Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

It's been five years

The first photo I ever posted on my blog.  I stole it from Yankees.com five years ago.

The first photo I ever posted on my blog. I stole it from Yankees.com that first day.

Five years ago, July 30th was a Saturday.  That afternoon, I was alone, watching the Yankees play the Angels on Fox and reading the Red Sox Fan Forum at redsox.com when I came upon a message about the new blogging site “MLBlogs” that MLB.com had started.  I checked it out and decided that my annoyance at seeing Alan Embree in pinstripes was enough to get me motivated to write…so I did.

The entries were scattered at first.  I kept  up a steady pace for a while, mostly fueled by my Yankee hate (the tagline for the Red Sox Chick blog was “Because life is too short to be a Yankees Chick”) and then I posted randomly.  Short blurbs here and there.  More about my personal life than I do now.  I had no plan.  I was writing for me and my enjoyment and folks started picking up on it and reading it…and here we are.

Five years ago, the Red Sox were in first place on July 30th with the Yankees 2.5 games behind them and the (then Devil) Rays 20 games out of first place.  Baseball life was, to say the least, very different.  It was the season of love, where the world loved the Red Sox for beating the Yankees and going on to with their first World Series in 86 years the October before, and it was a season full of anxiety (WOULD Manny be traded) and ending with disappointment yet it convinced me that I truly enjoyed blogging and wanted to continue on with it.

So here I am, another Red Sox World Championship has happened in my lifetime and I continue to blog about them.  I changed the name of the blog, after much hand-wringing about doing so (never regretted it, though.  I loved the “Red Sox Chick” name and domain but it was definitely time to move on) and settled in happily with “Toeing the Rubber”.

There have been bumps in the road.  MLBlogs started off to be a place I loved but slowly turned into a place I felt like I had to act a certain way or I’d be getting accused of not being part of the “community”.  And WEEI.com seemed like a wonderful opportunity that turned into exactly what I expected before I got there.  But I learned a lot from those bumps and am really happy with where I am right now.

I genuinely appreciate all the the support I’ve received over the years from everyone.  There have been ball players, photographers, sports writers and, most importantly, all of you who visit the site just to read me ramble or rant about the Red Sox and baseball, who truly help make spending the time in front of the keyboard worthwhile.  I hope you all enjoy the blog at least as half as much as I do.

Today is my least favorite day in the baseball season…the trade deadline.  I had plans for today.  I had wonderful, happy plans that included friends and alcohol that I had to cancel.  This means I’ll be around.  Around the Internet and the television and I’ll be privy to all the rumors that we’ll be bombarded with until the deadline this afternoon (it also means instead of watching the game in a noisy bar that mutes the sounds of the Fox broadcasters I might have to hit the mute button myself and go with Joe Castiglione).

This has been a, thankfully, quiet trade deadline week and the local sports media has done their best to prepare us to expect nothing.  I can’t shake this nagging suspicion, though, that they’re being played.  I can’t help remember that not one of them had a clue Theo was interested in picking up John Lackey.  Maybe it’s a new era of radio silence from the team when it comes to transactions?  That would be nice.  I’m torn between wanting something huge to happen and wanting nothing at all to go on.  So, yeah, I’m in a bit of a pickle.

Five years ago we were still basking in the World Series win and worried that Manny would be traded.   This game, it’s a strange one.

Thanks again to all of you for making it worth logging on every day!  Here’s to five more years and a few more Championships!

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July 31, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , | 3 Comments

Shut up, Johnny (Redux)

Wrote this post on February 8, 2006 when Johnny’s ad to the Red Sox fans came out.  It is STILL the most viewed entry I’ve ever written on either the Red Sox Chick or Toeing the Rubber blogs.  The entry’s title?  “Just SHUT UP JOHNNY!!!”   Which, pretty much, says it all (and still applies).

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Shut up!  SHUT UP!  God, please, just SHUT HIM UP!!!

How can we miss you if you won’t go AWAY?????

