Friday, March 30, 2012

Curt Schilling: Am I The Only One Who Doesn't Hate Him?

I have to begin this by saying I was listening to WEEI on my way to work this morning, so my perception of how the common fan feels about Curt Schilling is pretty skewed right now. Desperately in need of a reality check, I ask the above question. Am I the only one who doesn't hate Curt Schilling?

I know he talks a lot, and he's got a lot of opinions that I flat out don't agree with, but it's his job to spout off right now. He works for ESPN as an analyst. As an analyst, I WANT to hear his take on how he thinks everything is going with the Sox. Why is he any less qualified to give his opinion than any other analyst?

Go ahead and take a look at some of his comments. A lot of people are angry and calling him a hypocrite. I want to believe that the average, reasonably intelligent person doesn't think he's a hypocrite, but I truly want to know how people feel about him. I don't think he's hypocritical. Am I missing something?

"There’s a lot of things I think that are happening not just from his perspective, but when you talk to these guys — and I’m still talking to some of these guys — I don’t think this is going well. And I think it’s going bad quicker than I expected it to." - Curt Schilling
Who do you think Schilling keeps in touch with? My guess is probably Beckett, maybe Youk and Papi. Possibily Pedroia, just because I think Pedroia will talk to anyone who will listen to how wonderful he is (and I do think he's wonderful). There's been a lot of turnaround on this club since he last toed the rubber for them. I can't imagine he formed such permanent bonds with so many of the players. So let's think about this... assuming that Curt is talking to Josh, because that's what I think is the most logical... we all know Josh isn't happy about the whole Bobby V. thing. Maybe I'm just making rash assumptions here, but I think that we've had enough hints from Josh that he's not thrilled about it.  So Curt calls Josh. Josh says he thinks Bobby as manager is a bad idea. Curt also believed Bobby as manager was a bad idea. Curt goes to work and says 'I don't think it's going well.' What's the problem here? (EDIT: I guess Josh hasn't kept in contact. Doesn't matter, though. Plug any player into the above scenario and I still don't see the problem)

I have to admit, I was starting to buy into the whole Bobby V. thing, but spring training isn't even over yet and he's been on my nerves for the last two weeks. I don't think it's going well either. I think he needs to shut up. If I were an analyst for ESPN, I would say that I think Bobby V. is a loudmouth and his penchant for blabbing is going to make this team hate him.

I don't know. I know I'm missing something here, but if Curt is doing his job, why is everyone so angry?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Theo: Screws Us Again

Chris Carpenter. It took months to agree for the Cubs to send us Chris Carpenter as compensation for our jerk of a former GM.

And now? Now Chris Carpenter is going to have elbow surgery. And will be out indefinitely. Thanks a lot, Theo, you jackass.

It's not bad enough that Theo signed a bunch of really terrible contracts with guys like John Lackey. It's not enough that he bolted to the Cubs after the worst collapse the Sox have ever suffered. It's not enough that he took complete advantage of our front office (though I blame them more than him for that) in the whole negotiation process for compensation. Now, the compensation we did get is injured, so we essentially got no compensation at all. As if I needed another reason to dislike Theo.

In other news, Jed Lowrie is hurt. Again. Reports coming out of every part of the country say that no one is surprised, and we're all shocked he lasted this long without spraining or breaking something.

Opening day was yesterday. Happy belated opening day, all! Today, in game two of the season, Josh Reddick hit a home run for Oakland that had them sitting pretty atop Seattle the last time I checked. I could check now and see what the final was, but I don't care that much. Because the real opening day is not for another week. Literally, one week from now, we have real, stat-affecting baseball! I can't believe it, either. And just 15 days from now, Opening Day at Fenway. I can't wait. I really cannot wait. If I find a way to fast forward time, I'm doing it. I don't care what special events or important occassions anyone else has in the next 15 days. You're skipping them. Sorry.

In just one week, Jon Lester will take the hill for the first time this season. The anticipation is killing me.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Papelbon Controversy: Should Be No Surprise

This is all I will say about Papelbon's comments regarding the game-intelligence of Boston fans vs. Philly fans...

No part of his $50 million contract was given to him for his brain. In all his years in Boston, I don't believe he uttered a single intellectual phrase. This is a man who danced with a beer box on his head. That being said, how on Earth could anyone truly take to heart anything Papelbon says? He hasn't even played in Philly yet, so he has no basis on which to judge their knowledge of the game.

Don't come crying to us when your new, brilliant fan base rips you apart, Jonathan.When you've just walked off the mound after blowing the Phillies' biggest game of the season (much like you did for the Sox this past September and in October of 2009), come back and tell us how much you love them. I'm sure they're going to love each and every performance of heart-attack theater you will delight them with.

Now can you please just go away for good? I've been done with you for the last three years.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Still Undefeated: Not Currently Untied

I can still safely say that the Sox are undefeated in the spring... even though if they had let Lester continue to pitch the second inning of the B game, there's a good chance he would have given up some runs.... and despite the fact that the actual game against the Jays ended in a tie. No one has beaten the Sox!

If you think it's silly that I'm taking such joy in meaningless wins, I don't care. I suffered a lot with this team last season. I spent money on postseason tickets that will and can never be used. I put up with an off-season full of listening to people mock the dietary habits of our players, and I had to sit back helplessly and watch two of my honest-to-goodness favorite players retire. I am taking joy in every. Single. Victory. And I will do so shamelessly.

Due to the games not being on TV, I didn't actually get to see either game, but from what I heard and read, it seemed like our boys did well. I also like what I am reading about Iglesias' progress this spring. Does that mean he's guaranteed to have the starting shortstop position or that he'll be a fantastic major leaguer? Nope, but it's promising. I don't mind if my shortstops can't hit. My favorite shortstop couldn't really hit, but Alex Gonzalez, I miss you.

Today, at 1:05, my dearest Beckett will be facing the Cardinals. I won't be able to see or hear the game, but I'll be with them in spirit, and that's good enough sometimes.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Daniel Bard: Finds Success As A Two-Inning Starter

Two strikeouts, one walk, and no hits in two-innings. I think he did good, and it was a nice start to spring for him, but.... I don't know. I really don't want him in the starting rotation. Historically throughout his career, he has not done well under the pressure of starting. Granted, all of his starts came in the minor leagues, but there was a reason they transformed him into a bullpen pitcher.

In Single A Greenville and A+ Lancaster, Daniel made 22 starts and collected a 3-7 record with an ERA of 7.08 in 75 innings. He was averaging a little more than three innings per game as a starter, and allowed 76 hits and 78 walks in that time period. Yes, I know these were his first games in the pro-baseball system and it's unfair to judge a man now by what he did as a brand new rookie in 2007, but that's what you have to do. The Red Sox looked at those numbers, and they switched him to a reliever. And then his numbers changed...

They moved him to the bullpen where he worked part time as a closer for 2008 between Single A Greenville and AA Portland. Overall, he played in 46 games and finished 17 of them, collecting 7 saves along the way. He pitched 77.2 innings and lowered his ERA to 1.51. Granted, he still allowed 42 hits and 30 walks, but his strikeouts went up from 47 in 2007 to 107 in 2008. In roughly the same amount of innings. Limiting his work and innings per game seemed to make a HUGE difference for him between 2007 and 2008.

By 2009, he was in AAA Pawtucket, and he played 16 innings in 11 games. Eight games finished and six saves resulted in a 1.12 ERA, 6 hits, 5 walks, and 29 strikeouts.

I'm being overly verbose here, but the lesson learned early in his career was that when he was expected to start, he was basically pitching like a  poor-to-mediocre long relief guy. If you're starting and only averaging 3 or 4 innings per game, you're a bullpen guy in disguise. I'm sure Daniel is a very nice guy and the promise of all those big starter dollars is appealing to him, but just based on his track record, I hate this idea. I hate that they're putting him in the rotation when we SO BADLY need him in the pen. Closers make pretty big bucks, too, Daniel. Look at the contract your buddy Papelbon just signed.

That being said, since I really have no other choice, I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and not curse the heavens every time he makes a start. I'm supportive of Bard, because I know he's a good pitcher and I want to see him succeed. I just don't think he'll find the success he hopes he will in the rotation. We'll see. We'll all see.

Anyway, spring is about getting the team in shape, not just one pitcher. Aceves (who I've always felt was better suited for a starting role) pitched very well in his two innings. Final score was 5-4 Sox, keeping Valentine's boys undefeated in 2012. First five game win streak since July 5-9 (Actually, that was a 6 game win streak, going July 5-10), and we are only 36 days away from opening day.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Double H: Pitches Double Innings

Two. He pitched two innings, and did a pretty dandy job at that. I don't want to necessarily say he was good or sharp, but this early in spring, I'm not worried. He walked, I believe, two batters and hit a guy but allowed no hits and collected two strikeouts. You have to take away every positive you can from the spring. I am keeping very much in mind that Dahmer was hurt for a majority of last season, so he's going to be working hard to get back into game shape this spring. Not that I intend to imply that he's out of shape... it's just been a while since he's faced major league hitters. He's a work in progress.

You know what was great? Watching Papi hit a home run. With the absence of Tek and Wakefield, at least the old familar sight of Papi rounding the bases will comfort me. He just has to do that in every game for the rest of his career. Is that too much to ask?

A majority of our runs came from sloppy Twins play. Again, it's spring. They're allowed to get their sloppies out in the spring and not a single one of us can complain. Why would I complain anyway? It benefitted my team.

Padilla did a pretty good job, and I was a little excited to see an eephus. I don't know the last time I saw anyone throw one intentionally. Daniel Butler, who I believe won 'Dancing With The New Stars' hit a three-run home run. Nate Spears and Will Middlebrooks  drove in runs. These five runs came in the 7th to round out the ten runs, and... well, I'll take it.

Final score was 10-2 Sox, giving us a four-game winning streak (YES I AM TAKING JOY IN THIS!) for the first time since August 6th-9th, and a 2-0 lead in the Mayor's Cup. What a lovely way to start the spring. How very nice to know that our boys showed up ready. Goodness, I love baseball!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sunday "Baseball": Three Game Winning Streak!

After beating up on the college kids from Northeastern (25-0) and Boston College (6-3), my favorite boys put together a "legitimate" winning streak during "real" baseball and beat the Twins 8-3. Anyone familiar with spring training will (possibly) understand my (unnecessary) use of quotation marks. I truly and honestly don't care that the games mean nothing. There is baseball involving the Red Sox and they're winning.

Though, if they open up the season with a couple of losses, I'll probably be perturbed that they wasted their wins on meaningless spring games. For now, I'll take them, and I'll be happy.

Admittedly, the ridiculous side of my brain was expecting Josh Beckett to crumble into a pathetic crying pile of pitcher since Tek is no longer behind the plate, but he actually looked pretty good. It irks me when the other team starts off any game with a base hit, but really, I don't have many complaints. Josh held himself together and managed to get through two pretty nifty innings. On a similar note, every time our pitchers collect more strikeouts than hits allowed, you will not hear me whining. In two scoreless innings, Josh collected two K's and only allowed one hit.  And he didn't cry once.

Collecting half of the RBI's for the Sox on Sunday was Lars Anderson performing his hit 'Grand Slam off Jason Bulger.' It's probably a song you've never heard before, but it was quite enjoyable and I would happily listen again if given the chance. Atchison didn't look fantastic, but he still managed to hold the lead. The kids (and vets) were alright given that this is the first "major league" team they've faced since September. It just feels good to have baseball back on TV for now, but give me a week and I'll be craving the fresh blood of a new season. Opening day at Fenway is just a little less than five weeks away....

Friday, March 2, 2012

Apparently Missing: A Bunch of Bandwagon Fans

I decided to go online to try to get some tickets for me, my boyfriend, his friend, and his friend's wife.

It seems kind of strange to me that no matter which weekday game I chose, I was able to find four tickets together. Does that mean the park's sell-out streak is over? Does it mean that after two consecutive playoff misses, the fake fans have abandoned ship and have moved on to whatever the latest trend is? Does it mean that I will consistently be able to get better seats at upcoming games?!

I don't know. I just wanted to let the people who think it's impossible to get tickets know that you can get tickets. Right now. Online. For pretty much any game you want to go to. Have fun! Maybe you'll see me at Fenway... but you'll never know it

Everyone Says Goodbye: Baseball Folk React To Tek-tirement

Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox

I loved reading all of the well-wishes from baseball players and operations personnel that have had the opportunity to work with, play with, or play against Jason Varitek over his career.

The Full Count blog at has a bunch of well-wishes, but these are my favorites:

“I want to congratulate Jason Varitek, a.k.a “Johnny Unitas fl at-top hair cut” on a remarkable career and mostly for being part of the fi rst World Series in 2004 with Sox Nation. It seems like yesterday we were in our hotel rooms on the road hitting with a pizza box going over our stances in our underwear during our struggles offensively. But above all, he’s a true professional, a true teammate and, best yet, an even better person. I wish him much success in the up and coming real world and we’ll see you soon with powder and an ear piece on TV.” – Kevin Millar, Red Sox teammate from 2003-05, current MLB Network analyst.
Count on Millar to say something that will give me nightmares. The image of him and Tek standing around in their underwear practicing hitting with a pizza box? Yeah, that's not burned into my vault of mental images. Thanks for that, Kevin.

”Jason Varitek will always have a prominent place in Red Sox history. He caught more games as a Red Sox and helped the team win their fi rst World Series in 86 years. I am happy for him and proud of his accomplishments. Congratulations Jason!” – Carlton Fisk, Hall of Fame catcher, Red Sox Hall of Famer, played with Boston from 1969-1980.
To me, I like seeing the enthusiasm in Carlton Fisk's praise of Tek. Not many other folks used an exclamation point. John Valentin was the only other person to exclaim his appreciation of Tek (and he did it twice). In all seriousness though, there's something extra special in Fisk's praise because he was the catcher that set the bar for Tek. Call me strange, but that's very cool to me.

Watching Tek's retirement speech was hard for me. I probably teared up as much as he did (I'm a little bit of a crybaby). Today I wear my Varitek jersey in honor of my favorite baseball player. Congratulations again, Tek. What else can I say? I'll miss you.