Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Project Cupid 2011

Isaias Thomas Valentin 9.9.99 ~ 9.5.09

It seems that everyone as been touched by cancer in some way…it’s hard to get away from it.  I’ve lost many loved ones to cancer, the most recent loss being my 38 year-old cousin who died a little over a week ago from complications brought on from colon cancer.  Cancer does, indeed, suck.

Last year I wrote about my friend Amy Blue.  She also lost a cousin to cancer, 9 year-old Isaias, and she took the pain of that loss and turned it into something positive:  Project Cupid.  This Friday (February 4th) Amy and Project Cupid will be holding their second annual charity date auction at Whiskey Park.

Your $15 donation (and 100% of the proceeds) will go to Dr. Kimberly Stegmaier’s Acute Myeloid Leukemia Research Fund.  Acute Myeloid Leukemia is the form of cancer that killed Amy’s cousin Isaias so the donations this year are taking on a very personal meaning for Amy and her family.

My emotions are still a bit raw for me to write much about my experiences with cancer right now, but my friend, and Amy’s husband, Josh wrote a heartfelt entry on his blog about how much this support means to their family.

Along with the auction there will be a live action and opportunity drawings for many items, including Boston sports memorabilia, so there should be something for everyone!

It promises to be a fun night for a great cause –  if you can make it out I hope you make it to Whiskey Park on Friday!

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January 30, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 2 Comments

Snowy Thursday

From March 2006/One of my favorite of Kelly's Spring Training Photos from the archives

Truck Day will be upon us in two week’s time.

Because of this fact, I should be more inspired to write about baseball but listening to the plows go by my house and watching the snow pile up in feet around me is making it difficult to get inspired about the boys of summer.

If you, like me, are in need of friendly reminders that it will not always be white and cold outside and some day SOON there will be baseball played in Boston again, you might want to go to Kelly O’Connor’s SmugMug site where she has not only all of her photos from 2010, but ALL of her photos.  Kelly has spent the better part of this snowy month updating her archives so folks don’t have to switch back and forth from her new site to the sittingstill site to see her wonderful photographs.  The best part?  Now her site is entirely searchable!  You can search by keywords (including player’s names or phrases like “don’t touch his head” and, one of my favorites,  “j.d. does so smile“), you can comment on the photos and vote for your favorites as well.

It’s a great way to spend a snowy day when you’re longing for green grass and baseball!

January 27, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , | 3 Comments

Here we go

Right now, all I have to say about the Tampa Bay Rays signing Johnny Damon AND Manny Ramirez is this:

You will not catch me within 100 yards of Fenway Park any time the Rays are in town this year.  I refuse to be a witness to the media circus/fan bashing that will go on.  It is my hope that they both end up on the DL for every visit to Boston.  I know I won’t get that lucky.

January 22, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 3 Comments

Greed is…gone?

Gil Meche screen grab from a video on MLB.com

It’s tough for me to wrap my mind around a 32 year-old having to retire due to health-related issues but that’s exactly what Gil Meche is doing just before the final season of his five-year contract with the Kansas City Royals begins.  Over those first four years, Meche made $43 million and in breaking his contract to retire, he leaves $12 million with the Royals.  That’s a lot of money to leave behind, especially when you consider he didn’t have to retire, he could have stayed on with the team, collected his money and possibly ended his time with KC on the disabled list – or at least being ineffective while he stayed on the roster.  Instead, he decided it was better for him and for the team to just retire and move on.  Amazing.

Okay, so we know that, barring Meche going on a massive bender, he’ll never have to worry about money again and $12 million is kind of a drop in the bucket when put up against $43 million…but he STILL walked away from $12 million.  It’s not something you hear about every day.

I’ve long argued that there are plenty of people in the world, especially those already making a lot of money, who can make decisions without making money the most important factor.  Johnny Damon famously argued that he couldn’t turn down the extra money the Yankees offered him just so he could stay in Boston.  Yet Tim Wakefield, coming off his career season, took what many considered a contract smaller than what another team might have given him, to stay in Boston.  Both Kevin Youkilis and Dustin Pedroia, while signing lucrative contracts, still went the way (somewhat) of a “hometown discount”.  Away from Boston, Cliff Lee decided on the team he’d sign with long-term by going to the team he wanted to go to, not the team that threw the most money at him.

Again, these guys are all making incredible amounts of money already without the extras but that’s what has always been my point.  If you have $50 million you are in a position to say that you don’t need an additional $5 or $10 million if it means you have to sacrifice your principles.  It is not ridiculous to believe that there are people who can walk away from money.  It isn’t unrealistic to hope that there are people out there who can understand that they already have more money than they will ever be able to spend they don’t need to keep foraging for more.

So you’re a young man with a hell of a lot of money and you can’t do the one thing you’ve worked your entire life to do…what do you do now?  Broadcasting?  Open your own business?  Do incredibly rich, young people just hang around all day and count their money?  He’s only 32…if he can’t play baseball what can he do…and what does he want to do?  These are the questions that come racing to my mind whenever I read about a baseball player having to retire/quit long before his career cycle should be over.

It saddens me to see pitchers retire because of arm injuries.  I am unrealistic in my wishes for players to be able to play as long as they want, I know.  So I’m sad that Gil Meche will no longer be in MLB as an active player even if I’m also so very pleased that he decided to go out in such a classy way.

January 19, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | | 4 Comments

Face to face with another one of the 25

Screen grab of Billy Mueller grabbed from a video I took on Saturday (I didn't realize he bagged me until much later!)

I met Bill Mueller this weekend.

I met Bill Mueller this weekend.

I met Bill Mueller this weekend.

I met Bill Mueller this weekend.

(My original plan was to make this entry nothing but that line….I’m still so happy about it! But then I figured it would be nice to actually share the story with you all so…)

I wish I had more to talk about in regard to the rookies (as well as Dan Wheeler and Jarrod Saltalamacchia) this year but I can’t lie…I spent the entire time at Jillian’s focused on the fact that I was going to meet Bill Mueller.

I didn’t know if I should say something (I brought something from 2004 for him to sign) or if I should just keep my mouth shut for fear of sounding like an idiot in front of him.  I figured I’d be a nervous, fidgety mess.  Instead, while Kelly engaged Jarrod Saltalamacchia in conversation over photos of him she was having him sign, I sat myself down next to Bill Mueller, said “hi” and started up a conversation.  I surprised the hell out of myself.

It will surprise no one to learn that he was friendly, pleasant and seemed genuinely happy to be sitting there meeting Red Sox fans.  At events like this, many is the time you see a player (or former player) look utterly disinterested in where he is…not Billy Mueller.  I got the opportunity I’ve waited over six years for – to say ‘thank you’ to him for 2004.  I admitted to him that he’d probably think it silly that the win in ’04 changed a lot of our lives, and he responded by saying he “got” it because it changed  his life too (“and….it was an awful lot of fun!”).  Taking advantage of the long conversation Kelly was having with Salty, I had the opportunity to ask him how he was feeling and how things were going with the Dodgers (“Great!”and “It’s going really well there”).  He was warm and polite and made me feel like we had known each other for years.  While I was feeling like a total fan girl on the inside, I’m happy to report that I acted a lot calmer on the outside than I had expected.

Truck Day is on February 8th…we’re that much closer to the beginning of “next year”!

January 18, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 4 Comments

Signs of Spring

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

This weekend, baseball season begins in Boston!

Truck Day isn’t until February 8th, but this weekend we get two events that have become the annual signs of Spring:  The Hot Stove/Cool Music concert at the Paradise (and the roundtable discussion the day before at Fenway Park) and the New Stars for Young Stars charity event at Jillian’s.  The Hot Stove events benefit Theo Epstein’s Foundation to be Named Later and the New Stars event benefits the Jimmy Fund.  You can’t go wrong either way.

Bronson Arroyo (along with pretty much the same group of musicians who appear every year) will, once again, be at the Hot Stove concert as well as this year’s roundtable (which happens tonight at 6pm).  I said this last year and then decided at the last minute to stop in just to see Bronson since he started off the show, but I won’t be going to the concert this year.  I’ll be at the New Stars event tomorrow morning at Jillian’s.

Also at the New Stars event?  A not-so-new star, Mr. Bill Mueller.

Now the point of the New Stars event is, in part, to introduce the young players to the Boston sports scene as much as it is to introduce the fans to the new crop of players coming to town.  We get to see the new kids and they get to see how crazy passionate Red Sox fans are.  But along with the new, young players, they like to throw in one that guarantees the folks will show for the charity event.  Last year it was Trot Nixon.  This year, Mr. Mueller.  As much as I thoroughly enjoy seeing the new blood (Bronson Arroyo, Justin Masterson, Jonathan Papelbon and Jed Lowrie were past attendees, just to name a handful) I can’t lie – the idea of getting to shake Bill Mueller’s hand and thank him for owning Mariano Rivera and helping to bring us 2004 is making my heart beat just a little faster today.

Sure we still had in him 2005, but in 2004, Mueller didn’t make it to the celebration parade and many fans have lamented not having the opportunity to properly thank him.  Guess what, peeps?  Now is your chance.  It is also your chance to welcome (and in some cases welcome BACK) Jarrod SaltalamacchiaRobert CoelloTim FederowiczJason RiceRyan KalishDarnell McDonaldWill Middlebrooks, Jeremy HazelbakerRyan Lavarnway and Dan Wheeler (according to the website…this list could be altered at any time).

As if these two events weren’t enough, in between the New Stars event and the Hot Stove concert, the Sons of Sam Horn are hosting an event at Boston Beer Works that might appeal to those of you who have been lurking at SoSH and were hoping to some day become approved members.  From 5:30pm to 8:30pm you can join SoSH at the March to 100K Launch Party.

Recently, SoSH lost a beloved member when John Wells passed away at the age of 44.   In his memory, SoSH decided to launch a year-long fundraising event, hoping to raise (at least) $100,000 for the Jimmy Fund in 2011.   SoSH suggests a $10 dollar donation to tomorrow’s event at Boston Beer Works and, according to the latest update on SoSH, if you are a lurker,  you will be upgraded to member just for attending.

So along with being the annual sign that baseball is around the corner, this weekend is also a time for Red Sox Nation to give a little back.  You have many choices in how you can do that, all with benefits to you as well!  So go shake Bill Mueller’s hand, or listen to The Lemonheads or just have a beer with your favorite member of SoSH…and in the process help support some very worthy causes.

January 14, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 5 Comments

My views on this year's Hall of Fame voting

I wonder if Red Bull will be considered a PED in ten years? (Photo taken by me in Baltimore in 2007)

It took me all morning to write this and I’m my own editor so I apologize ahead of time if there are any typos…I tried to track them all down but when the piece runs as long as this one does, sometimes I miss a few.  Also, this is long.  MUCH longer than I anticipated it being when I started writing it.  I apologize for the length.  I know the preferred length of blog entries is “SHORT” but as I was writing I realized how emotional this topic makes me and I decided to not edit myself too much.  Thanks, as always, for slogging through it!

Continue reading

January 8, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Props when they are deserved

I am often critical of Steve Buckley and his writing but what he did today took a lot of courage and I felt like he certainly needed to be lauded for it.  There is no way it could have been easy for him to publicly share this with us and I think his coming out is a wonderful thing.  I give most people the benefit of the doubt and I think if he was comfortable sharing this now, he isn’t worried about the reactions of the athletes he covers and that he probably doesn’t care if some of his readers abandon him because of it.

Does it matter that Steve Buckley is gay?  No it doesn’t.  No more than it matters that Gerry Callahan is straight.  But it matters that he has taken the step of coming out.  It will matter to a lot of people, a lot of gay people who don’t get to see themselves represented in sports media.  Maybe there’s a high school kid who wants to be a sports writer and is afraid being gay will make that difficult and Steve Buckley just showed him today that it isn’t necessarily the case?  Maybe Buckley has peers who will feel more comfortable now about being themselves and won’t worry about hiding a part of who they are?  This isn’t sports news and it isn’t baseball-related but it IS a big deal in that world. Good for Steve for finally being comfortable enough to be who he is to everyone, not just those who know him.

I’ll still never forgive him for his rants and lies about Nomar, though (and his various other shortcomings I’ve written about in the past).  Steve Buckley coming out is a good, positive thing.  Still doesn’t change the fact that he’s Steve Buckley.  (Wouldn’t want you all to think I’ve gone soft on the Boston Sports Media!)

January 6, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | | 4 Comments

Membership has its Privileges

As it stands, I don’t have any tickets for any Red Sox games for 2011.

I hadn’t given it much thought before today.  Usually, by this time, I have tickets for a couple if not a handful of games.  This year I need to be more practical, so the games I attend will be fewer than they were last year.  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing as I enjoy Don and Jerry and there are many benefits to watching at home (not fighting the crowd after the game and saving money from not taking a taxi home are just two that come to  mind).

So what do I do this morning?  I re-up my Red Sox Nation membership.  Keep with me, there’s a reason for sharing this.

Now I never bought into the whole idea that you have to sign up for a Red Sox Nation membership to be a real fan.  That’s just ridiculous.  But I do think that some of the benefits of being an official member (listed here) are pretty damn cool.   I use GameDay Audio an awful lot so having it packaged into my membership is a plus.  But my favorite benefit is being allowed into Fenway early.  I’ve been able to take advantage of that benefit a few times and the only drawback is that you’re confined to the Green Monster, but getting into Fenway a half an hour earlier than roughly 35,000 other people is a tremendous kick.  (Sitting on the Green Monster for a half an hour watching batting practice, especially if your seats aren’t on the Green Monster for the game, is more fun than I can articulate – while also being slightly terrifying if you’re afraid of heights.)

While I realize I sound like an advertisement for Red Sox Nation, I feel like the program gets a really bad rap because some people bristle at the idea of the team trying to make money off of the fans.  I’ve stated it before and I will continue to do so…I’m THRILLED that this ownership gets that there are many ways to entice the fans while also making a few dollars for the team.  They know their audience and they cater to that.  Given the benefits that come with membership (and that memberships begin as inexpensively as $14.95 a year), this is a win-win for both the fans and the team.  I can’t complain about that.

I write this because I received an email this morning from a baseball fan (team allegiance unknown) who felt compelled to tell me that the Red Sox were greedy, cared nothing about the fans, and were “worse than the Yankees” while specifically citing the Red Sox Nation program as one of the reasons “the rest of baseball hates you”.  He went on to write that he was certain that I was an official member of Red Sox Nation because the fan base was full of “bandwagon fans” who only cared about having something like an identification card to prove they were a real fan of the team.

This email was sent (and read) much too early.  It was no way to start off my day.  So I decided to turn a negative into a positive.  I know there are plenty of Red Sox Nation detractors.  And if  you don’t think the benefits are worthy of paying for, I can understand why you would have no use for a membership.  But to me, the benefits are a long time coming.  The opportunities they offer are some that no other team does and instead of assuming the team is trying to take advantage of the fans, I prefer to think of it as a way the team is showing appreciation to us.

So, yes, I am a card-carrying member of Red Sox Nation (and have been since the program began) and I’m proud of it.  My team finds new and creative ways each year to show me they appreciate the fact that I support them and instead of questioning the motives, I choose to be thankful that I support such a team.

Only 35 days until Truck Day!

January 4, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | | 6 Comments

Welcome 2011

One of my photos from Truck Day 2009

Truck Day is on February 8th.

FEBRUARY 8TH!

Happy New Year, indeed!

January 1, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 3 Comments