If this ad was ANYWHERE NEAR sincere, it would have been in the Boston Globe on December 22, 2005, not February 8, 2006.

Johnny seems to be pulling out all the stops to ensure that the Red Sox fans don’t boo him when he comes back to town.  And, by all accounts, it seems to be backfiring.  Every time this guy opens his mouth a member of Red Sox Nation sets another number 18 jersey on fire.  WHY DOESN’T HE GET IT?

He’s a Yankee now.  If he still wanted Red Sox fans to like him, he should have 1) signed with the freaking Red Sox or 2) signed with ANY OTHER TEAM IN MLB!

This isn’t rocket science, John.

So, please, I’m begging you.  Shut the he11 up.  For your own dignity, my sanity and the poor children of the world.  Just SHUT UP JOHNNY!

July 30, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , | Leave a comment

Looking for Boos

This man is off the DL and will be back at Fenway this weekend.  If anyone deserves the ovation it's him.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

This man is off the DL and will be back at Fenway this weekend. If anyone deserves the ovation it's him. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Ian Browne and Peter Abraham both think that Red Sox fans “owe” Johnny Damon a standing ovation this weekend.  I won’t link to their articles, you can find them easily enough, and they are both absolutely ridiculous.

Earlier this year I looked up some quotes because Nick Cafardo wrote a piece trying to guilt fans into loving Johnny again.  I think now is a great time to remind folks that Johnny doesn’t deserve a standing ovation.

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From March 2010:

For your amusement today, check out Nick Cafardo’s article about Johnny Damon. You know how I loathe to link to most of the writers over there but I really did get a few chuckles out of Cafardo’s story. Now, I don’t “hate” Damon. I think he followed the money and then pretended that he went to New York because Boston didn’t want him enough. THEN he spent his years in New York talking about how he was with the team he always wanted to be with and winning a championship with them is what he always wanted to do. Now that they have no use for him and he’s digging in with the Tigers, he tells Nick Cafardo that leaving Boston was more difficult than leaving New York and that he hopes there are no hard feelings with Red Sox fans.

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July 29, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 9 Comments

Picture it…April, 2007…

Still holding out hope that Kyle takes the mound again.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Holding out hope that Kyle takes the mound again. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Wrote this just after Kelly O’Connor and I met Kyle Snyder in New York (after a particularly lousy Sox/Yanks game that Kyle got into and pitched well which happened to be the same weekend Josh Hancock died).  It’s one of those entries where I bare my soul and probably write more emotionally than bloggers who want to be successful and mainstream do, but I don’t care because it’s also one of my favorite entries.

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As I mentioned, I met Kyle Snyder Saturday night. Normally being shy in situations like that, I wasn’t going to approach him. He looked like he was trying to blend into the wall and there were screeching groupies trying to make their move. Kelly and I were ready to leave when I decided to just approach him. He had pitched in Yankee Stadium that day (in the only loss the Sox have to the Yankees thus far), giving up one hit (to Derek Jeter) and a strike out (Johnny Damon swinging) in the 8th inning and I wanted to tell him what a good job he did.

I bring this up for a couple of reasons. One, because it was a really nice moment. I got to tell Kyle what a good job he did and how we enjoy watching him pitch (He was very sweet and soft-spoken. Thanking me multiple times before we shook hands -our left hands- and Kelly and I left). Also, reading Will Leitch’s poignant tribute to Josh Hancock on Deadspin got me thinking about it as did CHB’s berating of Boston/New England fans (yet again) for being accepting of the Randy Moss trade.

Being a fan (Especially a Red Sox fan) comes with some baggage. Other fans get you, writers mock you and people not interested in sports just don’t understand. But the only people whose opinion matters to most fans are the players.

Leitch writes about his parents and how they had a ‘moment’ with Hancock that seemingly affected him. He remembered their kindness and acknowledged it. Saturday night, Kelly noted that Kyle Snyder looked ‘relieved’ to have me approach him and talk about baseball as opposed to what the groupies (who didn’t even know who he was and were mapping out game plans on how to approach him, depending on whether or not he had a ring on his left finger. Oh how I wish told them, when they asked me, that his name was Bronson Arroyo instead of telling them the truth. Sorry for that, Kyle.) were doing.

Fans have an ego. We tend to think that the players play for us and when they do well, it’s in our name. To be fair, the 2004 team reinforced this belief with what they said, so our egos can’t be blamed for that solely. I don’t know what made me talk to Kyle or why I said the specific things I said instead of something geeky like “you’re so great!” or the opening line one of the groupies used (“you’re my friend’s favorite player!”), but his reaction to me made me very happy that I did. Maybe he was feeling down because the team lost? Maybe he’s very shy (he certainly seemed to be) and wanted to be anywhere but in a loud, crowded bar, making a public appearance the night after a disappointing loss, being accosted by drunken chicks pretending to know who he is? Maybe one person coming over and telling him he had no reason to hang his head; that he did a good job, maybe that actually mattered to him?

Even if it didn’t, was it so difficult to say? Did it pain me to take a moment out of my evening to thank him for entertaining me? Bringing in ego again, for me it was pretty much the highlight of the day (save the Yankees fan who yelled “1918″ in the subway, prompting his Yankee fan friend to yell, “Dude, WHAT did you say??”). I felt like I made a difference in Kyle’s evening. Even if I didn’t, I felt like I did.

If something, God forbid, happened to Kyle Saturday night, it would have happened with him knowing that at least one stranger cared enough to let him know how well he did. What’s wrong with that?

Dan Shaughnessy would have us not care about the players. He tells us that we’re too passionate about the game (“It’s only baseball” is one of his popular refrains when fans dare write him to criticize him), but now he tells us that if we act rationally (giving Randy Moss a chance given the Patriots and their success with the likes of Rodney Harrison and Corey Dillon) that we’re just blind followers. Give it up, Dan. We know that you’ll use any excuse to bash us and we don’t care.

As fans, what we care about is the team…and we think they care about us. It makes the game that much more fun to watch.

And if it isn’t true? If the players act a part just to keep the fandom going? So what? We give out love and support and try to cultivate good feelings – and there’s never anything wrong with that.

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

Another Flashback – October 2008

Classic Pedro/Nomar photo by Kuni Takahashi

Classic Pedro/Nomar photo by Kuni Takahashi

So I wrote this as one of the two pieces I needed to write for the WEEI blogger contest (I was looking for the original piece I wrote that got me into the contest and can’t find it. It’s floating around here somewhere!).  My final entry had photos for each item but I’m not posting them this time.  I enjoy these kinds of entries and need to get back to writing more of them!  (And, once again, a long entry awaits you.  It seems MY personal favorite entries are usually of the long-winded kind!)

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An off night is a great time to reflect on the sports moments of the past. So, because I’m nothing if not specific, I give you five favorite moments and five least favorite moments in New England sports history and how they affected me. Moments that I was alive (and old enough) to witness (not necessarily in person). What this means is no Fisk’s home run (which I was alive for but, alas, have no memory of), no Impossible Dream team of 1967 (predates me), no Ted Williams. You get the point.

Also, I’m purposely leaving out the 2004 and 2007 post-seasons of the Red Sox. Because, truly, I could write a book about them both and we really don’t have that kind of space right now.

Let’s start with the good and countdown since that’s so darned popular these days:

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July 28, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Confession

Photo taken by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Photo taken by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

I like Matt Garza.

I can’t help it.  Yeah, he spits a lot.  What baseball player doesn’t?  Sure he pitches for a team that folks like to pretend is the new “enemy” of the Red Sox (They aren’t.  They’re a good team and they have some interesting history with the Sox but unless someone blows up Yankee Stadium and sells off the Yankees, the Rays will never really be “the enemy” in my eyes).  But I’ve never held that “hatred” so many Red Sox fans seem to have for him.  I also dig how important his family is to him.  I like him.  There, I said it.

If the worst things you can say about Garza are that he spits too much and he beat the Red Sox in the 2008 ALCS (going on to become the series MVP) – I think he’s doing all right.  So when I got to see him throwing his no-hitter last night, I was genuinely happy for him.  There are only two times I don’t want to see a no-hitter get thrown:  If it’s happening against the Red Sox (and even then, I make exceptions.  When John Lackey took one into the 9th inning at Fenway Park, I was there and wanted him to get it – mind you, from innings 1-8 I didn’t, but getting all the way to the 9th I thought he had earned it) and if it’s being thrown by a Yankees pitcher (this doesn’t apply to former Yankees…I’d love to see Carl Pavano throw one this year!).  Aside from those two situations, I thoroughly enjoy a great pitching performance.  So congratulations to Matt Garza for throwing the first no-hitter in Tampa Bay history against the Detroit Tigers last night.  Division race aside, it was a fun way to spend a Monday evening.

July 27, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 5 Comments

A Flashback Entry

I took this in 2009

I took this in 2009

Written on July 18, 2009…probably the last entry I wrote while I was at WEEI.com that I really poured my heart into.  Another of my many “rants” that runs a bit long!

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(Preemptive warning here: I’m still with fever but the Erin Andrews story pissed me off enough to get me up to write. My apologies if some of this comes across as rambling.)

I’ve made no secret of my feelings toward Heidi Watney. I think she does a poor job. I’ve heard grade-schoolers ask better questions. But she’s beautiful and that’s all that really matters in the business she’s in, so I have to suffer through her if I want to watch a Red Sox game on NESN.

Regardless of how I feel about her professionally, it bothers me to go to various Red Sox blogs and read about her looks and nothing about her talent. I’ve yet to read anyone genuinely critique what kind of job she does, it’s always about how gorgeous she is.

She doesn’t help her cause much (well, I suppose it isn’t her cause is it?) by wearing spiked shoes and thigh-high boots with mini-skirts when she’s on the field. I actually watched her wobble across the infield one day during batting practice, waiting for her to fall on her ass because that certainly looked like she was going that way in the high-heeled boots. Every time I wonder why sports bloggers don’t take her seriously and only focus on her looks, I remember that day and figure it’s what she wants. She gets the paycheck and the notoriety…why would she care if people think she can do her job or not?

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

Don't talk to strangers

He IS terribly pretty but I still hope he gives up six runs in the first.

He IS terribly pretty but I still hope he gives up six runs in the first.

I figured as a way to jumpstart my brain as well as celebrate my five years blogging I’d spend this week posting entries from 2005-2009.  My original plan was to go back each year and re-post the entry from this day in that year.  Apparently, though, this is the time of year when I get my writer’s block because last year on this date my post was nothing more than a picture of Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson  and underneath it I wrote:  “Congratulations, Jim Ed (hell and Rickey too!)…long overdue!”.

Hoo-boy, that’s good writing there, folks.

So I changed my mind and decided to celebrate the anniversary by posting my favorite entries from over the years.  Starting today and going through the end of the week, it’ll be flashback week at Toeing the Rubber.  This allows me to be both nostalgic and lazy!!!  It will also give newer folks a taste of what’s kept this blog going and my long-time readers will remember what drew them to me in the first place.  🙂

Disappointing last couple of days in Seattle but all I’ll say is this:  If Hideki Okajima doesn’t want to give the Boston sports media an opportunity to pile on with the “why did you stink” questions right after a game in which he did, in fact, stink, I’m really quite all right with that.  I understand why they want to ask but I also understand why he doesn’t want to deal with them.  As an annoying man once said, “The negativity in this town sucks”.  Find a real story and stop trying to create drama, people who get paid to write.

Clay Buchholz against old friend Joel Pineiro (or as Kyle Snyder dubbed him, “The Sexiest Man” in the 2007 Red Sox bullpen and a “Good-looking cat”) at 10:05pm ET.  Let’s hope Clay makes staying up for the game well worth it!

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

Three out of four won't be bad

Jon Lester pitched wonderfully save for a couple of mistakes that the Mariners took advantage of.  Then again, the Mariners pitching was pretty damn effective as well.  I found the home run ball Crabby gave up to be the most disappointing event of the game.  Sure, Eric Patterson made an error on what seemed to be a routine play to end Lester’s perfect game run but instead of hunkering down and just pitching through it, he tossed up the meatball that gave the Mariners the lead.  No excuses for Patterson but there should be none for Lester either.  He let his emotions get the best of him and it showed.  He eventually settled down before giving up that triple to Milton Bradley, but I’m disappointed that he couldn’t collect himself in time to just get out of that inning without the M’s scoring.

While I’m all about winning each series (and they have the opportunity to do just that and avoid a split today at 4:10pm ET with Daisuke on the mound) I was really hoping for a sweep this time around to get the bad taste of the struggles the Sox have had this month.  Oh well.  July rolls on and the Sox are four games behind the Rays in the WC race (for those who will say I’m settling, one step at a time…let them catch up to the Rays and then we can focus on the Yankees).  They certainly aren’t in a hole they can’t dig themselves out of…not yet anyway.

July 25, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 1 Comment

13 was finally a lucky number

Let's all stop and give thanks for Eric Patterson today.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Let's all give thanks for Eric Patterson today. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

I don’t know what possessed me to stay up for that entire game last night.  Watching that ninth inning was so depressing that I decided to just shut off the damn television and let whatever happened happen without me watching it.  Instead, I stuck with it.  Granted, “sticking with it” for me meant watching NESN with the sound turned off and the tv screen hiding behind my laptop screen while I peeked in every three minutes or so while I read Twitter for updates, but still I was up and paying attention.  🙂

That they won the game came as big a surprise as their blowing the lead.  I’m not usually a negative person but I was convinced an extra-inning game, especially on the road, spelled loss for the Sox.  Yet, I still held out a tiny bit of hope or else I would have just shut the tv and computer down the moment the score turned to 6-6.

I choose not to focus on the specifics of the game (except to point out that John Lackey was freaking amazing) and just settle into being happy that the Red Sox pulled off a win.  One down, three to go in Seattle and Beckett back on the mound tonight.  I’ll take it.

As an aside:  I go out of my way to avoid Peter Abraham’s blog and his tweets and have unfollowed people who retweet him.  While I get this is a trying season for even the most devout fans, his constant negativity and needling of the fans is obvious and annoying.  I guess it’s what they all do at Boston.com now except for Chad Finn.  Amalie Benjamin is guilty, as well, of writing things obviously written to get the fans going.  Today it’s how none of the Red Sox were on the top steps of the dugout during the final innings of last night’s game.  Both Abraham and Benjamin note that the Mariners were there and that the Sox looked like they had given up and “it didn’t look good”.  Yeah, the team with no expectations that just came back from a five run deficit was excited and on the top step while the team with the weight of the baseball world on their shoulders who just blew a five run lead was less expressive and obvious.  Start ordering up the 25 cabs for 25 players, Pete.  They just lost three out of four in the last series and blew what looked like an obvious blow out game…who expected them to be all rah-rah and cheerful in the dugout?  This is going to happen when the team is struggling.  Doesn’t mean they’ve given up but I suppose if you want folks to keep reading your stuff you have to give them something to chew on.  I have to get better at not following the links folks send me because I always end up reading someone at boston.com who I really don’t want to read.  It’s getting to the point where I’ll be going on total radio silence and not reading anything short of the tweets of people I choose to follow.  It’s tough enough being a Red Sox fan, hell even when they aren’t struggling, I don’t need so-called professionals stirring the shit as well.

Okay, that was a bit more than an “aside”.

Two more 10:10pm ET games (10:10pm on a Saturday?  Really MLB?  Why not just scheduled it for midnight?) and then a 4pm followed by two more 10pm games (and a 3:30pm to end the road trip).  It’s a hell of a stretch but the boys will be back at Fenway on Friday!

July 23, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | Leave a comment