Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Your eyes tell me to pursue

Kids fishing for autographs at McCoy - one of my favorite signs of the baseball season!  (Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

Kids fishing for autographs at McCoy - one of my favorite signs of the baseball season! (Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

So I’m bored and playing with the theme of the blog again. It’s what I do. 🙂 Don’t get used to it, though, because who knows if it’ll be this way come the 2010 season.

Hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday. Mine was great – I really can’t complain. For the first time in a long time I’m at peace with everything going on in my life…which makes me a little lazy and is why I haven’t been blogging more often. I hope to become less lazy but still stay this relaxed and happy in the days and weeks to come so the plan is to get back to updating the blog daily.

Starting tomorrow. 🙂

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November 30, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | | 1 Comment

50 million Elvis fans can't be wrong

HappyThanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to those who are celebrating today.  Hope you and yours have a wonderful day!

http://www.hulu.com/embed/ARGH13THKHoYcvgLRNOP6Q

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

The sight of you with your head hung low

Joe Mauer at Fenway in 2008 (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

Joe Mauer at Fenway in 2008 (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

Over the weekend I uttered a phrase that many have spoken when they feel a player is overrated, especially if that player is being considered for the MVP award.  “He isn’t even the MVP on his own team!”

Doesn’t take a psychic to guess that I was referring to Derek Jeter.  I was thoroughly convinced that somehow the writers getting the AL Cy Young and Manager of the Year awards right meant that the MVP was absolutely going to Jeter.  The idea of Mark Teixeira getting it had, honestly, never crossed my mind.  So I was doubly surprised when not only did the writers get it right by giving the award to Joe Mauer, but that they got it even more right by voting for Mark Teixeira over Jeter.

According to Kelly Thesier at mlb.com:

Mauer finished with 327 points, well ahead of Teixeira, who had 225, and Jeter, who had 193. Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera, who received the only other first-place vote, was fourth with 171 points.

Special shout-out to Keizo Konishi, the writer from the Seattle chapter of the BBWAA who had the temerity to give Miguel Cabrera his one first-place vote.  Every group needs their renegade, Keizo, and this year the BBWAA can look to you to keep the well-held belief that some members of the BBWAA barely follow the sport they cover.  Well done.

Mind you, I’m not saying that Mauer HAD to get the vote unanimously, but voting for Cabrera over any of the top three vote-getters is absolutely baffling to me.  Cabrera had a really good season, but not first-place MVP voting good (given his competition – yes, even I have to admit that Teixeira and Jeter were pretty damned impressive).   Going 0-11 at the end of the season in the White Sox series when the division was on the line…well I’m not sure that’s MVP-worthy right there.  You judge a player on his entire season but to be MVP of the league…well isn’t part of that coming up big when your team needs you?

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November 24, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

And she was guiding me home

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Well it wasn’t easy, but we got our two winners!  Congratulations to Beth in Tennessee (with a 60) and Kristen in Massachusetts (with a 50) for being the first two to get the most answers correct!  Beth and Kristen will have brand-new copies of GAME SIX: Cincinnati, Boston, and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America’s Pastime by Mark Frost, heading their way in time for Thanksgiving!

I’m hoping to get more opportunities for giveaways and I promise I’ll make the quizzes less difficult in the future!

Thanks to everyone who participated and special thanks to Molly K. Frandson at Hyperion Books for providing the books for this giveaway!

Still following the Puerto Rican Baseball League – Kyle Snyder has only pitched one game still and his team is just a half game out of first with a 4-2 record.  So far, so good. I just wish getting info on the games was easier than it has been.  I’m following two folks on Twitter who cover the league and that’s been a great help!  Thanks to friends of the blog who have been emailing me their own updates!

Jason Bay…well what are you going to do?  I don’t think anyone thought he’d accept whatever offer the Sox threw out there right off the bat so it didn’t come as a surprise.  All it really does is give us more time to wonder whether we want the Sox to go all out to keep him or if we’d be happy with them focusing elsewhere.  It’s only November…we have roughly two and half more months of this!

Thanks, again, to all of you who ventured into quiz territory and congratulations  again to Kristen and Beth!

November 20, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment

The birds are already singing and the moon has set

Happy birthday to the Large Father! (Photo taken by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and  used with permission)

Happy birthday to the Large Father! (Photo taken by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

Okay so I suck at this and I’m so sorry!  I really thought the quiz was only moderately hard – and I thought by putting a 5 minute time limit on it I was making it fair for folks.   Instead I got a lot of “Are you shitting me?” emails and a few offers to create quizzes for other blogs.  😆

At times like this I realize what a geek I am and forget that the world isn’t necessarily made up of geeks like me.  (And it seems five minutes isn’t long enough for 10 questions…live and learn.  Next time I’ll make it longer, I promise!)

I was going to make up a new quiz but then I thought that was unfair to the gang of you who attempted this one.   So after thinking about the different ways I could choose a winner, I’ve decided to keep the quiz as is and let it run through Thursday (tomorrow) at 5pm.   At that time, I’m going to take the top two scores and they will be the winners of the books. In an effort to make it truly fair, if you’ve taken the test already and then go back to take it again, your first score will be the score I go by to determine the winner.

In true baseball-related news:  Zack Greinke won the AL Cy Young Award this week.  When you look at the voting it seems so silly that so many of us (myself included) were concerned that the writers were going to piss us all off and give it to Sabathia.  Word is that Greinke is getting married to his high school sweetheart this weekend – so it’s a good week for him.  (Which leads me to congratulate Clay Buchholz and Lindsay Clubine on their marriage this past weekend.    Good luck, kids!)

Sadly, this week we say goodbye to George Kottaras who was released by the Red Sox on Monday.  I’ll miss George.  He was fun to watch in both Pawtucket and Boston and he wasn’t too hard on the eyes either.  Here’s hoping he finally lands a full-time gig in the majors in 2010.

And, finally, on this day in 1975:  David Americo Ortiz Arias was born.  I’d like to thank Enrique and Angela Rosa for bringing Big Papi into the world.  Today should be a National Holiday in Red Sox Nation.  🙂  Happy birthday, Papi!

November 18, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | 1 Comment

I need an answer from you

I had been playing around with this as a possible banner for the blog - since I won't be using it that way I figured I'd just throw it in here (all photos taken by me except the Bronson shot which was taken by Kelly O'Connor and used with permission).

I had been playing around with this as a possible banner for the blog - since I won't be using it that way I figured I'd just throw it in here (Timlin and Pedro photos taken by me, Kyle is a screen grab and the Bronson shot was taken by Kelly O'Connor and used with permission).

Okay, here’s the deal:  I came up with ten questions and it’s easy enough to find the answers.  I tried to make it not TOO easy but not “Aflac” trivia ridiculously hard either.  I took the questions from a variety of decades in Red Sox history so we didn’t just stick to the last ten years or so.

The first two entries to get all the questions correct get a brand-new copy of GAME SIX: Cincinnati, Boston, and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America’s Pastime.

And here we go:

http://www.proprofs.com/quiz-school/widget/v2/?id=75269&bgcolor=&fcolor=&tcolor=

Red Sox (and related) Trivia – November 2009 » Create A Quiz

November 16, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | | 4 Comments

I'll stay if you can see me through

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One of the blog’s readers emailed me a week or so ago asking me what baseball books I would recommend to help pass the time during the off-season.  Just after that email exchange, I received an offer for free copies of the new book about Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.  Timing is everything.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I, like many Red Sox bloggers I’ll assume, was contacted by a representative from Hyperion Books about reviewing Mark Frost’s book GAME SIX: Cincinnati, Boston, and the 1975 World Series: The Triumph of America’s Pastime.  They send me a free book, I read it and write about it.  It was a book I had planned on buying anyway so why not, right?  I’ve had this offer a few other times and I often worry about reading a book that was comped to me and then not liking it.  There’s no clause saying I have to write something positive about the book – just that they supply me with the book for free and I give them publicity by writing about it.  But you never want to take something for nothing and then just spit on the person who gave it to you.  I’m not big on writing straight reviews, though, but I’m happy to give this book a much-deserved shout out.

Mark Frost wrote what is on my short list of favorite sports books not related to baseball (high praise since I don’t claim to have much fondness for golf): The Greatest Game Ever Played: Harry Vardon, Francis Ouimen, and the Birth of Modern Golf (Mr. Frost needs to work on shortening those titles!), so that, coupled with the subject matter of the book, brought me to it with high hopes.  On the surface, a book dedicated to one specific game in a series wouldn’t seem to have a broad appeal.  Who, outside of Reds and Red Sox fans, wants to relive one game of a seven game series?  Well, any baseball fan interested in the history of the game, I would hope.

There aren’t many spoilers  in a book written about possibly the most famous World Series game ever played.  The game has such an impact on baseball that even Joe Morgan, second baseman for the 1975 World Champions, admits that there are people out there who treat it like it was the final game in the series.  I’ve actually heard Morgan say that some people forget that the Reds, not the Red Sox, won that series (highly unlikely given how prevalent the whole “Red Sox haven’t won since 1918” mantra was in baseball prior to 2004 – but more proof that Game 6 really stuck in the heads of baseball fans and even the men on the teams that night).  If you’re worried that it’s just 400 pages that rehashes one, four-hour baseball game, your worries are unfounded.  There’s a lot in this book not directly related to the game that gives people not fully educated on either of these teams a lot to work with.  For those of us well-aware of both teams, there’s a lot in this book to devour that while reads as what should be common knowledge, really isn’t.  Finding out how Lesley Visser and Dick Stockton met, for example, while not being important to the story of the game at all, gives a personal, insider’s view as to what went on that day.  There are a lot of those side stories in this book.

So, at the risk of sounding like I’m only saying this because I got a free copy – I really enjoyed this book.  🙂  SO much so that I asked for a couple of copies to give away.  Hyperion Books was nice enough to send two extras along (so you won’t be winning the one that I read!) and all I had to do is figure out a giveaway.

The giveaway will be a quiz….one I haven’t yet created (I might cheat and use some questions from another quiz I created a while ago – I haven’t decided yet) and the first two to submit the correct answers will win the books!  Hey, the Holidays are coming – the book will make a great gift for your favorite Red Sox lover!

In a day or two I’ll post the quiz so we can start the gift giving early!

November 15, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | 5 Comments

The sleeping pill I took was just a waste of time

A photo I took of Kyle this past May at Pawtucket

A photo I took of Kyle this past May at Pawtucket

It’s 2am (well 3am when I’ve finished writing this) and I’m wide awake and watching the MLB Network.  On October 29, 2009, Bob Costas had a sit-down interview with Bud Selig and the MLBN is re-airing it right now.  The only thing compelling me to watch this is that I can’t sleep and with 1000 channels there really isn’t anything better on at 2am.

Selig is one of those people I can’t stand to look at.  That isn’t to say I think he’s repulsive looking, it’s to say when I look at him my first thoughts go to something along the lines of my being glad I wasn’t next to him because I’d want to punch him in the face.  I’m not proud; I genuinely despise him.

When Bob Costas had the nerve to ask him about Mark McGwire coming back to baseball, all Selig could do was bang his own drum about all the wonderful things he’s done to get steroids out of baseball.  When Costas pointed out there is no test for HGH, Selig sidestepped the question and kept talking about how few players tested positive for steroids this year.  No acknowledgment that HGH exists and is most likely being used by plenty of players.  Until Selig is willing to answer to that, he can go fry his ass.   I’m unimpressed with his supposed desire to keep baseball clean.  As long as the money is coming in, he’s just happy no one is getting caught.  (Incidentally, I’m against Mark McGwire coming back to baseball.  His whole “I’m not here to talk about the past” crap in front of Congress has put him in a spot where I don’t think he deserves to be rewarded with a job in MLB.)   Given Tony LaRussa is one of his pals, Bud doesn’t see the problem.  Don’t ask him about Rafael Palmeiro or Barry Bonds, though, by his own admission, he only wants to deal with McGwire.  This entire interview is a waste of Bob Costas’ time – unless his desire was to make those of us who despise Selig despise him just a little bit more.  Christ on a cracker he’s now defending why the Yankees needed a new stadium.  He’s the person for which the phrase “makes me stabby” was coined.  He also said that the owners of the Pirates have done a great job with the team.  I think for that statement alone he should be stripped of his commissionerdom.  The only thing keeping me watching now is Bob Costas teasing me by saying the show will end with Selig talking about “his plans for riding into the sunset”.

On a more cheerful note, Kyle Snyder started for the Lobos de Arecibo on Saturday night and he pitched quite well – getting the win, striking out 7 out of 19, giving up 2 walks and 1 earned run on 3 hits in five innings.  Special thanks to friend of the blog Andy for making sure I’m getting the updates on Kyle’s time with the Wolves.  It’s been interesting trying to get any info past box scores from MLB.com – but I’m working on it.  Here’s hoping Kyle has more success this winter.

I was remiss in not congratulating Jason Bay on his Silver Slugger.   I’m very pleased for him because he definitely earned it (unlike a shortstop who won a Gold Glove this year)…and I hope the Jason Bay contract saga is over soon – regardless of how that goes.

Okay, Selig claims when he’s 78 (three more years!!!) he’s done so he can go write a book and teach.   I’m never one to wish away time but, damn, I’m throwing a party in 2012!!!!

November 15, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Quench me when I'm thirsty

Photo of the Captain taken at the last game at Fenway in 2009 - ALDS game 3 - courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Photo of the Captain taken at the last game at Fenway in 2009 - ALDS game 3 - courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

It came as a surprise to no one that Tek exercised his option on Wednesday and will be back with the team.  He seemed resigned to his new role as the playoffs began this year and Theo made it quite clear before Tek’s decision was made public that Victor Martinez would be the full-time catcher – so Tek knows what his staying on with the team will mean.  EVERYONE knows that Tek knows this.   And Tek’s history is such that no one really thinks this will be an issue.  He’s always been professional and seemingly puts the team first.  Well, everyone knows this except this guy.

In their on-going effort to make an issue where there isn’t one, the Boston Globe publishes a piece about how Tek coming back “won’t end well”.  Not because he’ll play poorly due to his age and obviously decline in his skills…no not that.  It “won’t end well” because Tek’s “mere presence” is going to “undermine” Victor Martinez.  I’m using quotes here because I don’t want it to be mistaken that I am the one writing those ridiculous words.   Here’s more from Mr. Gasper:

Tek’s return for a 14th season with the Sox sets up Martinez’s game-calling skills to be second-guessed at every turn by fans, media and possibly his own pitchers.

very time Martinez puts down a sign this season and a Red Sox pitcher shakes him off, you’ll have to wonder if the pitcher is doing it because he thinks there is a better pitch in that situation or because it’s not the sign that Varitek would have put down.

I’m wondering if Gasper actually paid attention to the Red Sox during the second half of the 2009 season.  The fans, the media and the Red Sox pitchers all fell in love with Victor Martinez, pretty much on sight.  Of course, it seemed that Josh Beckett had some trouble adjusting but you know how Tito dealt with that?  He let Beckett pitch to Varitek most of the time.  But even Beckett finally gave in and let the reality hit that, sadly, Tek was turning into Doug Mirabelli.  If the starting rotation in 2010 is the same as it was in 2009 – every pitcher on the team will have had sufficient innings under their belt having pitched to Victor Martinez.  Some with great success.  Does Gasper think a new pitcher will come in and question Martinez’ talents?  Does he think the pitchers currently on staff are so stupid they thought Martinez was a quick fix and Tek was coming back to the every day role in 2010?

The kicker in this “commentary” comes here:

Can’t you already envision a scenario where Josh Beckett, who seemed to be the most obstinate about Martinez supplanting Varitek as the team’s best option behind the plate last season, goes to manager Terry Francona and asks for Varitek to be his personal catcher?

Beckett, who in three regular-season starts with Martinez had a 6.19 ERA, would have been forced to adjust if Varitek departed. Now, Beckett, in a contract year, can cling to his security blanket. So, every time the Red Sox send their ace to the mound they’ll have to take Martinez’s valuable bat (.303, 23 home runs, 108 RBI, .861 on-base percentage-plus-slugging) out of the lineup, a bat that is the primary reason Martinez is valuable as a catcher in the first place.

It makes me think that Gasper has never seen Martinez play.  Is he unaware that most actually think he’s a better first baseman than catcher?  Does he not realize that Tek catching most likely will almost NEVER take Martinez’ bat out of the lineup because Tito will probably schedule days off for Mike Lowell…our aging, creaky, third baseman…putting Youk at third and Victor Martinez at…wait for it…first on those days?  (Not to forget the struggling designated hitter who will benefit from rest this year as well…)

Gasper ends his piece by saying it would have been better for Tek to have signed elsewhere.  Not for his offensive and defensive declines, but so the players, media and fans won’t second guess everything Victor Martinez does behind the plate.  In two-plus months this year no one second guessed Martinez.  Actually, the media and fans were clamoring for him to take over the lead role from Tek and even Gasper points out that Clay Buchholz actually improved with Martinez and Jon Lester “worked well” with him too.  It was also determined that he could serviceably catch Wake.  That’s three out of five, Gasper.  Slide in Daisuke, who only pitched to Martinez once in 2009 (against the Yanks, giving up 1 earned run, 7 hits and 5 walks so there’s too small a sample size), and maybe your only “issue” is Beckett?  (And that’s a big maybe since I’m not even close to being convinced Beckett will be an issue here.)   Tim Wakefield pitched for years to his own catcher, is it really the end of the world if Beckett does it for a season?

I’m happy the Captain is back.  He means a lot to the team and to many of the fans.  He seems to be dealing with the issue of his new role, even acknowledging as the playoffs began that it was tough but that you do what’s best for the team.  I’m okay with people arguing that having Tek on the team, even in this diminished role, could hurt the team – no one enjoys a hitter in there batting a solid .200, even for just one game a week – but to argue that he,  just as a man, will hurt this team is that typical alarmist crap that the Globe has now become expected to write.  Slow news day?  Let’s try to get the fans worried about what MIGHT happen!  Thankfully and, admittedly, surprisingly, most of the fans – even some of the nuts who comment over at Boston.com, weren’t having any part of Gasper’s ridiculous argument.  A few agree with him, though.  There’s one commenter who chides the folks criticizing by defending it as an “opinion”.  Fine. It’s his opinion that he’s spouting like fact – and it’s  my opinion that all he’s trying to do is get fans riled up about Tek.  Hell, the Globe needs to tout a new villain for the new season.  Instead they’re getting riled up about the lazy writing going on over at the Globe.  I like it.

So welcome back, Tek.  I, for one, am happy you’ll be back in the clubhouse…but I’m also happy that VMart will be taking on the majority of catching duties, I can’t lie about that.  So that’s one issue settled for the Sox and a whole lot more still left hanging out there.  It’s going to be a long and, hopefully, interesting hot stove.

November 13, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | 5 Comments

And we would all go down together

Tough to post daily right now with all the little things going on but that doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention.  Thrilled that the Sox picked up VMart’s option, happy that Wake will be returning albeit with a new contract and not surprised at all that the Sox didn’t pick up Tek’s option.  So far no huge surprises in the early days of the Hot Stove.  Right now folks are hanging on to whether Tek will exercise his option or let Scott Boras talk him into doing something seemingly stupid – but he only has until today (Wednesday) to decide.  I don’t know that I’m ready for the Jason Varitek era to end (although, in a sense, it already has given that if he comes back he’ll be the backup catcher) but I’m eager for moves to be made.

More important than Tek’s deadline, Wednesday is Veterans Day.  So I’m going to make this entry short and with purpose.  Be thankful for the men and women of the military, folks.  Regardless of your views on the war, there is no denying that these folks put their lives on the line so chickens like me don’t have to.  They don’t get as much appreciation as they genuinely deserve, so, thank you, people of the military.  Thank you for your sacrifices.

November 10, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment