Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Big hands I know you're the one

JVE steals a home run from a Mud Hen in 2008. Photo by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

While live blogging the game last night, I literally yelled out loud when Jonathan Van Every’s home run left the park. I was watching the game alone (although online with lots of folks – thanks, again, for stopping by!) and I don’t usually get that vocal…but JVE’s home run was certainly something to yell about. I love it when the ones who get no publicity get some glory!

I’m not going to get into how Jon Lester gave me a headache that lasted until he left the game.

Sox won. Van Every gets his moment in the sun. All is well in the universe.

Speaking of the universe, it has been very kind to me lately (with a big push from many of you!).

Yesterday I get an email from someone at Comcast Sports Net asking me if I’d like to be one of three Boston Red Sox bloggers featured on Saturday’s inaugural edition of “The Baseball Show“. Be up at 8am on a Saturday to possibly talk to Lou Merloni? Yeah, I think I can swing that. I’m quite appreciative that the folks at Comcast asked and I just hope I don’t drop too many r’s! The segment I’ll be a part of will be pre-recorded but you all will get to catch it around 9:55am on both Comcast Sports Net and WEEI Radio. For those of you not in the area, you can also listen to it at the Comcast website or WEEI.com. My part in it all will be short but the opportunity to plug the blog is much appreciated.

No rest for the weary: Sox are in Florida for a four-game series against the Rays with Beckett taking the mound against Matt Garza tonight. Beckett won’t give me a headache, right?

RIGHT?

Advertisements

April 30, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , | Leave a comment

My two feet haven't met yet

No worries, Javi, Steve has your back! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor – who also made the jersey!)

Oh Javier Lopez. How I was rooting for you. You were inches from going into extra innings and instead the game was given to the Indians.

That, sadly, is all folks will probably remember about this game but the truth is the Red Sox had the lead in this game three times and all three times they gave it up. Javi had a brain cramp, sure, but that one gut-wrenching play isn’t the only thing that lost this game. So if you’re here looking for me to bash Javi, it isn’t happening. Three errors (one on Lowell and one on Lugo to add to Javi’s) gave the Indians enough runs to win this game. Javi didn’t lose it alone. And that’s all the energy I’m spending on rehashing that ugly, long-ass, painful game. Nothing but positive vibes going Javier’s way (Heck, Lugo’s and Penny’s too). He doesn’t need to get beat up about this; I’m sure he’s beating himself up enough right about now.

This is what I choose to focus on: The team just won 11 games in a row and then lost one. This isn’t earth-shattering by any means. Sure adding on to a streak would have been nice, but so what? So tomorrow they put Jon Lester out there and try to win the series. They win the series and I’m more than happy. It’s the end of April. I’m not quite ready to start calling for the heads of any of the players just yet.

“We gave them extra outs tonight”

So Tito tells Heidi Watney after the game. That says it all.

Yankees won, Blue Jays won and Rays lost. That puts the Sox one game out of first place with a 13-7 record behind the Jays with the Yanks four games behind and the Rays in last by 6.5. Not too shabby. (The O’s are hanging on to fourth place for now!)

Special note of thanks to all of you kind folks who took the time to nominate me for the “New England Sports Blog Awards”. Much to my surprise, “Toeing the Rubber” has been named one of the four nominees in the “Best Red Sox Blog” category. At some point on Wednesday, information will be released on how you can vote for your favorite sports blogs and I’ll mention it here. Honestly, it’s a real kick to be nominated and I truly appreciate all of you taking the time to do so.

In a response to a few requests for it, I’m going to attempt to live blog at least one game a week. Last Wednesday’s marathon live blogs seemed to be a hit (although I won’t be marathoning it – hopefully!). I’m looking at Wednesdays as the live blog day – which means I’ll be live blogging Jon Lester v Fausto Carmona tonight! 7pm I’ll be here with bells on. Join me won’t you?

April 29, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

Without you, there'd be no sun in my sky

Hell no! He won’t go! I only wish I was able to take a better picture than this one of Nick Green last Friday night.

