Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Despite all my rage I am still just a rat in a cage

This was my view yesterday. Don't you feel sorry for me?

This was my view yesterday. Don’t you feel sorry for me?

I don’t pretend to be the foremost authority on, well, anything. I know what I know and I like what I like and you can either agree with me or disagree with me it’s no sweat off my brow (Although I will most likely argue with you if you start to complain about Sweet Caroline being played at Fenway.)

Having written that, what the hell with the people who are complaining about the extended netting at Fenway Park?

(Before I start this rant I feel compelled to mention that Stephen King is my favorite author and the inspiration for many things I’ve written that none of you have read. If you can adore someone you don’t know at all, I adore him. But I feel like he’s wrong here. Wrong, wrong, wrong.)

Prior to yesterday, those of you who don’t have a “Fenway Park” Google alert might not have been aware that the extended the netting that is behind home plate at the park. It stretches from home pate and reaches to each of the dugouts (but doesn’t go beyond them – meaning there is no protective netting in front of folks sitting behind the dugout). The netting behind home plate also goes above the head of the fans. The new netting doesn’t. Basically, they’ve made it so foul balls and errant bats aren’t going to smack the face of anyone who happens to be sitting in the expensive seats.

Call me kooky, but I think this is a great idea.

Stephen King doesn’t agree.

There are questions inherent in the decision to net, and I think they’re bigger than baseball,” King wrote. “Like when does protection become overprotection? Is the safety of a fan at a public event like a baseball game the responsibility of the organization putting on that event? (According to the back of every MLB ticket sold, the fan is responsible.) When do safety precautions begin to steal away the pure joy of being there?

As I wrote above, if you attended a game at Fenway prior to 2016 and sat behind home plate, there was protective netting in front of and above you. So the protection factor for the fans isn’t new. The Red Sox didn’t just suddenly decide it was important to protect the fans, they just decided to try and increase that protection. And, yes, I believe it IS the responsibility of the team to try and ensure fan safety.

And to answer King’s main question, yes, I believe it IS the responsibility of the team to try and ensure fan safety.

I’m curious as to what part of the “pure joy” of being at a ball game is stolen away by having netting blocking a ball or bat from flying at you? Being able to catch a foul ball? There are plenty of other seats in the park where you can do that. (Point of interest: King reportedly turned down the Red Sox offer of changing his seats to a place where there was no netting.)

I was fortunate enough to watch the game from behind home plate yesterday. Netting in front and above me. Hell, I watched the Red Sox lose the Fenway opener in the ninth inning and I still had a ridiculously good time at the park. A loss AND netting? How did I persevere?

The baseball gods and some very generous friends have seen to it that I’ve had the opportunity to sit in some very good seats at Fenway. I’ve been in the seats around where King’s season tickets are many times. I promise you, no one tries to pay better attention to what is going on at the game than I do, especially when I’m in seats where there is a chance of getting hit by a ball or bat.

I do not want to get hit by a ball or bat. I really don’t.

(If my life were like The Truman Show and there was a camera following me 24/7 you all would see how many times I’ve chosen to dive away from a ball that ended up not being anywhere near me.)

I try to watch every pitch, every swing, to track the ball and make sure its path isn’t directly to my face. If someday I get hit by a bat or ball and some jackass on WEEI says it was because I wasn’t paying attention you all have my permission to kick the crap out of him. (You have more than my permission. Consider it a request.)

But the fact is, you CAN’T possibly pay attention to everything that is going on in a game all at the same time. I’m fond of watching the pitcher, which means I often miss the actual swing and then lose where the ball is going. I know plenty of people who watch the infielders to see how they’re positioned or who are watching the base runners to see if someone is about to steal. Everyone watches the game differently. It doesn’t mean they aren’t paying attention it just means they’re paying attention to something that maybe you aren’t paying attention to.

Do I deserve a bloody face because I’m focused on the pitcher’s mound instead of home plate?

And let’s be honest, there is other stuff going on as well. Maybe you brought your kid to the park?? Maybe someone else brought a kid to the park? Kids distract you, even if they don’t mean to. They make noise, they kick you, they yell for no reason. A mother doesn’t deserve to be taken out on a stretcher because she turned her head from the game to check on her child. A man doesn’t deserve a bloody hand because he had to shield a kid from a foul ball coming her way.

We pay a lot of money to go enjoy baseball in the park. The least the teams can do, the very least, is make sure they’ve done everything they can to ensure our safety.

