Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Where I explain why I write about Kyle Snyder…again.

A Kyle photo I haven't used in a while (taken by Rob Bradford in Japan and used without permission).  Yes, here's my semi-annual entry about why I write about Kyle Snyder!

A Kyle photo I haven't used in a while (taken by Rob Bradford in Japan and used without permission). Yes, here's my semi-annual entry about why I write about Kyle Snyder!

I’ve had a bad day.  Nothing earth shattering just a typical bad day and getting cranky emails from folks only exacerbated my mood.  So, be warned my friends, this is a long one.  (And this is officially the first entry that doesn’t contain a song lyric in the title since January 2009! )

Sometimes writing comes so naturally for me that I just start typing and don’t stop for hours.  Sometimes it’s a task that I find many ways to avoid.  I mention this as an explanation to why I haven’t fallen into a rhythm this season with the blogging.  I’m working on doing it every day (and I’ve succeeded for the most part) now I just have to focus on a better schedule.

The above is in response to a message I received about a hour ago from someone, essentially, yelling at me for not posting this morning.  When I first started blogging in 2005 it didn’t occur to me that I should blog every day and that people would be paying attention.  Then I got an email from a White Sox fan reprimanding me for starting a blog but not keeping it updated.  That put me on the path to try and post every day.  Working at WEEI.com was a good motivation for blogging all the time too (it’s amazing how focused you can become when someone pays you!).

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April 30, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | | 5 Comments

He thought it was an ivory boat

So do we think Lackey will throw 115+ pitches tomorrow night?  (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

So do we think Lackey will throw 115+ pitches tomorrow night? (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

Well this feels quite good.

The last time the Red Sox went into a day off coming off of a win?  The day after Opening Day – 24 days ago.  To be fair, the Sox have only had four off-days this month, but still…nice to have a day with no Red Sox baseball where I don’t have to read about how horrible the Sox are and what fools Red Sox fans are for supporting them.  It’s a well-earned day off for the team, especially the pitchers.

I’m not pretending it’s all sunshine and lollipops for the Red Sox but there are definitely all kinds of good signs.   Of course, I’d rather our starting rotation didn’t have to begin the year all throwing well over 100 pitches just so we can stay away from the bullpen (I have visions of the entire rotation going on the DL with “tired arm” in July) but right now beggars can’t be choosers.

The Sox head into Baltimore for a weekend series against the Orioles.  The O’s play the rubber game against the Yankees tonight and have a chance to win the series and go into the Sox series with some momentum.  I certainly want the Yankees to lose and, as long as it isn’t against the Red Sox, I almost always want the Orioles to win…I just don’t want them TOO confident for their weekend facing John Lackey, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Josh Beckett.

On a more serious note, it was 3 years ago today that Josh Hancock died in a car accident.  I was sitting in Professor Thom’s in New York on a Sunday morning waiting to watch the Yanks/Sox game with New York-based Sox fans when NESN announced his death.  It put a surreal cap on what was a surreal weekend (which included my meeting Kyle Snyder for the first time) and it makes me  think about how MLB encourages drinking with all their beer and alcohol ads (not only in the park but on their broadcasts) and then wonders why their players sometimes think nothing of using the substances that MLB forbids.  Not making any kind of judgment on drinking being better or worse than drugs but when I think about how alcohol is, essentially, embraced by MLB even after something like Hancock’s death, I remember that the bottom line will always be more important to MLB than the actual humans who make MLB all of its money and it pisses me off.  I’m not asking for prohibition but I’d like MLB to be a bit more responsible.  In a perfect world, we wouldn’t be staring at gigantic Budweiser signs every time we walk into a ballpark.

Four afternoon games around Major League Baseball today so if you’re looking for a fix you can find it somewhere out there!

April 29, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | Leave a comment

Put the plow in the ground until the daylight's gone

I'd say Clay accomplished his mission last night.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

I'd say Clay accomplished his mission last night. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

The last five games the Red Sox have participated in have been won by one run.  The last SIX wins the Red Sox have behind them have bee won by one run.  (Baltimore messed things up by beating the Sox by one run on Sunday.)  I’m not sure how much more anxiety my body can take this month.  Good thing it’s almost over.

What do you say about Buchholz short of the kid knew he had to pitch well and actually DID?  I’m not surprised HE pitched well.  His last appearance was pretty damn impressive too.  It’s just a little surprising to finally see a starting pitcher this season step up so hugely when the team really needs him to.  It was suggested on Twitter last night that the team should tell Clay that Bard, Okajima and Papelbon are unavailable to pitch before every appearance – maybe that’s not such a crazy idea?  He took the pressure of knowing the team really needed a good (and preferably long) outing from him and responded with giving up seven  hits in eight innings along with two walks and four strikeouts.  He ended his outing with a career-high 117 pitches (which, admittedly, worried me in the moment) and of those pitches, 80 of them were strikes.  His performance last night defines “stepping it up”.  I only expect more of this from Clay.

Before the start of last night’s game, JD Drew was batting .286 over the last five games.  Last night he went 0-2 with two walks and a strikeout.  I’m sufficiently convinced that this means he’s working his way out of his April of suck.  I hope the rest of the team keeps up.  I think they will.  Just felt the need to give JD a shout out since he’s been taking a lot of grief online lately!

Also, I need to give Ramon Ramirez a mention.  I certainly did not feel comfortable watching him enter that game in the ninth and he gave me and many others the finger by pitching an 11-pitch, 1-2-3 ninth.  Didn’t anticipate that at all.  My apologies Ramon!

Tonight we get Jon Lester going up against Brett Cecil.  If there is any player on the Sox that I really feel needs to get off their ass and out of this funk, it’s the mad bobcat killer.  His last outing was relatively encouraging…let’s hope we get more of that tonight.

Special thanks to everyone who dropped by for the chat tonight.  You folks always make the chats enjoyable and I appreciate it!

April 28, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | 1 Comment

No matter how I try, try to kill the time

Join us at 7 o’clock tonight!  Don’t suffer through another painful win alone!  🙂

Live Chat 2 – Electric Boogaloo

April 27, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , | 2 Comments

You know we're far from sober

One of the few bright spots on the team so far!  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net ad used with permission.

One of the few bright spots on the team so far! Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net ad used with permission.

I had work to be done last night and I watched the game with the sound off so I wouldn’t be distracted.  Every so often I would look up from the laptop and see someone running around the bases and think “it’s going to be a long game”.  I had no idea.

One of my favorite tweets of the night came from Joe Giza at WBZ:

All I know is the Yankees must be pretty ticked that the Red Sox would play a game at this slow a pace without them.

And that was, pretty much, the only amusing thing about last night.

(Let me digress for a moment…I noticed on the NESN website that there is an interview with Jonathan Van Every – welcome back, JVE! – conducted by Heidi Watney.  Is she back?  Am I so oblivious to her now that I didn’t notice her during the games on Sunday or last night?  To be fair, I only watched some of the game on Sunday and last night’s without sound, but still, I didn’t think I disliked her so much that I would erase her from my mind any time she showed up on tv.  I’m glad she isn’t injured any more but I certainly didn’t miss her.)

Anyway.  All of Red Sox Nation is ready to start the novenas for Josh Beckett but one Tony Lee over at NESN has some good(?) news for us:

If Beckett is searching for some sort of excuse, he could point to the issues he has had throughout his career at Rogers Centre, where his ERA after six starts now stands at 9.28. But even a casual observer could see that what Beckett was throwing Monday would not translate to success in his own backyard.

If he is looking for a pick-me-up, he could look to last April. The right-hander gave up 23 earned runs in 28 2/3 innings in April 2009, but was 15-4 with a 3.33 ERA thereafter. Eerily, he finished this April giving up 23 earned runs in 28 2/3 innings.

Everything that could go wrong this season, so far, has. Okay, not everything, it still could be worse.  I’d rather not think about how much worse the already ugly season could be right now.  But things are pretty damn bad.  Still, winning three out of these last four games, no matter how ugly they all were, has to be moderately encouraging.  The Red Sox are 5.5 games out of first place on April 27th.  That doesn’t sound as bad as I expected it to.

I’m not sure if I want to find out that there is something physically wrong with Beckett, so they can fix it, or if I’d prefer it’s just some whacked issue he and his pal Lester have about pitching in April.  What I really want, though, is to watch a Red Sox game where they get the lead, keep the lead, and the starting pitcher doesn’t get beaten up.  I’d like a few of these in a row, thanks.

Extremely jealous of Mets fans today!  They get a real doubleheader starting at 4:10pm because their game against the Dodgers got rained out last night.  I’d love to go to single admission doubleheader at Fenway Park.  I’ve been to one where they had to herd everyone out, clean up the park and the herd the new crowd in…it’s fun but I think a true doubleheader would be even more fun.

Tonight Clay is on the mound against Shaun Marcum.  There has to come a point when the starting pitchers (for the Sox!) all get their acts together, right?  We’ll find out together!  Tonight is the second Toeing the Rubber Live Chat of the season.  Hope to see yo there!  (So far we’re 1 for 1!)

April 27, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Each time that I hear them a tear's bound to fall

Kelly O'Connor took this photo Thursday night.  Who knows if it's just two friends/teammates acting chummy or it holds deeper meaning.  In any event, it's a beautiful shot and I'm appreciative to have been there to see it in person - and that Kelly @ sittingstill.net shared it with us!

Kelly O'Connor took this photo Thursday night. Who knows if it's just two friends/teammates acting chummy or it holds deeper meaning? In any event, it's a beautiful shot and I'm appreciative to have been there to see it in person. Special thanks to Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net for allowing me to post it.

(Note from Cyn:  The idea for my original post was to get into the backgrounds of the players left in MLB born in the 1960s – the same decade I was born – but after I got writing, it morphed into something slightly different and very long and maybe rambly since it took a while to write.  Now that it’s finished, I figured I should just warn folks ahead of time!)

Baseball is not supposed to make me feel old…but sometimes it does.

When I was much younger, my parents would go on “dates” to Fenway Park and, since my sister and I weren’t invited, they would bring us back mementos.  Sometimes it was something as simple as popcorn but there were times when it was something really cool, like the yearbook for that season.  My sister and I would pour through the yearbook, finding out things like when and where our favorite players were born and whether they were married and had children or not.  I remember being devastated that Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans were SO much older than me.  To an 8 year-old girl, 24 and 25 years old is ancient and it always bothered me that I’d be too young “to date a baseball player”.

Years went by and I started paying more attention to the team winning and losing than remembering when the players were born and if they were married or not.  All that mattered were that the guys were young and able to give it there all on the field.

Then more years went by…

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April 26, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 1 Comment

Keep the curtain drawn and the record on

Getting to see Embree pitch for the Sox again made the trip totally worthwhile! (Photo taken by me yesterday)

Getting to see Embree pitch for the Sox again made the trip totally worthwhile! (Photo taken by me yesterday)

It’s always more fun to watch a win than a loss but we weren’t afforded that luxury at Pawtucket yesterday.  Still, the game was fun, the weather was nice and we got to see some good pitching (Randor Bierd pitched much better than the final score indicates and R.A. Dickey, for the Bisons, was pretty damned impressive and seeing Alan Embree take the mound was exciting – especially since he pitched so well).  It was a great day for a baseball fan who loves pitching – just wish it ended better for the PawSox.

The Red Sox proper are wearing me out.  I’m thrilled for the winning but wish it came with a little less drama.   How many of you turn the channel or (like me) at least hit the volume when Papelbon comes in?   For someone so dynamic he’s almost unwatchable for me right now.  The two three-run homers in the 7th, though?  I could take more of that, thanks!

No matter, I guess.  Sox have two wins against the Baltimore and are going for the sweep as I write this.  The upcoming week sends the Sox to Toronto and then Baltimore…how about a winning streak, fellas?

April 25, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | Leave a comment

The inner garden, it seems so frail

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

Last night the Sox won and the Rays and the Yankees lost.  I only point out the latter because it means the Sox gained a game on both of those teams (the Rays lost to the Jays so they gained nothing on Toronto but the Sox beat the Orioles so they pushed Baltimore another game down into the cellar).

I mention all of this because, contrary to some of what I’ve been reading today, folks should know that WINNING IS GOOD.

Yes, the bullpen wasn’t as stellar as it has been lately and the ninth inning was excruciatingly painful to watch.  Regardless of the ugly, the bottom line is that the team won the damn game (and, again, also that they gained ground on two of the three teams ahead of them in the division).  The “They’re never going to dig themselves out of this hole” argument is being put to the test.  Sure it’s only one game, one night, but it’s a start.  Is it so difficult to just be pleased that, in spite of some setbacks the team won the game?

I don’t care if it was against the Orioles, Big Papi got his first home run last night (a month earlier than he did last year) and Bill Hall made an amazing play from the outfield, throwing out Nick Markakis at second in the ninth.  Hell, Jon Lester actually picked off a runner!  True, he left the game with the bases loaded and pitched a hissy fit to end all hissy fits in the dugout when he was taken out of the game (bobcats everywhere were pointing and laughing), but he still didn’t pitch as crappy as he has been.  That’s progress.

I will take this progress, even in its not so pretty form, over a loss any day.  Call me kooky.

Also, I’m rejecting the “Who cares if they win it’s a bad team they’re playing” argument as well.  They’re supposed to beat bad teams.  They struggled to beat Texas and still lost one of those games.  Beating bad teams is what will help them out of their hole, just like beating good teams will.  Small steps, people, small steps.

John Lackey will be pitching tonight at 7:10 ET but before that I’ll be in Pawtucket for the first time this year to see the PawSox play the Buffalo Bisons.  Is it bad form to wear my Kyle Snyder Mets jersey while cheering for the PawSox?  Because I’m pretty sure that’s what will be happening today.

April 24, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , | 3 Comments

Deliver me from this performance art

Accentuate the positive - Clay pitched well even if they didn't win!  (Photo taken by me last night.)

Clay pitched well even if they didn't win! (Photo taken by me last night.)

If regular readers of my blog have learned anything about me it’s that I tend to get attached to certain players, regardless of their performances, and sometimes put my hopes for them above the outcome of individual games.  Many was the night when my heart would ache watching Mike Timlin blow a lead or give up a crucial run – not just because of the loss but because of the pain I assumed Timlin was going through.   I don’t think I slept the night that the Red Sox dfa’d Kyle Snyder just thinking about how devastating that must have been for him.  (I know I get too emotionally involved – it’s just who I am.) The snarky jerks I’ve been in contact with here would make jokes about my “crushes” on these guys (and maybe they are crushes of a sort but not the kind some idiots think.  If you invest enough time into a hobby that involves living beings and DON’T take some kind of personal interest in their well-being, then I’m not understanding what the attraction is.  I know that some folks can watch the games and not care about the people playing them – I’m not like that.   I don’t want to marry any of these guys…I just genuinely want them to do well, to succeed – some more than others) but caring about the people playing the game I love is part of the enjoyment of the game for me.  I’m not going to apologize for that.

So leaving the game last night had an odd feel to it.  I wanted that win for Clay.  I mean, I wanted it for the team too but Clay really gets beaten up in the press and by the fans and last night he pitched his ass off.  Last night was the first night in a very long time when I left the park thinking about how I felt like Tito did a player (in this case, Clay) wrong.   So I wasn’t mad about the loss (I rarely get “mad” over the team losing a game) but I was a little mad the Clay was left hanging out there.  This is one of the reasons I waited so long today before writing.  I needed a little break away from the frustrations of last night.

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April 23, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 2 Comments

We all see what is going on around us

Last night it was Youk's turn to get beat about the head.  WTG, Youk!  (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

Last night it was Youk's turn to get beat about the head. WTG, Youk! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission)

Happiness, these days, is two wins in a row. Their being walk-offs is a nice touch that helps stir up all the warm and fuzzy feelings we’ve come to associate with this team.

Here’s the thing, though…I vote for no walk-off tonight.  I vote for an old-fashioned beat down of the Rangers so intense that we know in the second inning that when we leave Fenway we’ll be hearing “Dirty Water”.   Is that too much to ask?

I don’t want Clay Buchholz to struggle,  I want him to dominate.  I still want the bullpen to perform scorelessly…but maybe we only need to use them an inning or two, eh?

Darnell McDonald hitting another home run?  Okay, I’m good with that.  (Damn, what kind of week is this guy having, huh?  HE’S going to be expecting a walk-off win EVERY night!)  I could stand a few more JD Drew grand slams while we’re at it.

I’m conflicted watching this whole Papi/Lowell thing going down.  (Condensed version:  Lowell pinched-hit for Papi on Monday, started as DH last night and will be the DH again tonight.)  On one hand, watching Papi go through this is rough and I would never have wished it upon him.  On the other hand, tough decisions had to be made and the fact that Tito made them should prove to some folks that he, indeed, DOES know what he’s doing and has better talents at handling these sorts of things than any of us do.  Tito isn’t going to react to things going on with the team based on the media hounding him or the fans booing.  Some day folks will get that the guy has his job because he knows what he’s doing.

The live chat last night was a lot of fun – thanks so much to everyone who dropped by.  As it stands, the next one is scheduled for next Tuesday when the Sox are in Toronto – so mark your calendars!

I’m at Fenway tonight to see CJ Wilson try to best Clay.  It’s slow going but things are already giving for the Sox.  No reason to believe they won’t keep going that way.

April 22, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment