Thursday, March 31, 2011

Welcome to the Church of Baseball: First Sermon in 30 Minutes

Rejoice, fellow faithful, for the blessed hour is nearly upon us. All ye fans of.... ok, I'm not typing a whole entry like this. It sounded great in my head, but not so wonderful in execution. Regardless, today IS a very special day. Welcome to opening day, my friends. I'm glad to see you all made it relatively in one piece. I acknowledge some missing teeth, from grinding them down to nothing after every snow storm. I also recognize missing chunks of hair and broken bones caused as a direct result of frustrations from the winter. I hated this winter, and I know many of you did, too. Everything is ok now. We've made it.

In just about a half hour, four teams will take the field, and the first official pitch of the season will be thrown. While my favorite team isn't among those beginning today, that's no reason for me to not be excited. I don't have to actively love any of the teams playing. I just love the game.

I've been reading some of my favorite blogs all morning. Apparently, I missed this whole thing about MLB's Fancave contest? My reaction: After reading various thoughts and reflections on it, I'm glad I knew nothing about it, and this will be the last time I ever mention it in my blog. See, I'm not in the mood to be all ranty right now. I'm maintaining the happy, and if I start in on that, I won't maintain the happy any more.

So I'll go back to reading blogs, and articles covering last night's exhibition game. I'll reflect on the game. I'll think about the line-up, and daydream of no-hitters and home runs. In my head, I'll run through my expectations of all of the guys this season. I won't go too far into it, but I am expecting a big year out of JD this season. I have verbally and texually beaten him up almost constantly since he signed, but I have really come around on the guy. I'll be cheering for him just as hard as anyone else this season. One thing that excites me about this year is that, as of right now, there's not really "that guy" that I don't like... that I can't cheer for. It's positively bizarre to me to see Crawford in a Sox uniform, and I couldn't stand him with Tampa (mostly because of the steals..... God, I still have nightmares about all of those stolen bases), but I am thoroughly ready to give him all the support I can muster. I'm giddy about the prospect of seeing Adrian Gonzalez hit in Fenway. I've even vowed to forget all of my 'marshmallow and pretzel sticks' comments about Ells from last season, and I'm ready to let him impress me.... not that he has to impress ME, but it's easier to root for him if he does. I'm thrilled to get Munchkin and Youk back and healthy. It was unbelievable how much we suffered without them last season. Scutaro is STILL so much better than Lugo! Lowrider is starting the season healthy, and ready to show that he deserves a starting job. Mike Cameron has been making me smile all spring, and I'm thrilled that Ronald gets to be with the big club for opening day. Just seeing David Ortiz's smile puts me in a good mood. Reading all the stories of Saltalamacchia and Tek being best buddies make me happy. I LIKE this team. What's not to like?

This season, Lackey's going to prove me wrong, and Beckett's going to prove me right. Lester is going to dominate. Dahmer is going to start frightening people. Dice-K... is probably going to throw 120 pitches per outing, but I'm ok with that! With all this wonderful potential looming directly in front of me, how can I not be excited? Sure, I have to wait another day for these specific guys to suit up and hit the field, but it's worth it.

My goal this season is to keep positive, no matter what the final score may be. I'm crazily irrational about baseball and generally don't restrict myself from truly feeling the highs and lows, but that makes my loved ones love me less. I want to be more level-headed in my fandom this year. I can't promise I'll stick to that, but I am going to try. Everyone's got to have a goal for the season, right?

So welcome everyone, to Opening Day. Put on your ballpark best, and settle in for the upcoming 162-game roller coaster. And, of course, Go Sox! (tomorrow!)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Training Doesn't Count: Losing Streak Also Doesn't Count

Being as neurotic as I tend to be about the Sox, I was getting myself pretty worked up about the ten game, gut-wrenching losing streak that we've been forced to endure. I fretted (I am a good fretter) and bemoaned, and did all sorts of other things along those lines for... hmm... probably the last five games. Once I was done bemoaning and fretting and agonizing, I was able to look at the calendar and realize that it's still March. March is the ONLY month of baseball where people can say to me, "It's only March," and my face doesn't explode. Don't try that trick on me in April, or you will get brain matter all over your nice new shirt. I don't care that everyone on the team, vets and minor leaguers alike, have been just short of horrible. I don't care. Because it's March. Now, if they keep this little game up come Friday (which is, of course, April), then I'll be throwing a temper tantrum until they get their act under control. That's not going to happen, though, because this is all a game to them. They want us to be worried. They want us to look at the product they've been putting on the field and bring down our expectations so when the season starts and they start to play well, we'll be uncontrollably ecstatic. Under promise and over deliver. It's a business strategy. Welcome to the last week of pre-season. We've almost made it through!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lackey's Number Two: Yup, Bizarro World


Lester is the ace, Lackey is his number two, Dahmer goes third, and our disgraced ace is number four.