Which is what the Red Sox are trying to do and I welcome it.

Yesterday I sat in that “cage” Stephen King wrote of and I still enjoyed myself immensely. I suspect if he gives it a try he will as well.

April 12, 2016 Posted by | 2016 | , , | 1 Comment

THIS is Opening Day

I’ll be at Fenway today.

I’ll probably be cold.

I’ll probably be rain-soaked.

I will most definitely be happy.

The first time I saw this video was on a Fenway Opening Day. 2008 I think. It reminds me of how much I love this team and gives me hope for every new season.

Bring it on 2016!

 

http://www.metacafe.com/embed/1922500/red_sox_the_beatles_a_day_in_the_life/

April 11, 2016 Posted by | 2016 | , , , | 1 Comment

Sox Opening Day Postponed

The baseball (and weather) gods getting me back for mocking the Yankees:

 

Red Sox-Indians Opening Day postponed

2:52 PM ETBy Jordan Bastian / MLB.com | 2:52 PM ET

CLEVELAND — Cold weather in Cleveland pushed Opening Day back by a day for the Red Sox.

Roughly two hours prior to Monday’s scheduled first pitch between the Red Sox and Indians at Progressive Field, Cleveland announced that the game had been postponed until 1:10 p.m. ET on Tuesday. Tribe ace Corey Kluber is still scheduled to square off against Red Sox lefty David Price in the season opener for both clubs.

In the hours leading up the decision, snow flurries came and went over Progressive Field and temperatures hovered below freezing. At the time of the postponement, the temperature was 31 degrees, but the air felt like 18 degrees given wind chill.

The situation was reminiscent of 2007, when the Indians had their home opener postponed due to heavy snow.

Fans able to attend Tuesday’s makeup game will still see Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney throw out the ceremonial first pitch and have William Clarence Marshall sing the national anthem. Sandy Alomar Jr. will be honored before the game as well as part of the team’s “Only Here” campaign. The gates will open 11 a.m.

For those unable to attend Tuesday’s season opener, the Indians have provided a list of ticket-exchange dates: Wednesday against Boston, Thursday against Boston, April 15-17 against the Mets, April 19-21 against the Mariners, May 13 against the Twins and May 16-17 against the Reds.

April 4, 2016 Posted by | 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Opening Day – 2016: Mother Nature's Revenge

Boston - April 4, 2016

Boston – April 4, 2016

It’s Monday, April 4, 2016. At the time of this writing, it is 35 degrees in Cleveland. At 4:00 pm EST, it is being guessed that the temperature will be about 33 degrees with an 11% chance of precipitation (read: snow). Out my window here in Boston all I see are grey skies and snowflakes. There is nothing about this day that screams “BASEBALL SEASON” yet here it is.  Cardinals, Pirates, Rays, Blue Jays, Mets and Royals fans got their opening day yesterday and for the rest of us TODAY is it. (Well not all of us. Astros and Yankees fans have to wait another day thanks to Mother Nature, who is apparently NOT a Yankees fan.)

Outdoor sports that don’t involve boots, skates, or layered clothing should not be played in 33 degrees. It’s uncomfortable for the players, for the fans, for the folks who work at the parks and stadiums…it’s pretty much miserable for everyone. But know what? We don’t care. None of us. Because MOST of us will be sitting at home watching on television or listening to the radio/Internet while everyone else languishes in the cold. We get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and suffering from the warmth of our couches and bar stools because, dammit, baseball season will not be halted. Not even for a little bit of snow.  (Again, unless you’re in New York today.)

Diehard baseball fans will argue that the season isn’t long enough. Just when it starts to get really good, bam, it’s over.  So we accept that our teams play in the snow in April and sometimes in October as well because the alternative is no baseball…and what the hell is the point of that?

Seven years ago this past weekend I was at the opening of Citi Field for exhibition games between the Mets and the Red Sox (apologies for the lack of photos on those links – archiving the old blog entries didn’t go as well as I had hoped). It was a cold, grey, rainy weekend and at one point while we were walking around the brand new park shivering and practically getting blown over by the wind, I overheard a couple behind me.  He was ranting about how he had told her before that they weren’t going to any games in April and she literally just laughed in his face. She knew he was full of it (either that, she knew the next April game she went to would be on her own or with someone who wasn’t him) – we ALL complain about the miserable April weather but we all show up at the games or turn that television on come opening day. We are baseball fans and we are a little bit crazy.