No wackiness, no controversy, no egos. We just have the likes of Tim Wakefield (he of the 1.86 ERA and 0.97 WHIP) and Jason Bay (with his .344 AVG and .506 OBP) helping lead this team to (thus far) eleven straight wins. I can live very happily with that.

I also can live happily with a Big Papi who gets at least a hit in every game. I’m not waiting on his first home run, it’ll come soon enough, as long as he’s hitting I’m convinced it will all fall back into place for him. Little Manny Delcarmen as the most reliable arm in the bullpen? That seems to be working well.

And how about a third baseman who so many had as “washed up” being the American League player of the week? Yeah, that works for me too. I could live without a closer who gives up runs in the ninth and makes every end of the game interesting, but there’s plenty of time to work on that.

Brad Penny is on the mound tonight against Anthony Reyes. I had a brain cramp last night and honestly forgot, for a moment, that Penny was in the rotation. I’m hopeful that his performance tonight will be sure to make me remember him from here out (and for good reasons!).

Oh and Tito? I could totally live with Julio Lugo riding the pine until we know for sure he’s 100%.

SAVE NICK GREEN!!!!!

April 28, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

How's your cottage cheese?

April 27, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

My sticky paws were into making straws

Photo of Bowden that I took on my first visit to McCoy this season. So happy he had two clean innings against the Yankees!

I don’t know that I’m over Jacoby’s steal of home just yet. I can’t stop watching it because it’s so damn beautiful. I remember watching the Blue Jays/Yankees game when Aaron Hill stole home on Pettitte and actually feeling a little sorry for Pettitte. And I remember Carl Crawford stealing home on Jason Johnson in 2006 and being devastated for the kid. None of those feelings came out last night. Last night, the team that has practically copyrighted meaningless curtain calls got shown what kind of play actually deserves one. I was, literally, yelling “Take the curtain call!!!!!” and was so pleased that Jacoby did.

Papi knocking in the go-ahead run to make it 2-1 in the 5th (and then JD Drew knocking in another after Jacoby stole home) made me so very happy but watching the young guys kick butt last night (Masterson! Jones! Bowden!) was so satisfying. The Red Sox needed good pitching last night and they certainly got it!

As I write this, I’m watching Sports Desk and I just love Dustin Pedroia’s quote about his own base running:

“I’m done…I keep getting thrown out”

Good call, Dustin. Leave the running to Jacoby. You have other talents that endear you to us.

Regardless of their position in the standings and regardless of whether Alex Rodriguez was with them, watching the Red Sox sweep the Yankees has to be one of the sweetest feelings a Sox fan can get.

Sox are riding on a 10-game winning streak. They just swept the hated New York Yankees and just about everyone on the team seems to be contributing whether it’s with defense or offense. Having players who can pick each other up (Hello bullpen!) is pretty damn sweet as well.

And the best part? We don’t have to wait too long to continue riding the high: Tim Wakefield v Cliff Lee at 7:05 tonight!

(I’m editing this to add this link. It’s where you can go and nominate my blog for a “New England Sports Blog Award”. You all know how uncomfortable I am pimping myself out for votes…but what the heck, right? Today is the last day to get your nominations in so I guess I’m okay with doing it for a day!)

April 27, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

You don't need me to show the way, love.

I took this on Friday. A day before Kelly O’Connor shot him in the unclean position of fraternizing with Joba Chamberlain! Regardless of his lapse in judgment, I have faith that Justin will deliver us the sweep!

I am, obviously, a fan of the pitching. While many “chicks” might “dig the long ball”, I’m partial to strike outs. Pitcher’s duels sometimes make me weary, but I’ll stay up until the wee hours if it looks like I might see a no-hitter. When pitching is bad, I get very frustrated. So let’s just say it’s a good thing I wasn’t at Fenway or even around a television yesterday for the first four innings.

Aside from Tek’s grand slam (which I listened to on the radio), though, I did get to see the good stuff.

But they never make it easy. Between actually being at Fenway on Friday and then sitting through Fox’s coverage of the marathon second half of the game on Saturday..I’m wiped. So if I’m wiped, how the heck do the players feel today?