This might just be the homer side of me talking, but really? Has Beckett really been THAT bad?

Don't answer that.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

News To Me: Jon Lester Named Opening Day Starter

Everyone else around me treated this news as a foregone conclusion, but to me, it's actually news. It may not be SURPRISING news, but it's news nonetheless. Tito has named Jon Lester as the opening day starter, scheduling him to pitch against CJ Wilson in Texas. Considering that Beckett's been the number one guy for the last couple of years, it's very cool that Jon is getting the chance this year. Being the opening day starter is a very cool honor.

And let's face it... as much as I love Josh (and I honestly do), he absolutely did not deserve it. Jon did. I am so unbelievably proud of him. At the risk of sounding too motherly, we've really watched him grow up and mature, and I couldn't be happier with the pitcher he's become.

Congratulations, Jon. You earned this!

Confused: Dice-K Threw HOW MANY Pitches?

Pardon my complete bafflement. I got home from work last night, opened up Game Day and looked through what I missed while I was slaving away for the man. Was Game Day broken yesterday? It shows that Dice-K threw nine pitches to the first seven batters and a total of 31 pitches through five innings. That can't possibly be right. It just can't. He was facing actual major leaguers. I am so far beyond confused that I can't even find my way back.

Of course, the Tigers were being hyper-aggressive in swinging against Dice, the first six batters swinging at the first pitch. I know it's spring, but the pitcher was still Dice-K. He nibbles. Why would you swing at the first pitch? I'm happy they did, of course, but I just don't understand the logic.

The Red Sox, on the other side of the diamond, were facing Justin Verlander. If you had said to me during the regular season that the matchup was Matsuzaka vs. Verlander, I would have chalked it up to a loss. But lose they did not. A 4th inning home run from CRW and a 10th inning home run from Ronald sealed up another pre-season win. I'll say that Ellsbury is looking pretty good. Hopefully those ribs are fully healed and healthy, and he can have a good season. I guess I could make the same wish for any number of the starters.

Despite being convinced that we are in bizzaro world, I'll take the win. Opening Day is 16 days away. Can you believe it?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beckett: Hmm... Maybe Hit Him Again

First off, I will list all of the reasons that I KNOW I shouldn't be annoyed with the game Beckett pitched yesterday just so I can prove that I really do have some level of perspective:

1) It's March, and the regular season has not yet begun
2) Spring is a time where pitchers are supposed to work on their not-so-awesome pitches
3) Josh had a concussion just a short while ago
4) He had four pretty good innings.
5) The home runs he gave up were solo shots.

There. See? Perspective. It's all mine. Now, allow me to indulge my neurotic side and explain why, despite the five good reasons up above not to be concerned, I am still concerned:

1) 2010
2) 2009
3) 2008
4) Typically, if Beckett is going to have a bad inning, it's between the 4th and 5th inning
5) He was facing the Pirates, who are essentially a minor league team
6) He couldn't keep his pitch count down against a minor league team
7) He has a nasty habit of giving up a ton of home runs.
8) Bad innings make me itchy. I'm afraid I won't have enough allergy medicine for the season if I need it this early.
9) The fact that a couple of mistakes turned Josh into a headcase who couldn't get an out is a little too reminiscent of Lowe.
10) Oh yeah, 2006. Don't think I forgot.

I'm sure Josh will have at least two or three more spring starts to vindicate the fifth inning of this game, but yeah, I'm nervous. He's been pretty sub-par since the end of 2007. This doesn't mean that I'll ever stop showering him with love and affection, but it's so much easier to love him when I don't have to rip out my hair because he's thrown 85 pitches in four innings when really he should have only thrown 60. I want Beckett to get through this season shooting hell fire from his eyes and beating his opponents to death with brimstone, and all that good stuff. At this point in his career, should he really need that much work on his 2nd and 3rd pitches during spring training? Shouldn't he, I don't know, already know how to use them? Just a thought. I guess if crappy innings will allow Beckett to use his curveball more often, I can't complain too much. I love that curveball. It's just so... curvy (when it's working!). I'm not going to get too worked up about his lousy pitch count or mental breakdown. Well... at least not until his next start.

Friday, March 4, 2011

It's Friday: I Know How To Make You Smile

I have six words for everyone that will make your entire day better.... There's. A. Live. Sox. Game. Tonight.

First live televised game of the year, against the Yankees no less. I know most of the game will be a bunch of the itty bitty baby Sox taking on the itty bitty baby Yanks, but we're guaranteed at least a few regulars. It's the rule!

And really, does it matter the participants of the game? As long as one side of the field sports "Sox" jerseys, I'm happy. The Sox have lost two in a row and looking to get themselves back on track tonight.

Tonight.... oh, tonight, my friends.... we get baseball. 7:05. NESN. Be there.... or don't complain that you weren't warned.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Breakfast Will Never Be The Same: Coco Crisp Arrested For DUI

Oh, Coco. Coco, coco, coco. Man, what are you doing? I understand that living life with relative anonymity since leaving Boston must have been hard for you, but getting arrested for a DUI? Come on, that's not ok at all. Oakland may not be awesome, but pull it together, man. Geez.

As the article references, Coco is the third major leaguer to get arrested for a DUI this spring. I don't like this trend. Most of these guys have more money in their wallets than I will ever see in my life. Why are they driving drunk? Call a cab! Call a limo! Hell, call the police and tell them you're famous and too drunk to drive. It's not worth getting behind the wheel!

I get frustrated reading stuff like this. I guess I can't expect that every athlete is going to be a perfect role model, but it seems like there are less and less for kids to actually look up to. It's disappointing. I'm disappointed. I hope Coco realizes that he's better than this and doesn't make a habit out of it. Shame shame.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Injury Bug: Please Go Away!

Day two of continuing to be tormented by the bad luck and injury bug. Sonuvamonkey hit the Sox again, this time claiming infielder Brent Dlugach, who dislocated his shoulder. Yeah, he's not a big leaguer as of this sitting, but he is a Sox, and he is injured.

I don't think I can handle this happening again. Can someone please put an end to this? Please?

And best of luck on recovery from the shoulder mishap, Brent. Hate to see injuries to anyone....

The only plus side is that the Sox are up 3-0 in the 8th.

Beckett: Hard Headed

Thanks, Ino Guerrero, for beaning our "ace" pitcher the day after his first spring training start. Just what we need.... more medical concerns. I thought we were starting with a clean slate this year! Someone please get the memo down to Fort Myers. For sanity's sake, please keep Ino away from Jon and Clay.

Tito was thankful that the ball hit Josh's head and not his shoulder. Due to his hard head, Tito suspects he'll be fine. I'm sure he will be, but this just isn't the kind of news I want to hear in March. Or ever.

Still... OMGBASEBALL! The boys managed victory against college kids in a split-squad double header on Saturday. Kevin Youkilis smacked the first home run of the pre-season with a three-run shot in the first inning of the first game. THAT is the kind of news I want to hear. Home runs and happiness, not bean-balls and badness. I was going for alliteration, but I still apologize for use of the word 'badness.'

Now, we're in the midst of Mayor's Cup Madness, and everyone in the entire world is waiting with baited breath to see who's taking home the cup this year. So far, the Sox and Twins are tied with one win apiece. The Twins took the Mayor's Cup opener on Sunday, in which Josh Beckett (pre-concussion) pitched two innings and allowed one run on two hits. During the Sox's 7-6 win against the Twins on Monday, Papi hit a three-run home run (if 3-run home runs become a habit with this team, I'll be ok with that), and Reddick hit a game-winning 2-run shot of his own. Jon Lester pitched today in a game that is going on as I type this. He threw 27 pitches in 2 innings of work (VERY economical. I am pleased!) So far, the Sox have taken a 1-0 lead going into the fourth. The best thing in the world right now is knowing that there is baseball to be followed. Hooray for spring!

And hooray for Beckett having a hard head! Seriously, I don't think I can handle any DL trips for any of my favorites right now....