The 2016 season is a snowy blank canvas and the Red Sox have David Price as their artist in residence. I’m looking forward to some beautiful, winning tableaus this year – sprinkled with a little carnage every now and then.

Let’s go, Red Sox!

April 4, 2016 Posted by | 2016 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

It was a winter weekend

Notice anything missing from the official logo for the Winter Weekend? No mention of the Red Sox.

Notice anything missing from the official Winter Weekend sign? No mention of the Red Sox. What’s up with that?

So last weekend was the second annual Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. I was at last year’s event and noticed that I didn’t write about it at the time. (I even brought a recorder for the good stuff and still have audio files from that weekend that I’ve done nothing with but listen to them myself.)  I am a pathetic excuse for a blogger these days.

Anyway, this year’s weekend was loads of fun. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t panels for the minor leagues as there were last year (last year, Kelly O’Connor and I attended almost exclusively panels that covered the minor league players and operations) but the panels we attended this year were informative and entertaining.

If I had any doubts about Dave Dombrowski, last weekend erased them for me. (Sure you could argue the team acquiring David Price should have erased them for me but I’m nothing if not stubborn.) The first panel we attended on Saturday was the Baseball Operations update with Dombrowski and Mike Hazen. Two people more eager to discuss baseball operations with the lowly fans you will not find, I promise you. It was less of an update and more of a casual Q&A about the team peppered with some interesting stories from the vault of Dave Dombrowski.

Best Hair in Baseball Operations

Best Hair in Baseball Operations (Photo courtesy of my iPhone)

I had conveniently forgotten that Dombrowski was the GM of the Florida Marlins when Kevin Millar was getting his start in baseball and last weekend he shared the story about how Millar ended up as a replacement player in 1995. It came up as Dombrowski and Hazen were making that point that regardless of what Baseball Operations folks see in a player, it’s not an exact science and every so often a player comes around that surprises them. Dombrowski was also making the point that some players, the prospects, get special treatment. Kevin Millar was not one of those special players; they didn’t expect him to go anywhere.

“We also had players in our minor league system at that point and we invited some of them to come play exhibition games, pre-season games at the big league level. We broke those players down, we would not invite prospects to play in those replacement spring training games because we knew that the Player’s Association would frown on them being part of the Association in the future so we really spent a long time – Kevin Millar played in those spring training games for us so we did not think Kevin was a prospect at all at that time. And he worked hard continued to hit basically and he went on to have a very fine big league career and now he’s a top broadcaster with his personality, so we were really surprised. There’s an example of somebody that completely caught us off guard unfortunately for Kevin because we never would have done that if we would have thought he had that type of ability. To this day he’s not part of the Player’s Association; they don’t allow him in because he played in those Spring Training games and they’re not forgiving in that regard.” – Dave Dombrowski

If I need a specific reason to encourage people to go to the Winter Weekend if the Red Sox offer it next year, sound bites like this one would be my first example. It also doesn’t hurt that Dombrowski speaks relaxed and freely – and is personable enough that you want him to keep speaking. The only disappointment from this panel was that it only lasted an hour.

We also sat in on a panel called Covering Ground where we were entertained by Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans along with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Rusney Castillo. Sure it was fun to hear Rice, Lynn and Evans recall the good old days – (and I promise you not one of them has forgotten those days and they all seem to be in agreement that they were pretty much the best. Not age nor the fact that none of them brought the team a World Series win has affected their egos – it was glorious!) – but the interactions between the old guard and the new was what made this panel a must see. If NESN wanted to take the sting out of Don Orsillo not being on our tvs anymore they would give Jim Rice and Mookie Betts a reality show. Mookie’s incessant teasing (among other things, telling the three veterans that he didn’t know who they were) finally culminated in Jim Rice telling him to talk to the hand. (Okay, so Jim Ed is a decade behind the rest of us…it was still adorable.)

There were other highlights, I got to meet John Farrell and welcome him back, got a picture with Jerry Remy (and my second picture in as many years with my honey Fred LynN!), we saw Brock Holt giving up his #26 jersey to Wade Boggs at the Friday night town hall meeting, Wally’s little sister Tessie being the belle of the ball all weekend (if I heard one kid scream “THERE’S TESSIE!” I hear ten) and we almost shared an elevator with Roger Clemens (the baseball gods helped me out there and the Rocket ended up not taking the elevator) but they really did save the best for last. The two final panels on Saturday were the Kid’s Press Conference and Red Sox Game Show.

