Friday, April 30, 2010

Been Waiting To Use This One: "Do You Hear That, Mr. Anderson? That's The Sound of Inevitability."

I think that may win the award for my longest post title yet, but I so needed to write it. I really did, especially when I learned that the Sox have sent Lars Anderson to Pawtucket. I didn't even intend to write a post today, seeing as how there was no game, but I got very excited at the thought of this. I like Lars. Watching him struggle kind of sucked, so I'm glad he got it back on track. Dude was nice enough to autograph my ticket when I went to the Sea Dogs game, so he'll have my loyalty forever.

It was inevitable, you know. Eventually he would turn it around and get back on track. I'm glad he's made it up to Pawtucket... er... actually, down to Pawtucket. Rhode Island still is south of Maine, correct? Hell, you know what I mean. Good for Lars! And good for me for being able to use Matrix quotes for moments like this! It's the little pleasures in life that get me through.

April is now over. My goal was 23 posts. I believe this is my 27th, so good job to me for turning around my laziness. Hopefully both Lars and myself continue to excel in the month of May. And yes, I did just claim to be excelling. Stop looking at me like that.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Eleven Strikeouts: Good Way To Get On Track, Right?

Let's hope so. I'm tempering my excitement, because Johnny had a few of these false starts last year when he pitched really well and then fell back into the pattern of suck. But even for the sake of tempered excitement, I'm not going to pretend that the game last night wasn't fun to watch. It really was. Jon was finally good. He wasn't great, because he was falling behind a lot of hitters and getting very high up in the count to too many people, so it was a battle. Battle he did, though. Seven innings of 1-hit baseball, 11 K's, and only 2 BB's makes for a good-looking pitching line. The ERA is still a little gross, at 4.71, but a few more good performances like that and he'll get it down. Yes. I do care about ERA. Call me crazy, but I'm not going to stop.

B-P closed out the game. Oki finally got a night off. He'll have tonight off, too, so maybe if we need him against the O's tomorrow, he'll be rested and good. B-P combined for 4 K's (3 of which came from Bard), 1 hit, and no drama. I like no drama. Then again, it would seem only natural that Bard would appreciate drama, but I'm glad he decided to go with another form of literature last night. Perhaps a sonnet? I don't know, sonnet 60 seems to sum up pitching changes well:

Like as the waves make towards the pebbled shore,
So do our minutes hasten to their end,
Each changing place with that which goes before
In sequent toil all forwards do contend.

I can definitely say the game felt like it picked up pace towards the end after Bard changed place with he who went before. And for the record, that's the last time I'll be putting anything Shakespeare related on this blog. Because I do not like Shakespeare. But I felt that was appropriate. What? Don't look at me like that. Just because I was an English major as an undergrad doesn't mean I have to like him. I'd take Lord Byron over Willy any day.... but chances are, he'd be too busy being taken by just about everyone else.

Back on to the topic at hand. Ronald was a crucial piece of both of our runs last night. He scored the first run and drove in the second (6th and 7th innings respectively). Brett Cecil was also good yesterday. He wasn't as good as Jon, but Jon wasn't as good as Dahmer, so I guess we all have something to aspire to, huh? Hm.... actually, Jon WAS as good as Dahmer. Better even in some senses. He didn't pitch as long, but he gave up fewer hits and runs, and got more strikeouts. New best pitching performance of the week? I don't know yet.

The offense wasn't great, but I always like a well-pitched game over a high scoring game. Tek didn't have a hit, but he also avoided striking out... which, really, just makes me happy. VMart, on the other hand... all he did was make five outs. One strikeout, a line-out, a fly-out, and one GIDP. Victor has now grounded into EIGHT double plays this month. He's on pace for nearly 50 double plays this year, so he better pull his shit together, because that's not ok. I don't know what his deal is, but I'd rather see him strike out than knock a runner off base. Nothing kills a potential rally like a double play. C'mon, Victor... I'm looking for a reason to want you in the lineup. Give me one! Anything! I'm willing to work with you here. Also, our resident dyslexic has been getting himself on track, but I'd really like to see fewer strikeouts, so maybe we should work on that? Then again, if it comes down to a strikeout or a GIDP, just take the K and spare me the anguish. Other than that, I'm not going to complain about the offense because we won.

No, really. We swept a series. I swear I'm not making this up! We've won three games in a row. Heck, I would have been happy with just winning the series, but sweeping it makes me giddy! There was a lot of good baseball played up at the Rogers Centre in the last few days. We went mostly error-free, and the team looked like they were collectively ready to break out and get the season going right. Plus, we're up to .500! We haven't had a win the day before an off-day since April 4th. It's a good feeling going into a day off, knowing that atoning for the game the night before isn't neccessary. I almost forgot what this feels like.

So we look towards Friday night in Baltimore and John Lackey to keep the good vibes going. I think he'll be just fine. After all, he doesn't want to be shown up by the kids, right?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mr. Awesome: Offense-Based Hero

Make no mistake, the real hero of the night was Dahmer. Eight innings and one ER. I can safely and confidently say that he provided the best starting pitching performance of the season thus far from the Sox rotation. And believe me, that's not something I readily admit to. While one performance does not an ace make, perhaps I'm ready to give the kid a little bit of credit. We needed that, and he was fantastic. Absolutely no complaints from a pitching standpoint in this game. Even Rambo had a nice, clean, drama-free inning to close it out. He stepped up. Sure, it was only one inning, but we didn't have any other arms available. He knew it was going to him, and he delivered. We can't overlook stuff like that, you know. There will be days when we need a good performance, and he won't deliver, and we'll be angry with him... so keep stuff like this in mind. In a one run game when no one else was available, he sealed up the win. Fantastic work, Dahmer and Rambo. Talk about an unlikely duo to be thanking on a baseball blog...

I know a majority of the game was tied, but I honestly felt like we were going to win this one. Our pitching was just too sharp. I didn't know who it would be, exactly, playing the role of the hero, but I knew it would be us. The second inning was incredibly amusing to me. I think Papi was 3-1, and Marcum had only thrown 26 pitches in the game. My logic dictates that if our pitchers are throwing less than 15 pitches per inning, that's fine. If the opposing pitcher is throwing less than 15 pitches per inning, that is not fine. I very nicely asked Papi to take at least five more pitches. Well, he took exactly five more pitches and added the extra bonus of getting on base. So, I tried again with Beltre. I asked for just a little tiny base hit. He obliged. I figured I would try again with Wolverine. Before I could figure out what I wanted from him, he was 0-2. I asked for four more pitches and a base hit. That's what I got (and I have witnesses proving that I actually did ask for these things). Sure enough, Papi came 'round to score and the game was tied. Sometimes, a 'please' takes you a long way. Most times it doesn't, but I'm glad it worked in the second inning of last night's game.

Let's see. Who else did a good job? Oh! Forgot to mention about Mikey's heroics. Let me start by saying the fact that Tito felt the need to pull Papi from the game made me sad, but ultimately I believe it was the right decision. Bases loaded, 2 outs in the eighth, Toronto brings in their closer. Maybe I missed a pitch, but I'm pretty sure he walked Mr. Awesome on four straight balls, bringing the winning run home. Isn't this the second game we've won with a bases-loaded walk? There had to have been another one. As usual, I don't care how it gets done, I'm just glad it got done.

This win brings us back up to .500 for the first time in seemingly forever. That's a good thing! It also provided us with a quick, relatively painless win that didn't embarrass and abuse our entire pitching staff. Two pitchers, only 128 pitches. Sure, Dahmer allowed 7 hits, but it's ok because he didn't panic about that. His lack of panic was more reassuring that anything. Gives me a little hope.

Yesterday, the Red Sox brought up Fabio Castro as a bullpen backup plan. All of our arms were tired. BOP was unavailable to pitch, and Atchinson had pitched quite a bit in the past few days, so they swapped Atchinson for Castro. And for a brief moment in time, Dustin Pedroia was not the shortest man on the team! They interviewed Scutaro in the pre-game, and he discussed being the judge of the contest with a laugh. The joy for Munchkin was short-lived, however, as after the game the Sox optioned Castro back to Pawtucket to make room for Alan Embree. Alan wanted to back in the big leagues by Friday, and the Sox obviously wanted to keep him. He seemed to be doing pretty good in Pawtucket, so hopefully his minor-league success will translate to being able to help out this taxed bullpen. Either way, welcome back to the big leagues, Alan.

And in my last bit o'info for the day... congratulations to the Celtics in advancing to the second round of the playoffs. I think they're on schedule to face the Cavs in the next round. If they do, that should be an interesting series. Guess we'll have to wait and see!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Manny Delcarmen: Now Our Best Pitcher

A week ago, I declared to some friends that Manny was not long for this team. But after last night's debacle, I am now declaring him safe. Two scoreless innings. It was brilliant and so very needed.

If you didn't watch last night's suck-fest, consider yourself lucky. There was a lot of suck on behalf of our pitchers. I don't even know if I can call them pitchers. Last night, Josh was a mere thrower. There was no pitching involved after the second inning. Which is funny, because he didn't last much past the second inning. And he still managed to give up eight runs. There are probably only a handful of people in the world who don't know Josh personally who are as big of fans of him as I am. Or maybe there are thousands. What do I know? I base my opinions off of information I have readily available to me. Anyway. While I didn't expect Beckett to have a great season, because it is an even-numbered year, I would like him to pull back on the suck just a little. Like, maybe he could not have an ERA over 7. Maybe he needs to set the damn example for the rest of our starters, being the official ace and all. NESN showed a breakdown of our starting rotation after the game last night. Let's just say this: It makes the Pirates pitching staff look pretty good right about now. Our starters... all five of them... have something like 2 wins combined. I get it; it's not all their fault. Offense and bullpen problems can lead to not getting wins. But pitching like garbage also leads to not getting wins. It all starts with Josh. He needs to be the first to pull his shit together, and then maybe the others will follow.

As far as the bullpen goes, Atchinson did well enough. No, he didn't do well, but he did well enough. Schoe... um... 1/3rd of an inning, 1 run allowed. Not good enough for me, but good enough to get that illusive "W," so who am I to complain? Oki... Jesus, Tito, give this dude a break. He didn't get a single out and still managed to give up two runs. THAT was ugly. That was Beckett bad. He's clearly exhausted. Bard.... meh. He was average, but I'm figuring he's just as exhausted as Oki. Paps, thankfully, was good and he didn't give us that one last heart attack at the end of the game. He'll never know how much I appreciated that. But Manny D... I'll tell ya, we needed that. We really did. So how does everyone thing Rambo felt? Being literally the only reliever that Tito did not use last night? Has to tell him something, I'd imagine.

Now, for the good part... the offense. We had offense! We had TONS of offense, finishing with 18 hits and 13 runs. My Captain... my dearest, darling Jason was able to hit TWICE with the bases loaded. There was a long period of time (think every year before right now) that Jason would see the bases loaded and panic, and more often than not strike out on a high fastball. Not last night. Last night, he knocked in his first four non-solo-home-run RBI's of the season, and finished the night with three hits. Sure, the two AB's that he didn't hit, he struck out, but I'm so incredibly happy with his performance. That's the kind of Captain we need. He was awesome. Maybe could have called a better game, but I'm just going to lay the blame solely on our pitching staff.

We ended up with five batters having three hits of the night. The only slot in our lineup that didn't have a hit was the number 8 spot. Bill Hall and Wolverine combined for 0 hits, 2 strikeouts, and one walk in five total AB's. You'll never hear me say this again, but Mikey Lowell was probably the biggest disappointment of the night. If he had just gotten one timely hit, this game wouldn't have come down to one run (at least I'm assuming it wouldn't). In six AB's, he got one hit and no RBI's. Mikey left eight men on base. Not that I think Papi would have done much better, but I'm sorry Mike, that wasn't good enough. Even JD ".182" Drew had an RBI. This team was 11 for 20with RISP... and... I'm not going to complain about the offense. It was there. It saved us.

Youk, of course, had to be the one to get hit by a pitch. He's ok, but why does everyone target Youk? It's the beard, isn't it? It's scary, and they just want to conquer their fears. Anyhow... 2 SB's for Munchkin (also one of the members of the 3-hit club). Munchkin, of course, was our little spark-plug. As usual. Without Pedroia, there is no game.

I don't know what else I can say about this game. From a pitching standpoint, it was downright horrifying. From an offense standpoint, no one should complain... except perhaps Blue Jays fans. But I'm not a Blue Jays fan, so I don't care.

Also, congratulations to the Bruins in advancing to the second round of the playoffs as a result of a very exciting game that was a great distraction for me while the Sox pitching staff was making me want to rip my hair out. Way to go!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Vomit: My Reaction To Tonight

On a night where Jason Varitek has four RBIs and was able to get hits with the bases loaded, you would think I'd be happy... but no. Beckett decided that he wants me to be bulimic, because his pitching made me lose my dinner.

I can't think of words bad enough to describe our pitching staff and outfield defense. I can't even invent enough vulgarities to make this ok. I am embarrassed for these pitchers. Not like they care, they're millionaires.

I'll have more to say tomorrow. I'm too busy throwing up right now. Josh ruined my night. Thanks a lot, Beckett. After the month of April, I would totally be justified in taking a hit out on our starters. Thank goodness Wake is in the pen now. He's safe.

Timmy Wakefield: Deserving of a Better Send-Off

As we all know, Timmy Wonderpitches, AKA Tim Wakefield, has temporarily lost his roster spot and is being shoved into the bullpen. The sentimental side of me thinks this is a horrible injustice, especially after such a well-pitched game on Sunday. But the world is not fair, and there is just no room for Timothy in the rotation right now. I don't doubt for a second that Tim will be back before we know it. He deserves to get those 18 wins that he needs, and the world should be perfect enough to give them to him.

So, about the game.... there's really not much positive to take away from it, but that's not how I roll. Sure, I succumb to moments of weakness where my bitching about the team comes on out, but I try to be a good soldier and be nice to the guys. It was an ugly 10-inning loss in which we saw the Sox go 6 for 18 with runners in scoring position. I don't know if anyone else has noticed this, but we've been having trouble getting hits with runners in scoring position. Weird. Thirteen hits and six runs, and we still couldn't fend off the O's. Maybe they were just so tired of losing that they decided to fight back for once. Or maybe our bullpen just gagged away the victory.

Tim deserved that win. Why Tito took him out with two outs in the 7th, I do not know. Tito has his reasons, and I'm sure he felt like it was his best move at the time. I really try very hard not second guess Tito. Oki came in and promptly gave up the tying runs. Okajima will hold the game more often than not, but he just furthers the point that our bullpen is a little scary even though it shouldn't be. And with the talent we have in there, it should not be scary. Maybe Timmy will give us some stability in that sense. I can hope, right? But it does look like Scott Atchinson is going to be hitting the road, so if he is indeed done in Boston, I wish him well.

Speaking of hitting the road... Alan Embree seems primed to hitch hike on out of Pawtucket. He wants a call up to the bigs, but it doesn't look like he's going to get it. Besides, Theo doesn't take kindly to ultimatums. Not that I approve of what Theo does, but even I know he won't respond to threats.

There's not really much I can say about the game that hasn't been said. It was ugly. We shouldn't have lost it, but we did, so we move on. As I type this, the Monday night game has already started. Yeah, I'm a tad behind. It's cool, I'll catch up.

I just really hate to see Tim Wakefield sad... and by all accounts, that's exactly what he is.

Lackey: Getting A Win

Another game that just wasn't pretty to watch. Lackey lasted 7 innings, but I wouldn't even dare venture to say that any of those innings were relaxing. He allowed 3 runs on ten (10!) hits, giving up 2 walks and getting 3 strikeouts. It's the Orioles. The Orioles probably hadn't had ten hits in all their other games for the entire week before this game. They ended up finishing the game with an absurd 17 hits, making our measley 9 hits look even more pathetic. Usually in a game where you have nine hits, you feel good about it. But when you get outhit, by almost double your hit total, by a team that only has two wins to call their own for the month of April, you start to wonder if perhaps the pride is unjustified. I don't know. All I know is that Lackey and Lester are both still sporting ERA's over 5. I don't care how discredited the good ol' ERA has become. It's still a big, garish number that you have to look at, and it still shows you on average how many runs you can expect your starter to surrender. We're almost at the point where the sample sizes are large enough to actually give you a decent indication of how our pitching is doing. They're, in a word, crappy. But there is room and time for improvement, so I'll just keep that with me and bury all of my hopes into it.

On the plus side, my darling Jason hit his fourth home run of the season. He's batting over .300 on the year. In 23 AB's, Jason has 7 hits. Four of them are home runs. All of those home runs are solo shots. What, no one can get on base in front of him? I know this pace isn't going to keep up, but it makes me really happy for right now. Any time I get to see Jason on my screen, I will refrain from complaining. And as much as I want to like Victor Martinez and I want him to succeed, I don't think he's going to be around for the long haul. The Red Sox are targeting catchers left and right. We need someone who can throw out base runners, and it's clear that Jason and Victor aren't big on that. Tek has allowed 11 SB's, and caught no one. Victor has allowed 27 SB's and caught 2 runners. 38 SB's off Red Sox catchers in APRIL! Ugh, that just gave me a stomach ache. Let's not think about that any more.

So the Sox put up 7 runs on three home runs. Tek's was obviously a solo shot. Scutaro got hold of a pitch for a three run blast in the 7th, and Youk followed up with his own three run shot in the same inning. We were a whole 2 for 4 with RISP. Doesn't exactly make you feel good knowing that all the offense came directly from home runs, but at the same time, I'll never complain about a home run. Wolverine did have an error in this game, but what's a Sox game with no errors by our defense? Boring, that's what it is!

Oh! That's right, I don't want to forget... a GIANT welcome back to Vantastic. He was dumped by the Pirates and picked back up by the Sox. When I tell you I love this kid, you can believe that I truly love him. I don't know what it is about itty bitty baby Sox outfielders, but I think I have a soft spot in my heart for them. It's fine. I'm happy that he's back, even if he didn't do much in terms of adding value to the ball club on Saturday night. He'll come in handy as CRW continues to recover from his fractured ribs. I know that Vantastic can field, at least. And every once in a while, he has been known to pop up with a much needed hit, so there's that. I love getting to welcome people back. Time to update the nickname list!

Then there's the bullpen. Oh, bullpen. I'll give them their dues. They were superb during the Rangers series. They went a good long while without allowing a run between them all. BOP was almost unhittable during that series. Unfortunately, starting Friday night, they were pretty damn hittable. In a total of two innings that the pen had to work, we had three relievers. Rambo actually took the biggest hit to his ERA, but Paps was the one that allowed the hits that caused those runs to score. There were five straight hits in the ninth. Schoe was great in the 2/3rds of an inning he was allowed to pitch. After getting the first out in the 9th, Rambo gave up a HR and a double and was lifted for Pap. Pap allowed the next three batters to reach on singles. I was ripping my hair out, as I'm sure you guessed. Finally, Farrell came out, smacked Paps in the head and told him to cut the shit*, after which he promptly and excruciatingly retired the next two batters via strikeout. Damage done, though, as two batters had already come around to score. I don't know what gets into Paps sometimes, but that many hits to the Orioles? Ugly. Just glad he got out of it.

*Disclaimer: This has never actually happened, but it's the only thing I want to see John Farrell do before he retires. Come on! It would be so damn funny! And probably effective!

So that was Saturday. Again, a win is a win. Doesn't matter if it's ugly. Unfortunately, ugly catches up with you eventually. When I can stomach it, I'll write about Sunday's game. It may take me until the start of tonight's game, but I'll do it. I promise! Have I ever lied to you? Sure I have, but you guys don't care. You're good troopers!

Big Papi: Can Still Blast Off When Needed

Yes, folks. On Friday night, David Ortiz blasted his first home run of the season. Say what you will about the man (but not in front of me or I'll get angry), but his home runs are always just fantastic. The fact that he CAN hit home runs, especially off a guy like Guthrie who is actually a decent pitcher (not a good one, a decent one)is a good sign. It took Mr. Ortiz a month longer last year to get the home run swing back. This time, sure, there's more to lose for him if he doesn't succeed. It's a contract year. There are replacements for him in the form of the fantastic Mr. Lowell. Not many people have been as big a fan of David Ortiz around these parts lately. I'll always support him. I'm glad to know there are still plenty out there that will do the same. It's just a shame to see how many people jumped straight off his bandwagon. Overall, the big man was able to make it on base twice on Friday. Once on the home run, once on a walk. Whenever he walks, it's a good sign. It means he's laying off bad pitches! And if you saw the pitch sequence he had walked on.... there was no way any of those pitches were deserving of a swing anyway, but still. Of course, the best part of his performance on Friday.... ZERO strikeouts. That's what I like to see!

Lester was good. Finally. Yeah, if he hadn't been able to pitch well against the Orioles, I don't know what I would have done. They're the Orioles. They're barely a major league team at this point! But Johnny gave us five and two thirds, zero runs and seven strikeouts. I'm going to ignore the four walks, because that's horrible to think about. His BB/K ratio is all out of control early on this season, and his ERA is frightening, but I will take any good news that I can from his performance and look forward to his next start. Hopefully, he'll be able to beat his Friday start. I'm thinking maybe seven innings? That would have been nice, huh? Let's see on Wednesday what he can do.

Before I forget... my most sincere apology to the Bruins. I promise I will not write down any more of my hopes and dreams when it comes to hockey this year, because apparently the Bruins didn't appreciate me doing that. So, I'll leave you to your game, B's.

As for our 'pen... the pirates were not so sharp. Yes, Bard came in with the bases loaded in the sixth to relieve Jon Lester, and he was able to get the out. But in the next inning, he surrendered a 2-run shot. Oki and Delcarmen combined to ruin the game for the rest of us. If only by the grace of God, Adrian Beltre walked with the bases loaded in the eighth inning to give us our one-run lead back. That was all it would take. Trust me when I say that it was not a comfortable game. It shouldn't have been that hard, but it was a win and I'll take a win any way we can get it. Seeing our pirates struggle against the Orioles? Well, that's ugly. Thankfully, baseball aint supposed to be pretty. No style points, as they say.

So that was that. Our losing streak stopped at one game. We denied the O's their third win of the season, and we crept closer to .500. It's kind of sad when your goal is to see your really expensive baseball team get to .500, but that's where we're at. I'm going to get to the other games this past weekend, I just need some time.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Dahmer: Killing The Competition Till The 7th

It's insensitive and incredibly difficult to try to come up with serial killer related puns every time Dahmer takes the mound, but I'm committed because I care. I'll give him credit. He pitched better than any of our other starters had for a long while. Six scoreless innings is more than I could have hoped to ask for. And he was efficient, which is even better. Ten K's and only 1 BB usually makes for a pretty good outing. Unfortunately, this great pitching performance leads to two not-great results. The first being that we still lost the game because CJ Wilson was just that much better. The offense decided that they needed a break, and we lost three to nothing. Oh well, at least we won the series.

The second not-great result is that Wake is being kicked out of the rotation. I don't entirely think this is permanent, because I'm pretty confident that Dice is going to reinjure himself at some point in the season, so Wakey will get his spot back. It just really stinks that in Tim's quest to win 18 more measley games (a quest which started with him pretty much stabbing himself in the foot, I guess), he's getting banished to bullpen land. On the plus side, those crazy pirates out there have needed some leadership since the Admiral left town. He can't be the admiral, and we already have a captain and a commander. Perhaps Tim would like to take on the role of lieutenant? I can't imagine that anyone out there is higher ranking than officer anyway.

Of course, with Dice set on the path for return, who goes down? You're not going to lose anyone in the trinity of BOP (Bard, Oki, Paps).... yes, I just called them the trinity of BOP. BOP is their collective name. Hey, I like acronyms, ok? You've got Atchinson, Schoeneweiss, Rambo, and Delcarmen. My money is on the Sox claming Manny is injured and sending him away, but it's more likely that they'll dump Schoe or Atchinson. Sad but true. We'll see what happens. Can't get rid of any bench players. We need those guys.

Also... how did the Sox miss the fact (for over a WEEK!) that CRW had four fractured ribs? That's not exactly something that I feel they should be missing.

Anyway. As someone who loves great pitching, I really did enjoy watching the game last night. I would have enjoyed it more if the outcome had been favorable for us. So I give credit where credit is due. Toight, on the other hand.... if we don't win tonight, I don't care if it's a score of 1-0, I won't be happy with it. There is NO excuse for losing to a team like the Orioles. They're the types of teams we're supposed to feast on to build up our strength before taking on teams with winning records. Frighteningly enough, even if we win all three games, we're still walking away with a less than .500 winning pct. 6 and 10 to start the season. Lord, I did not expect this. Neither did anyone else, I'm sure. But even though it's only April, it's time to start winning series, if not going for the full sweep. Tampa's at 12 wins. We have exactly half of that. We're supposed to be one of the three big powers in this division, not one of the two bottom-feeders. Time to start clawing out before it's too late. Got that Lester? No more of your ridiculously shenanigans. We really need you to be sharp tonight. Super sharp. Don't suck. That's an order.

It'll be a good night for sports-watching if you're a Boston fan. Sox are opening aforementioned series with the O's, the Bruins will be in Buffalo for game five... a game that if they win will send them to round 2 of the playoffs. The Celts are in Miami for game three with a series lead of 2-0. Let's hope that we get at least a few wins out of tonight.... but if I had to pick only one, I'd go with the Bruins. C's and Sox have won recently. Let's give the Bruins some luck. Let's go Bruins!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

So Much Good: So Little Time

First of all, before anything else I need to say congratulations to the Bruins on that excellent win in double OT last night. Very cool and it gives them a 3-1 lead over the Sabres in the series.

Second, Kevin Millar is finally a broadcaster! Sure, not for NESN. Not yet, anyway. But I am now going to make it a priority to watch the MLB network whenever I can. It's Kevin freakin' Millar! Ducky! A broadcaster! There is reason for plenty of excitement (and probably some concern). I'm sad Ducky couldn't get a job as a baseball player, but I can pretty much promise that no one will be more entertaining as a broadcaster or analyst or whatever it is he's doing. As long as they let him be himself, I'm happy.

Third, the Sox. Oh, there was plenty of good in this game, for sure. Do you know what was not good? Beckett. Beckett was not good. All he needed to do was not give up seven runs, and he couldn't do it. When your ace cannot not give up seven runs, you're usually not going to win games. How very abberrational for Josh. He better cut that out because I don't want to have to worry about him, too. Seven innings and less than seven runs allowed shouldn't be too much to ask.

But, the good. Hmm, let's see... we had a grand slam by JD, another home run by Ronald, only THREE stolen bases (I know that's not fair, it's a lot harder to steal off of a power pitcher than it is off a knuckleball pitcher, but still), amazing pitching by Bard, Paps, and Oki who are apparently our holy trinity of awesome relievers (and I'm ok with that), and another off-the-wall game winning base hit for the Sox. Youk did us proud. I'm guessing he HAD to do that because he needed to show teams it wasn't ok to walk Munchkin to get to him. Honestly, I'm glad it was Youk. He'd been scuffling, much like the rest of the team, so it was good that he got his breakout.

More bad. We went a stretch of 18 batters without having a single person reach base. Two times through the lineup, no one could muster a hit or a walk against Texas. That was pretty ugly. That's the kind of thing that makes me continuously nervous about the team, even after a hard-fought win like this.

More good. Texas pretty much had the same problem that we did with that whole 'getting on base' thing. Paps was brilliant in his first inning of work, even if he did give up a single to the sham that is Josh Hamilton. Paps was also brilliant in his second inning of work. Two innings, 15 pitches. That right there is vintage Papelbon. It also didn't hurt that Texas got a little swing happy. I don't care. I'll take it.

Even more good. Scutaro advancing to second on that fly ball by Drew. I mean, my goodness, if he didn't make it he would have been a pariah. I don't know that there's a single person who was watching that game who thought that was a good idea, but since he actually got it done, it seemed brilliant. There's some fight in these Sox after all. Nice to see. Even nicer to win!

Tonight, Dahmer takes the mound against C.J. Wilson. I'm only five posts away from reaching my goal for April. I am very proud of myself. I'm also proud of the Sox for winning two really exciting games in a row. Could this be a sign of good things to come? I hope so!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

McDonald: (Insert Clever Pun About Wins and Hamburgers)

I want so badly to be able to say that it was one of those nights at Fenway that you never feel like we're going to lose. It definitely wasn't. A lot of us felt, with each wild pitch or each stolen base (which I will get to in a minute) that hope was being sucked out of the ballpark. There was a repeating cry of "There's still time for a rally," but it was rare to hear those words spoken with conviction. Most people were just silently begging to not see another loss. Personally, I was having a pretty good night, so even if I didn't think we were going to win, I wasn't about to leave Fenway.

So it wasn't all perfect. Sure, I got a great metered parking spot right outside Jerry Remy's restaurant, ensuring that I wouldn't be sitting in the maddening traffic coming out of the parking lots. The seats were really good, and there were plenty of nice, friendly people to banter with between innings. There were, unfortunately, an obnoxious group of kids out to celebrate someone's 21st birthday sitting in the middle of the row. They started the game by informing all of us in the row that we would hate them by the end of the night. They were right. Two or three of them got up, on average, every ten minutes for beer runs. By the 7th inning shut-off point, they were so drunk they were stumbling back to their seats. I really wished one, if not all of them, would fall on their faces and just stay down, but no such luck. I guess as far as bad parts of the game went, we could have had far worse.

I knew before the game that Mike Cameron was on the DL and that Josh Reddick was up to replace him. I found out at the game, right around the 8th inning when he came in to pinch hit for Reddick, that McDonald had been called up and Ellsbury had been put on the DL. Sadly, I can't stop calling the poor guy Ronald. I know it's not his name, but to me it is. It was a great way to get the rally going, and that home run felt like a wake-up shot. It was fantastic. It was so fantastic that I was worried about asking him to follow up his clutch hit with another clutch hit in the 9th. I'm glad he delivered, though. I love baseball, but I had been up since 5:30 in the morning and I didn't want to go to extra innings.

With two on and one out in the ninth, I really wanted Adrian Beltre to get that base hit, or sac fly or SOMETHING. I wanted so badly to have a reason to like him, but he failed me again. He failed all of us. I wonder if it gets to him at all... when Mike Lowell was announced as a pinch hitter for Papi, Fenway woke up. Everyone got on their feet. We were all screaming and clapping and going crazy! I adore Mikey. Everyone else in Fenway did, too. When Beltre comes up? He gets the slow, sarcastic clap from some people and the slow, 'I want to have a reason to like you' clap from others. Seeing how much people love Mikey, I do wonder if it makes Beltre's job a little harder.

I'm incredibly superstitious when it comes to baseball games. Every game I've ever been to where I have not gotten a picture of Jason Varitek, we've lost the game. So, of course, through 5 and a half we were losing. Then Varitek wandered out to the bullpen, I got a few pictures of him, and bam. We put 2 runs on the board, and it was all momemntum from there. The awesome combined power of Tek and Mikey won this game because it woke the park up. What a great feeling! Seeing a walk-off win is always a lovely thing, but it's even more lovely when it snaps a losing streak. There was a lot to cheer about last night.

And then, there was Victor. I'll give him the three hits. That was great, and I did enjoy them. But nine stolen bases? In six innings? Christ, Victor.... I know catching the knuckleball is just hard, but THAT is embarassing. I'm embarassed for you and about you in that regard. Really. Pull it together, because Doug Mirabelli is always ready and willing to come out of retirement, dude. I want to like Victor, but yesterday I did not. Granted, half of the blame has to go directly on Wake. As much as I hate to say it, Timmy was terrible yesterday. Shakey Wakey indeed. Two wild pitches, five walks, and six ER in six innings. I don't care how bad Victor's game calling was, those kinds of numbers are just not good enough. Tim now has zero wins in three starts. We know the wins will start to come, but can't we just get the 18 wins out of the way now? Please?

Our two glaring holes in the lineup right now are Ortiz and Drew, both piling up strikeouts at an impressive rate. Maybe Magadan needs to work with his lefties a little more effectively. Just seems odd that the only two REALLY struggling are lefties. If I had the time, I would look up pitching data about the starters that they've faced and find some comforting numbers to make me believe they're going to snap out of it, but I don't have time, so we're just going to pretend I did.

As for Drew... for some reason, he reminded me very much of a cow yesterday. I couldn't get that image out of my head. No offense to Drew or cows. Just thought I'd share.

Another positive (because you don't want to end a post about a good game on a bad note)... ZERO ERRORS for the Sox yesterday! They finally learned how to catch, and I couldn't be prouder! Exciting game, great win. Beckett on the mound tonight. I don't know about all of you, but I feel pretty good about that.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Calm Now: Not Happy, But Calm

I really needed my little mini-rant yesterday. I needed it badly. It was a rough day for me all around, with news that two family members were being rushed to two different hospitals. My stress level was already through the roof before the Sox started losing, so you'll have to forgive my outburst. And if you don't, I guess I don't care.

I also do not care if the Sox don't win a single game from here on out, there is NEVER an excuse to sit at the park and boo the players. NEVER. It's ok not to cheer if you see something wrong with the play, but booing doesn't help. I'll hopefully be at the park for my first game of the season tonight. Hopefully! Instead of booing all the folks who are struggling, we could try cheering extra loud to hopefully show them that we still support them. Yeah, winning is fun and easy, but not all times are good times no matter how hard we want them to be.

Though, at the same time, I understand how hard it is to cheer for a team that looks baffled by the concept of baseball. Truly baffled in all aspects of the game. I know my memory is pretty short, but I don't remember watching a team that just had no clue the way these guys have no clue right now. Please, someone shut off the brain drain device and let them get back to normal. I can ALMOST forgive the lack of hitting, because hitting a baseball is harder than it looks. Not catching though... no, that's not ok. If you have time to position yourself under the ball, and you still don't catch it, then what business do you have playing in the major leagues, eh?

I've heard a lot of people wondering why Ellsbury isn't on the disabled list. That's a fantastic question. I am wondering the same thing. Perhaps the Sox forgot they could do that? Or perhaps they don't want to leave Pawtucket shorthanded early in the season by taking away the good hitter that is Josh Reddick? I don't know. I'm sure they have their reasons, and as usual, the fans have more questions than answers.

Actually, the Sox season is starting to look like an episode of Lost... of which I am ridiculously obsessed. I guess Theo would be Jacob, claiming that there's a reason for everything, but not telling us what that reason is. Tito most closely resembles Locke... the eternal optimist always convinced that no one can tell him what he can't do (I mean real Locke, not smoke monster Locke. Very different characters). I wonder if I can find a Lost character for all members of the Red Sox... Let me try!

-Timmy Wakefield would be Desmond Hume - He's been connected with the island since before most of the new folks showed up. He's felt the intense pain of loss and longing more frequently than the other inhabitants. Tim and Desmond both keep coming back on a quest to get back some kind of metal object (WS trophy for Tim, Penny for Desmond).

-David Ortiz would be Hugo Reyes - He's seen great fortune in his past and reaped fantastic rewards, but he hit a patch of very, very bad luck. There's always something hanging around and pressuring him (the way the ghosts of the island hang around Hugo), and even when he knows he's doing the right thing, doubt starts to creep in.

-Jason Varitek would be Richard Alpert - He's been around a long, long time. His appearance usually doesn't change. He's generally a very calm person and good at leading people. People look to him for advice on what to do next, and even when he doesn't know, he does his best to keep his flock moving.

-Mike Lowell would be Daniel Farraday - Mike and Daniel are both extremely smart. Both men know that they're smart, and sometimes people look to them for answers. Most of the time, however, they're overlooked by people with louder ideas. Soft-spoken and very useful, Mikey and Daniel are both just trying to help everyone out, even if it is to their own detriment.

-Josh Beckett is Sayid Jarrah - Both are complete badasses who still manage to stay quiet. They know what needs to be done, and they do it. If you need some serious destruction of other people, you know who to go to.

-Kevin Youkilis is James "Sawyer" Ford - Really stretching these comparisons here, but the one thing that got me is the temper. Both of them have nasty tempers.

-Dustin Pedroia is Charlie Pace - Both are little guys who most people assumed would never do anything useful, but both proved that they have huge hearts and give their all to help the people around them.

Ok, well, I'm bored with this now, but it has put me in a much better mood about the team. I believe they'll be ok, and I believe that Tim will get the W's rolling in again. Starting tonight. See you at the Fens

Monday, April 19, 2010

Screw Yesterday: I'm Bitchin' About Today.

You've got to be f@$%ing kidding me, right?

No. Really. You've got to be. I'm having too bad of a f@$%ing week for John Lackey to be pitching this shitty. I try my damndest not to swear on my blog, but GOD DAMNIT, you a$$%)#s need to pull your goddamn shit together!

Or there's going to be arson!

Edit: And not for f@$%ing nothing, but Varitek's GIDP's... 0
Victor's GIDP's.... 6
And I don't want to hear about limited sample size. 6 GIDP's in two weeks of baseball is BEYOND inexcusable.

Saturday: Will Do Bad Things To You

Specifically, Saturday did a good job triggering a bunch of anxiety issues, and making people all whiney. I actually got a text saying, "I wish we could run Henry, Werner, Lucchino, and Theo out of town and get back to to way the Red Sox were. It used to be so much fun to watch a baseball game!"

Of course, I'm not quite THAT reactionary yet, so I made it clear that I in NO way agree with that statement. Yeah, let's go back to the cloudy judgment of the Yawkey Family, who I credit only for keeping the team crappy for as long as they did. I love what the ownership group did with this team. Sure, I'm not happy with the GM, but how many teams are happy with their GM's? Everyone can always find things to complain about when it comes to how their favorite teams are assembled. Theo just makes it easy for me to find complaints. And, oh, I have many. Including, but not limited to, our defense. They have me holding back vomit.

And then Dahmer still can't pull himself together after a base hit. Does this kid had PTSD or what? I'm not going to go off on him. We all know I've never been sold on his talent. That has nothing to do with him. It's all about my biases. See, it's fun because I can look at two pitchers like Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, and I can see nothing but good in Lester and nothing but mediocrity in Buchholz. But they've both been pretty mediocre lately, so I have no substantial basis for my analysis of the two. I pick favorites. It's what I do, and it's what you do, too. Everyone who follows sports picks favorites.

The most painful part was, of course, pulling to within a run and having our dreams shattered when we just absolutely could not push one more across. One run losses hurt the most, especially when you're just so close from coming back from a big deficit. These games have been hard to watch. We are not playing anything close to good baseball right now, but I absolutely have to believe they're going to click. On the plus side, the facts that NO ONE can get hits with runners in scoring position, no one can field, and our pitching has been pretty terrible at times means that some of the anger has been directed away from Papi. I still stand by my support for the man, because he is clutch... deep down, somewhere hidden right now, his clutchiness is hiding. We've just got to force it out. I have my faith intact.

I need another break before recounting Sunday's game. Hopefully I'll have that commited to blog form before the end of the game that starts in forty minutes. I might hate to write the next entry, but it's got to be written. We all know it does. My goal for the month is 23 blog entries. I'm not even close right now, and we're winding down, so all games have to be written about... no matter how painful they are. Sigh. They'll snap out of this. They have to. There's too much talent for them to be this bad forever.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friday's Game: Ended On Saturday

Of all the losses of the season thus far (and keep in mind, I acknowledge it's early in the season), this one broke my back. I snapped. I found myself bitching about how this team is going nowhere. There's NO chance that this configuration of baseball players can even make it to the playoffs, nevermind win any goddamn thing. Trust that my actual tirade was far more obscenity-laced that this. Far more. I was furious with everything having to do with the left side of the field.

Beckett was brilliant. BRILLIANT. It was the best damn pitching performance I'd seen from him for a while. It was literally the only thing keeping me from throwing something at my television screen. I loved watching him. It gives me a little hope that maybe this is a sign of things to come. However, you could see it pretty damn clearly on his face that he's having a hard time trusting the left side of his infield. Not that you can blame him.

Now, here is my overreacting for the week.... that loss that started on Friday and ended on Saturday was ALL Adrian Beltre's fault. All of it. I blame the entire thing squarely on his stupid shoulders. Sure, I could blame Scutaro and Tim Bogart, because seriously? Who sends the runner from first on a double with no one out in a tied game? Who? Tim Bogart. Not that I believe we could have gotten Youk home from third even with no one out, but you don't do that shit. And Scutaro? Learn to field. Defense my goddamn ass.

But no, I blame Beltre. Not only for the crappy play that allowed the only unearned run the Rays had to score, but for grounding into a *&%^$!-#$^&*!@$ double play when ALL he needed to go was hit the ball into the air. Yes, I make it sound simple. It is simple. Stop swinging at goddamn crappy pitches, learn to be a little patient, and stop screwing the team over. All we needed was a sac fly, and Beltre ensured that we wouldn't get it. I won't blame Ortiz, because enough people are blaming Ortiz, and I will never EVER turn on Papi... but I don't owe anything to Beltre, and that's all he'll get from me; nothing. Varitek, on the other hand... thank God for the Captain.

Once we squandered the bases-loaded opportunity, I knew it was over. I think everyone else knew it was over, too. You could just feel the momentum get sucked out of the Sox dugout. I don't have faith in Manny Delcarmen, but I think that anyone who would have come in would have blown the game. It was destiny. As soon as you screw up that badly, it's over. There's no fight left.

I was hoping to see a little fight in the Saturday game, and we got it. Just a little. But for now, I'm too mentally exhausted to recount it. Maybe I'll get around to that later today.

All I know is, I blame Beltre.

Friday, April 16, 2010

John Lackey and Tim Wakefield: Two Pitchers I Did Not See

Fair warning, this post is going to be needlessly long. But I did all of my own research!

It's not for lack of trying. I wasn't able to watch either starter for the Sox. Actually, yesterday's game I wasn't able to see at all. At the time the game was being played, I was locked in a basement with no access to any TV or internet of any kind. Hell, I couldn't even get cell phone reception. But that's what happens when you're in grad school. They shove you in a basement and expect you to forget all about baseball and how much you love it.

So I didn't see yesterday's game, but I hear we lost 8-0. That's fine. I don't blame Wakey. In these situations, I always blame the offense. No matter how well Wake pitched, we still would have lost because we didn't score any runs!

Imagine that... a team that had everyone worried about their inability to score runs is having trouble scoring runs. The crazy world we live in, I'm tellin ya. I'm not going to pretend that I'm not worried about this offense, or that I never worried about it. I did. I don't like not scoring runs. It usually equates to losing, especially when our teams strengths haven't been living up to their potential yet. Thank goodness it's still early.

So much is made about Papi not hitting. Why don't we focus on who else isn't hitting? Hmm... actually, let's see everyone's basic AB stats in the last five games (which, coincidentally overlaps with the first five games! Yay small sample size!)

Papi: 19 AB, 2 runs scored, 4 hits, 2 RBI's, 2 BB, 12 K's
Victor: 22 AB, 2 runs scored, 5 hits, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K's
Cameron: 13 AB, 0 runs scored, 2 hits, 0 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K's
Drew: 16 AB, 3 runs scored, 2 hits, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 10 K's
Beltre: 22 AB, 2 runs scored, 5 hits, 4 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K
Scutaro: 17 AB, 2 runs scored, 6 hits, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 2 K's
Youk: 18 AB, 4 runs scored, 4 hits, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 1 K
Munchkin: 20 AB, 3 runs scored, 11 hits, 7 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K's
Ellsbury: 25 AB, 6 runs scored, 10 hits, 1 RBI, 0 BB, 3 K's

There they are, folks. Your nine starting regulars. I'm not going to put in the info for Hall, Tek, Mikey, or Wolverine (look, Hermida has a nickname! He reminds me of a Wolverine), because they're bench guys. They don't have time to make a big impact. So... I need more info to really make an educated opinion. Pitch counts!

Here we go!

Papi: 4.6 p/AB (97 pitches in 21 AB)
Victor: 4.2 P/AB (97 pitches in 23 AB)
Cameron: 4 p/AB (64 pitches in 16 AB)
Drew: 4.1 p/AB (78 pitches in 19 AB)
Beltre: 3.1 p/AB (68 pitches in 22 AB)
Scutaro: 3.7 p/AB (66 pitches in 18 AB)
Youk: 4.2 p/AB (97 pitches in 23 AB)
Munchkin: 4 p/AB (92 pithces in 23 AB)
Ellsbury: 3.3 p/AB (83 pitches in 25 AB)

League average on p/AB is 3.88. So, our batting averages right now are:

Papi: .154
Victor: .231
Cameron: .217
Drew: .143
Beltre: .303
Scutaro: .310
Youk: .290
Munchkin: .405
Ellsbury: .333

League batting average right now is .262.
And the all-important BABIP (just for the sake of my sanity, I'm using BABIP numbers from the whole season thus far, not just each player's five most recent games)

Papi: .308
Victor: .229
Cameron: .313
Drew: .214
Beltre: .323
Scutaro: .333
Youk: .333
Munchkin: .379
Ellsbury: .400

Now, another favorite of mine... in-play percentage!

Papi: 45%
Victor: 85%
Cameron: 57%
Drew: 45%
Beltre: 91%
Scutaro: 79%
Youk: 62%
Munchkin: 67%
Ellsbury: 83%

Look, you can take from this what you want... but what I see is that we have a lot of players who are suffering through some bad luck with balls in play. We also have a lot of people swinging early in the count. A lot of our guys aren't making good contact right now. But chances are, we're going to be closer to the high-end of league average by the end of the year. I hope. I like looking at stats. I'm sure I'll come back to this later and realized that there were about five other categories I wanted to mention but didn't have the time for (there are... just about five actually). So, like I said... interpret the numbers how you want to. It'll level out. And if not, we'll lose a ton of games. Either way, you know you're going to watch.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Jon Lester: Tricky Little Monkey

Trust me, I'm aware that I'm two days late posting my review of Monday's game. Sometimes I have a life and it gets in the way of writing. Not often, but this week it has. Grad school is sort of killing me mentally at this point, but I'm determined to keep up my posting, at least for April.

Jon was horrible on Monday. I'm not going to sugar coat it. First pitch balls to just about everyone... his location was way off. There was no execution of those pitches. As a matter of fact, he was so off, he didn't even get to talk about executing pitches as far as I heard. I know it's his favorite phrase, so to not be able to use it probably caused him physical harm. I was watching him pitch on Monday and silently wondering to myself if he's making a case to get Varitek more work. Admittedly I was not closely paying attention to what Vic was calling for in terms of pitch selection. I can't imagine that he was calling that bad of a game. Part of it had to be the lack of pitch execution. But we all know Josh likes pitching to Tek and he got to do just that on Saturday and ended up with a win. Maybe Jon was passive aggressively complaining about the unequal treatment between him and his twin. They're the same person, they should be treated the same, right? I don't know.

Not that Victor has made a extremely convincing argument that he should be the starter over Tek, but deep down, we all know he should be. Varitek is 38 years old; he just can't play every game the way he used to. I don't dislike Victor, but he is (I believe) 1 for 10 with SB's. Varitek probably could muster up similar numbers. I'm just saying. Plus, I'm in love with Varitek, and I'm not at that level with Victor yet. I don't know if I ever will be. We'll see if he gets a new contract at the end of the season.

So, I'm going to make a really stupid joke of a statement right now. I needed to preface the actual statement with a warning, because I really don't want people to think I'm serious.... here goes. Rememeber the warning:

I think David Ortiz needs to aspire to get no more RBI's for the season. Not for nothing, but every game where Papi gets an RBI, we lose. Small sample size be damned. Being reactionary is the best way to go here. We need to not allow him to swing the bat with runners on base, because if he brings a run in, we'll lose. It's happened twice already so we can expect it to happen continuously for the rest of the season, right? Right. Yay for being panicky for no reason!

And not for nothing, but the entire team played ridiculously sloppily. I was fairly sure that all of them were drunk and just flopping themselves around the field in a hopeless effort to make it look like they hadn't spent the entire afternoon drinking. It's Josh. He's a bad influence. Maybe they'll have sobered up by today.

I watched a little bit of the Dodgers-Diamondbacks game yesterday on MLBN. I'll tell ya, of all the things I miss about Manny, one of the things I miss most is having the privilege of watching that sweet swing. No one has a sweeter swing. People say Drew has it, but without Manny's swagger, it's not as impressive. June 18th sure can't come fast enough.

So, Lackey takes on Slowey in about twenty minutes in the battle of people who have names that sound like really strange adjectives of some kind. Should be good. I won't be able to watch it, but perhaps I can catch the replays. Man, having a day job is a bummer sometimes. You're wondering why I'm posting right now then, huh? Shush, I get a lunch break.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Captain Tek: The Reason We Won

It was the awesome power of the Tek thighs that really powered that win last night. I love that man.... so very much. I don't know why people are surprised about Jason's two home runs right out of the gate. Now, if he's having two homerun games in September, then you can color me surprised. For now, I'm thrilled but not all that surprised.

He usually plays pretty well on his birthday. But since he isn't playing on his birthday, he had to settle for the night before. So happy birthday, Jason. You did us all proud, so you deserve a nice, relaxing birthday on the bench. There's a reason you're still the Captain.

While we're at it, happy birthday to Little Tek. I hope where ever he is right now, he's getting to play some baseball (or, you know, doing whatever he wants to do). I love April 11th. The birthday of two of my favorite players? It may as well be a national holiday.

As for the Commander.... solid performance. Yeah, I was absolutely furious in the 7th inning because he couldn't get that last goddamned out, but I was able to keep myself from swearing too loudly when I remembered that he DID get hit in the back of the head with a screaming liner. He may very well have been a little dizzy... perhaps dazed. Before he got hit in he head, I was convinced that he could go all nine. Well, after thirty pitches in the 7th, that wasn't likely. Luckily, Oki and Rambo were on their A-game and they were able to close it out for us.

I have to say... I am absolutely fed up with Rick Ankiel. Can none of our pitchers get this guy out? My God. Annoying.

Also, just so I don't forget... whoever is playing third base, be it Lowell or Beltre needs to beware. I'm just saying. Youk's been HBP by the Yankees, Munchkin and Scutaro were HBP against the Royals... in order. It's going around the infield. Whoever plays third needs to watch out, lest they become the next victim of a stray fastball. Seriously, four games and we've already had three of our players hit by pitches? No one else finds this concerning? I do!

But, onto my main point. Mike Lowell. So so good to see Mike be able to contribute to the team. He had a solid hit, (to my recollection) pretty solid at bats, and definitely the defensive play of the game. Mike Lowell can contribute. Mikey deserves to have a starting job. Hearing that he's thinking about retirement breaks my heart. I didn't think I'd ever say this because I am selfish and I want to keep Mikey for my own personal joy, but maybe I can stand to see him traded to another team so long as he gets to start on that team. Mike right now is in my top five favorite Red Sox players. Actually, he may be top 3. Everyone knows Tek is my favorite. No one will ever beat Tek as my favorite, and Beckett and Lester are my favorite pitchers... but I think Mike might actually hold my number two favorite player over the two of them, and man, that's saying a lot. I hate thinking that Mike's unhappy. I hate thinking that he might want to hang 'em up because he's frustrated. Mikey's never been anything but a professional, and he doesn't deserve this. For what it's worth, I'm sure he knows he has the fans behind him. If only the fan support could get him a starting job. I don't want to wish injury on Adrian Beltre so Mikey can have a job, but... I sort of find myself wishing exactly that. I don't have anything against Beltre, but I love Mike. His sadness hurts me.

Sigh. Anyway, to change topics... Jeremy Hermida absolutely needs a nickname. I like him, but I'm just not feeling a good name for him. Hopefully, he does something quirky and memorable so I can stop calling him Hermida.

Dahmer on the mound today, in just about an hour and a half. Let's see what the kid is going to bring to the table.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Beckett: I Suppose Congratulations Are in Order

In case you haven't heard, Josh Beckett is engaged to a rocket scientist that he went to high school with.

I hate hate HATE to be a snarky, jealous jerk. Sort of. I mean, it's fun, but when it comes to my favorite pitcher, I hate that it pops up on me, but...

... Seriously? What the hell do those two talk about? A rocket scientist and a baseball player? I've heard Josh give interviews. He doesn't seem like a flat-out idiot, but he never struck me as the book-learning kind. I don't know. I'm going to try not to be a complete ass and just say congratulations to Josh and his future bride. Good for you both!

Also, congratulations to me for actually posting more often like I promised myself I would. I wonder how long this is going to last.

Manny: No Matter What You Don't Say, I Love You

It's a habit I have a hard time breaking. I don't know why I bother, but for some reason, I still check out Dirt Dogs daily. Most of the time, I find myself shaking my head and mumbling about how I shouldn't bother. Some days, I get a good laugh out of the whole ordeal. Today, I was annoyed.

More needless Manny bashing. Come on, I know Manny left town the wrong way, but do real Red Sox fans really hate him? Some people I know are done with Manny. I've fluctuated between hating Manny and loving him, but only because I was so angry that he was running himself out of town. I don't care what anyone says. I am a Manny fan. I will always be a Manny fan. The dude helped us win 2 World Series championships, and he didn't go to the Yankees. In my book, that's good enough reason to always cheer for the guy. It makes me sad to see so many people hating him for all the wrong reasons. I acknowledge that there are 'right' reasons for people to hate him, but it's the wrong ones that kill me.

For example, when I went on Dirt Dogs today, I see a picture of Manny, with the headline "He Hate Me." This linked to an article by the ever fickle T. J. Simers... which you can go directly to via this link in case you want to avoid DD, which I completely do not blame you for.

I'm going to spoil it for you. All those things that are credited to Manny Ramirez, with a picture showing Manuel Aristides Ramirez, were used by Dirt Dogs to rile up Sox fans for when Manny comes back to town. But if the jerks who ran that site actually bothered to read the article, they would have gotten to this line:

So we all say goodbye to Mountaineer jockey Emanuel Ramirez, known around the track as Manny Ramirez — as good a time as any of us can recall having with Manny Ramirez.

Maybe I'm falling into the trap. All I know about Simers is that he was once clamoring to kiss Manny's ass, and lately he hasn't seemed to like him too much. Actually, I know I'm falling into the trap. Simers wants people to talk about his articles. Fine. It worked. What pisses me off is that this is exactly the kind of thing that will get those fairweather fans sitting in my favorite ballpark booing Manny extra loudly when he returns. Man, when the Boston media hates someone, they just can't let it go. This isn't a surprise to me, but it disappoints me every day.

Hopefully, on June 18th, I won't be the only one giving Manny Ramirez, the baseball player, a standing ovation. I don't care what happened in the past. For what he helped us accomplish, he deserves it.

Game Four: The Last Day of the World, Ever. So They Better Win Or We're All Doomed and Babies Will Cry And...

Yawn. Yeah, the doom and gloom stuff gets old really quick. I couldn't even keep it up for what? Fifteen seconds? I think it's a sad state of affairs that I'm being one of the rational ones. Usually, I have the weapons waving around in the air declaring marshal law until the damn Red Sox do what I want them to do. How come this time around, I'm the one watching everyone else freak out like the armageddon is upon us? Why? It's not fair! Stop making me the rational one! There would be years when I'd be freaking out over early season losses and people would say 'relax, it's only April'. Now those very same people are texting me, declaring the world to be over because we lost two games. Goodness, is this karma, or what? Maybe I'm stuck on the island, and living in an alternate reality at the same time. But what the hell do I know? I still haven't figured that show out.

I'll tell ya, though. I got a HUGE laugh when I started reading about how people are questioning Victor's abilities behind the plate, even going so far as to say maybe Tek should have been handling the pitching staff all along. You're kidding me, right? Seriously? I can guarantee that every person complaining about Vic was in the mob last year that demanded that the captain's ass be glued to the bench because 'we're going to be so much better without that useless piece of garbage Varitek behind the plate. All the offense from V-Mart will be great! GREAT!' Ok, so that wasn't verbatim. I find this point hard to argue, because I've always said that I don't care what I get offensively from Tek as long as he's calling the game we all know he calls. I really don't want to hear it. Not at all. Put Varitek behind the plate. Awesome. I support that decision all day and night. But if I hear from ONE person that V-Mart needs to be in the lineup because Tek's bat is done once you get my darling back in there, it's entirely possible that I'll go on some kind of horrible rampage.

I'm not a violent person by nature. I just can't handle this much stupidity all at once. It hurts my head. Why should my head hurt?!

So, I'm going to answer/respond to some of the more popular questions/comments I've heard. This'll be fun! I get to use sarcasm! Here goes!

Q: Should we permanently bench Papi and let Mikey get all of his AB's?
A: Shut up. It's game 4. Mikey will get his chance to play. Also, may I remind you that Ortiz was the only one with an RBI in game 3? The only one. You want to take our only offense out of the lineup? While we're at it, why don't we banish him to the moon or something. It's only fair, right? He dared to hit just as well as JD Drew. He should be punished.

Q: Should Mike Lowell start at DH against lefties?
A: Only if his numbers against said lefty are better than Papi's numbers. Papi had better numbers against Elephant Man. He's never going to work his way out of his slump if you don't let him play.

Q: But didn't you say that last year about Papi? You said he would work his way out of the slump!
A: He did. His numbers weren't glamorous, but he did pick it up. Man, I am so sick of the 'what have you done for me lately?' attitude.

Q: But the reporters for the Herald/Globe/Internet site said....
A: That's your problem. Stop listening to them, stupid. They're trying to rile you up.

Q: So, John Lackey is our one and only ace now that Beckett and Lester failed against the Yankees.
A: No. Please see my previous post. Look over the numbers. If you don't know what the numbers mean... then I just can't help you. But trust me, Josh and Jon will be just fine.

Q: Should Varitek be Beckett's sole handler?
A: No. God, do you just repeat everything angry fans ramble about? Ok, Varitek is my first baseball love. No question how much I love him. But right now, his job isn't really to play baseball. I know he has that contract that says it is, but you should know that he's only being kept around because he's mentoring Victor and he's helping with the progression of the itty bitty baby catchers. You can't allow Beckett to never reach that level of comfort with Victor this year, because then next year when Tek is gone, we're screwed. Let Jason teach Victor the way, and let Victor apply the lessons. In time, you'll stop thinking such ridiculous things.

Q: Pitching and defense hasn't won games for us yet! It's not working! This is horrible!
A: Yeah, but pitching and defense did happen to help us win World Series titles in 2004 and 2007. I don't know about the rest of you, but I sort of think it's a good idea to let it work its magic.

Q: Yeah, but you can't win games if you don't get any run support!
A: You also can't win games if every time you get run support, your horrible pitching and your suspect defense give a whole bunch of those runs back. Patience, feeble minded folks. Half of our infield is new. 2/3rds of our outfield is new (technically, Jacoby being in a new position counts, since he's working from a whole new perspective). Settle down and give them time to adjust.

Thanks for participating, everyone. I'm sure I'll have to have a few more of these in the future. As for right now, I'm looking forward to seeing Timothy take the ball in Kansas City. Please, folks, don't say anything that would make me cry. Give Tim your support, and cheer the rest of the team. Lugo's gone! There's no reason to dislike ANYONE on the team!

Oh, and Joe West? You suck. Shut up and do your damn job. And, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but you go, Mo. Awesome comeback.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Perspective: Trying It Again Today

I spent a large part of my morning thinking about Jon and Josh's performance in the last two days. It sort of bugs me that people are pulling apart the pitching staff already two games in. But, we're Sox fans. We're reactionary.

I'm going to do my part to relieve some of the hysteria that's already building. This one statement HAS to make all the difference to folks who say Lester can't pitch and Beckett is a waste of money.... April has been a rough month for our power pitchering aces in the last few years. Proof, you demand? Here's my proof, organized by pitcher:

Jon Lester
April/March 2008: 7 games, 1-2 record, 4.31 ERA, 39.2 IP (average of about 5 IP/gm), 38 H, 19 ER, 23 BB, 22 K
Whole 2008 season: 33 games, 16-6, 3.21 ERA, 210.1 IP (average of just over 6 IP/gm), 202 H, 78 ER, 66 BB, 152 K

April 2009: 5 games, 1-2 record, 5.40 ERA, 30 IP, 36 H, 18 R, 10 BB, 33 K
Whole 2009 season: 32 games, 15-8 record, 3.41 ERA, 186 H, 77 ER, 64 BB, 225 K

Josh Beckett
April/March 2008: 4 games, 2-2 record, 4.10 ERA, 26.1 IP, 18 H, 13 R, 7 BB, 29 K
Whole 2008 season: 27 games, 12-10, 4.03 ERA, 174.1 IP, 173 H, 78 ER, 34 BB, 172 K

April/March 2009: 5 games, 2-2 record, 7.22 ERA, 28.2 IP, 36 H, 24 R, 16 BB, 31 K
Whole 2009 season: 32 games, 17-6, 3.86 ERA, 212.1 IP, 198 H, 91 ER, 55 BB, 199 K

Of course, if I go further back than the last few years, Beckett throws the curve way off. I knew Beckett would deviate slightly from my claim, but Lester's numbers show you that he's gonna struggle in April, and by September, you're going to be questioning why you ever questioned him to begin with!
And just for the hell of it, please keep in mind that our starter tonight, John Lackey, hasn't pitched in April since 2007. Granted, he was very good in that April, but he's been hanging around Beckett and Lester a lot, so let's keep our expectations a little tempered. April is a tough month. Now, if our Big Three are pitching like garbage in June (which is statistically Jon Lester's best month), then you can come to me with your concerns. Until then, hush!

And for goodness sake, people, stop texting me about how bad the players are. Game three! We're only heading into game three! Stop panicking! Thank you

Lester: Exactly Like Beckett, As Usual

There are some occassions that I truly enjoy the fact that Jon Lester has actually become Josh Beckett in many ways. The post-game interviews. Seeing them wear the same silly shirts. Hearing the two of them say 'execute pitches'. Even listening to Jon Lester talk in a somewhat southern accent at times. Watching them dominate games. These are the times that watching Josh and Jon morph into the terrifying left and right-handed pitching monster is fun. However, when Jon starts mimicking Josh's sucky pitching, then I don't like it any more. I mean, I'm completely not surprised, but I am a little disappointed. I guess I'll have to wait until Josh's next start to predict how Jon is going to do. Hopefully one of them (meaning both of them) can pitch 6 or 7 and not give up five runs. What's that called? A quality start or something like that? I don't know, it's been a long off-season and there are plenty of things I haven't seen for a long time. Hard to remember.

Not that the Yankees' starting rotation is giving them any quality, but that hardly excuses our piss-poor pitching.

Now, I really wanted to jump on the laptop last night after the game and start writing how Marco Scutaro (for the record, when he makes me unhappy, I've decided to call him Scugo, pronounced Skoo-go.) blew the game, and he should be drawn and quartered and how we can't seem to hold on to the shortstops who don't suck and.... sigh. I'm not feeling it, though. I want to blame him for the loss, because he's a shortstop, but really, it's not all his fault. Asshat SHOULD have picked the ball (and I SHOULD come up with a better nickname for him by now, but I'm not gonna). Oki SHOULD have been able to throw a strike to Nick Johnson and not walk in a run. The rest of our guys SHOULD have scored more runs. Jon Lester SHOULD have pitched better. A bad team effort all around. I'm giving no one an A. You all get C's for this test, Red Sox. Maybe if you work a little harder, I'll give you better grades. Let's not all blame Scugo for this, ok?

And if one more person complains to me that Papi is all washed up, I'll throw a temper tantrum. I swear to God, I can't escape it. It's ridiculous! We're two games into the season. I know he's 0-7, but he's making contact. I don't care if the balls aren't falling in for hits. It's better than watching him strike out, which I KNOW he did plenty of. Don't worry, I watch the games. Give the man a chance to turn it on before you declare him all done. I've always been a huge Papi fan. I didn't quit on him last year, and I'm not quitting on him now. Don't Sox fans still hold on to that old saying 'Keep the faith'? Remember that? Let's have some faith, shall we?

In the spirit of trying to turn this into a good thing, here's my list of five positives from last night. Yes, I decided to start up the random lists again. Here we go:

1) We got that first loss out of the way. It's better to get it done early. Now when we go on that extended winning streak for the rest of April, the first loss won't seem so bad, because our dreams of going 162-0 will have already been dashed.

2) CRW got his first stolen base of the year, which of course means he got on base for the first time this year! While I have zero faith in his fielding ability (I know, I know, I was just bitching about keeping the faith, and here I am faithless), I do love watching him steal bases, so that was nice.

3) Victor Martinez very well could be the bat that Papi was worried about. My love for Jason Varitek will never, never end, but getting production out of our catcher for the first time since 2005? I like it. I like that Varitek is still on the team, and I like that we are getting production. It's the perfect situation for me.

4) Papi's struggles ensure that we actually need Mike Lowell. Another guy I love having on the team. You know Mikey can hit. As long as Papi's struggling, knowing we still have someone on the bench with some pop in his bat is reassuring. Maybe we can actually finish the season with Mikey still in town. That would make me happy.

5) Steven Tyler did not sing God Bless America and Neil Diamond did not sing Sweet Caroline. I know that some people really enjoyed those renditions, but I did not. I'm glad they weren't back.

So there we go. Some positivity heading into Lackey's first start in a Sox uniform. Let's see him put a little hurt on Pettitte, eh?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Ace: Ours For For More Years

So, they finally announced that Beckett has agreed to the contract extension that would give him $68M over the next four years. You bet I'm thrilled! No, really, I'm not being sarcastic. Of course, if you've ever read this blog, you'd know, but I LOVE Beckett. I absolutely adore him.

There's nothing more endearing to me than a power pitcher. I love pitching. I love good pitching. While Beckett's start last night wasn't 'good', you know damn well that he's going to be better than that. There are no indications that would point to him having a less than good year, other than the fact that this is an even-numbered year and Beckett doesn't shine as brightly in the off-years... Though in all fairness, his 2008 campaign was much closer to good than his 2006 campaign, when he posted a 5.01 ERA. So, with every passing even-numbered year, Beckett gets a little better. This also means that we have our rotation wrapped up with a group of workhorses (assuming they all stay healthy) for the long run. Then, there's Wakefield, who will be around for this year and next. After that, we clear some space for the new guys coming up from the minors. But we're set. Our starting rotation is awesome!

So, rejoice, Red Sox Nation. The once and future ace is secure in our grasp until 2014. Maybe by then I'll be ready to let go of him. Probably not, but maybe.

Opening Day: Success For Everyone Except Pitchers!

I mean, wow, did Beckett look like garbage or what? 4.2 IP, 5 ER, and I believe only 1 K. What was that? Does he remember that this is a contract year and he's supposed to care? For goodness sake, that was probably the worst pitching performace I've seen out of him since God only knows when. But you know what? I loved it. Oh man, I savored (and yelled at) every pitch. And the fact that once the 6th inning hit, and Sabathia ended up being just as bad, made me feel so much better. Then we got to Rambo, and I felt a little sad again. But, Chan Ho Park made the smile return! Listen, when your final score is 9-7, you know that it wasn't a pitcher's duel. Yeah, I was expecting better from a Beckett-Sabathia match up, but we didn't get it. We'll get it somewhere further along the line, and maybe in the next match up, the two can actually act like they remember how to pitch.

Though, I'm not about to go all crazy, praising the Sox up and down for their incredible offense. Nine runs was fantastic, but I'm trying to be a little tempered in my expectations. I liked a lot of what I saw. There was a lot of working the count, and a lot of swinging at good pitches. Then, of course, there was plenty of staring at strike 3 (Drew! Jacoby! Damnit, you two should know better!) But, over all, I don't think I'm going to mind the offense as much as I thought I would.

And I promise, I will try to minimize the number of times I watch Scutaro miss a ball and say "Gonzo would have had it." Because, even though Gonzo WOULD have had it, Gonzo is gone again (for now) and I really am trying very hard to embrace the new guys.

Though it did give me a sense of complete satisfaction hearing the ovation for Mikey last night. Do the people of Boston love that man, or what? I know the way we cheer for him doesn't change his situation as a ball player, but in the end, it's got to make him feel sort of good, right? Goodness, I love that man. I really do. I hope he appreciates that we care so much. Hell, not even Pedro got the same kind of love... unless the audio on my TV was being warped for some reason. Pedro got the love. He absolutely did. I just think Mikey got more love.

Granted, I was far more giddy seeing Pedro, because my Pedro spottings are few and far between. I always love the look on his face when he comes back to Boston. You know that he really, truly loves the place. I don't know if it's because we treat him like a king, or because he just enjoys the scenery, but Pedro looks like he's home here. Hear that, Sox? PEDRO should be HOME in BOSTON. Perhaps in the second half. Just throwing that out there. Plus, the Pedro/Pesky hug? Adorable. Then again, who doesn't want to hug Johnny Pesky? I know I do.

And not for nothing... I have NO idea who that kid was, but that speech that he memorized? Loved it! Dr. Charles sure knows how to put on an opening day show. Neil Diamond... Steven Tyler... fireworks.... Pedro. Man, that was a variety show for the ages. But, Neil... it's time to let go. The Dodgers haven't been in Brooklyn for a good, long time and they're not going back. Move on with your life.

Pedro. Still happy about that one. There was no way they didn't win while Pedro was in the park. Perhaps Pedro could find our current ace and give him a stern talking to about how to pitch better. Perhaps.

Two more days until the next baseball game. Seems so unfair. But, we've got Jon to look forward to, and there's nothing wrong with that. Welcome to the 2010 season, everyone! We finally made it!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

POS: Traded To My Part-Time Home

Listen, Lugo... you gigantic thorn in my side, I don't want you anywhere NEAR a place where I intend on being. I feel like this trade, the one where you had absolutely no choice in the matter, is a personal attack on things I love. Stop attacking things I love! You jerk.

Every sports website known to man is quietly reporting that the St. Louis Cardinals have traded POS for a player to be named later. Oh, the beloved PTBNL. Involved in every trade of every player that no one wants. From the article:'s Brittany Ghiroli reports the St. Louis Cardinals traded IF Julio Lugo to the Baltimore Orioles for a player to be named later. The deal is still pending league approval.

Just when I think it's safe to go to Baltimore, I get this. Not that I ever thought it WASN'T safe to go to Baltimore. I mean, hell, I've been going there for as long as I can remember and no bad things have ever happened to me. But, on the plus side, now I get to boo him. So... yeah, I guess this is ok. For a little while. Then the Orioles better trade him back.

How is it possible that the Orioles allow themselves to get worse when they were finally on track to start getting better?! I don't understand.

Lester: Never Happy With Himself

nu=3237>7:5>:<7>WSNRCG=3233886572;28nu0mrj"> (Jon Lester at a charity event in 2006 - photo by me... and no, that's no me in the background)

Good way for a pitcher to be. I, however, was quite happy with him. Yeah, he pitched against the Orioles, but I don't care what team you're pitching against. When the regular season comes a'callin', a W is a W no matter who the opposing team is. Some W's may seem more impressive, but they're all worth about the same. Usually.

I'd say, one occassion when a W is worth more than other W's is when you're tied for the lead in the division. Or wild card, or whatever. You get the picture. And, actually, a W is worth more when you beat a division rival that's ahead of you in the standings. Hmm... I guess I sort of just disproved my own theory? Whatever. I like wins, even if they're only spring training wins. Great. I start my first post of April as a rambly mess. Good job, me.

What was I talking about? Oh. Jon Lester. Right! One of my favorite topics. 7 IP, 1 ER, and 3 K's in his final start of the spring. Granted, I didn't SEE the start, so I'm basing my entire analysis of Jon on the box score, but to me, it all looks good. And hey, Vic had two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. I love that. That makes me happy. Good job, Vic... Victor.... Victory. I have no idea what to call you yet, but it's coming. A sustainable nickname is coming! When? I don't know.

In other news... 4 years and $68M for Beckett sounds like an awesome idea. He should totally go for it. Right?

And, of course I have to mention the fact that the Rangers aren't so interested in our boy Michael Averett Lowell right now. Are they planning on signing my Ducky? I sort of hope, because I want Millar employed, damnit! But, as usual, the whole Mike Lowell deal is being held up because of the money. I have a feeling that the money won't be an issue for long. Mike is hitting well again this spring, and being able to play first base makes him more attractive (as if that were possible). Still, I won't be crying if and when Mike is on the opening day roster for the Red Sox, even if he isn't on the field.