Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

April Baseball and other Musings

bapark2007.jpgFor someone who loves baseball as much as I do, I suppose it’s odd that I pay as little attention to spring training as possible.

It just doesn’t get me going the way the ‘real’ games do.

And tomorrow night, we finally get to experience the beginning of the 2007 season!

Baseball-wise, this April will be a busy month for me.  I’ll be at Opening Day at Fenway and back there the following evening.  THEN I’ll be back that first Saturday at Fenway and the following Monday (Patriot’s Day).  My final game in April will be on the 28th.  I don’t have all the specifics ironed out just yet (that’ll come within the next few days, hopefully), but on Saturday, April 28th, I’ll be sitting in Yankee Stadium watching (probably) Julian Tavarez lead the Sox to victory over the Yankees.

It’ll only be my second (and possibly last) trip to the Bronx.  I haven’t seen a Sox road game since 2005, so I’m really looking forward to it.  Of course, I’ll be looking forward to it more when I find out the specifics!  🙂

Speaking of 2005, thanks to Nancy over at SG, I read a nice interview/article about Bronson Arroyo yesterday that got me thinking.  In almost every interview I’ve read with him, Kevin Millar and Johnny Damon, it inevitably gets brought up that they believe if the team was "kept together" in 2005 (meaning, pretty specifically, signing Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe) they would have won the World Series again.

Now, this could very well be true.  We’ll never know.  What sticks with me, though, is the tunnel vision these guys have in regard to this issue.  I understand fans saying it, but players, above just about everyone else, know about the business of baseball.  Lowe and Pedro were free agents looking for long-term, big money deals.  Nothing wrong with that, except Lowe only showed ‘brilliance’ with the team in 2004 in the POST-season and Pedro…well Pedro is amazing and I’m not bashing him here, but health-wise, Pedro had become the aunt you walk behind as she’s going up the stairs, so if she falls she doesn’t break a hip.

Where is he today?  And how would having him there help the Red Sox?  They would have been knee-deep in a long-term deal, with contract money getting soaked up.    And Lowe…well he’s definitely one of those pitchers (hi Bronson!) who has benefited from pitching in the National League.

Regardless of how the last two seasons worked out, I’ll never see the logic in signing guys to long-term, expensive deals, just for one more year of glory.  I’m thankful every day for what ALL the players from the 2004 team brought to us, but that doesn’t mean I still want them all on our team.  As much as I refer to and reflect on the 2004 team, it was a unique experience that will NEVER be repeated.  Doesn’t mean I think the Sox can’t win the World Series again, but like they did IN 2004, they needed to shake things up to do it.

(Photo lifted right off of Boston.com

 

March 31, 2007 Posted by | 2004, Ballgames, Bronson Arroyo, Ramblings, Tall Pitchers | 4 Comments

It’s really almost here!

So nice to see this back!

openingday.jpg 

It’s been a long, relatively crappy, week and I’m glad it’s almost over.  Monday can’t get here fast enough!

I’m still laptopless, but that should change today!  Thanks to "ToddfromDell" and all the effort he’s put into getting my laptop back into shape, I’ll have it back today (in time for opening day!) and with any amount of luck, it will now actually work!

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Hideki wearing the color of my people!
On another note…I’m developing a baseball crush on Hideki OkajimaPeter likes to call him Darkman (which I do think is pretty clever), but it seems to be such the opposite of his personality!  I can’t wait to see more of him.   Playing in Daisuke’s shadow must be tough but he’s handled it well thus far.  I hope he has a great season.

If the rotation stays as advertised, I’ll be seeing Josh Beckett at Fenway’s home opener and then Daisuke the next day. 

A pretty nice way to start the season, I’d say.

March 30, 2007 Posted by | Ramblings | 7 Comments

I love this stuff

timlinmarch222007.jpgLong day away from the office and home yesterday and not much time to focus on baseball or blogging, so forgive my slacking this morning. 

Stan Grossfeld at Boston.com has totally indulged my love of all things trivial and composed a  photo montage of the rituals past and present players have.

And so, finally, Mike Timlin’s rituals are in print so folks who go to the games with me won’t think I’m making things up!  🙂 

For years I’ve been telling people that "No, Timlin isn’t coming into the game yet, he always stretches in the fifth and plays catch in the seventh".  Hey, I sit in the bleachers a lot, you start to notice the trends of one of your favorite players! 

And now I have proof:

‘‘Baseball’s always been strong on routines,’’ says Mike Timlin. ‘‘It makes players comfortable. It’s more a timing thing; I stretch during the first inning, I do visualization in the second and third. Stretch my arm and legs in the fifth. I play catch in the seventh and I’m ready to go in the eighth. In the bullpen I say a prayer after the last pitch and ask God for strength. Then I always run to the hill.’’

I also seem to be in the minority here, but I enjoy seeing/hearing players reference their faith, regardless of what it is.  I don’t share the same religion as Timlin, but I respect anyone who can be so open and sure about their beliefs.  

On a side-note, I bought tickets to the Futures at Fenway series on August 11th.  I went to the first one last year with my friend Kelly and we really had a great time.  I pretty much promised myself I was going to try and go every year.  $20 to sit in $85 seats, watch TWO baseball games and see some pretty amazing players…well, it’s certainly worth much more than the price of admission.

The sun seems to be shining and I’m looking forward to a productive, but eventless, day.  

Four more days until baseball means something (I never thought I’d be looking forward to Jon Miller and Joe Morgan!) and five more days until the Sox take the field in earnest!

Have a great day, folks!

(Photo lifted from Yahoo! Sports

 

March 29, 2007 Posted by | Futures at Fenway, Mike Timlin, Whimsical | 7 Comments

I’m not usually a lemming…

…but why not?

 View from my window

Well, not MY window, but the window of the bus!

congressstreetmarch52007.jpg

I just entered it in a photo competition for shits and giggles.  🙂 

March 29, 2007 Posted by | Photos | 2 Comments

This and That

jonmarch202007.jpgVarious issues have me up late, so I figured I’d do a little tweaking around the new digs.  I’ve added links to Bronson Arroyo Lives and Jon Lester Watch (as suggested by a commenter – thank you!).  I’ve imported them here and still haven’t decided if I’ll update them, but the posts are there if you’re interested.

I’ve also imported the MLBlogs blog.  I haven’t made it ‘live’ and probably won’t.  I just like to keep myself covered.  It’s saved in a few places so it won’t be lost when my MLBlog account is.

As much as I enjoyed MLBlogs (and especially Mark Newman – who I owe an email to!), I’m very happy with the new place! 

Some baseball new.  First, Jon Lester is going to start the season in Greenville. Probably not what he wanted to do, but it’s only for 4 starts.  The team really does seem to be going out of their way to take care of him (and, hey, he’ll be with Gabe!). 

Meanwhile, Kyle Snyder  and Javier Lopez finish out the 25-man roster, while Craig Hansen, Bryan Corey and Hyde Park’s own Manny Delcarmen (oh, Little Manny!) are headed to Pawtucket.

Have to say, I like all those moves.  Even the Lester one.  I just wish he was bringing Hansen with him to help him straighten out whatever it is that is wrong with him.   All in good time, I suppose.

 (Photo from Yahoo!)

 

March 28, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

This just in…Mike Lowell is NOT old!

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Mike Lowell –  2006 Photo taken by ME
Apparently it was a slow baseball news day on Sunday because Sunday night CHB wrote that piece of crap mocking Curt and the fans and Tony Massarotti used around 340 words to tell us that Mike Lowell isn’t old.

Great news!  I slept like a baby last night knowing that!

Now, I know that I complain about the sports writers in Boston, a lot, and this is probably just nitpicking.    But there are many, MANY stories to be found at spring training.   I enjoy a good, light-hearted story as much as anyone.   "Good" being the operative word here.   Seriously, at this point in spring training, do the writers just give up?   Here is what Tony’s piece would have looked like without the quotes he got from Mike Lowell:

 In the case of David Ortiz, for instance, people are frequently surprised to learn that he looks considerably thinner in person. In the case of Mike Lowell, the veteran third baseman encounters a similar reaction.

Now entering his 13th season of professional baseball and ninth in the major leagues, Lowell turned 33 last month. When the Sox acquired him in the November 2005 trade with the Marlins that also brought Josh Beckett to the Sox, Lowell looked precisely as he does now – tall and thin with more than his share of salt and pepper.Though born in Puerto Rico, Lowell was raised in the United States and assures he is what his birth certificate says he is. He’s regarded as a respected team leader, another fact that only leads many to believe that Lowell is older than one might guess.

That’s also a way of saying he has maturity beyond his years.

Here’s where Tony really gets stuck.  He needs an ending for his piece so he NEEDS to use another quote by Mike about how he’s NOT old.  So this is what he uses:

“There’s a stereotype, I think. Some guys think that if you’re young, you have to be immature.”

Good quote, actually.  I like it.  Too bad Tony follows it up, and ends the piece with:

Or that you have to look like a fawn.

The hell?  A fawn?  Where the hell did that come from?  And why is Tony so cranky about people assuming Lowell is a year or two older than he is?  Lowell is obviously not bothered by this.  I don’t get it.

He could have written a good piece about Mike Lowell.  About how, after being considered a tag-along to the Josh Beckett deal, he turned out to be better for the team last year than Beckett.  About how, after a bad spring training, Lowell became so hot that he lead the league in doubles, earning him the nickname "Mr. Double" from a vast majority of internet Red Sox fans. 

There are a lot of untapped stories in Mike Lowell.  "Gee, he LOOKS old but he really ISN’T" isn’t high up on the list of them for me. 

March 27, 2007 Posted by | Boston Sports Media, Mike Lowell | 9 Comments

Monday Morning Grumpies

bronsonlegmarch2007.jpgI spent the better part of my weekend trying to create a relatively-inexpensive solution for my lack of a laptop (to pretty much no avail) – never looking at the sports pages or any related stories online. I wish I had kept that up today.

As most folks who visit here know, I pretty much never link to the CHB (or, as Curt Schilling lovingly referred to him, the "Giant Sphincter").   Today, his ‘piece’ in the Globe is the first I reference. I actually ENCOURAGE you all to read it.   Especially those of you who have taken me to task in the past about how critical I am of Shaughnessy.   All today’s piece does is prove that not only IS Shaughnessy a Giant Sphincter – but he’s an immature baby who doesn’t know how to do his job anymore unless he’s ripping people to shreds.

(I’ll give you the condensed version right here…Curt Schilling is an egomaniac and his fans are all idiots.)

I’m eager to see someone defend that.  Many people tell me that there was a time when Shaughnessy was considered a good writer.  I’m sorry to say, I’ve never witnessed it.

I did read a nice piece of baseball-related news this morning.   Bronson shut out the Phillies for six innings on Saturday.  (Which means he won’t be pitching today against the Sox.  A game, incidentally, being shown on ESPN at 1:05pm today!)

I have a week to figure out my laptop situation (before the season starts, anyway).   I’m hoping to be less cranky by then. 🙂

March 26, 2007 Posted by | Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds, Jackasses, Jealous Little Twits, Tall Pitchers, The Giant Sphincter | 8 Comments

The kid knows what he wants

papelbot.jpgIt comes as no surprise to many that the Sox named Papelbon their closer yesterday. What did come as a surprise to a lot of us was that the move was made not only because the Sox didn’t have a closer yet, but because Jonathan Papelbon wants the job.

"This is something I want to do for the rest of my career. It has nothing to do with Timlin’s health or us not having a closer or my shoulder. I broke into the league as a closer. They drafted me as a closer. In college, I learned to pitch in the bullpen. It’s where my heart is."

Good enough for me.  Seriously.  If the kid wants to close, let him close.  He’s already proven he could do it and I don’t believe for a minute that the Sox (or Papelbon) would allow this if his shoulder were that big a concern.

I can’t wait for the day when I’m watching Lester start games and Papelbon finish them!

On a personal note, technology is not my friend this week.  Working with Dell to see if my computer can be salvaged and last night realized that my cell phone is probably being kicked around the streets of Boston.

Ah well, it’s Spring…time for new beginnings, right? 

(Photo lifted from SI.com)

March 23, 2007 Posted by | The Damn Closer Situation | 10 Comments

“It’s not an ego thing for me.”

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Photo of Jason taken by me
So says Mike Timlin. He’s okay with the team putting him on the dl to start the season and he doesn’t care what his role is with the team (as long as he gets to pitch at some point).

I LOVE Timlin. ("NO! Really, Cyn? We would have never guessed!") But my vote is for Papelbon. I’m still not over having been able to see him pitch in person last year. If you haven’t seen it, you’ve missed an amazing thing. Although, if the concerns about the strain on his shoulder are legitimate, I shouldn’t hope too hard for that.

Truth is, I really haven’t focussed on worrying about a closer. I’m a big believer in things like that working themselves out through the people who get paid to worry about them. Theo, et al, see the same things we do this season. I’ll have faith he’ll do something to rectify the situation.

I will admit to being worried about our Captain. As of this morning, he’s hitting .080.

I know I’m the one always talking about how spring training isn’t that big a deal, but .080? Even Tek admits it is a problem. That’s one of the reasons I used Timlin’s quote for the subject today.  It seems to fit for both of them.

His first responsibility is taking care of the pitchers and calling the game and all,  and HE knows that, but I’d like to see SOME offense from him as well.

In less than two weeks, I won’t be able to blow off conerns by using the "It’s only spring training" argument.

March 22, 2007 Posted by | Jason Varitek, Mike Timlin, The Damn Closer Situation | 22 Comments

Well THIS sucks

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Mike, looking annoyed,  taken from mlb.com
So, my man Mike is going on the DL to start the season, but should be ready by opening day at Fenway.

I’ll believe it when I see it.

I hope I’m wrong, but I sense we’re going to get a few more "he’s not yet ready" quotes before this plays itself out. 

My favorite quote about Mike from Tito: 

"I don’t think he was stunned, I don’t think he was doing cartwheels…"

I just love the image of Mike doing cartwheels. 🙂

I hope this is all legit and Tito is only being careful and I get to see Mike on opening day!

Incidentally, I now have my opening day ticket in my hot little hands – so except for the tickets to the two group games I’m going to, and the tickets for the game I won in the raffle, I have received ALL my tickets!

Baseball season is just around the corner, baby!

March 21, 2007 Posted by | Mike Timlin | 5 Comments