The press conference was what you would expect – kids asking the players questions (“What kind of car do you drive? Where is the best burger?”) but the true highlight of the entire weekend was the game show. Three teams (the alumni, the coaches and the players) competed in adorableness like Lip Sync Battle, Celebrity Name Games, Lil Picassos and the Doo Doo game (where you have to sing a song only singing “doo-doo”.  It was a ridiculously entertaining way to end the day and it gave us the chance to see these guys more relaxed than we’re used to seeing them. Fred Lynn especially stood out as being a bit more silly than I would have expected. Steve Lyons was exactly as you would think he’d be and Hanley Ramirez completely won over the room with his huge smile, infectious laugh and the fact that at one point he jumped into the audience and sat with the fans so that he could applaud his own team.

Steve Lyons and Bruce Hurst eyeing the competition

Steve Lyons and Bruce Hurst eyeing the competition

As an aside, Hanley Ramirez is my binky this season. He completely seduced me last weekend and he has my support because I can’t believe someone with that much life and happiness in him can be bad.

The biggest surprise of the game show was Carl Willis, Red Sox pitching coach and guy you want at your party to keep things lively. I can’t do his personality justice, so I offer you the below shaky, blurry at times, video that I took of Carl and the rest of the coaches lip syncing “Uptown Girl” with the alumni at the end giving their props. I honestly walked out of that room in physical pain from laughing so much. (And the coaches got hosed…they should have won!)

 


 
Truck Day is February 10th – my plan is to be there because if I know anything it’s that I’m itching for some baseball and this weekend taste has me hungry for more. The entire weekend was a great way to get excited for the upcoming season but now I just want more!

January 26, 2016 Posted by | 2016 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Remembering Hell

Note from Cyn: I wrote this on July 3, 2011.  It’s archived in the old posts but figured it couldn’t hurt to bring it out since the Cubs are finally in the NLCS again.

I reviewed the documentary “Catching Hell” without intending to. I wrote the below because while watching the documentary I started yelling at the television and then remembered I wrote a blog where I could vent my frustrations.  So here it is.

July 3, 2011: So I’m home and going through the On Demand listings and I come across “Catching Hell“, a documentary described as exploring “the phenomenon of scapegoating by examining what the fateful deflected foul ball in Game 6 of the 2003 NLCS did to Cubs fans and Bill Buckner’s error in the 1986 World Series did to Boston fans”.  Sounds like 104 minutes of fun, right?  This was made for ESPN’s 30 for 30 series and I almost didn’t watch it.  I really go out of my way, even now, to avoid watching anything from Game 6 but in buying this On Demand I made the decision to watch it.  No sense in paying to watch the documentary and skip through the painful parts, right?

I know that it is completely insane that after 2004 and 2007, watching the end of that game is still painful, but it is.  It hurt me physically to watch it.  Really made my heart and body ache.  There was never, ever, a time when I “blamed” Bill Buckner for what happened, never, but there is no denying that there were many who did (truth be told, more in the media and around the country than locally.  I’ve honestly never met anyone who held hatred or anger toward Buckner who lived in the area.  Hell, he got cheered when he came back to Boston as a player…that bit of information always gets left out of any discussions about Bill Buckner).

So I expected to watch this and be annoyed by comparing something that happened in the LCS to something that happened in the World Series (as far as the pain of the fans) but I wasn’t.  Alex Gibney, the filmmaker (and Boston Red Sox fan) did a wonderful job of showing in painful detail how scapegoating both Bartman and Buckner was so ridiculous and unfair that the personal pain kind of went away.  I’ll say this about the Cubs fans, I have a different view of them now.  I will never get over hearing the fans not only chanting “asshole”at him but yelling things like “we’re going to kill you!” and  “Put a twelve gauge in his mouth and pull the trigger” and throwing things at him.  Definitely not a high point for baseball fans.  I did NOT expect to be more upset by the Bartman incident than the Buckner one but the filmmakers really covered it in such detail that I couldn’t help getting upset for Steve Bartman (not the Cubs fans.  Definitely not the Cubs fans) like it just happened.  I was genuinely yelling “Oh my God!” at some of what was shown. How Fox and Steve Lyons hammered the visual of Bartman over and over and how the fans fed off of Moises Alou and instead of supporting the team after that, spent the rest of the game torturing Bartman.  (And, really, based on the audio and video, Lyons and Fox are as responsible for what happened to him as the Cubs fans are. )  Friendly Confines, my ass.

Ironically, anyone who blamed Buckner or Bartman seemed to forget that both games were game sixes.  Each team had an entire game to finish things off and couldn’t seal the deal.  I guess it’s more fun to blame folks than it is to accept that your team failed.

I have to tell you, too, that after watching the replay of Moises Alou’s reaction over and over, I take issue with how he acted.  His actions (or REactions) helped fuel the fire that changed Steve Bartman’s life forever.  It pleased me that Gibney says in a voice over “Moises Alou was NOT a great fielder.  Would he have made the catch [had Bartman not been there]?”  To this day, Alou is “…convinced 100 percent” that he would have made the catch.  Using technology where they erased the crowd from the shot, it does look like Alou would have made the catch.  But we’ll never know.  Is ruining a man’s life a good trade off for your favorite team losing?

The filmmaker wants to get your blood boiling and  he does.  Not only showing us Buckner and Bartman, but reminding us about Jeffrey Maier.  (Interesting that Maier gets treated like a God for legitimate fan interference while Steve Bartman is forever reviled for doing something all the fans around him were also doing.)

All in all an interesting, but also sad look at how fans protect their own feelings by picking a scapegoat so they can continue to root for the laundry.

The majority of the documentary covers Bartman and what happened surrounding what happened in game 6 but it is bookended by Bill Buckner and the Red Sox.  Fascinating to hear him talking about how he really didn’t know how he missed the ball and never watched the replay until recently where he studied in slow motion what happened.  (According to him, the ball went by his glove not between his legs. Not sure what he means specifically by that)  Buckner didn’t watch the 2004 World Series because Fox kept showing his error video.  (Yes, this film is full of more reasons to hate Fox.)

The Boston segment ends with Bill Buckner’s trip back to Fenway in 2008 for Opening Day.  A quote from him at the pre-game presser that I had almost forgotten about gives us more proof of where the whole vilification of Bill Buckner came from.

“I had to forgive, not the fans of Boston per se, but in my heart I had to forgive the media for what they put me and my family through”

On the record for the film he says that he felt the crowd “wanted me to feel better”. We sure did, Bill.

It also gets pointed out that Bill Buckner, in becoming a professional baseball player, asked for the limelight and the good and bad that came with it and Steve Bartman didn’t ask for any of it.  I do agree with this in a sense. I can’t imagine having your entire life change over something you didn’t even realize was happening at the time.

To this day, Steve Bartman is in hiding from Cubs fans.  The stories are that he doesn’t even use credit cards because he doesn’t want to risk anyone recognizing his name.  In a sense, he’s lost his identity because people don’t know where to draw the line.

“There are many who say the city should forgive Bartman but it’s really up to Bartman to forgive Chicago.”  Can’t really say I would blame him if he never did.

October 15, 2015 Posted by | 2015 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Catching Hell

I’ve been pretty vocal regarding my feelings about the Cubs making it to the NLCS. Let’s just say it doesn’t make me happy.

A fair amount of people have asked me how I could possibly root against a team that hasn’t won a championship in over 100 years. Many are adamant that I’m just spiteful and have no good reason to dislike the Cubs. They bring up the Red Sox drought and how I should feel a companionship with the Cubs fans because as a Red Sox fan I know their pain. This is all too true.

In the 2003 post-season, I was much too involved with the Red Sox/Yankees ALCS to pay much attention to what was going on with the Cubs and Marlins. I probably had the NLCS on but I honestly don’t remember one game of it. So I have no memory of my own of the October 14th “Bartman” game at Wrigley Field.  All my memories of it come after, from the news, the Internet and the documentary “Catching Hell” that ESPN produced for their 30 for 30 series.

Which means I didn’t immediately hold the treatment of Steve Bartman against the Cubs fans. In my mind, initially, it was just fans giving another fan grief because he interfered with a ball in play and it seemed to affect the outcome of the game.  The fans acted like jerks, but all fans act like jerks at one time or another (even you St Louis Cardinals fans) so let’s note they acted crummy and move on with our lives.

Then in 2011 I watched “Catching Hell” on-demand and it changed my view of Cubs fans  forever. What they did went beyond giving a fan grief. They tormented Steve Bartman and ruined his life. Ruined it, genuinely, all over a baseball game. (I should note that “Catching Hell” doesn’t just cover Bartman but Bill Buckner as well.)

The argument from many is that ANY fans (maybe, especially Red Sox fans) would have reacted the way the Cubs fans did. I reject this false premise. I will always reject this because we haven’t seen it happen. There have been plenty of goats in Major League Baseball over the last 12 years and where is the next Bartman?

ESPN has been kind enough to post the documentary in its entirety. I’ll save you a click and share it below.  I implore you to watch it if for no other reason than to understand how some people. such as yours truly, will have a very difficult time ever forgiving the Cubs fans.

http://player.espn.com/player.js?playerBrandingId=4ef8000cbaf34c1687a7d9a26fe0e89e&adSetCode=91cDU6NuXTGKz3OdjOxFdAgJVtQcKJnI&pcode=1kNG061cgaoolOncv54OAO1ceO-I&width=576&height=324&externalId=espn:13883887&thruParam_espn-ui%5BautoPlay%5D=false&thruParam_espn-ui%5BplayRelatedExternally%5D=true 

October 15, 2015 Posted by | 2015 | , , , , | 1 Comment

We should NOT be okay with a broken leg

Ruben Tejada playing for the Buffalo Bisons in 2010 - photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill and used with permission

Ruben Tejada playing for the Buffalo Bisons in 2010 before he became Chase Utley’s tackling dummy – photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill and used with permission

The next person who tells me (in person, online, in a text…) that what Chase Utley did to Ruben Tejada last night was okay by the rules of MLB so we shouldn’t blame him for what ended up happening is going to make my head explode.

Utley didn’t just come in with a hard slide and knock out the shortstop. He waited until he was practically on second base, ran out of the base path and then decided to slide and wipe out Tejada. (As Ron Darling puts it in the video clip below, “(He) Didn’t even start sliding until he was even with the bag.”)

You can watch it here because this is apparently a video no one wants us to embed.

There’s a questionable slide and Tejada ends up with a broken leg. As if that wasn’t devastating enough, the icing on this cupcake is that eventually the umpires ruled that Tejada didn’t touch the bag, the neighborhood play wasn’t in effect and even though he was originally called out, Utley was safe. After the game the umps said that Utley would have been out had any of the Mets tagged him as he left the field, leading David Wright to say:

Once obviously the player is called out, you don’t go tag him, especially when you’re lying there with a broken leg.

The Dodgers ended up taking the lead in this inning and the Mets didn’t come back so they head to Flushing with the NLDS tied at 1-1.

What everyone who is a Dodgers fan or who just wants to annoy Mets fans will tell you is that what Utley did is perfectly legitimate under MLB’s rules.  What I (and many other people) will tell you is that is utter bullshit.

It isn’t bullshit that it’s allowed in MLB. OBVIOUSLY it is. It’s bullshit that MLB allows it and that a player like Utley (who has done this before, just not with such horrible results) feels perfectly fine going in that way with the knowledge (regardless of what he says) that someone could get seriously hurt.

Hell, not only is this not the first time Utley has made such a slide, it’s not even the first time he’s wiped out Ruben Tejada.  When he did it in 2010, David Wright commented:

“We’re going to have to reevaluate the way we go into second base.”

That was five years ago. No reevaluation. No admission from MLB last night that something needs to be done. Just a young player in the playoffs for the first time in the hospital with what could very well be a career-ending injury. Joe Torre tried to sound concerned but if you read this transcript from last night his concern sounds  more for saving Chase Utley’s reputation and defending the umpires than worrying about Tejada or any other infielders getting hurt.

So I’m angry and I have no solutions except to stop allowing players to tackle other players. We hear all the time how bat flips or watching a home run disrespects the game.  None of those things will end up with a player being broken. How do you not believe going at someone with no protection and usually no way to avoid you is a legitimately clean play? Maybe it IS finally time that Major League Baseball does some evaluating? I’m not holding my breath.

 

October 11, 2015 Posted by | 2015 | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

NESN Drops the Ball

Don Orsillo with Gary Tuck - June 2010 - Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill and used with permission.

Don Orsillo with Gary Tuck – June 2010 – Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill and used with permission.

 

“It’s like he’s trying to speak to me, I know it! You know, you’re really cute, but I don’t know what you’re saying! Say the first thing again!” ~Marlin baffled by Squirt in “Finding Nemo”.     Also, me to all the students presenting at the Saber Seminar last weekend.

 

If I had to guess, I’d say maybe every other presenter at the Saber Seminar this past weekend made a “not all baseball fans are like this group here” comment. Every time someone said it I thought “Hell, I’M not even like this group!”

I love baseball. LOVE it. Fall asleep every night to a random game playing on Extra Innings long after the Red Sox have finished their game. But I have to admit that the advanced statistics often times go right over my head. I try to have the same passion for it that I do the game itself…but I don’t.  And that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy the Saber Seminar.  I did. It was two days of a lot of fascinating discussions, baseball stories and like-minded people getting a chance to interact. It was my first time there and it was time well-spent.

But there are a boatload of genuine, passionate, baseball fans who would have lasted about a half an hour and then gone looking for a bar with a tv showing a baseball game.

And that’s okay. We’ll get back to this in a moment.

As I’m guessing anyone reading this already knows, it was announced today that after the 2015 season NESN will not be bringing Don Orsillo back to the broadcast booth.

I mean what the hell?

After giving it some thought, my reaction was “Well, this is terrible news but I guess no one has their job forever.”  And then I thought “Why the hell not?” I mean, unless you are absolutely terrible at your job why shouldn’t you be able to keep it?

Yes?

Yes.

If the outpouring of emotion all over social media outlets today is any indication, most Red Sox fans (as well as the Boston sports media) are quite fond of Donnie O and genuinely upset about the situation. There are support hashtags for D.O. and nasty comments to NESN’s twitter account that have been flooding Twitter all afternoon. People are threatening to cancel their Extra Innings or MLBtv subscriptions next season while others are posting videos of Don and Jerry Remy at their most entertaining.

But one tweet stood out for me. It was in response to a Chad Finn tweet:

 

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Now Joe Palladino is quite possibly a very nice man so I’m not here to specifically call him out – especially since he isn’t the only person to make this observation. But it was the first tweet of its kind that I saw today and it made me think about baseball fans and their expectations.

(As an important aside, it was pointed out to Mr. P and many others that Don Orsillo’s job is to provide play by play, not analysis. That fact doesn’t take away from the point I’m about to make.)

Don Orsillo has two jobs, the first is to tell us what is happening in the game, the play by play if you will. The second, and this is so very important to his job, is to ENTERTAIN US.

Some will argue that plenty of announcers do their jobs perfectly fine without breaking into giggle fits or showing off their packing skills and those people would be correct. But that doesn’t mean that you CAN’T do your job without acting like you’re enjoying the heck out of it and that’s what Don Orsillo has done ever since the first night he took the microphone next to Jerry Remy.

There are so many different levels to enjoy baseball. Some people enjoy lots of hits and runs, some prefer pitching duels, others keep their noses buried in their scorecards, while others go to the park to take photos of the action. Some spend hours and hours pouring over statistics and working on creating new statistics to mark every moment of the game. There are fans who go to the park to enjoy a summer evening outdoors and fans who collect baseball cards for the pictures of the cute guys. And there are many, many fans who use baseball as their soundtrack to summer. Either with the radio or the television, every night around 7pm people some people settle in to spend a few hours with their baseball friends.

There is no wrong way to be a fan. Unless you’re a jackass. Don’t be a jackass.

But I digress.

The Saber Seminar’s connection to Mr. Palladino’s above tweet is tenuous but does exist in MY mind. The majority of the folks at the seminar were wonderfully welcoming, interesting and fun (and obviously passionate about baseball). They were also incredibly focussed on the science and statistics surrounding baseball. For the most part, the weekend wasn’t about being entertained by the game, it was about the deeper meaning behind each pitch, hit and run. And that’s great. And I get that some people, like the folks at the seminar and Mr. P above, might turn into a baseball broadcast to learn more about the statistics and the science. They want more than just “Swing and a miss” or “Hitters are batting .283 versus Smith over his last 12 appearances.” But in fairness, those folks, passionate and wonderful as they are, don’t make up the entirety of baseball fans.

The fans who just want to hear the game being called by a familiar voice make up the majority of the fans. The folks who enjoy hearing Don and Jerry lose their minds over some idiot who tossed a slice of pizza at another fan or who get excited that Jerry surprised Don with a desk lamp, those are the fans who thought NESN got it.

With Don Orsillo we’ve celebrated three World Championships and three no-hitters (four if you count Derek Lowe, but Orsillo didn’t call that game). We’ve mourned the losses of Ted Williams and Johnny Pesky among others…and we laughed. Holy cow have we laughed.

What folks like Mr. Palladino above and, apparently, all the suits at NESN don’t get is that for many of us a member of our family is being kicked out of our home with, seemingly, no good explanation. If he was spreading his wings and taking his talents elsewhere on his own we’d be sad but understanding. Being unceremoniously dumped makes no sense to us and we’re left hurt and angry and with questions that NESN probably won’t ever answer.

Don Orsillo isn’t an analyst but he’s an entertainer and he does that job well. NESN is taking away someone who has grown dear to so many of the people they rely on for their ratings. Maybe they don’t care – it’s a fair bet that they don’t care – but that doesn’t mean that WE can’t care. Watching NESN next season might not be an option for me because I don’t know that I want to support a business who cares so little about people.

I guess what I’ve been trying to say is that I will miss Don Orsillo terribly when he’s gone and that makes me sad. I’m so tired of baseball making me sad.

August 25, 2015 Posted by | 2015 | , , , , | 5 Comments

I'm NOT Sorry

Never Forget

This is how I was greeted tonight:

“So what do you think about whatshisname in the Herald writing that the Red Sox owe A-Rod an apology?”

I had no idea what he was talking about or who ‘whatshisname’ was.  So I was forced to go look. And I found this from Steve Buckley:

Bottom line: Failing to acknowledge A-Rod Friday night wasn’t as bad as the stunt Dempster pulled in 2013. But it was a failure nonetheless, and the Red Sox owe A-Rod an apology.

While I am tempted to use salty language, I will try to refrain. At least for now.

But is Steve Buckley freaking kidding me? Is he trolling us all? Is he now turning into a Dan Shaughnessy click bait machine?  I mean WHAT THE GOOD HELL?

Steve Buckley thinks that by not acknowledging that A-Rod is now tied for 4th place (With Willie Mays) on the all-time home run list that they have perpetuated some tragic miscarriage of justice.

Everyone knows what STFU means, yes?

(Also, I’d just like to say that if I ever meet Ryan Dempster he’s getting a hug, a kiss, and as many free beers as I can afford to buy him.)

I watched the game on NESN Friday night while also “watching” online via Twitter. A few reporters on Twitter immediately noted that Fenway Park did not mention the home run and seemed perplexed by this. My first thought about it was “Why antagonize the fans?”  Seriously. The home run that A-Rod hit, his 660th, tied him with Mays for 4th place but more importantly in the moment it gave the Yankees the lead in a game they ended up winning.  Red Sox fans already felt lousy enough. Why would their own team rub salt in that wound by making the fans cheer for the guy by announcing his milestone?

While I’m ranting about it, I dig Willie Mays as much as the next person but we’re talking about 4th place here. Where is it written that we have to celebrate you for coming in fourth?

But I digress.

Regardless of how petty others might think it is, there is a large contingent of baseball fans, the majority of them probably Red Sox fans, who flat-out do not like A-Rod. We could point to his suspension for steroids for the entire 2014 season. We could talk about his interview with Peter Gammons where he claimed the only time he used was in 2001-2002 while he was in Texas and that he didn’t even know what substance he used. Or we could talk about how he announced to the world that he was opting out of his contract with the Yankees during the 2007 World Series.  I could keep listing reasons why Alex Rodriguez is not popular in general, but specifically if there is a fan base renowned for hating him it’s the Red Sox fans. Steve Buckley, along with the rest of the baseball world, knows this quite well.

Some of our reasons are rational and some aren’t. Some are thin and stretch the limits of why we wouldn’t like someone and some of them involve the freaking 2004 ALDS and A-Rod slapping the ball out of Bronson Arroyo’s hand and then acting all surprised when the umpires got together and called his ball slapping ass out.

Red Sox fans do not like Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod knows this. Steve Buckley knows this. Most importantly, the Boston Red Sox know this. They didn’t ignore his home run on Friday to show solidarity with the Yankees. I’d like to think they ignored it to show solidarity with the Red Sox fans.

(For the record, Dr. Charles Steinberg claims the intent was to acknowledge it during A-Rod’s next at-bat but he didn’t get one in that game.)

There are many, many people who believe home runs 1-654 (we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt for 2015 just for the sake of argument) are irreparably tainted. Good for you if you are not one of those people, but at least understand not only that people feel this way but why. And if you can’t figure out why then you with your head in the sand and your eyes blinded by Yankees pinstripes are part of the problem.

I will be terribly disappointed if the Red Sox do decide to apologize to him.

In my opinion, what the Red Sox did Friday night wasn’t to disrespect Alex Rodriguez it was to show respect to their fans. If A-Rod wanted respect he should have gone about it a completely different way. If anyone owes an apology it’s A-Rod. For pretty much everything he’s ever done. And he should issue it every single day of the rest of his life.

Because, really, screw that guy.

May 4, 2015 Posted by | 2015 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments