Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Let it all hang out cause we've got a run to make

Welcome to Boston, Billy.  Just don't piss me off.  (Photo taken by me on Sunday)

Welcome to Boston, Billy. Just don't piss me off. (Photo taken by me on Sunday)

Contrary to what some might think, I love it when I’m wrong.  At least when I’m totally negative about something and I turn out to be shown up.  Messrs Byrd and Wagner both did that on Sunday.  Sure, one game is a small sample size but, for now, I’ll take it.  I’m not ready to pin playoff hopes on either Byrd nor Wagner but in a game where there was relatively little pressure but still a genuine desire to win the game they both stepped up and did extremely well.

Paul Byrd out-pitching Roy Halladay was all kinds of amazing, wasn’t it?

It was a fun game to watch in person and was interesting to see how passionate Paul Byrd was during it.  When he got out of the bases loaded jam I thought he might have had a stroke because I saw him hit the ground.  I’m guessing it was his gesture of thanks to whichever entity (be it God or JD Drew) he felt deserved it.  A sweep, even one of the Blue Jays, is always welcome around these parts.  Rangers and Rays lost, which helped the cause, but those Yankees just keep chugging, huh?  No worries.  Whether by division or wild card I sense the Red Sox will be hanging around in October.

The Rays finish their series with Detroit today while the Yankees start a series with the Orioles and the Rangers start a series with the Blue Jays.  The Sox, they get the day off before their series with the Rays.  The next seven games for the Red Sox are on the road.  3 against Tampa Bay and 4 against the White Sox.  This could turn out to be a great road trip for the hometown team.

Through a series of interesting circumstances, I’ll find myself at the new Yankee Stadium on September 9th.  If you had told me last year around this time that I would be visiting both new parks in New York I would have laughed at you.  But it seems the fates had other ideas.  It’s a Yankees/Rays game so I’ll have more opportunities to check out the park as I won’t feel obligated to stay glued to my seat (I might have to test the “God Bless America” rules!) as I would if the Red Sox were playing.   At the very least, I’m looking forward to being able to compare it to CitiField.  I might not like the Yankees but I sure do enjoy going to different ballparks.  And the tickets were free so how do you turn down an offer like that?  I’ll try to be tweeting and blogging from New York!

Rest up, folks.  September 1st is tomorrow so this time it counts!  (Or something like that!)

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August 31, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | 3 Comments

But he can kick like a mule

Chris Carter, back in May, using one of Jason Bay's bats in Pawtucket.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Chris Carter, back in May, using one of Jason Bay's bats in Pawtucket. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

So do I revel in Clay Buchholz pitching the way I knew he could or do I grouse about Paul Byrd pitching back with the Red Sox?

I mean Paul Byrd?  They already had Brad Penny.  Of course, not only is Byrd pitching today but I’ll be at the game.  Hoo-boy!  (Luckily, as has been pointed out to me, I’ll be in one of the EMC suites, thanks to the extreme generosity of others, and not in range to throw anything at him.)

Oh, and did I mention he’s pitching against Roy Halladay?  This should be quite a show, huh?

But how about Clay?  Pitches almost a complete game (and while I “get” why Tito took him out I still would have liked to have seen the kid finish the game.  The way he was pitching, I don’t think he would have done any worse than Okajima did!), threw 107 pitches (67 for strikes), only gave up three hits and walked two while striking out NINE and left the game having given up one run.  Sure, you can say it was “only” against the Blue Jays but Mr. Beckett had his own troubles against them, didn’t he?  Clay came up big for the team and for himself and it was great to be there to see it (even if I spent the game under cover in right field!).

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August 30, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | 4 Comments

Brace yourself with the grace of ease

Of of the better photos I took last night.  Way to take one for the team, Nick!

One of the better photos I took last night. Way to take one for the team, Nick!

So much to cover on this Friday morning:

First I have to give a special thanks to KellyO for sharing her good fortune of offered tickets and bringing me along to sit in field box seats behind the Red Sox dugout last night.  The seats were amazing, we had a pretty good crowd around us and we had the perfect view of Nick Green’s triumphant pitching debut!  As we left the game and walked down Yawkey Way we both realized that we were leaving a Red Sox loss with smiles on our faces and laughing.  Looking around, the folks who stuck it out for the entire game seemed to have the same attitude.  No one ever wants to watch their team lose a game but given that the Red Sox soundly won this series 3 games to 1, it felt fine to revel in the visual of Nick Green on the mound.  Guy did all right too – after two innings pitched, his ERA is zero and he only walked 3.  Not a bad night on the mound for a relief pitcher, huh?  (MLB.com tells us that Green is the first position player since 1944 to pitch 2 or more innings for the Red Sox and not allow a hit.  Billy Wagner should watch his back!)

Meanwhile in Pawtucket, my man Kyle Snyder pitched himself quite the game only to end up with a no-decision (the PawSox took the series, winning both games).  In spite of seeing the glory of Nick Green’s pitching, I’m still a bit disappointed I didn’t get to see Kyle.  Heck, maybe he’ll get a September call up and I’ll make a day trip to CitiField before the season is over?  In any event, Kyle’s doing well with Buffalo regardless of the season they’re having and for that I’m very happy.

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August 28, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

The less you know the more you want

Kyle Snyder, May 2008 / Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Kyle Snyder, May 2008 in Pawtucket/ Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Walk-offs are, arguably, the best kind of wins. Especially walk-offs that happen in the ninth inning. I had visions of Wake’s typically quick game being stretched into a marathon game because of a tie score in the ninth. Papi had different visions and sent everyone home early.

(Edit because WP ate my paragraph about Wake!)  Even though he didn’t get the win, thanks to the stereotypical no run support for Wake game, Wakefield looked pretty damn good out there last night.  He seemed to be still hobbling a little but the White Sox didn’t (or couldn’t?) capitalize on his weakness in the field so it’s all good.  As they say, the old guys rule!

Three wins in a row is a nice little streak I’d like to see them continue tonight.

Tonight, I had hoped to find my way to Pawtucket to see Kyle Snyder pitch for the Buffalo Bisons. Unfortunately, arrangements to do that couldn’t be ironed out so I won’t be there. I won’t get to listen to it either because, as seems to be the way lately, along with bad news I received good news too – which was an invite to tonight’s Red Sox game. So instead of seeing the pitcher I want to see I might be seeing Billy Wagner. God arranges things amusingly sometimes, no? Good luck to Kyle. Both teams are at the bottom of the standings so I’m comfortable saying that while I hope the Bisons don’t beat up on the PawSox, I’d really like to see Kyle pitch well. (Wednesday night the PawSox had a walk-of of their own with a ninth-inning, one out, Josh Reddick sacrifice fly.)

The last time I was in Fenway, Junichi Tazawa pitched possibly the game of his season against the Yankees. Tazawa is on the mound again tonight to try and help the Red Sox to a four-game sweep. John Danks and his 11-8 record and 3.85 ERA won’t make it easy but it should be fun. 7:10pm, people. Let’s watch it happen.

I like that no matter which team wins in the Bronx this week, it benefits the Red Sox as long as the Sox keep winning. Six games out of the division and 2.5 ahead in the wild card on August 27 isn’t such a horrible place to be.

Thanks, again, to everyone who stopped by the chat last night.  Glad that we got the win to celebrate!

August 27, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Tradition Still Goes On

The “Welcome Back, Wake” Live Chat

August 26, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | 1 Comment

He couldn't stand just to be around

Rest in peace, Senator. (Photo taken by me on Opening Day this year)

Rest in peace, Senator. (Photo taken by me on Opening Day this year)

Missed a day of posting which is somewhat unusual for me.  Had the day off from work yesterday and basically spent it doing things while thinking “I should go blog” but never really got around to it.  Then the game came on, happiness mixed with frustration set in then I finished with the Yanks/Rangers game and called it a night, still having written nothing.  Up early this morning to the news of Ted Kennedy’s passing (and let me just say, the news devastates me so if you come here hating on him your comments won’t be here long – I’m not in the mood to deal with you) and I figure before I settle in to day of remembrances of him, I should write something – and mention that there will be a live chat tonight (I’ve given up calling them live blogs – I enjoy the chatting interaction much more than I do the straight live blogging – I like the community it seems to bring together) to welcome Tim Wakefield back.

For games against a so-called “easy” team for the Red Sox, these last two games didn’t feel easy.  Neither Buchholz nor Lester got the “W” but the team did and that’s all that matters.  Jacoby Ellsbury now holds the single-season, stolen bases record for the Red Sox and Victor Martinez and Jason Varitek seem to be co-existing rather nicely.  All in all I’m a happy gal.

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August 26, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

When I look down I just miss all the good stuff

One of the more entertaining pictures I took on Saturday.  Mr. Bay was none too pleased with the ass tap from Mr. Swisher.  More photos from Saturday are at the Toeing the Rubber page on Facebook.

One of the more entertaining pictures I took on Saturday. Mr. Bay seemed none too pleased with the friendly ass tap from Mr. Swisher. More photos from Saturday are at the Toeing the Rubber Facebook page (linked on the left sidebar).

It both amuses and impresses me that Jason Bay, who has only been here a little over a year, is one of the more reasonable person around in regard to what is going on with the Red Sox:

“I think what goes unnoticed around here is we’re in first place for the other playoff spot,” Bay said. “We won the wild card last year and made Game 7 of the ALCS.”

While the media (and resident Yankees fan Lou) has given the World Championship to the Yankees, one of the newbies, a guy from a team that hasn’t sniffed the playoffs in quite some time, realizes that those awards aren’t given out until October.

Did it stink, watching Beckett struggle last night?  Hell, yeah.  Watching my ace give up five home runs isn’t quite what I’d call fun.  But am I worried (as some posted around the Internet last night) that he’s “done”?  Jesus, people, do we have to follow the media’s lead and only have two speeds?  I can’t go from extreme optimist to extreme pessimist as quickly as some folks.  I understand it was two bad outings in a row for Beckett but, frankly, shit happens.  I choose to stay in the middle and enjoy the freaking season while we have it.  The Sox still lead the wild card and while it’s unlikely the Yanks will tank so badly they’ll lose the division lead, anything is still possible.  I hold out hope until the math says otherwise.  That’s just how I roll.

I think it’s fair to say, though, that any Red Sox fan who willfully chooses to listen to Joe Morgan, Jon Miller and Steve Phillips call a Red Sox game (especially a Red Sox/Yankees game) is a glutton for punishment and gets what they deserve.  (I count myself in this group.  Last time the Sox were on ESPN I muted the game and listened to Joe Castiglione and Dave O’Brien.  Don’t know why I didn’t do this last night but I deeply regret it.)

The Sox and their fans have no time to wallow.  Tonight starts a four-game series against the White Sox with Buchholz (3.99) and Contreras 5.13) on the mound.  The rest of the series gives us Lester (3.58), Wakefield (4.31) and Tazawa (3.57) against Garcia (10.38), Floyd (3.98) and Danks (3.85).  This past weekend proved that pitching match-ups don’t always tell the story of what will happen…but I sure do like the chances of the Red Sox this week.

August 24, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | 8 Comments

My life…it's better left to chance

Kelly O'Connor took this photo at the Lowell Spinner's Alumni Dinner this past January  (Used with permission)

Kelly O'Connor took this photo of Greg Montalbano at the Lowell Spinner's Alumni Dinner this past January (Used with permission)

There was something strange about walking around Fenway before the game yesterday.  The Yankees fans were there but none seemed overly cocky or obnoxious.  Sox fans were there too and most seemed to be pretty subdued for a Saturday afternoon Sox/Yanks game.  There was a definite weird vibe around the park.  I actually put off going to my seat until the last possible minute I could (while still avoiding the crush of people who try to get to their seats five minutes before the game begins) because I didn’t have a good feeling about the game.  I wasn’t convinced that Tazawa would fail but I was concerned he’d struggle.  As I wrote yesterday, I really wanted this win.

Then we were hit in the face with cruel realities that will always be more important than a baseball game.  Red Sox public address announce Carl Beane asked for a moment of silence to honor Greg Montalbano who had died the night before.  I probably Google Greg’s name once a week to see if there is any news on him.  His story was sad and compelling and inspirational all at the same time and to find out that he passed away is truly heartbreaking.  I started crying right there in Fenway, so much so that the guy next to me asked if I knew him and KellyO immediately texted me because she also hadn’t heard of his passing until Carl Beane told us.  Greg and his family have been and will be in my prayers.  The next time you want to paint all ball players with the same, broad brush of being nothing but entitled, rich, spoiled babies, please think of Greg Montalbano and remember that not all of them are like that nor do they all have the support, publicity and good fortune of, say, a Jon Lester.  (A bittersweet postscript to this story:  Both Kevin Youkilis and Carlos Pena were friends of Greg’s…and both men dedicated their games to him yesterday – and both men hit two home runs a piece in their respective games to help their teams win on Saturday.)

But the Red Sox wouldn’t let me dwell on my sadness over Greg’s passing…they came out swinging in the first with three singles and a double, scoring three runs – and they never let up.  On a day when the game was being televised nationally and Red Sox fans were preparing to listen to the Fox announcers talk about how Boston’s season was finished and Friday’s thrashing was proof that the Yankees held total dominance over the Sox it was important to the fans that the Sox didn’t get humiliated on national television.  The Sox probably felt like they had something to prove, not just to the fans but to the sports writers and the Yankees as well.  They didn’t come out timidly and worried about what might happen again  – they just made A.J. Burnett look ineffective against them…and it was pretty sweet.

Two home runs for Youk (I was rocking the Youk jersey yesterday which was cause for people to randomly slap me on the back whenever he got a hit), one for Papi and even Alex Gonzalez got into the act with one of his own.  Jacoby and Tek were the only starters without a hit but among the rest they garnered 15 hits altogether.  Tazawa pitched like he had totally forgotten about the 15th inning, walk-off home run at Yankee Stadium and hadn’t listened to any of the critics who had already written off Saturday’s game.  The team came together and got the job done.  Thank you, Red Sox.  It was a great game to be at and a wonderful tribute to Greg as well.

Still not convinced that the Boston sports media would rather focus on the negative?  Beginning of the fourth inning, Sox have scored 7 runs, Tazawa has given up 3 hits in the first 3 innings (one hit in each inning) and no runs and this is what Joe Haggerty tweets:

Last 2 inning with leads, Tazawa has fallen behind 3-1 to both leadoff hitters. Not what you’re looking for

Pardon my language but, is he shitting me?   How do you pull something like that out of your ass in the middle of a game like we were watching?  How is this not purposely looking for something negative to write about?  In the FOURTH inning when the kid has only given up 3 hits and no runs you’re complaining that he fell behind the last two leadoff hitters?  In the second inning, the leadoff hitter he fell behind (Posada) walked and got stranded at third.  In the third inning the leadoff hitter he fell behind was Jeter and he grounded out.  In the fourth inning, Matsui popped out on a 1-1 count, in the fifth inning Jeter flied out after Tazawa fell behind and in the sixth inning Posada popped out on a 1-0 count.  In the six innings Tazawa pitched, the only leadoff hitter to reach base was Posada in the second inning.  Yes, this is pretty much exactly what I’d like to see in a rookie pitcher (hell in ANY pitcher) thank you.

So we get a rubber game tonight on ESPN.  Beckett v Sabathia.  Given that Beckett’s last outing was poor I’m willing to believe that he won’t be struggling tonight.  After two blow-out games, I imagine it isn’t so crazy to think we’re going to get a pitching duel tonight.

August 23, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , | 9 Comments

The people demand to have a say

Artsy version of a favorite picture of mine that I took in 2006

Artsy version of a favorite picture of mine that I took in 2006

If I learned anything from last night’s game and live blog chat it’s that the fans who I tend to surround myself with (whether my friends or fans of this blog) are made of better stuff than the bandwagoners and the sports writers.  (Thanks to all of you who stopped by and made last night much more bearable than it would have been had we not done the live chat!)

There is no way – absolutely no way – to spin anything positive about a 20-11 loss.  Sure the team came back and scored 11 runs (actually, that is a positive…the Yankees hammered away last  night but the Sox didn’t give up, not even in the ninth inning) but the loss was still tough.  But the comments last night and emails I’ve received since seem to reflect similar attitudes.  No one is  happy with Brad Penny.  Most feel sorry for Michael Bowden getting thrown into that situation and just about everyone thinks that a team giving up all those hits and runs is more fluky than anything else.  The Yankees are a good team, no doubt, but so are the Red Sox.  Of course, Nick Cafardo writes that last night shows that the Yankees are a championship -caliber team.  Now, they very well might be but I don’t think a 20-11 blowout is an indication of that.  Games like this, in my mind, are an aberration.  The Yankees exploited the suckitude of Brad Penny but the Red Sox also got 11 runs on 12 hits.  There was some bad pitching going on with the Yankees as well, the Red Sox just took longer to capitalize on it.  So you’ll pardon me if I don’t look at a game like last night’s and automatically crown the Yankees the World Champions of 2009.

Today’s game is on Fox so it doesn’t start until 4:10pm EST.  Since I’ll be at Fenway I will, thankfully, be spared the ramblings of the ballwashing McCarver and Buck but I’ll still be in the middle of drunken Sox and Yankees fans so it’s a bit of a wash.  I don’t usually go to a game thinking “PLEASE let them win” it’s always usually “I HOPE they win” but today I’m going to ask the baseball gods to please let them win.  I’m not sure I can deal with Yankee fan jerkiness or the fights started by drunken and annoyed Red Sox fans if they don’t.

Junichi Tazawa doesn’t automatically instill a sense of calm when pitted against A.J. Burnett and the Yankees but I’m still going into this game hopeful.  Why not?  I’m a baseball fan.  I’m a Red Sox fan.  Today I get to sit in the park and enjoy a baseball game.  There’s no reason to feel down about that.

August 22, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | 11 Comments

A Crowd of People Turned Away

The “Welcome Back Jerry Remy” Live Blog!

August 21, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment