On September 5, 2009, Isaias Thomas Valentin, a vibrant and much loved boy, died four days before his 10th birthday from Acute Myeloid Leukemia. Isaias was the cousin of a friend of mine, Amy Blue.
The loss of Isaias tragically took its toll on all of Amy’s family and Amy felt she needed to do something to not only honor Isaias’ memory but to thank the Dana Farber Cancer Institute for the treatment and support they gave to Isaias and his mother, Jeneen. So on September 13, 2009, Amy completed her first Jimmy Fund Walk and after that success decided she needed to do something more. Thus, Project Cupid was born.
Project Cupid is a charity date auction of “Boston’s best Bachelors and Bachelorettes” that is being held on Friday, February 5, from 7pm to 10pm at Red Sky Restaurant and Lounge. The high bidders on each Bs & Bs, as Amy is calling them, will be treated to a date (with their bachelor or bachelorette) at a local restaurant. If you aren’t in the market to bid on a date, there will be drawings at the end of the auction with prizes like a basketball autographed by the entire 2009-2010 Boston Celtics (donated by the team), gift certificates to local salons and spas, hotel stays, tickets to local shows and even a Mike Lowell autographed photo. The event is open to the general public and there is no cover charge but Project Cupid has suggested donations of $7-$10 at the door the evening of the auction. The expectation is that anywhere from 150-200 people will be attending the event. If you’re unable to attend the auction, you can still make a donation by contacting Amy Blue. It’s Amy’s hope that this will become an annual event if not in its current incarnation as something equally entertaining that will support Dana Farber and The Jimmy Fund.
During MLB’s season, my mind is usually spinning with ideas about what to write here. It takes a little more work for me to get going in the off-season, but Truck Day coming upon us is certainly starting to get me worked up about the 2010 season.
So in an effort to get the writing juices flowing again, I started reading up on a few former players and where they are now – which led me to the official home page of the Pittsburgh Pirates. The moment the page loads the banner greets you with PRIDE. PASSION. PITTSBURGH PIRATES. I suppose, when you’re the Pittsburgh Pirates, you can’t really promote anything with “We’re built to win!” or something similar. All they have to play on is the love the fans have for their team. (Although it’s much too close to “Pride. Power. Pinstripes.” for my liking.) Javier Lopez, briefly rumored to be retiring this off-season, has been signed by the Pirates. So has Brendan Donnelly. Brandon Moss is still on their roster and they’ve also just picked up one of my favorite ex-Mets, Ryan Church. Not exactly names that will be bringing the butts into the seats but the beginnings of a fun team to watch nonetheless. I just dig that they feel like throwing a snappy catchphrase on their website will entice fans. (I checked to see if the Royals had any kind of rally cry on the front of their home page – nope.)
The Red Sox don’t have a slogan either. I don’t often visit their website but there was a time when I spent an awful lot of time over there (so much so that I was involved in a campaign to have Tim Wakefield added to their banner. It worked! But now their banner is a panoramic view of Fenway Park. Acceptable.)
The front page story at Red Sox.com is about Jonathan Papelbon being “fine” with the one-year, $9.35 million deal he just finalized with the team. Nowhere in the article did I see where it said he was just “fine” with it. He seems pleased, though, and eager to start the new season. I received an email yesterday from a Sox fan wondering if I was going to write about Paps “and defend him like you always do”. Apparently, this particular reader was upset that I didn’t want Papelbon drawn and quartered after the final game of the 2009 ALDS. I’m really stunned that there are people who genuinely point to Papelbon as the only reason the Sox didn’t get past 3 games in the playoffs last year.
Blame Papelbon all you want but I’m not buying. In reality, all he did was spare us the anguish of ANOTHER game and ANOTHER loss. Paps didn’t lose those first two games, lack of offense did. So let’s put the past behind us and focus on what could happen in 2010. I DID find it interesting that Paps didn’t let that game go the way a lot of people thought he did:
Papelbon made it clear that there was no exaggeration to his recent comments in an article with ESPNBoston.com that he plays the video of that fateful ninth inning as motivation during his winter workouts. Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who sat in with Tanguay and Zolak during Thursday’s interview, asked Papelbon why he would subject himself to something so painful.
“Man, I’m a different cat, you should know that by now, Dan. That’s just something that motivates me, man,” Papelbon said. “That was something that was very dear to me and something that I prized and cherished a lot was the postseason scoreless run that I went on. Obviously that came to an end this postseason.
“That’s something that look, when I’m in the gym and I’m sitting there saying, ‘God, I’ve got one more set to do,’ or ‘Man, I’m tired’, and I look up and that game is on one of the three TV’s in my gym and I look at that little tape that keeps rewinding and rewinding the whole time I’m in there. It gives me that little [motivation], that little edge that makes me dig down in my bones and pushes me. It does, it pushes me.”
So his failures motivate him. I can get behind that.
This year, Truck Day falls on Friday, February 12th (less than 25 days away!). The signs are all there that for the third year running I’ll be at Fenway to see the trucks off. It’s a bit of a silly tradition (and both years I’ve been it’s also a really COLD tradition) but I’m looking forward to it. Seeing the equipment being loaded up, watching Wally interact with folks, it’s all become part of how I start off the new season and I can’t wait!
(To get a feel for the ‘excitement’ of Truck Day, you can view my photos from last year at my Flickr account.)
So I’m minding my own business, sleeping actually, and I hear a notification alarm coming from the iPhone. I pick it up and see it’s from someone on Facebook. I read it and this is what I see:
just came to a mutual agreement with the New York Yankees..now I get to see what the Yankee side of the rivalry is like after witnessing the Boston side in 2009
It’s an odd way to wake up. My first thought was, “I’m pretty sure I’m not Facebook friends with Rocco Baldelli” and my second thought, when I realized the update was coming from a fan page was, “Why would the person who runs the Rocco Baldelli fan page make up such a stupid lie”?
Also, the profile photo for Rocco’s fan page has been replaced with the logo for the Yankees, and his “affiliation” and “location” have changed to “New York Yankees” and “Bronx, NY”. It looks to me like the person who started the fan page is just someone looking to rile people up. A quick Google search of Rocco’s name and you get a link to Rotoworld who links to this blog entry by Pete Caldera. Here’s the money quote:
There is some mutual interest here, according to a source, but nothing has advanced yet past that. Given his injury history, and his talent, Baldelli would fall under the High Risk/High Reward category. But his candidacy as a potential left fielder vs. lefty pitching is something to seriously consider.
So “a source” tells one guy in New Jersey (who specifically asked about Baldelli) that there is “some mutual interest” and suddenly Rocco is wearing pinstripes? I never say never, and a Baldelli and MFY marriage isn’t the craziest idea I’ve ever heard thrown around (funny that it hasn’t been touched on by anyone of interest on Twitter yet) but I’d prefer my “official” pages for information actually have the correct information and not just throw crap to the wall to get people to comment on your page.
I’m not buying Rocco to the Yanks until I hear it from a source more reputable than a guy in Jersey who floated the idea and wants credit for it or, especially, someone more credible than an anonymous person on Facebook.
Quick edit: I no sooner hit “publish” on this entry and I find this at the LoHud Yankees Blog:
There is a Facebook page attributed to Rocco Baldelli that says Baldelli “just came to a mutual agreement with the New York Yankees.”
“That would be false,” Brian Cashman said.
Such is the world of the Internet.
Cashman acknowledged that the Yankees are talking to several players – ”We’re trying to assess our legitimate choices in the sandbox we’re playing in,” he said — but the team has reached an agreement with none of them.
“Baseball is really different now — it’s been cleaned up,” McGwire said. “The commissioner and the players’ association implemented testing and they cracked down, and I’m glad they did.”
Translation: “I’m glad they did because this way no one will ever know the kind of pure bliss I had from breaking the Roger Maris’ home run record when everyone thought I was the cat’s ass.”
Until they test for HGH, until blood gets drawn to determine whether there are players using illegal, performance-enhancing drugs or supplements, well then there’s no way you can tell me that baseball has “been cleaned up”. Maybe there are less steroids (or at least less steroids that could be detected) than there were in 1998, but there’s too much other stuff players could be doing to call the game “clean”.
I wanted to greet the news of Mark McGwire admitting to steroid use with a huge yawn but I’ll admit to being a bit annoyed with it. When he had something to lose, or so he thought, in that Congressional hearing, he just kept falling back on not being there to “talk about the past”. When he could have actually tried to help MLB with this issue, he decided to keep his yap shut. Now that he saw he got less than 25% of the Hall of Fame vote this year, now that he has another job in MLB, he wants to make nice with the world so people don’t throw things at him when he visits opposing teams and the writers might actually consider voting for him, he admits to what we all knew he did. What’s the thought process there? “Well they forgive Alex Rodriguez and they don’t even like him! It’s Mark McGwire’s time to be forgiven – they want to love me again!”
I haven’t loved you for a long time, Mark. And your wildly belated admission to something everyone already knew about you doesn’t endear you to me any more.
According to an MLB Network tweet, Bob Costas will be interviewing McGwire tonight at 7 ET. I’m torn between wanting to watch it in hopes that maybe I’ll actually find some emotion for him that isn’t indifference or annoyance and just ignoring it because running to MLBN the day you make the announcement feels too planned to me. How convenient for him that he can just jump on tv and start the “Forgive Me” tour.
I don’t want him to ask my forgiveness because I don’t think it’s up to me to offer forgiveness. I can not like him and not get past what he’s admitted to doing without anyone else being bothered. I’m sure he isn’t worried about some Red Sox fan in Boston thinking he’s an arrogant jerk. Then again, I also don’t think breaking the rules, benefiting greatly from doing so, lying about it for years and then crawling back just so you can continue to benefit from breaking the rules (because 1998 was the bread and butter of his career) is any reason for anyone to welcome him back with open arms.
How welcoming would baseball fans, the media and ESPECIALLY MLB be if Mr. Barry Bonds had made this announcement today?
Had to make a last minute edit and add Curt Schilling’s comments about this:
Other than admitting it five years ago, he did it perfectly.”
See, to me, the whole not admitting it five years ago thing is kind of a big deal. He had a chance to come clean and help deal with this in MLB and hid like a frightened child. He gets no kudos from me for speaking up now.
Okay so things didn’t go exactly the way I planned they would on Saturday. I did attend the New Stars for Young Stars event at Jillian’s in the morning and then the Hot Stove Cool Music round table at Fenway Park in the afternoon. Both were fun and relatively interesting. I got to see Trot Nixon and finally thank him for his part in 2004 and seeing the young ones interacting with the fans was its own entertainment. A tremendous amount of thanks to KellyO for generously sharing both events with me!
Omar Minaya was a guest on the panel at the round table where they discussed integrating the foreign players into MLB. Omar seemed very taken with both Bronson Arroyo and Manny Delcarmen…especially Manny. He was charming and endearing and seems to genuinely care about his players. I think Jason Bay is in good hands. Well, if not good hands at least caring ones.
Manny Delcarmen won a bigger place in my heart than he already had by invoking Mike Timlin’s name first when discussing players who helped him make his way when he first made it to the bigs. Unfortunately, on Saturday my man Mike was in another part of Massachusetts at a signing, close to where I usually am but far away from where I was all day. It was a bummer to have missed him even though the day I had was fabulous.
Thanks to a last-minute tip from Elan Trotman that we then got verified by Mike O’Malley after the round table, we found out that Bronson was going to open the Hot Stove show…after debating on whether we wanted to spend the night at the concert, we decided to hit the show, watch Bronson’s set and bolt. The idea of 12 hours of bouncing from Jillian’s to Fenway to the House of Blues made me long for my bed sooner rather than later so instead of sticking it out for the entire show we literally got there early enough to be up front, watched Bronson’s set and jetted out of there.
I have to admit, although I had resigned myself to the fact that I wouldn’t see Bronson perform this year, I was more than a bit giddy at getting to see him again. I can’t help it, I immediately turn into a fan-girl when Bronson starts his singing.
Friday, February 12th is Truck Day and pitchers and catchers report on Thursday, February 18th. It’s nice to have those dates to look at in your calender, isn’t it?
Today is a funky, unique day in Boston. This morning, the Jimmy Fund is hosting their annual “New Stars for Young Stars” event at Jillian’s. Players who are scheduled to be appearing include Trot Nixon and Curt Schilling (not exactly NEW stars – but I’ll admit I’m absolutely giddy at the idea of meeting Trot Nixon and I enjoy the fact that they always throw in one or two players who AREN’T “new stars”) and for those of us wanting to meet a local, Manny Delcarmen. (I think it’s in his contract that he has to appear at any local event the Red Sox are involved in. He’s a wonderful representative for the team and always seems to be doing something for charity during the most of the off-season.)
This year’s list of “New Stars” is a pretty good mix:
# Luis Exposito — Red Sox top catching prospect
# Jeremy Hermida — Red Sox outfielder
# Casey Kelly — 2009 Red Sox Minor League Pitcher of the year
# Ryan Kalish — 2009 Red Sox Minor League Player of the Year
# Josh Reddick — Red Sox outfielder
# Ryan Westmoreland — SoxProspects.com #2 ranked prospect
It’s always fun to watch the young ones interact with the public – for most of them it seems to come quite naturally (I credit the team’s Player Development program for a lot of that) and I love that they get this first hand look at how passionate Sox fans are all the way in January.
After the Jimmy Fund event, there is a Sports Roundtable at Fenway Park that has become an annual part of the Hot Stove, Cool Music concert series. Moderated by Peter Gammons, this year the guests will be Theo Epstein, Terry Francona, Omar Minaya, Carlos Pena, and Bronson Arroyo. Attending this will accomplish two things for me: I’ve never been to one of these roundtables and am really looking forward to it (being held in Fenway makes it all the more appealing!) and I’ll get my Bronson fix for the year, even if he isn’t singing.
Tonight, the Hot Stove, Cool Music concert will be taking place at the House of Blues on Lansdowne Street. This will be the second year that I’ve missed it…which means I’ll miss Bronson Arroyo’s only concert appearance in the area this year. A bit of a bummer for me but I have friends who will be going and I know they’ll have a great time.
The entire day is pretty much dedicated to the fans having contact with players and folks from the team in a fun and casual setting – and all the money that goes to it goes to charity – so it’s hard to find fault with such great events. (And yet I do…the high prices for a lot of the events, the seemingly same list of musical acts year after year for the concert…these things I can complain about but I save it for another time!)
This day is the first day in a domino-like list of days that remind me baseball is coming back. Today gets followed by a visit to Pawtucket for their annual Hot Stove party, followed by Truck Day, followed by Pitchers and Catchers reporting…it’s all going to come at us pretty fast.
I genuinely surprised myself with my reaction upon seeing Jason Bay in a Mets uniform. It was a lot more negative than I expected. Pirates fans still are the ones wounded the most here. One of the only reasons they want to go to the park gets traded and they have to see him in a Sox uniform talking about his father putting him in a Red Sox onesie when he was a baby. I probably would have punched a wall in 2008 were I a Pirates fan (I imagine, Bay or not, there are a lot of punched walls in Pirates fandom). So I won’t pretend to be heartbroken or devastated that Bay is now a Met but it sure was weird to watch. As I’m sure the Pirate fans felt about the Sox uniform, he looked odd dress in the Mets jersey and cap. Initially, I thought the first photo I saw of him from his press conference was photoshopped. He looked so stiff and unreal in front of the CitiField backdrop. But, alas, it was real and Jason Bay is now a Met. It was hard to watch. Difficult to hear him talk about how he knew he wanted to play for the Mets. Which struck me odd since I was (and am) okay with the Red Sox not really wanting him back. Oh well. I wish him luck and think the Mets have, on paper, a really good team for 2010. Sadly, we’ve seen what the Mets do with really good teams. I hope this year is different for them.
More interesting news, to me, was the announcement that Jacoby Ellsbury will be the starting left fielder come the 2010 season. Unlike so many I know, I don’t have a problem with this. Less wear on his body = more opportunities to steal. Plus, the idea of Mike Cameron in Fenway’s left field didn’t leave me with the warm and fuzzies. If Jacoby feels slighted, and Terry Francona’s comments indicate they tried to do all they could to make sure he DIDN’T feel that way, I’m sure he’ll get over it soon enough. Could be worse, he could be Mike Lowell watching the front office build a team where they obviously don’t want to make room for him.
Adrian Beltre. Admittedly, not the Adrian most Red Sox fans were hoping for but I’m not all that disappointed with this if it happens (only writing “if” since the Sox nor Beltre have owned up to it yet even though ESPN.com already has him on the Red Sox page). The contract isn’t crazy (sorry, Mr. Boras) and his defense is amazing. Take away my fondness for Mike Lowell and my desire to see anyone who hurts him hogtied and there isn’t anything to dislike about this deal. Those who don’t like it (and we’re taking away the Mike Lowell component here) seem to be obsessing on his 8 home runs in 2009. In 2009 Beltre had shoulder surgery. I think we can give him a pass for the weak home run count for one year. The last time he had a season with under 20 home runs was 2005, when he had 19. Before that, it was 2001, and from 2006 to 2008 his home run totals were 25, 26, 25. As long as that shoulder is healthy, I’m not worrying about his home run total being low. (I only pulled out home runs because that seems to be the biggest worry of the naysayers. I’m not one who thinks your offense lives and dies with having 9 guys in the lineup who have to hit 20 home runs or better.) I guess we can’t “officially” welcome Adrian to Boston just yet – but it seems that he’s already getting a taste of what the fans will be like and he hasn’t even put the cap on yet.
MLBN with a marvelous recap of Randy Johnson’s career. I did the Big Unit and can’t wait for him to get into the HoF. http://bit.ly/7O4M0Z
Lovely typo from yours truly there, eh? Well my intentions were pure. Regardless of his mind-numbingly painful pit stop in the Bronx, Randy Johnson has always been one of my favorite pitchers. I DIG the Big Unit and all of his grumpiness and pitching splendor and for him to be out of the game feels almost wrong. Hell, though, 22 years is a long enough time for anyone to be doing what he was doing so I hope he enjoys retirement and maybe even smiles a time or two.
The 2010 Hall of Fame inductees get announced today. How great is it to not be gnawing my fingernails in anticipation of Jim Rice being disappointed again?
Just a note of warning: This entry is long and although I want it to be all-encompassing, I’m sure I’ve missed few things. But this is pretty much how I remember 2009!
2009 was a fairly eventful year for me personally in both the good and bad categories. Sadly more bad than good which is probably why I initially avoided writing any kind of recap for the blog. But while I was writing my recap of the Red Sox decade (and I’ll have that up as soon as I finish it!) I realized I should probably write something about the final year of the decade as well. So here goes.
January: I started blogging at WEEI.com. Looking back on my entries for this month, I’m genuinely surprised I found so much to write about (it didn’t stop new readers from complaining that I was writing “drivel” though. Should have been a sign!). Personal highlights in January: The ongoing Jason Varitek saga, the signing of Rocco Baldelli, Kyle Snyder getting picked up by the Mets, the beginning of the MLB Network and Jim Rice finally gets voted into the Hall of Fame!
February: Bombshell of bombshells for MLB. Selena Roberts exposes Alex Rodriguez as a steroid user. The MLB Network cuts its teeth on this one and, unlike Peter Gammons and ESPN, doesn’t disappoint with their coverage. Unafraid of losing access to the players (again, unlike Peter Gammons or ESPN), they go full throttle on this story and introduce us to their newest addition to the network: Bob Costas. I wrote a lot about MLBN in 2009 and a bit about Sl*ppy. I would have written much less about the two, most likely, had this story not broken. Personal highlights in February: The Caribbean World Series on MLBN (I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed it!), Truck Day, pitchers and catchers reporting and Joe Torre’s book about the Yankees.
Chapter 10: The End of the Curse. When asked by Regis Philbin the other day what happened to the Yankees over the past 7 years, Joe responded “The Red Sox happened”. That will go down as possibly my favorite Red Sox/Yankee-related quote ever.
March: I spent a lot of March writing ‘rants’ and pointing folks toward baseball-related Twitter accounts. Must have been resting up for April! Personal highlight in March: The WBC. I spent a lot of time ranting about players getting hurt and how I didn’t care who won only to be totally sucked into it by the end.
April: The beginning of the season! Lots of liveblogging and picking up more WEEI readers (with mixed results!). Personal highlights in April: Going to both Sox/Mets exhibition games at CitiField, attending Opening Day at Fenway and high-fiving JD Drew and Hideki Okajima during their introductions, being at Fenway for the walk-off win against the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury stealing home on Andy Pettitte, Tim Wakefield taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning (thus setting the table for his All Star selection), watching Jonathan Van Every pitch while Javier Lopez floundered in right field then eventually getting DFA’d (watched on television, not in person), the Patriots Day game where Luke Scott got all pissy and some idiot fan threw a ball onto the field and “Toeing the Rubber” getting nominated for a New England Sports Blog Award in the category “Best Red Sox Blog”. Relatively speaking, a great month except for one thing that really hit the baseball world hard and made the month miserable: the death of Nick Adenhart.
But I don’t cry because of any personal connection I have to Nick. I don’t cry because a future baseball star is dead. I cry because parents lost a son today. Many people lost a friend. And the world lost someone who could have potentially been great. Not just at baseball but at life. No drunken ass has the right to take that away from us. This doesn’t “put things into perspective” for me. I hate when people say that. I’m forty years old for God’s sake, I’ve seen enough death and tragedy in my life to have proper perspective, thank you. I don’t watch baseball and think that what goes on down on that field is life or death and more important than anything else in my life. I’d argue that most sports fans, even if they act like they have no perspective, have exactly that. Baseball is an outlet to forget about the realities of life for a few hours.
May: Getting to see Daniel Bard’s first Major League appearance (after having seen him pitch in Pawtucket) was very special. Finding out that Jerry Remy was recovering from cancer was sad and a little frightening. Personal highlights in May: Seeing Kyle Snyder with the Bisons at Pawtucket, Javier Lopez signing Steve the Ferret’s “Lopez” jersey (also at Pawtucket), Aubrey Huff fistpumping to Joba Chamberlain, appearing on “The Baseball Show” on Comcast SportsNet, crying (literally crying) over Big Papi’s first home run of the season, getting to meet metsgrrl and “paloozaing” with a huge group of people I love during the Mets/Sox series at Fenway.
Yesterday was an amazing day spent with friends (most of whom I haven’t seen in quite a while or hadn’t met yet!). There are many amazing tales to tell (but not here!) – my favorite being when our friend Susan noted that we could start singing “O Canada” except no one knows the words past “O Canada!”. Standing up and singing loudly and proudly, a group of us proved her wrong. That our serenade didn’t get us thrown out still kind of surprises me.
June: This month brought us the end of interleague play, the end of Jonathan Van Every’s season (thanks to knee surgery), Tim Wakefield hitting ten victories with his torn labrum, John Smoltz making us all wonder why we were so excited to have him on the team while Dusty Brown makes his major league debut. Personal highlights for June: Derek Lowe returning to Fenway with the Braves, Nick Green’s walkoff against those same Braves, sitting in Fenway during a mind-numbing rain delayed game that turned into a loss for the Sox (okay, that one is a lowlight, really) and the Sox capping off 7 wins in a row against the Yankees with an eighth.