After only winning three out of their first nine games of the season, our Boston Red Sox have gone on a nine-game winning streak. A win tonight will make it ten, and complete a Yankees sweep. I don’t mean to be greedy but if someone pays attention to such things I’m hoping we get to witness that sweep some time before midnight. Although it’s way too early to be checking the standings regularly, I enjoy looking at the scoreboard and seeing the Sox in second place only a game behind the Blue Jays (I suppose it is worth pointing out that the Jays have played two more games than the Sox).

Not counting the tremendous blunder by Pedroia on Saturday, the Red Sox defense is quietly becoming remarkable. Mike Lowell laughs at those of you who thought he’d skip a beat this year. (Actually for Lowell those laughs come defensively AND offensively. In your ear, non-believer!)

I did get to check in on Kyle Snyder and the Buffalo Bisons yesterday. Let’s just say it didn’t go well. I want Kyle back in Pawtucket (who won in the 10th on Saturday). The upside to his being in Buffalo, though, is with the way the Mets are playing he might actually get a shot to be brought back up. So I hold out hope for that.

Speaking of Pawtucket, Julio Lugo has gone 2-12 with five strikeouts during his rehab assignment. Word is he’s back with the team on Monday. Here is where I should write something about someone kneecapping him for the sake of Nick Green but I feel terrible writing such things. But, really, if he were to suddenly be befallen by an infected mosquito bite or something, that wouldn’t so bad, right?

We’re blessed with an 8pm game today. I say blessed because I hear birds singing and see sun shining and it will be nice to enjoy a beautiful day and be rewarded at the end of it with another Red Sox win. My fingers are crossed.

April 26, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

I can't stop I ain't got no brakes

I like this shot I got of Youk heading for third, the Yankees leaving the field and the guys waiting at home!

One of the best visuals at Fenway last night? Nine sets of shoulders slumping in unison as the ball came off of Youk’s bat in the 11th and then the owners of those shoulders hanging their heads and shuffling off the field.

Last night was turning into one of those games where I questioned why I torture myself by going to Yankees/Red Sox games. Jon Lester (who didn’t have as horrible a game as it felt at the time but, still, aside from his last outing, isn’t pitching even close to “Cy Young” calibre. This comes as less a surprise to me as it does to many others, but I digress.) was frustrating the heck out of me, the Red Sox offense (did they hit into 37 double plays? It sure felt like it.) was making me shake my head and Joba’s lack of totally collapsing under the pressures around him (especially after that first inning) disappointed me. When Joba left the game, I was pleased that no one had been maimed. I had simple goals and that was one of them.

KellyO had a great observation after that game. Unless you’ve been in Fenway and experienced it, it’s absolutely impossible to properly describe the feeling in Fenway when all hope is lost against the Yankees. It’s the ninth inning, there are two outs and the Sox are down. The atmosphere in the park was that of a funeral parlor. Then with one swing, Jason Bay gave the fans back their reason for being. The emotional swing you go through in a matter of seconds, collectively with 37,000 other people, is such a rush. My adrenaline had me going until around 2am.

It was an ugly game. It was a painful game to watch. And it was possibly the best, regular-season, game I’ve been to – ever. I’ve been to a few walk-off games, but the intensity of this one is rather unique (and having Jay Bay be such a big part of it was so, so sweet!) Also, I’ve never been present for a Mariano melt-down. It’s as wonderful as I dreamed it would be.

Friday morning, in an effort to support the player I most criticize, I purchased a Kevin Youkilis jersey off of eBay. While Kelly and I were pre-gaming it at Boston Beer Works, she lifted her ticket to show me that Youk was the player featured on our tickets for the game. The signs were there, I just didn’t read them.

I was surrounded by wonderful fans last night and that really helped keep spirits up. I had no Yankees fans around me and all the Red Sox fans were much more focused on the game than on the rivalry. The worst fan I saw all night was a female Yankees fan who, while leaving the park, gave the double middle finger salute to everyone she passed. Stay classy, lady, stay classy.

Still going through my photos from the night, but the lighting plus the screen were a bad combo for getting really good shots. Fear not, though, because Kelly already has a couple of photos up of the celebration here!

Family obligations will most likely prevent me from watching the better part of today’s game. This doesn’t upset me as much as you think. My heart is still racing…I need some time to settle down.

April 25, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Say "forget it" just for spite

Only good vibes for the Crab Man tonight. (Photo taken by me in Baltimore – 2008.)

So I “hate” the Yankees, right? Sure, I suppose in the realm of baseball fandom you can use the word “hate”. I took immense pleasure out of the 22-4 drubbing the Indians put down last weekend and I am quite pleased whenever they lose. Heck, even when they were playing the Rays this year I wanted them to lose. So I suppose you can label me as a Yankees-Hater.

With that in mind, why is it that I’m not more charged up about this weekend? I even went to a few different Yankees message boards to read the Yankees fans trash talking the Red Sox and their fans and I came away from it feeling quite…meh.

I didn’t get riled up reading Yankees fans insulting Kevin Youkilis or David Ortiz. I just kind of laughed at the idea that it’s stupid to be concerned about a pitcher who consistently throws at the head of specific players (or playeR). But there was no fire in me. I wasn’t compelled to log in and write a mean-spirited response.

This has been happening for a few years now. I still don’t like the Yankees or a good portion of their fans (I actually do know some Yankees fans you wouldn’t feel the urge to boil in oil) but I guess the intimidation factor is gone for me. Hell, I follow Nick Swisher on Twitter and laugh at a lot of his stuff. (I think the reason there, though, is I still don’t consider Swisher really a Yankee. I feel like he’s wearing a costume when he plays and he’ll rip it off soon enough. I have no idea why I feel like that.) So when the Yankees come to town, or the Sox go to the Bronx, I’m not thinking “Ooh, the Sox HAVE to win these games because it’s the Yankees!”, I’m thinking, “I want the Sox to win these games. As a bonus, we get Yankee losses if they do. It’s win-win!”.

Continue reading

April 24, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Let them leave you up in the air

Daniel Bard during his first appearance at McCoy Stadium. Photo by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net. Used with permission.

Thanks, again, to everyone who stopped by for the marathon live blogging yesterday – I had a lot of fun and hope you enjoyed it as well.

Sox made it all worthwhile with two impressive wins and now we get a day off to recover before we have to gear up for the Yankees coming to town. I’ll be at the first game of the series on Friday night. I’m both excited and anxious about this. I always love being in Fenway but not so much when the Yankees come to visit. It seems the jerks amp it up to 11 for these games – both jerky Red Sox fans and jerky Yankees fans – and Friday will be ripe for the jerky pickings with Joba Chamberlain pitching. Between the Yankees fans who think he’s the second coming of Christ and the Red Sox fans who want Kevin Youkilis to shove a baseball bat where the sun doesn’t shine on Joba, things could get pretty ugly.

I certainly fall in the category of fan who wouldn’t mind seeing Youk put the beatdown on Joba. I absolutely believe Joba goes out of his way to try and hit Youk’s head and no amount of “Why would he do that” rationalizing will make me change my mind. On the other hand, I don’t want Youk either getting hurt, getting suspended or both. So I’d much prefer a weekend of nothing but baseball. No headhunting, no fighting, no arrests. Just play baseball, fellas.

As if the “thrill” of Joba isn’t enough to entice me into going to this game, Jon Lester is pitching against him. How can I not go to this game? The promise of annoying fans in the stands, an obnoxious starting pitcher for the Yankees and the Red Sox pitcher who seems to always suck whenever I go see him pitch in person. Can you sense my excitement?

I know this is going to turn out to be one of those games where, had I stayed home, I’d be biting off my nails waiting for it to end. Sox/Yankees games kill me. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I bought the tickets because EVERY year I tell myself I’m not going to any Sox/Yankees games and every year I go to at least one. (And I’m honestly not complaining – I know damn well how fortunate I am to be able to go to these games – I just need to start choosing my games better. Pettitte/Masterson would have probably been much less stressful!)

I’m typing tense…see the off day will be good for all of us!

Speaking of the Yankees, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees continued their dominance of the International League with a 6-1 drubbing of the Buffalo Bisons. The good news was that Kyle Snyder got in the game (I’ve yet to see this, though, as it happened while I was live blogging and could only listen). The bad news is that he gave up four hits and two runs in one inning of work. No matter. Bisons will have a chance to improve upon their 2-11 record at home this weekend.

Also in the International League, Jonathan Van Every made quite the mark during his first game after coming off the DL. A grand slam to tie the game in the ninth isn’t too shabby, huh? Pawtucket beat Rochester 8-7 in 11 innings and, although he didn’t get the win, Clay Buchholz started the game after some off-time with his hammy, and threw 5 good innings (giving up 3 hits and 2 runs and striking out two). Daniel Bard also threw an inning (the 9th) and strike out the side (all swinging). Things are looking good in Pawtucket right now!

Wednesday was a long day. I look forward to the day off. We need to rest up for this carnival of a weekend ahead!

April 23, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

I'm in a position that everyone prays for

Last year, Kyle Snyder photos brought good luck. I’m going for that again today! Photo by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net. Used with permission.

I initially wanted to try and “celebrate” my 100th post here at WEEI.com with a live blog. But since the 100th post came without my realizing at the time that it was the 100th post, I had to modify that plan. I figured I’d wait until 150 or 200 but the Red Sox had different ideas.

So, since today I am going to be home, I thought a 12:35pm game on a Wednesday was as good a time as any for my first live blog here. Hope folks think the same. Hey, most of you are stuck at work anyway, right?

(Before I go on, let me make one remark about the only baseball game I watched last night: The Buffalo Bisons finally won their second game this season and it was against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees! Yes, the team with the 1-10 record beat the 11-0 team!! Kyle Snyder didn’t get into the game, but I was genuinely excited nonetheless. And it’s interesting to note that the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre television broadcast team are as arrogant as the YES team – complaining at one point about the Bisons having interlocking “NY” on their jerseys. I have news for you fellas, Buffalo is in NY as well. Hooray for the Bisons! They won 7-3!)

I’m still rather amazed they decided to schedule the game for 12:35pm. I realize doing the game on Thursday would have been inconvenient but the Sox are staying in town and the Twins are only flying to Cleveland. I don’t see how that would have been so terrible for Minnesota. I know a handful of people who had tickets for last night’s game and it seems only a small portion of them will be able to go to the game today. I sense we’ll see a lot of empty seats. Which gives me hope that something great is going to happen at the afternoon game today. It always seems that the big games, the ones that NESN loves to air over and over again, have a lot of empty seats at them. Those are the games everyone you know claims to have been at (“Of COURSE I stayed for the entire ‘Mothers Day Miracle’ Game!”) but the stands always tell a different story.

I’m going to use the “Cover It Live” program for the live blog which makes it easier for folks to follow along AND comment without the aggravation of having to refresh the page to see what new stuff has been written. Folks seemed to enjoy that when we did it last year for the World Series.

Depending on the game, I’ve found sometimes folks will be reading the live blog but not commenting. That’s cool. I know that’s what I do a lot of the time with other people’s live blogs. A lot of people actually seem to use my live blog to re-live the game, so to speak, after the fact. I’m good with that (actually, having been told that by quite a few readers, I think it’s pretty cool!). But in the event that I do get people to comment today, here’s a couple of things you should know about the blog:

* With the “Cover it Live” program, there will be a brief delay in posting (mere seconds) while I accept your comment. I’ll be on my own, so I’ll have to develop a rhythm for typing and accepting comments at the same time! I won’t be moderating the comments (everyone will be accepted) unless people jump in to stir the pot. This is supposed to be fun and I hope it is.

* If you’re looking for deep analysis this probably isn’t the live blog for you. But if you’re stuck at work or somewhere with Internet access but no television, I like to think my live blog will be an entertaining alternative to reading about the game on GameDay.

If you are so inclined, join me at 12:30pm today for the Twins/Sox live blog. Wakefield on the mound should help make it quite the interesting game!

(And I don’t usually do this, but today is the birthday of THREE people I care very much about so here goes: Happy Birthday to Dale, Crystal and Jill!!! Hope you all have a beautiful day and get two Red Sox wins on top of it!)

April 22, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment