Van Every to continue doing really well, because I really like saying he was Vantastic. It just rolls right off the tongue.... and coming up with a nickname that can fit 'van' or 'every' and still has negative connotations isn't happening, so he's just going to have to continue to play really well.

Jon LESTER, on the other hand, didn't really look so good. Five runs in six innings isn't the kind of quality start we need from him or his right-handed twin Josh. One or both of them needs to step up and be dominating, because watching them flounder at the same time is annoying. Don't get me wrong, Jon had an ok start against the Yankees, and Josh... well, he pitched against the Yankees. That's about the best I can do for him. When are either of them going to realize that the season already started and they need to be the good versions of themselves consistently? I hope it happens soon. I'd like to see them both get into a rhythm. With a starting rotation that looks as good on paper as ours does, no one would expect that Tim Wakefield would be the best pitcher we have. So, here's to hoping that this was the last mediocre start that Lester makes for the season.

Mike Lowell has grounded into 8 double plays this year. He leads the majors in double plays. Dustin Pedroia is second to him with 5, and Jacoby Ellsbury is a close third with four. I'm really focused on these double plays. They really bother me! Mike has grounded into 145 DP's in his 12 year career, which means that 5% of his career DP's have come in this month alone. This disturbs me. How the heck is this guy batting over .300? He's so busy GIDP'ing! I love Mikey though. Funny thing is that he has the exact same amount of doubles on the season as he does DP's... so he's either getting two, or taking two away. My guess, without looking at any pitch data is that when he pulls the ball, he gets his doubles, and when he tries to drive it to the opposite field, he ends up with a double play. But who knows?

John Smoltz has had a minor setback, and it expected to be delayed by a couple of weeks. I still retain hope that he'll pitch on June 19th...

Josh tonight vs. the spitting machine. Let's hope for '07 JPB instead of '08 JPB. Ok? Good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Brad Penny: I Think Bowden's knocking at your Locker

My favorite phrase during the tail end of the Coco years was "Jacoby's knocking at your locker." Well, I feel that the phrase (minus the Jacoby part) still has some life in it. I've never really liked Penny. I didn't like him when we first picked him up. I didn't like him out in LA, but I thought... ok, it's a low-risk move. I can deal with it.

Despite my ability to deal with it, I'm not really sure I want to.

Let's consider... Penny has made four starts for us. Despite the fact that he's 2-0, he has an 8.66 ERA, has pitched only 17.2 innings (averaging right around 4.1 per start), has given up 24 hits (17 ER), 5 HR and 11 BB. Opponents are batting 3.20 against him. He ranks 375th ERA across all of major league baseball... and while I'll admit that these stats aren't the be all, end all of stats, it makes you think (Dice-K, for the record, ranks 407th with a 12.79 ERA). Last night's other starter, Anthony Reyes, is higher on the list than Penny. Now let's compare!

Michael Bowden, who would be starting on just about every other team, is sporting a handy 0.64 ERA in three starts and 14.00 IP (averaging 4.2 per start). 10 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, and 15 K. Averaging about the same IP as Penny per outing, but seemingly knows how to throw a baseball better. And don't forget, we already saw him this year, and he looked good. Not Bowden? You don't want to rush him too much? Ok, that's cool.

Try this instead. Clay Buchholz... 2.45 ERA, 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 HR, 7 BB, 12 K's. He's got the major league experience, and it won't be considering rushing if you bring him back now. Plus, Dahmer deserves another chance to prove that last year was just a little flukey. Still no? Ok...

How about Enrique Gonzalez? Charlie Zink? Junichi Tazawa? Christopher Walken?! Come on, any of these guys could throw more strikes than Penny. I honestly would rather see the job go to one of our itty bitty baby Sox. I guess we can always wait until Smoltz is ready to go.

Honestly, though, if our number 5 starter being ineffective, and our closer allowing a few runs are our biggest problems, we're ok.

Actually, I wanted to comment on Papelbon. I would, uh, really appreciate slightly less drama, but I can live with it. If we have a three run lead, and he gives up one run, that's ok. Don't get me wrong. I worry about the long-term implications of his extra work, but I'm not really panicked yet.

Double plays are also part of our biggest problem. We actually rank 2nd in double plays behind the Seattle Mariners. We have 22, they have 23. The Tigers and the Dodgers are tied for second with us with 22. Toronto has grounded into 21, So the top five are relatively close. Six teams have grounded into 18 DP's. Two have 17, four have 16, one has 15. The Arizona Diamondbacks have the fewest DP's... they've only grounded into 8. That... that is what we need to strive to achieve. 8 DP's in a month is very very tolerable. We tend to get more like 8 per series, which just hurts me emotionally. While we have not grounded into the most DPs in the league, we're not too far off. We need to stop this. I don't know how to stop it, but I'll continue pondering this issue and hopefully get back to it with a solution. It's gotta be something along the lines of stop swinging at bad pitches, but I just can't be sure...

Tough loss last night, providing further evidence of why I don't like Javier Lopez (and you can't make me!), but we've got Binky on the mound tonight, ready to start a new win streak.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

JayBay: Being All Dramatic In The Late Innings

What is it about the 9th inning that turns JayBay into the Papi of 2006? Does he start sitting closer to him in the 8th inning unconsciously? Does he have mango salsa between innings? Does he walk around the dugout, pre-9th, mumbling quietly to himself "...and that's why they call ME Big Papi"? Honestly now, can you even picture JayBay calling himself Big Papi? Even just the thought of that makes me feel uncomfortable. It doesn't seem like something he would do. Whatever it is that he's doing to lead up to the 9th, I pray to the gods of baseball that he keeps doing it.

Kerry Wood doesn't have the same reputation as Mariano Rivera, but JayBay made sure that they got the same results when they faced him. That right there is drama. Waiting until the 9th inning, waiting until your entire team looks exhausted beyond belief and can no longer put effort into baseball, to hit a game winning home run (or a game tying one, but we're talking about last night's game, not Friday night's game). The fun thing about JayBay is that we haven't had him long enough to get a complete feel for who he is as a player. There are scouting reports, and the last few months of the '08 season, but you really need to watch a guy for an entire season to know how they're going to respond to the pressure of Boston. I think that the pressure is making Jason shine. I really do hope he keeps it up. He's very talented, and I'd like to see him kept around for a while.

So, yesterday morning I started receiving angry text messages from friends bitching about Nick Green being benched for Julio Lugo, which of course did not happen yesterday, as if these people did not know that Lugo was going to be activated LONG before he was actually activated. My stance is this... we just got through with Earth Day, and there's been a big push (presumably globally) to "Go Green." Hey, if Green is good enough for the Earth, he's good enough for Red Sox Nation, right? I don't hear any countries, never mind planets, pushing for us to "Go Lugo." They might be pushing, but then again "Lugo" could very well mean something different in Scandinavian than it does in English. Maybe in Scandanavia, a Lugo is something that gets on base and fields well. Unfortunately, that's not how it works here. So work towards saving the planet and just stay Green (even if he does clash with the uniforms!)

I know, the job is actually Lugo's to lose, because Theo, for some reason, seems to be in love with him. Whatever. He'll lose it on his own merits. I truly believe that he will. Remember, when Green makes a bad play on the field, he gets a hit or two to make up for it. Can we say the same about certain POS's? No.

I would be hard pressed to write a long-winded post about last night's game without dedicating at least some space to the incredible pitching of Timothy last night. 1 hit in 7 innings? Tim was rolling... so were his knucklers... behind/in front of George Kottaras. Every time a Wakefield catcher misses a ball, I reactionarily burst out with 'Dougie would have had that.' I'm hoping one day that I can stop doing that. Perhaps before Wake retires...?

Anyhow, congratulations to Mikey, the AL Player of the Week. Even with that bad hip, he managed to leg out a triple yesterday, even if he was stranded at 3rd. It's ok. We still won. Way to go, Mikey!

(insert cheesy 'Penny' pun here)... so let's go for the full dozen tonight and hopefully take solo hold of the AL East.

Monday, April 27, 2009

CRW: If You Fool Yourself, He Will Make You Happy

I'm sure most Sox fans watching the game last night shared that same 'holy shit!' reaction when Ells stole home. I was lying on the floor, stretching my poor back when he took off, and I just remember hearing the commentators scream something on TV, so I looked up quickly (straining the muscle in my back that's been giving me problems all over again) and waited a second just to see our boy flop onto home plate.

He flopped. He didn't slide gracefully, he flopped. It was the best flop I had ever seen.

I remember the shame and embarassment of Carl Crawford's steal of home vs. Jason Johnson. I felt humiliated for Johnson. Stealing home makes the opposing team look bad. I don't care how good of a play it was... it ALWAYS makes the other team look bad. Jacoby made Andy Pettitte and Jorge Posada look bad AND made Drew look good at the same time. Without that steal, there is no way Drew would have gotten that double. Because let's face it, Drew was brutal this weekend.

In three games against the Yankees, Drew had 10 AB... he had one hit. One RBI... 2 K's... he grounded into three double plays. In the slugfest on Saturday, Drew's crowning glory was getting 2 walks and scoring a run. We had 16 RBI's in that game, and Drew got exactly zero of them. In all fairness, he wasn't the only one without an RBI... Youk and Green also had zero RBI's. But Youk did walk once, get two hits, and scored 4 runs (he was hit by a pitch, of course). And now JD has a busted leg. Give me a break. He honestly is made out of glass, isn't he?

I'll cut him some slack. Everyone has bad series, but it just seemed like Drew was the constant rally killer. Let's hope when he gets back into games, he'll get himself back in gear. Because my eyes hate bleeding. They really do.

Beckett was ugly on Saturday. Lester was good, but inefficient with his pitches on Friday. Fetus was incredible on Sunday. For that matter Hunter Jones and Michael Bowden were mighty impressive, and Saito is the '07 Okajima of '09. Okajima didn't even do THAT bad. He gave up one run on his own, and 2 runs scored because of a rare error from Munchkin. Our bullpen was incredible. Theirs... not so much. However, terrible call by Tito keeping Beckett in the game when he so obviously didn't have it. Tito was, seemingly, the only one who didn't realize that Beckett was done for the day. Thank God we pulled out that win.

The 'Tek grand slam? Honestly the last thing I expected to happen in this series. I would have predicted Ellsbury stealing home and Mikey ascending skyward in brilliant rays of light and happiness before I ever predicted that GS. Because Tek only has two in his long career. One against the Royals and one against the Orioles... not exactly the cream of the crop in baseball these days. But now... now Tek has three, and he's still yet to hit one off of a formidable opponent.

I kid... but that Yankee pitching staff is pretty bad. I hope AJ, Sabbathia, and eMpTy were worth neglecting the bullpen. My guess is that they're not.

I do, however, request to never have to listen to Joe Morgan again. Ever. He was mumbling something about how Jacoby Ellsbury's base stealing is completely dependant on how often he gets on base.




Jacoby's base stealing is completely dependant on how often he gets on base.



Isn't everyone's base stealing completely dependant on how often they get on base, or is that now a characteristic unique to our boy Jacoby? Just even thinking about what point he was really trying to make causes my brain to twitch. Have you ever had your brain twitch? It's not comfortable. I think that one line did me in for the rest of the game. I had to spend the rest of the innings bedridden. It was terrible, and very cozy all at the same time.

We're counting on Timmy to keep alive the streak that he started. Can he do it? I think he can. Scratch that... I KNOW he can. Go Sox.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Tim Wakefield: He Doesn't Lose Games For Me

While I missed his highness Dave Roberts throwing out the first pitch due to some train delays, I ended up with a pretty good game. Sure, seven innings is abbreviated, and I missed the first one, but we got there in time for the second one!

We were there for Nick Green's 2-run home run. We were also there for Mr. Awesome's 2-run home run. We saw the offense put a 10 up on that board, and threaten more. We would have gotten a few more runs if not for the rain, I just know it.

Well, like Paps and Delcarmen say... blame it on the rain.

I'm thrilled at all the runs they've been scoring for Timothy. He deserves them. He almost never gets any run support. Strangely enough, despite the lack of run support in the last couple of years, Tim Wakefield has never lost a game where I was watching him pitch live. And i've seen him pitch live SO often. He doesn't always get the win, but the team always wins when he's on the mound and I'm in the park. I thank Tim very much for this consistency, because I definitely don't get it from our other starters.

So now that Jon and Josh have been switched in the lineup (does it really matter anyway since they're becoming the same pitcher?), Tito has officially done it to me again. Instead of being scheduled to see Beckett twice in June, I'm now on track to see Jon twice in June. Which I don't really mind that much, but come on. I want some live Beckett. I just can't win. Tito does this to spite me. And don't give me the bull about five game suspension blah blah blah... it could have been avoided. They could have just skipped him. We had an off-day anyway. Thanks a lot, Teets.

And happy belated 50th birthday, Teets. Even if you don't like him, the guy helped us to two world series. I hope he enjoyed his birthday and two wins yesterday.

Hopefully if I ever get around to it, I'll post up some pictures from the game.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Josh Beckett: Making Everyone In His Own Image?

I don't even remember exactly how it happened, but I managed to stumble onto this piece from Out In Center Field... and I nearly spit out my soda laughing so hard.

I for one, would be insanely, delusionally thrilled if all of a sudden, we staged our own Star Wars: Attack of the Clones sequel, with all the Clones being Beckett clones... except these clones will pitch, win games, talk with a southern accent, and generally be badass.

There are few things that I dislike about Beckett. His inability to admit when he pitched badly is one of them... I cannot, off the top of my head, think of another one. I noticed that recently about Lester, but for some reason, it was more precious when Lester did it. I think his quote was "I don't think I pitched as badly as the box score shows." It was something like that. He still needs work. Beckett would have said "I was throwing the ball really well today. They just hit my pitches." I've heard him say things along these lines many times before. He will continue to say it in the future. I do hope that Jon doesn't quite reach that level of arrogance. It works for Josh, but it would make me shake my head sadly at Jon.

I like the facial hair. Facial hair is something that I appreciate on baseball players and rock stars alike. Not too many professions boast people with wacky facial hair, but baseball players and rockers can still pull it off. I don't think it looks ridiculous on Jon OR Josh, but I do acknowledge that Josh uses it as a method to define his non-existant chin. He doesn't have a chin. I will fight you to the death on this (Ok, not so much). So he uses the facial hair as a way to give the illusion of a chin. Jon has a chin. I've seen it. If I look to my left, there's a picture of Jon with a clearly defined chin. He doesn't need the facial hair, but I still think it works for him. Look, if you want to change your image from cancer survivor to badass, you've got to have some wicked facial hair (See: Lowell, Michael Averett). It can be wicked disturbing or wicked awesome, it just has to be wicked. This is the one area where I think Josh had a smaller impact on Jon than Mikey did. But I could be wrong. Wicked facial hair : put a check mark next to Jon for that.

The wardrobe... yeah, it's pretty obvious that Jon and Josh have been going shopping together, or trading clothes... or maybe Jon is just stealing Josh's stuff when he's not looking. I don't really have a problem with it. It's a little silly, but I think it works for the badass image that Josh is going for (and obviously if Josh is going for something, so is Jon). Black clothing with odd or silly designs? Check. I much MUCH prefer this look to some of the silly button-up shirts I've seen Josh in. I'm glad he's not infecting people with THAT fashion sense.

The necklaces? Josh swears by them. I read that a long while back. Maybe that's where he gets his power from. I don't know. What I do know is that he did hand them out to his teammates (all part of the assimilation project?) Whether they decided to wear them or not was seemingly up to Josh.

I don't care that Jon is from Tacoma, WA... I love southern accents, and I will never complain when I hear someone talk with a southern accent, even if it is completely unwarranted. Even when he just tosses in an occassional 'y'all,' I can't help but grin. Love it. Good work, Joshua! He can make them ALL talk in southern accents for all I care. You know what? Maybe he should buy them all cowboy hats and make them... ok, yeah, my mind is taking this too far. I'm going to stop.

So if Josh wants to make a not-so-mini-me out of Jon, I'm ok with that. They can be the scariest twins in the league. We can have a bona fide ace from both sides of the mound. I do not see anything wrong with this! But seriously, Josh needs to leave Fetus alone. There's no way I can look at him as a badass, no matter how hard I try. I just end up grinning and thinking of cookies.

Rainout last night found me sitting at Fenway for over two hours, waiting for the rain to stop... which I knew it wouldn't. If I hadn't gone, the rain would have stopped on time. If I left before the official announcement (despite seeing the Twins folks go out to the bullpen and collect their stuff a half an hour before the announcement - a sure sign that there will be no game), they would have started ten minutes after I left. No, with my luck, I had to sit in the rain. Today looks a little better, weatherwise, so hopefully Tim gives me something to cheer about.

PS - I didn't do a write-up about Fetus's Patriot's Day start, but I want to point out how wonderful he did. 5 1/3... only giving up one run. Couldn't have asked for more... especially since it was still a close game when he came out of it. It became laughable after the fact, but it was close at the time. Poor Radhames Liz, he of the 60-something ERA... they sent him back down to the minors after the game.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Excitement and W's: Pitching Wins at Fenway This Weekend

Aside from Penny's botched attempt at being fantastic, was this weekend not great from a pitching perspective?

Our bullpen on Friday night was incredible. Penny gave up 8 runs in 3 innings, and our bullpen shut them down after that. I think it was Strike Out King that allowed the inherited run to score, but other than that, nothing. Silence from the O's bats... giving our Sox the opportunity to stage a comeback. They tacked 10 runs on the board, and ended up winning a game that we looked completely out of early. Brad Penny is not allowed to pitch home games any more.

Jeremy Guthrie shouldn't be given big leads at Fenway, because he cannot win with big leads. If memory serves me, I've seen him win games with smaller leads, but those games that look like W's for the O's... they usually turn into memorable wins for us. I don't know what it is about having a large lead. Guthrie can't handle it.

Either way, doubles for Munchkin and Green, a triple for JD, home runs for Kazerud and JD. 12 H and 9 BB's... luckily, I didn't give up on this one. It looked bad early, but I had a pinched nerve in my neck, so I wasn't going anywhere anyway. Glad I stuck it out.

Saturday night, with Commander on the mound, I felt good. He looked good, until the 5th inning, but still managed to come away with the win. The thing about Joshua is that he almost always has one inning where he seems to fall apart. I'd say it happens 90% of the time. Granted, he doesn't always fall apart completely... sometimes damage is limited to one or two runs, but he falls apart. It's usually the 3rd or the 6th inning, so when he fell apart in the 5th, I was shocked and appalled. That Josh... always switching it up on me. Just when I think I know the guy. He still managed to go 6, and his ERA is still a respectable 3.79. No, it's not a GREAT ERA, but show me one guy in our starting rotation that has a great ERA right now (besides Wakey and his magical 3.00 ERA), and I'll call you a magician. That sort of thing is going to happen slowly. Still, I love watching Josh pitch.

Oki, Saito and Paps pitched one clean inning apiece, and all of them looked good.
Offense on the night was, again, excellent. Doubles from Youk, Tek, Drew, and Mikey. A home run from Youk, and a stolen base from Kazerud. 12 H and 5 BB... granted, we left a collective 20 guys on base, but I care about that so much less in games that we win. When we lose a game, I'll go right back to complaining about it.

I can't remember which game it was that Youk got hit in the head. I think it was Friday's game... but that right there was a scary moment. Even when I don't necessarily like a guy, I never EVER want to see anyone get hit in the head. Thank goodness he was A-OK. I also had a moment of schadenfreude when I saw the score from the Yankees game... but I won't repeat it here, because that's just not polite. Tee hee...

Then, there was Sunday, and we had Binky back on the mound. I felt so good about this game, I was nearly giddy to watch it. Ok, I WAS giddy to watch it. As much as I love Joshua, that's how much I love Jon. And believe me when I say it, I love the two of them dearly. I always think we're going to win when they're on the mound. Johnny gave the best pitching performance of the weekend. It's only right to save the best for last. 7 IP, 4H, 0 ER. He was excellent. I couldn't have asked for a better start. I know, I know... it's just the Orioles, and he still has a 5.50 ERA, but he's trying. He'll be ok. He'll win games against teams that can actually go somewhere.

Not for nothing, but how good has Ramon Ramirez been so far?

We only eked out 2 runs in this one... Munckin and Mr. Awesome gathered up the RBI's.... and Saito allowed a run in the 9th, but this was a good, exciting game.

Can't ask for much more than that during an entire weekend, can you?

Friday, April 17, 2009

150 Posts Later, I'm Still Missing Dougie

Wow. I completely missed my celebration for my 100th post, so my 150th will have to do.

And the awful thing is that I am unprepared. Like a college student who skipped the entire semester, didn't buy the book, and is showing up to the final. So I guess this isn't going to be a spectacular post, especially considering that there was no game yesterday so I have no praise or negativity to hand out.

I was just asked how many knuckleball pitchers in the history of major league baseball have thrown no hitters. I have no idea. This lead to a little research project. Come on, after Wake's awesome performance Wednesday, aren't you the least bit curious how often it's been done? I know I was, so as my 150th Post-a-palooza, I'm here to provide you with the information you didn't even know you craved.

My qualifications for this list were that the pitchers had to be most-known for the knuckleball (IE - Wakey). The no-hitter had to occur during the years they were known for the knuckler... for example, Ted Lyons threw a no-hitter in 1926. He didn't switch to a knuckleball until 1931, so he doesn't count. I tried to be thorough about this, but it is tricky. Unfortunately, I can only count no-hitters recognized by major league baseball because I couldn't find a more comprehensive list. Oh well. For your enjoyment...

Knuckleball Pitchers and The No-Hitters Who Loved Them

- Sept. 5th, 1908 - Nap Rucker of the Brooklyn Superbas (LA Dodgers) threw a no-hitter against the Boston Doves (Atlanta Braves). Brooklyn won 6-0

-April 14th, 1917 - Eddie Cicotte of the Chicago White Sox threw a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns (Baltimore Orioles). Chicago won 11-0

-July 17th, 1924 - Jessie Haines of the St. Louis Cardinals threw a no-no against the Boston Braves (Atlanta Braves). St. Louis won 5-0

-April 27th, 1944 - Jim Tobin (who's nickname was Abba Dabba... seriously, that's awesome) of the Boston Braves pitched a no-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers (LAD), leading Boston to a 2-0 victory

-September 20th, 1958 - Hoyt Wilhelm of the Baltimore Orioles threw an 8 K no hitter against Don Larsen and the New York Yankees. Baltimore won 1-0.

-April 23rd, 1964 - Ken Johnson of the Houston Astros, in perhaps the most bizarre knuckleball no-hitter, lost to Joe Nuxhall and the Cincinnatti Reds 1-0. The Astros logged 5 hits, but couldn't score a run. Both Johnson and Nuxhall pitched complete games. Pete Rose scored the only run of the game, on a ball hit by Vada Pinson. It seems the error that allowed the run to score was the fault of Nellie Fox.

and finally...
-August 5th, 1973 - Phil Niekro of the Atlanta Braves defeated the San Diego Padres by a score of 9-0. But I find this far less entertaining than Johnson's no-hitter.

So there you have it. In the history of major league baseball, only seven predominantly-knuckleball pitchers have thrown no-hitters. Three have happened in April, two in September, one in July, and one in August. Of all the no hitters by knuckleballers, Boston teams have been involved in three. All three times, it was the franchise that would go on to be the Atlanta Braves. In the franchise history, the Braves have been involved with 4 knuckler no-no's. The Dodgers and Orioles franchises have been involved two times apiece. Only once has the no-hitting knuckler taken a loss for a 9-inning complete game. Pretty fascinating stuff.

Anyway, what good would a 150th Post-tastic post be without mention of two of my favorite Sox alum?

My darling Ducky hit a grand slam for the Blue Jays last night. He hasn't hit a grand slam since 2003, so you know it was kind of a rare sighting. I hope the Blue Jays are enjoying Millar. So many years later, and I still miss him dearly. Why couldn't he have been in Toronto last year when I actually went there?! Though in all fairness, I was in Baltimore, too...

I've seen it on a few blogs already, but I want to pipe in regarding Dougie's new gig as a real estate agent. He's gotten chubby, and greyer, but that doesn't deter me from wanting him to sell me a house. Oh my goodness, I think I'll stop in Michigan on the way home from Chicago just to get his business card and let him show me some real estate...

...why is my brain insisting that should be considered a perverted line? Does it come off as perverted to anyone else? Hmm. Weird. We all know (and by 'we,' I'm more than likely just talking about me) that I love Doug. It's more than likely my fault he got fired... you know, due to my well-documented spring training jinx, wherein whenever I go to spring training, the Red Sox get rid of a player I love (that's why I didn't go this year!). I still get giddy whenever I hear news about Doug. The prospect of letting him sell me a house that I probably cannot afford is mind-murderingly awesome. However, he really should consider putting on a black suit with white pinstripes... and a fedora. Do you know how much money I would pay to see Doug in a gangster-style suit?

It's an absurd amount. Absurd.

And here I am, at the close of my 150th post. I feel so accomplished!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Timothy: Saving the World (and the Bullpen) One Game at a Time

Timothy may be older than our other pitchers. He doesn't throw 90... he doesn't even throw 80. No one on Earth, including himself, knows where his pitches are going to end up. When he's going bad, it's stomach-turning. When he's going good, it's baffling. He's been on this team longer than I've even watched baseball... or sports at all. He needs his own personal catcher, and can't stop baserunners. He's been injury-prone the last few years, and has caused a great many of us to call for his retirement.

And then he goes out and pitches a gem when we most need a gem. And we are reminded why Wakefield still has a job with a major league baseball team. His performance last night, coming off a heart-wrenching 12-inning loss, was inspiring.

He worked fast, threw strikes, kept his pitch count low and just went about his business. It had a positive effect on our guys. They saw Tim keeping it together, and they kept it together.

Defense was solid, aside from a rare mishap at 3rd by Mikey. Green and Ellsbury (yes, even Ellsbury) looked fab in the field. The offense clicked. They strung together hits. Ortiz, Kottaras, and Bat hit doubles. Drew hit a home run. Mikey hit a home run. For the second game in a row, we reduced our runners LOB by half. Everyone in our lineup except for Munchkin had a hit. THIS looked like the team we had been waiting to see. I think they finally woke up. Wakey pitched all 9 innings, giving up 4 hits and 2 runs (all hits and runs coming after the 7th inning), and lowering his ERA to 3.00, which is a respectable number if I do say so.

It's easy when he's going bad to think he's done. But on days like yesterday, we know he's not. It may not have been a no-hitter, or even a 1-hitter, but it was exactly what we needed.

Thank you, Tim. I needed that win for my sanity far more than you knew.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dice - K: You Come In Like a Blood-Stained Hurricane.

Oh my. Well... there's nothing much I can really say that hasn't been thought before. With that in mind, I'm going to focus on the positive and completely ignore the negative because that is getting me nowhere.

Positive #1 - We scored five runs
Positive #2 - We scored runs in more than one inning
Positive #3 - Fetus was fantastic.
Positive #4 - We tied the game at a decent time so I could go to bed with hope instead of anger.
Positive #5 - Our bullpen held them scoreless for 10 innings.
Positive #6 - Mike Lowell had 2 RBIs
Positive #7 - It's only April 15th, and we've got time to recover.
Positive #8 - Dice-K being hurt means Buchholz might get a chance to come up and pitch.
Positive #9 - Our west-coast trips will be done by the end of May.
Positive #10 - Munchkin had two hits
Positive #11 - Drew had 3 hits, and Lowell had 2... could they be finding their swings?
Positive #12 - We left significantly less guys on base. Is that a positive? I'm going to pretend it is.
Positive #13 - Jacoby had a hit and a stolen base. That's 100% more productive than he has been for a while!
Positive #14 - We only grounded into one double play, and it was a fluke as Holliday clearly did not catch that ball. While the umps were not paying attention (though it was a tricky call to make), it means two things: Drew is swinging the bat well, and Youk being on base means that he is continuing to be our most productive hitter.
Positive #15 - Four of our runs came with 2 outs. I think this is fantastic!
Positive #16 - We actually had more hits than the A's... so they ARE getting hits!
Positive #17 - The game tonight isn't at 10:00, so I'll be able to stay up for the entire game and cheer our guys on. They need the encouragement. I bet if I start cheering now, my cheers will have gotten to California by game time.
Positive #18 - It's Jackie Robinson Day. This is a good thing for ALL teams.
Positive #19 - Tim Wakefield has been a reliable member of this pitching staff forever. He can keep this early slump in perspective and go out there calm and relaxed (at least I'm pretty sure he can)
Positive #20 - It's baseball season! The season that we waited so long for. Even when they're doing badly, let's enjoy it. It will be gone before we know it.

Really, just like Jon Lester's pitching the other day... I don't think it was as bad as it showed in the box score. We're in a streak of extraordinarily bad luck, but we KNOW it will pass.

On an unrelated note... if you've never played baseball on Wii... you are missing out. I think I tore my rotator cuff last night, but I was throwing 94 mph! I am so easily amused, it's barely even funny.

We'll turn it around tonight. If not, then in Baltimore. We're going to turn it around, I just know it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Are You Kidding?

Beckett suspended for six games for that silly bench clearing incident in Anaheim?!

Listen, with as bad as our team is going right now, this is the exact opposite of what we need. I think Abreu is a big crybaby. If Beckett wanted to throw at your head, he would have HIT you. Stop whining.

Granted, Joshua didn't do anything to diffuse the situation, but come on! This is just absurd...

I'd Like To Think Cooler Heads Can Prevail

Yeah, I'm a bit of a hothead at times. When my favorite team does badly, and I have no one to complain to, I'm prone to writing angry blogs. Granted, while I meant pretty much everything I wrote last night, I feel the need to clarify. While I do not LIKE this team, I do love them. You can dislike something that you love. Believe me, it's possible. Because I love them, I do expect better of them constantly. Maybe that's not fair, but it's how I am. I always expect better of them.

I love Mike Lowell. I think he's just wonderful in every way. So when I see him grounding into double plays and striking out on pitches at his ankles, I get angry. I KNOW he's better than that. I've seen him play better than that, and the Mikey who doesn't swing at bad pitches is in there somewhere. I know it. I just really, really need to see it. For the sake of my sanity.

I love Dustin Pedroia. Yes, I do. But... based on his first three Aprils in the bigs, Munchkin gets off to a slow start, no matter how hard he trains or practices or plays in the off-season. Fine. He's the reigning AL MVp, former rookie of the year, gold glove, silver slugger winner. He's looked a little dopey this season, and for the most part everyone's been looking like they're still hibernating, but it will pass. Doubt Dustin. Seriously... doubt him. That gets him all fired up just so he can prove you wrong. So doubt him. Maybe he'll get it going faster.

I love Jason Varitek. Love. No doubt about it, the man is my reason for loving all things Sox. From Jason's catcher's mitt, love springs forth (or some silly rubbish like that...). Still, I never want to see him up with the bases loaded or as the catcher when Wakefield is pitching. These are two things I know Jason struggles with. It doesn't mean I love him any less (because I most definitely do not love him less), it just means I acknowledge his weakness... even if I don't want to. I can't say that anything Jason does offensively offends me any more, because I have lovingly lowered my batting average expectations for him. But I still love him.

I love David Ortiz. Honestly. He's Big Papi for a reason. He's not too old, and he's not all done. He's still, somewhere deep inside, the guy that can toss us all on his back and carry us to October. I believe it. I don't need instant proof, because I believe he can do it when it counts. As much as I hate to admit it, these April games don't count all that much. It's a long season, and while the results of these games may come back to haunt us, they don't at all indicate how the rest of the season will play out. Papi will be the one swinging the bat and driving in runs. I promised myself it would happen. He will do it.

I love Jason Bay. Most of my love for him happened because I needed to love him. After the whole Manny fiasco, I NEEDED to embrace our new left fielder, otherwise my sorrow would have been just too great. But I also love him for his own merits. He's a wonderful hitter, and he's a good defender. I feel bad for screaming at the TV, telling Bay he should dive for the ball once in a while instead of having it land a foot in front of him. Then he dove for the ball... yeah, ok, so I'm not always good at deciding the best course of action for these guys. That's why I'm not a manager. I hope your wrist is ok, JayBay. I did not mean to treat you oh so bad.

I love Jon Lester. Last night, he really wasn't THAT bad. Two home runs, and a bunch of other hits... he was bad, but not THAT bad. There were positives. He was getting strikeouts. He got a few pop-ups. His defense did not do him any favors. I know he wasn't good in this game or his first game, but it does tend to look so much worse when he's struggling through thirty pitches and nine batters just to have our guys go down 1-2-3 in the top half of the next inning. He will sharpen up. He will pull things together. We know what this guy can do. He's a workhorse, an ace in the making, the kind of guy you hand the ball to an expect a win. My love for Jon Lester is just as strong as it was before the season started.

I love Josh Beckett. I've always loved Josh Beckett... and by always, I mean from the moment that he was traded to the Red Sox. I knew who Beckett was. I liked him. Now that he's ours, I love him. Even during his pitiful '06 campaign, I loved him. If I could love him and all of his terrible, terrible faults and habbits then, I can certainly love him with his minor mechanical issues now. And I do. He's another one (well, technically the first one) who even when he's going through a rough stretch, I still expect a win when we hand him the ball. I don't doubt the win will happen, until it doesn't. Just like Lester, I still love him as much as I did before the season starts, and I KNOW the two of them will put it together. It will happen. They will dominate. I believe this, because I love them. I do not LIKE when Beckett shakes off 'Tek. That usually leads to bad choices. I do not LIKE when Beckett proclaims how wonderful he was after a loss, but that level of arrogance is part of why I love him. Sometimes there is just nothing that I like about him, but the love never goes away.

It's why I watch... because I love them. Even when I don't like them. Even when I disagree with some personnel choices. Even when they start the season 2-5. Even when they strike out, ground out, pop out, fly out, ground into double plays or fielder's choices. Even when they stare at strike three or swing at the first pitch and end a rally. I love them anyway. That's why, even when they suck and make me angry, I watch. I guess I always will.

Now... to get this season turned around, let's hope we have Houdini-san on the mound tonight, and not the version of Dice-K that pitched the last time. Go Sox.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Early thoughts from this game

I feel 100% confident in saying this... I hate this team. They're no fun to watch. Actually, they border on painful.

I didn't like this team last year either. I don't know what's wrong with them, but they just make me want to rip my hair out. They never seem to click at the same time. If one guy is hitting, the guys around him in the batting order can't do anything but ground into double plays. I have no idea how they win games.... I know they aren't winning games right now.... but I assume they will some day.

And seriously, WHAT THE FUCK, JON!? I planned on sleeping tonight, not sitting up seething about how much YOU SUCK! You aren't supposed to suck, so stop fucking sucking! You're making me swear. It's only the second goddamned inning. Can you please give our hitters a chance to suck for a while? (EDIT: Jon finally gave our hitters a chance to suck, and they are COMPLETELY living up to that.)

I love the Red Sox, and I love individual components of this team, but sometimes I honestly feel like I would rather vomit from my eyes than watch these guys play together. I hate going to bed angry. This stupid team is giving me no choice. I hope they all get traded away, that way I can still like them and have absolutely no expectations for them.

We give Jon a 1 run lead, so he gives up five runs. That's the opposite of awesome, and I am disgusted. I know it's early in the season and I can't put too much weight on results yet, but I waited patiently through the whole god awful off-season, and that pitifully long pre-season just for these guys to ruin April for me?

I don't care if we lose in April. It's the infuriating way that they're losing that kills me. Leaving 25 men on base... losing one run games.... bad pitching, staring at strike 2, swinging at pitches in the dirt, suspect defense, and stupid baserunning (Hi, Ortiz.... you're not Coco.) Can someone please wake this team up? I'd like to see some goddamned wins.

If Jon so much as gives up a hit in the next inning, I'll have to call it a night. I have go be at work at 7 AM, so I'd rather not have to sit up all night letting this team ruin my mood. Oh, and screw you too, Rocco. You haven't done anything productive or useful at all whenever I'm watching.

I think I'm done ranting for now. Back to the game...

Friday, April 10, 2009

Nick Adenhart: I'm Not Sure What to Say

I've always been overly-sensitive. I cry watching Disney movies. My eyes tear up when I see footage from the '04 World Series or Jon Lester's no-hitter. There are certain Frank Sinatra songs that I cannot listen to if I don't have spare eyeliner with me. Sometimes I'd consider myself a crybaby. It doesn't bother me. It's how I am, and I've accepted that. I also tend to be a bit morbid, which makes a really strange combination. I'm the type of person who is fascinated by stories of serial killers, and then gets misty-eyed for the people who lost their lives.

I, like many baseball fans, had no idea who Nick Adenhart was until I watched the Sox game yesterday and heard Don and Remy talking about his death. Of course, I looked him up on the internet (which wasn't hard to do, as there were plenty of stories about him already). The thing that first popped out at me was the year he was born. This kid was a year younger than me. So was the monster that killed him and his friends.

I have no pity for people who drink and drive, especially after they get caught once and have their license taken away. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you don't learn from your mistakes then you deserve no pity. People like Andrew Gallo are despicable, and I hope he never finds himself a free man again. He doesn't deserve freedom.

So, reading the story about Nick Adenhart got me a little choked up (it's the sensitive side)... and then Fox Sports offered me a link to photos of the crime scene. My morbid side kicked in and I had to click the link (for anyone else like me, the photos can be found here). Perhaps some people would say it didn't look that bad, but it made me feel sick to my stomach. I can only hope that the poor people in the car didn't suffer too much. Sometimes a quick death is the best you can hope for.

This is certainly a sad start to the season. Nick was so young, and he was apparently just putting it all together. The one positive I can take from this is that he went out on a high note. Baseball as a whole is a life for me. I have real life, I have fictional life (which is a collection of the stories I write) and I have baseball life. This event makes baseball life sad. It doesn't matter that I didn't know him, or that I didn't ever see him pitch. He was part of the baseball family, and now he's gone. Who knows what he would have been if he had lived? Perhaps he would have faced the Sox for the AL pennant and gone 9 shutout innings, finally giving the Angels a playoff series win against Boston (in case you hadn't noticed, they haven't had one in a while). Maybe he would have ended up back in the minor leagues. I don't know what he would have been, but I feel it's unfair that this story line was taken away so soon. I hope Nick is peaceful where ever he is.

And of course, this is the perfect time for a public service announcement. Don't let people you care about drink and drive... don't let anyone you know drink and drive, because even if you don't care what happens to them, you're allowing them to put people you do care about at risk.. I know plenty of people who think they drive better when they're drunk, but they're wrong (and stupid). So many accidents like this could so easily be avoided....

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Jon: Seriously, cut the shit

Well that sucked. What a terrible, awful way to start the season for me. Jon was flat out terrible. Lowrie's defense was atrocious, and our hitters looked like they were at the first spring training game all over again.

And on top of that, it was cold out. The only saving graces of the night were that we got free parking and we sat in a section with absolutely awesome people all around. I've never been to a game where I haven't been bothered to get up even once before. It was great.

I've got a few more weeks until my next game. God help them if they don't get their shit together by then. I'll call the security hotline and report that the entire team is hindering my enjoyment of the game. Security will have to do something about it. It's their job.

Oh Captain: I Want to Be There When You're Happy

First game of the year, and Tek and Pedie already got their first home run out of the way. Why didn't you guys save it for when I'm at the game, freezing my butt off! I kid. I'm glad they gave Joshua the run support, because he pitched great and earned the win. 7 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 3BB, 10K? That's a line I can appreciate!

Our boy Oki struggled a bit, but I think the lad will be just fine. I just keep reminding myself that his first game in MLB was a home run, and after that he settled in for a terrific year. Ok, so he had a little bit of a rough go of it last year, too, but come on. The guy doesn't throw in the 90's... if his mechanics are a tad bit off, he's going to get hit. It's perfectly acceptable for his mechanics to be off during his first game of the year. Even if it isn't, I say it is. Fetus did a nice job finishing the inning, even if he did allow the runners to score. And of course, Paps to close it out. The (Devil) Rays finished with 3 hits, 3 runs. But, not to be outdone in their own park on opening day, the Sox finished with 9 hits, 5 runs. Did I mention that Tek hit a home run? Yeah, cause that totally happened. It made me smile. Yes, I was fielding text messages last night congratulating me on his home run, as though I had something to do with it. Hey, he can still kill bears AND baseballs! I really do hope that this carries over for the season, even if it's only partially. I love seeing that he can still make good, strong contact.

Not for nothing, but Shields wasn't really that bad yesterday. He wasn't... um... good, but he didn't completely stink up the place. We just made good contact.

A final note on yesterday's game... Michael Averett, we do not leave the bases loaded, please. This is a bad habit and I don't want to see you starting the ridiculousness of leaving the bases loaded. I'll forgive you this time (and more than likely, every time after this) because I adore you and it was just once. However, please do keep in mind that you are not Tek, you are expected to hit with the bases loaded. (Sorry, Tek, you know I adore you as well... but.... you know)

Nice to see this team hit and pitch well. It's been far too long. Welcome to baseball season, everyone! I'll see you at Fenway tonight

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Josh Beckett: Making Me Daydream Since '06

A letter to Mother Nature.

Dear Mother Nature, after a long, cold, awful winter, we finally get to Opening Day... and it rains. Ha ha, Mother Nature. Very funny. But for real this time, don't pull that crap again, please. I've been daydreaming about opening day for months. I've been good this year, I deserve sunshine and green grass and a big angry Texan screaming obscenities from the mound.

Now, it may be nothing to you. Perhaps you don't care about baseball? I will refrain from accusing you of being completely un-American, because I'm pretty sure a character such as yourself is loyal to no country, never mind my country. Yes, in the same way I curse your name here in America, I'm sure there are plenty of Australians, and Guatemalans, and Japanese folks swearing you down every now and then. Since your allegiances, if any, are ambiguous, I want to let you in on a very poorly kept secret. Here in Boston, we live baseball... usually Red Sox baseball, but I have seen a few Yankee fans floating around, as well as the occasional A's fan. But to deprive us of baseball for even one more day? Well that's just not nice . It really made me sad. I mean, there I was... minding my own busines, straightening out the Red Sox pictures on my cubicle wall and eyeing the clock anxiously when I got the word that the game was postponed. And just for the record, that rain yesterday? That was a bitch to drive in, and I definitely did not appreciate it. Why is it that when it's pouring, trucks feel the need to speed up just enough to cut me off and spew road water all over my windshield, making it even HARDER to see? Anyway. Back to my point... where was I? Oh yeah.

Mother Nature, I beg you... look into that Red Sox dugout. Look straight at Munchkin. He's been waiting MONTHS to show someone up. Look at the way Jacoby is pacing around... those legs are dying to steal a base. Check out the look in Mikey and Papi's eyes. They're beyond anxious to get their bounce-back year into action already. They're both tired of the rumors that they can't cut it any more. Look at Varitek, flipping through his personal scouting reports on the Rays. His pride is still hurt, and nothing cures that better than a high batting average and a ton of runs batted in. Look at Rocco, who wants nothing more than to get his promising career on track now that he's got a new diagnosis and a little more hope for himself. He's home here in Boston. We want to welcome him right. Can you imagine the butterflies in poor George Kottaras' stomach? He's got to handle the knuckleball in front of 36,000 people. I know the rain delay doesn't really affect him, but the sooner we get the season started, the sooner he can get that first start out of the way. And JayBay! Despite that calm, cool exterior, he is itching to get his first full season with this team and city that embraced him so thoroughly just months ago underway. Check out Johnny Lester. He went from being a question mark to an ace, and he can't further solidify that status unless the season gets started. Now look at Joshua. That fire in his eyes is raging again. He's healthy, he's strong, and he's ready. Let them get it rolling again.

So, Mother Nature, please have a serious talk with your buddy Bud Selig, and plan Red Sox opening day a little bit better next year. As for this year, I am beyond ready for a rain-free game and those two magical words that make an entire cold off-season feel like a dream: play ball!

Thank you.


On a completely related side note, I'll be starting the season off right by getting to see Jon in my first game of '09. It's only proper, considering that he was practically the only pitcher I saw in '08. Good luck this afternoon, Joshua. You KNOW I'm rushing home after work to see the game (I TiVo'ed it just in case of traffic). I'll be cheering for you tomorrow, Johnny. Hopefully I'll have pictures.

Oh, and isn't it wonderful to see Sabathia lose? I don't know how many more times we'll be seeing that this season, but I'll cherish it now.