Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

So that happened…

This looks familiar (photo taken by me last March)

Admitting you’re wrong stinks.  I mean, honestly, who wants to tell the world that they made a mistake?  Who wants to share their shortcomings with the general public?  Not me, that’s for damn sure.

After making certain that someone, anyone at Remy’s read my entry about my experience there, the manager in question contacted me through the blog with an apology and an olive branch.  I responded privately because, as is often the case with me, my response went much longer than your average blog comment.  But after I sent the response, it occurred to me that the manager at Remy’s might not be the only one who needed to publicly comment.  But first, in all fairness, I wanted to repost the manager’s comment:

I’m glad I had a chance to reflect upon my handling of your experience. I 100% agree that your request was a reasonable one, and my dialogue could have been 1000 times better. I’m truly sorry that I made you think or feel for a moment that what you had to say or feel wasn’t logical or important to me, or even more importantly, to our business. Admittedly, the level of business we experienced at that time and on that day, was well beyond what we had expected or prepared for, and in no way is that an acceptable excuse for you to be made to feel anything but welcome or appreciated. I should have taken the time to be more careful, and willing to out of my way because that is my job. Instead, I made a hurried, backward logic decision in the moment that was neither in our guests’ (you) or my (the business) best interests. You should not have been punished because we were under duress. I apologize profusely, and wish to invite you back in as my guests. The entire team of Jerry Remy’s cares, and I hope you will allow us to start over and make it up to you. Please let me know if you would be willing to accept my offer, and how I could facilitate that for you.

The facts are still the facts but the response can’t be ignored either.  In my response back to the manager, I mentioned that my reasoning behind writing the entry on the blog as opposed to contacting Remy’s directly was because I felt like my opinion wasn’t of interest to Remy’s in this situation.  But in focusing on my own, highly charged, emotions, I failed to consider others.  It’s easy to pretend you live in a vacuum and I certainly feel that way sometimes but the truth is I wasn’t the only person involved in this situation and presenting my side without input from the others involved was an unfair way to tell the story.

I neither want nor expect Remy’s to treat me to anything as some kind of penance for what went down on Saturday but I do appreciate the offer being extended and I take it as a sincere gesture.  My entry on the situation, while also being the truth, was a harsh reaction to Saturday’s event and  I should have taken that pause before hitting “publish”.  Of course, I suppose had I not published the entry I wouldn’t have heard from Remy’s about it and would have probably stewed about it for much longer than I did, so while I don’t completely regret writing about it, I know that I could have worded it all better and I apologize to Kelly, the manager at Remy’s (and Remy’s) and all of you folks reading because you all deserved better.

It’s worth noting that no one asked me to take down the original entry.  As regular readers are aware, I try very hard in general to not generate too many negative vibes over here and in re-reading what I wrote yesterday the anger and negativity was steaming off of it.  I’m a big fan of saying “Just because you CAN do it doesn’t mean you SHOULD”.  That applies here.  My story, I believe, was worth being told but I know there could have been a better way to tell it.

So we live and we learn and we grow from our experiences, right?

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February 28, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | | 7 Comments

My (now) Annual Slack for Lackey Request

John Lackey last June. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission.

During Spring Training last year we were inundated with stories about how so many Red Sox players would be becoming fathers during the 2010 season.   They’re the kinds of stories many of us want to read.  It’s fun to get a little insight into the real lives of the players we follow so closely.  On the other hand, reading that Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz and John Lackey all expected children smack in the middle of the season made many of us wonder (raises hand) if these fellas knew how to count.

But the season wore on and in spite of all the things that kept various players from playing, becoming fathers wasn’t one of them. Neither Lester nor Buchholz missed their start in the rotation because their child was born.  But what about Lackey?  After the initial attention that they all got, folks stopped talking about his becoming a father just as the season began.

You might remember that last year, just before his debut at Fenway as a Red Sox player, there were stories that Lackey might actually miss his start for personal reasons.  He didn’t and most people just forgot about it and spent the rest of the season lamenting that he wasn’t worth the money the Red Sox got him.  There were a few of us, though, who wondered about the near-miss and the sudden silence about his pending fatherhood.

A little more than a week ago, in an article on how Lackey has prepared for this season, Dan Shaughnessy (forgive me for linking to him…it’ll hopefully be the only time I do this year) quietly dropped this line:

He doesn’t make excuses about personal issues even though his wife suffered a miscarriage last spring and is currently battling breast cancer (Lackey wore a pink power bracelet yesterday and told WEEI that his wife is doing well).

So what many of us suspected but dared not speak of was sadly true.

I would not presume to make excuses for Lackey, especially since he isn’t doing so, but I do think what happened last year serves as a good lesson all around.  Maybe his struggles had nothing to do with the personal tragedy he and his wife endured last year?  Maybe he will turn out to be another player that Theo Epstein took a big risk with and failed?  I don’t believe that.  I believe he has the abilities to be an ace on this team.  I watched him practically throw a perfect game against the Red Sox and I think he’s a talented pitcher and was (and still am) thrilled when Theo got him.  But maybe he’s also just a guy.  Just a person who can do a good job (and, honestly, he didn’t do an awful job last year – he just underperformed for what people were expecting) but who gets affected by things like his wife losing a child.  Why is it so outrageous to think, regardless of what he says publicly, that this could have been weighing on him all season?

Why is it so difficult for many fans (and sports writers) to acknowledge that, regardless of how much money they make, these men are human and sometimes human emotions will take over?

After going through heartbreak last spring, the Lackeys are now in the midst of another emotional (and physical for Mrs Lackey) grind.  There’s no way to determine how anyone gets through such moments in their lives but at the very least I think the decent thing to do is keep in mind that there is a world of things that could be going on in the life of ANY one of the players you cheer for.

Maybe we can remember that when we get into the meat of the season and start deciding to vilify players we think are underachieving.  I’m not saying that all criticism needs to stop, goodness knows I’ll spend all of April screaming about all the walks Jon Lester gives up, but I would love a moratorium on the hate.  And end to the nastiness that seems to come out of so many when a player doesn’t live up to their expectations.

It’s quite possible that John Lackey will suck this year and it will have nothing to do with anything but his skills diminishing as he gets older.  I still harbor feelings of anger toward John Smoltz for sucking in Boston and then going to St. Louis and pitching well, so I certainly know about making a player’s inadequacies personal.  But maybe we could temper the hate with the reality that these guys have more going on in their lives than just throwing a ball.    I have no doubt that John Lackey’s professional focus this season is on doing well and winning a World Series this year…but even he doesn’t have control over what else might sneak into his focus as the season wears on.

February 25, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 2 Comments

When it’s time to change…

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission

Anyone who knows me or who has read this blog for any prolonged period knows how easily I get bored when it comes to this blog.  Not with the subject, I could go on about the Red Sox forever, and not with the interactions with you all, I love that part of it, but with the look of it and (sometimes) the name.  The little things.

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February 23, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | | 13 Comments

Brian Wilson Randomness

Brian Wilson.

Initially, I kind of got a kick out of him.  But he wears on me now.  I feel like he’s trying much too hard to be funny or edgy or quirky or all three.

Wilson is driving what appears to be a fully equipped police cruiser, complete with a loudspeaker. He literally announces his arrival when he pulls into the Scottsdale Stadium parking lot, getting on the horn to blare, “I’m heeeere” to the group of autograph seekers lining the rail.

I read this today and my first thought was that he went from being amusing to being boorish.  We get it, Brian.  You’re wacky.  You go on national late night talk shows and bring a teammate dressed in bondage gear.  You wear a mohawk and have tattoos and a beard.

I don’t get it.  I mean, I don’t dislike the guy.  He’s a good pitcher and I was happy for him and his team to win the World Series.  He reminds me of someone I know who is constantly telling people he’s a renegade, a rebel, a non-conformist.  It’s difficult not to roll my eyes.  The in your face stuff just grows old with me.

Maybe I’m just having a bad day.

February 21, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | | 4 Comments

Goodbye, Chuck

Associated Press photo of Tanner in 1979 lifted without permission

The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates are the team that truly made me realize and appreciate that there was baseball outside of the Boston Red Sox.  I always credit the 1979 World Series and especially the Pirates for giving me an appreciation of the rest of Major League Baseball that I didn’t have before and keep with me to this day.

I was 10 years old in October of ’79.  A sixth-grade girl who had just written an essay on the person I most admired:  Fred Lynn.  (True story.  According to my father, I was the only one in the class who didn’t choose a parent or other relative.)  I was serious about my baseball.  Coming off the Bucky Dent home run in 1978, the Red Sox finished that season in third behind both the Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers.  But I wasn’t deterred, I still wanted more baseball.

Somehow, I talked my parents into letting me stay up to watch the World Series that year.  I don’t remember watching any of the seven games with either of them, although I’m sure I probably did.  I only remember going to school after each game and getting harassed by the boys who were all rooting for Baltimore because I had made it clear in class that I was rooting for Willie Stargell and the Pirates.

As an aside, I fell in love with Willie Stargell that fall.  Just fell hard.  He gave Fred Lynn a run for his money in 1979.

I’m remembering all this because the first thought I had when I heard about Chuck Tanner dying was that I had written “Tanner’s Terrors” across most of my books in school and kept them that way throughout the school year, long after the World Series was over.  Chuck Tanner was the first manager, aside from any who managed the Red Sox, who I actually paid attention to.

I thought Chuck Tanner was the best, most personable manager ever.  I liked him better than Earl Weaver.  Heck, I liked him a whole lot more than Don Zimmer!  I wanted him to manage the Red Sox in 1980 because I was convinced that if he did the Red Sox would win the World Series.  And that was all before the 1979 Series had even finished.

At nine your world view is based on what is going on in the moment.  For those seven games, Willie Stargell and Chuck Tanner were, in my eyes, the best.  And as man things from our youth do, the feelings about them stuck with me my entire life, even if I wasn’t always consciously aware of them.

So hearing about Tanner’s death brought immediate tears to my eyes as if someone I knew had passed on.  This April it will be 10 years that Willie Stargell has been dead.  While there are plenty of other players from that team still alive, he and Tanner were the links my brain made to that era…and now they’re both gone.

That makes me sad.  It also makes me want to appreciate how much joy this game has given me, especially the people involved in the game.

I own both boxed sets of the Red Sox World Series wins from 2004 and 2007.  The only other World Series boxed set I own is that of the 1979 World Series.  Thanks to that, I’ll always have an opportunity to remember that October.

Sad is no way to begin the new season.  So let’s dance!

“We are Family” was the rally song of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. To this day that’s the only reason I like the song!

February 18, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | 2 Comments

My Plea to Larry Lucchino about the New Video Boards

Made sure I took this on my last trip to Yankee Stadium just to prove it happens.

What are the chances that Larry Lucchino spends any amount of time on the computer Googling his name?  This entire entry is being written in the hopes that he, or someone who works for him, does just that.

See, Larry Lucchino, I keep reading about the fantastic video boards the Red Sox will have at Fenway Park this year and I’m tickled pink about it.  For years we’ve been watching the board at Fenway go blank for no discernible reason, show fuzzy photos and videos that we can barely see.  Going to just about any other park in baseball and seeing the video boards they have just reinforces how terrible the one at Fenway is…so I’m delighted that this is part of the renovations.

I’m also worried that these new video boards are going to encourage you, Larry Lucchino, and the rest of the Red Sox organization to do terrible things like put “Make Some Noise” signs on them.  Animated clapping hands encouraging fans to cheer at various times during the game when they should already know to be cheering.  At Yankee Stadium, the NEW Yankee Stadium as well as the old, the “Make Some Noise” signs are shown throughout the game.   They also have encouragements to “CHARGE” as well.  They make me want to kick someone.  In Major League Baseball, there is no need for this.  None at all.  I get that they think this appeals to kids at the park but I also think kids at the park deserve better.

There are so many other things you could do with a video board.  Show us more of the players!  In Baltimore (and, I imagine, other cities) they have fun and interesting pieces like asking the players their favorite things (tv shows, movies, songs, etc)…showing behind the scenes video of the park…one of my favorite things in Baltimore is the profiles they show of the people who work at Fenway there and don’t happen to be baseball players.  Profiles on the beer vendors and folks who make pizza, this stuff is fun and a good use of the boards.  Asking us to make some noise, Larry Lucchino, or creating animated characters to race so the attention of the fans is on the board between innings…these things are Minor League moves (and, admittedly, fun at a Minor League game) and the Red Sox will be cheapened if this goes on at Fenway Park.  The place isn’t the most beloved ball park in America because the team caves in to what the rest of the league is doing.

I know this sounds like I’m just an old crank, but I’m not.  I went to more Minor League games last year than I did MLB games and I love them.  I think the atmosphere at a Minor League game is tremendous and I enjoy most every moment of it.  But that atmosphere is purposely different from that at the Major League level and I see no reason to make Major League Baseball  more like Minor League Baseball.  Heck, if anything, I appreciate that if you go to a Triple-A game in Pawtucket the atmosphere is more like MLB than MiLB.  At some point, as it is with the players and the teams they play against, there should be a marked difference as you make your way up through baseball.

So, Larry Lucchino, I want to thank you for all you’ve done for the fans, for the team and  with Fenway Park.  Your contributions have been historic and your name will forever be remembered with Red Sox fans.  I also implore you to not turn Fenway Park into the Cartoon Network with these new video boards.

I don’t usually ask for comments, but I’m interested to hear what other folks think about the video boards and how they would like to see or would NOT like to see them used.   Plus if I write Larry Lucchino enough times maybe he’ll actually see this entry and your suggestions as well!

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February 16, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 14 Comments

Bobby Jenks is Big (Now that we have that out of the way…)

When I began writing this entry, around 9:15 this morning, it was 51 degrees in Ft. Myers and 41 degrees in Boston.  While 51 degrees is a heatwave in Boston in February, I don’t imagine they feel the same at the Fort.  I’ll take the 41 for now and enjoy the sound of melting snow.

As regular readers and anyone who knows me is aware, I hate reading most of the mainstream Boston sports media. During the season, this isn’t as much of an issue as I can get info pretty much anywhere but during Spring Training it becomes a little more problematic as the information coming out isn’t as easy to access if you aren’t reading the mainstreamers who made the trip to Florida.  So this morning I decided to get to reading so I can keep up with the fellas in the Fort.

I’m not sure this was such a good idea.

BUT instead of focusing on a lot of the already negative stuff they’re coming up with, today I choose to focus on one of the new guys:  Bobby Jenks.

I dig Jenks.  I can’t help it.  He’s a bullpen pitcher, he’s a big guy, and he says things like this:

“I don’t want to go into the whole Red Sox-Yankees battle just yet, but I’d rather be a Red Sox, for sure”

As has been the case for most of his career, Jenks is probably going to be the butt of ignorant fat jokes all season long. The only way to respond to them, aside from just punching some jackass in the face, is to pitch well.  I’m looking forward to watching him do just that.

An aside: The article I linked to above was written by Brian MacPherson at the Providence Journal.  It’s possible heband Gordon Edes will be the only mainstream Boston sports writers I link to all season.  We’ll see what happens as the season progresses.

Tomorrow everyone shows up in Fort Myers.  While NESN started their reporting from the Fort last night, this coming weekend will mark the beginning of their covering workouts live (on Saturday and Sunday morning).  It might sound like a silly thing to sit and watch but seeing the guys on the grass, throwing, running and getting back into playing shape is exactly what those of us who have been snowbound for the last month and a half really need to remember that someday soon baseball will be played again.

February 14, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , | 1 Comment

Thou Shalt Not Steal!

Look! A photo I did not take! Let's give credit where it is due: Photo taken by Kelly O'Connor @ sittingstill.smugmug.com and used with permission. See how easy that was?

So today is the day!  The day when pitchers and catchers are expected to report to Fort Myers (which, loosely translated, means they have to let the team know they’re in town since they don’t get down to business, really, until Tuesday).  We’ve waited for this day since October and it is here.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be happy about yet another milestone on the way to Opening Day!

I thought it a good time to bring up one of my greatest pet peeves.  It’s gone beyond being a peeve and it as become a genuine concern.  I’ve beaten folks over the head with my rants on this before and here I go again…stealing off the Internet.

A couple of months ago, my friend Kelly O’Connor discovered that a contributor to Wikipedia had gone through her photos, used one for just about each Red Sox player and posted them on Wikipedia without crediting Kelly as the photographer.  That would have been bad enough, but this same person gave herself the photographer’s credit and gave permission for anyone to use the photos anywhere they wanted.  I think you have to be some kind of major league ass to do something like that.  But she was an anonymous major league ass.  She was a nobody who made herself feel better by taking credit for someone else’s work.  It was a lousy thing to do. It was also difficult to blame an actual person since we never found out who this person really was.  Fortunately for Kelly, Wikipedia eventually responded to her, deleted the photos and banned the user (when, really, what Kelly was looking for was her fair credit and a retraction of giving away the rights.  Something that was too late anyway since other sites had seen the photos and used them thinking they had the legal right to do so).

When I first started blogging I lifted photos all the time.  Initially, it didn’t occur to me that something I saw online needed to be credited back.  My ignorance stuns me now, but it was there.  If I used a photo where the photographer was specifically pointed out, I’d write somewhere in the post where I got it from.  But I was just as likely to Google a player’s name, find a photo already with no credit and use it again.  At the time, I didn’t even realized people were reading the blog.  As soon as I started to be aware of my audience, I started to realize that I shouldn’t be taking something and passing it off as mine (I never took credit for any photo that wasn’t mine but by using a photo and not crediting someone you are, basically, doing just that).  So now it feels like life’s work to educate those online about not stealing someone’s photographs.

Last night, Kelly showed me the Flickr page of another talented sports photographer.  Her handle is slidingsideways and she shoots both the Red Sox and the Bruins.  Hockey fans, especially, should check out her work because it’s pretty damned good.  So good, in fact, that folks over at NESN have been lifting some of her photos and not giving her credit.

NESN? Seriously?  NESN doesn’t have an official photographer who covers the sports that NESN airs nightly? NESN can’t afford to have a subscription to Getty Images?  NESN has to go trolling for photos on Flickr?  Not much surprises me any more, but this certainly did.  (Since being made aware that the photographer was not happy with their use of her photos without any credit, one article now has a different photo and another has a credit at the end of the piece.  Yes, NESN chose to pull a photo rather than just caption it with the photographer’s name.)

When I was at WEEI.com, I never found out where they got the photos they used but I do know that I never used Getty Images officially (hell, I had to bring up the subject of photos and giving credit to Rob Bradford during our first meeting).  I used Kelly’s photos and Kelly signed an agreement with them to give them permission for me to use them.  Something we had to push for in order to protect Kelly’s interests.  She didn’t get paid for them but she got credit.  Recently, I was invited to contribute to another website. I wrote a handful of pieces for them but ultimately decided I didn’t have the time to spend there and appreciatively bailed out.  This site is new and is trying to make money to become a contender and I respect that, but they too make it a habit of getting their pictures from Flickr without giving any credit.  It’s a practice I’m completely uncomfortable with and everyone else should be as well.

Most people who post their photos online are thrilled when someone expresses an interest in using their photos.  Everyone wants their work appreciated.  And most of the photographers I know don’t even expect payment for someone to use their work…they just want the proper credit (and a heads up…it helps if you ask for permission to use the photo…it’s the professional thing to do).  If you credit a photographer (but giving a link to where you found their work!) you’re helping them gain an audience.  It doesn’t cost you anything and since you’re using their photos it helps you both.

WHY IS THIS SO DIFFICULT FOR EVEN MAINSTREAM SITES TO UNDERSTAND?

Today marks a day that we start to see photos flooding out of Fort Myers.  I love looking at the photos of the guys getting back to work…the professional and the amateur photos.  So if you have a blog, or just like to post photos on your Twitter or Facebook feed, please remember to give the photographer proper credit.  It’s the least we can do for the people sharing their work with us.

February 13, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , | 11 Comments

(Pre) Season of Hope

Although none of them are required to be there until Sunday, a good portion of the Red Sox are currently in Fort Myers, already getting in some unofficial workouts.

I know there are a lot of people who steer clear of places like Twitter and Facebook, but they really are wonderful resources to get information (and photos) as the action happens down South.  Especially Twitter.  Beat writers are posting photos from their phones all day long.  Little bits of insight to what is going on in a place most likely much warmer than where you are right now.  As an example, not too long ago, Ian Browne tweeted this and attached a photo of Adrian Gonzalez and Dustin Pedroia.  Not the best quality, but a pretty cool photo nonetheless.

This is the time of year that everything is possible in the eyes of baseball fans.  Not a pitch has yet been thrown, but we can believe that our team will be in the World Series because there is no one who can tell us differently. Not yet, anyway.  We have about a month and a half where we can bask in the anticipation of a fantastic season.  We all expect to be there in October!

Just think of all we, as Red Sox fans, have to look forward to this season: Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford…no Joe Morgan on Sunday Night Baseball…the world is our oyster!!

February 11, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | | Leave a comment

Final Truck Day Thoughts

Shiny (because they were wet!), Happy People

One more entry about Truck Day and then I promise I’ll stop!

The past month has the been month o’ suck for me personally. Just a lot of things, some big and some small, that have made this new year, so far, a bit on the suckish side.

Tuesday morning I woke up singing.  The sky was grey and my street was slushy and I couldn’t have cared less.  I left my house probably an hour earlier than I had to and got to Kenmore Square a good half an hour earlier than I told my friend Kelly I would be.

So I stood in Kenmore getting rained on and began to text Kelly to let her know I had arrived.  When I looked up from my phone, there was a guy looking at me and smiling a huge, genuine smile.  I went to smile back, realizing that I was already smiling and it hit me that he was smiling at me because of how big my smile was.  I was so happy for Truck Day that I was smiling without even knowing it.  And based on his reaction, it must have been quite a smile.

Now that all will seem silly to many people.  I promise you, every person at Fenway on Tuesday who wasn’t media-related understood how silly getting excited about a truck actually is.  Every fan I spoke to or who spoke to me acknowledged that it was a little crazy to stand in the freezing rain to watch men load cardboard boxes on to a truck.  We all knew it was annoying the locals who didn’t care about Truck Day and only cared about getting down Van Ness Street who had to wait for us to get out of the street because the truck took up most of the street and the sidewalk designated for us to stand on was covered in snow.  We knew that people in other cities (or who just don’t like baseball) would be mocking us.  We were sort of mocking ourselves.

See, the people who show up for Truck Day don’t show up because the Red Sox send out press releases about it.  They don’t go because they local news builds it up like there are thousands of crazy fans hanging at Fenway having a party.  We go because we want (and sometimes NEED) to see proof that the cold, dark days of winter will soon be behind us.  We want or need to remember that in a few weeks we’ll be watching ball played on green grass under blue skies and in a couple of months the green grass, blue skies and baseball players will be back in Boston.

The happiest I have been in all of 2011, so far, was this past Tuesday. Regardless of how “stupid” or “commercial” some folks deem it…it made me happy.  It made other people happy too.  Isn’t that the point?

February 10, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 3 Comments