Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Out of the Lineup but not the Line of Fire

Keep smiling, JD. I have your back! Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission.

I received a text message from a dear friend today.  All is said was “Goodbye until Thanksgiving!”.  This friend knows me well.  A little more than an hour before the first pitch of the season!

We finally have an Opening Day lineup for the Red Sox.

Jacoby Ellsbury – CF
Dustin Pedroia – 2B
Carl Crawford – LF
Kevin Youkilis – 3B
Adrian Gonzalez – 1B
David Ortiz – DH
Mike Cameron – RF
Jarrod Saltalamacchia – C
Marco Scutaro – SS
And we all know Jon Lester is the starting pitcher.  Kick some ass, Crabby.

I not so eagerly await all of the wondering about Cameron starting instead of Drew in spite of everyone knowing that CJ Wilson is the starting pitcher for the Rangers and the last thing the Sox need to do is start the season by loading up the lefties against a left-handed pitcher.  Sean McAdam tweeted last night about JD Drew being taken out of the game so early as if we should be worried about him being hurt.

J.D. Drew has come out of game in the middle of fourth, replaced in RF by Mike Cameron. No reason given yet.

You know I couldn’t let that go without a response, which I offered*:

Geez you think maybe “The Red Sox are killing the Astros and this game doesn’t count” might be a good enough reason?

Some day JD Drew will learn of my tireless pursuit of justice for him and say “Didn’t she have anything better to do?”

*As a rule, I usually unfollow most of the Boston baseball media come Opening Day because I don’t like to engage them online since mostly the encounters would be fueled by something negative.  I need to sit down tonight and weed out my follow list in an effort to retain my baseball sanity.

March 31, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 1 Comment

I Love This Game

Upon waking up this morning and turning on my television, the vision in the above photo welcomed me to Opening Day.  Even though I live in the Red Sox market and get NESN, I order the MLB Extra Innings package every year and have done so since 2004.  I’m fortunate (and grateful to be so fortunate) that I’m able to still do this; I know this.  Over the last year or so, I’ve had to alter many aspects of my life but I’ve been lucky to still be able to enjoy the baseball I want even if it’s a little different than the way I have in the past.  Basically, I can’t really go to as many games in person as I used to, but I still get to see a lot of baseball thanks to the generosity of people I love and with a little help from Extra Innings.  I know, in that regard, I have nothing to complain about.

This is how much I love baseball.  My Red Sox will always come first but my heart definitely belongs to the entire game.  I genuinely can’t get enough.  Regardless of my possessing a dvr, I purposely don’t get involved in new television shows during baseball season.  It’s what I watch.  I fall asleep almost every night to the sound of Vin Scully’s voice calling a Dodgers game because it’s like a lullaby to me.  Baseball makes me happy and, in spite of the things Major League Baseball as an organization does to make me insane sometimes, I hope it always stays that way.

I know I’m lucky (smart?) to surround myself with people who get this about me.  As much as things like that stupid Fan Cave thing annoy the heck out of me, because I want to start the new season on a high note I’ve decided to focus on the good today.  We’re getting new, “real” baseball today and everyone knows where to find me today.

And I’ll say this, I’m in the midst of a job search that has gone on for over a year and I really would like to be gainfully employed sooner rather than later, but today and tomorrow I will enjoy being in a position where I’m able to watch as much baseball as I want in real time.  I’m confident that, eventually, all things will fall into place for me, but if I have to be unemployed for another spring and possibly summer, I sure as heck plan to take advantage of it.

Having mentioned my dvr, I used it recently to record the MLB Network’s 30 Clubs in 30 Days on the Boston Red Sox.  It has been sitting there, unwatched, since March 22nd.  This morning at 6am, after I gazed upon the above photo for a few moments, I decided to finally watch it.  It was pretty much like giving a hyperactive child a can of Red Bull.  I’m working on about 4 hours of sleep today and I’m wide awake and ready for 1:05pm to get here!

Enjoy your day, baseball fans.  Feels like we’ve waited a long time for it to finally be here.

March 31, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , | Leave a comment

Welcome Baseball!

So now that I’ve gotten the weight off my chest…I’m able to share my excitement about the butt whooping the Red Sox put on the Houston Astros last night.

Sure it didn’t mean anything really but the team (and Josh Becket) looked damn fine and it succeeded in getting Red Sox fans even more excited about Opening Day.  First we have to get through Opening Day for teams that aren’t ours.  I’m okay with this.  I mean, I really want real Red Sox baseball NOW but I can defer to the fans who get theirs first.  Enjoy the day Braves, Nationals, Tigers, Yankees, Brewers, Reds, Angels, Royals, Padres, Cardinals, Giants and Dodgers fans.  The rest of us will get our turn on Friday!

It’s 1am and I’m wide awake.  Lately my sleep patterns are odd anyway, but right now it’s different.  I’m genuinely excited to get to see some in-season baseball and the excitement has my brain in overdrive.  I keep thinking of other Opening Days and reveling in the happiness of how Opening Day is the day that anything is possible for any team and any player.  I’m looking forward to hearing the National Anthem and Take Me Out to the Ballgame…I can’t wait to watch the players be introduced and to start picking apart the national broadcasters.

When I was gainfully employed, every year as baseball season began I would print up a copy of “Casey at the Bat” and hang it in my work area.  It reminds me of what is so wonderful (and painful!) about loving this game.  So today I give you James Earl Jones, so strongly forever associated with baseball, reading my favorite poem.  Enjoy the ride, baseball fans!

March 31, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , | Leave a comment

So Again I Rant

I have two issues on my mind that are somewhat connected.  Issue number 1 is that MLB promoted a “Win Your Dream Job” contest as being for “all” baseball fans and they chose two men who could pretty much be twins, showing no diversity whatsoever.  The 2nd issue is that this dream job looks like it is going to really be a reality show about two frat boy-types who do fun things like hang out with underwear models.  The connection for me is that it shows me that MLB couldn’t care less about a huge part of their fanbase.  This post reflects my feelings on these issues and I switch back and forth between the two.  Good information to have as you read my rant.

So I’m on Twitter tonight because, hey, it’s practically Opening Day and this final game is a fun time to tweet with like-minded folks. One of my buds, who goes by the handle of metschick so there is no mistaking her priorities, tweets that she wants to buy this paperweight:

For the record, I want one too!

It’s baseball-related and it is being coveted by a woman.  AND IT ISN’T EVEN PINK, HEIDI WATNEY!!* It was a good night.  Red Sox were whooping the butts of the Houston Astros, there was baseball being called by Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo on my television and many baseball-minded tweeps were hanging out online.  And then it happened…someone tweeted something that got my Irish up.  I’m fickle.  Sometimes it takes a lot to get the Irish going and sometimes the fuse is very short.  Tonight that fuse was a bit short.

Some background to catch folks up:

Today MLB announced the winners of the “Dream Job” contest they ran last month.  (Many kind people sent me the link to apply…I did NOT apply.  While on the surface watching every game and getting paid for it while living in New York sounds like a dream, it isn’t quite mine.)  I won’t lie, my initial reaction was “Two guys…big surprise”.  But I have to admit, the more I read, the more I started getting annoyed not just because there was no one representing the women fans, but because they didn’t even have the decency to represent any fan that wasn’t white, male or a fan of an American League East team.  10,000 applications and they came up with two white guys who root for East Coast, American League teams?

As an aside, I have nothing against white guys who root for East Coast, American League teams.  Some of my best friends are white guys who root for East Coast, American League teams and I love them.  But there are 30 teams (and two leagues!) in Major League Baseball and you would think that, along with impressive applications, Major League Baseball might have taken that into consideration.

I know the world is not a fair place and it doesn’t exist to work specifically the way I want it to.  I know this.  But this “Dream Job” was advertised as a great opportunity for a baseball fan.  “Baseball fan” covers a wide variety of people and one would think that MLB would have set up some parameters to make it fair to all its fans.  There is nothing wrong with creating criteria that says since they were choosing two people they would pick one man and one woman.  OR one American League fan and one National League fan.  Is this unfair?  Would it have been so difficult to create something interesting this way?  Did MLB think they had to go the stereotypical frat boy route to entice folks to watch?

So my thoughts were all over the place about it today.  My final one being, it probably won’t be something that interests me but there could be something fun about seeing an Orioles fan and a Yankees fan trying to live together so maybe I’d give it a try.  Everything doesn’t have to be a fight, right?

That lasted until I logged on to Twitter tonight and read this tweet (from Aerys Sports Red Sox correspondent Cee Angi):

Opening Day at @MLBFanCave has Victoria’s Secret models. No wonder they didn’t pick a woman. Is it Fan Cave or Man Cave? #annoying

So I click on the twitter account for the fan cave and see that, indeed, their plan for Opening Day is to hang with a Victoria’s Secret model and they want fans to ask her questions (there is a connection, VS creates a brand of clothes for MLB that I won’t link to here, but they have witty sayings on their tops like “Meet me in the dugout” because everyone knows women only watch baseball in the hopes of a quickie with one of the players…but I digress).

Before I continue this rant let me also say this, as I have many times before:  Personally I have been quite lucky in my life in regard to how men perceive me and my baseball fandom.  I’m from a family with many more women sports fans than men fans so my knowledge or passion was never questioned there and I tend to surround myself with people who respect me (as I do them) so the majority of my personal relationships also include the understanding that I’m not some baseball groupie, I actually care and know about the game and the people who play it.  The men who read my blog seem to not care one way or the other which gender I am.  I love this.  But it changed for me when I blogged over at WEEI.  Some of the comments and emails I got while I was there just amazed me.  I’m not naive and I know how some people feel about women and sports mixing together but the hatred spewed was just unbelievable.  So while I’ve seen the bad first hand, for the most part my life as a woman sports fan hasn’t been that difficult to endure.

With that out of the way, it is impossible to write with a straight face that Major League Baseball appreciates their women fans as much as they do their male fans.  A few years ago maybe I could understand this better but last year it was revealed that women make up 45% of the fan base of MLB.  45% is no small potatoes.  I don’t pretend to speak for all women…I’m speaking for myself today…but I don’t think I ask for much as a fan.  I don’t need (or want)  pink or sparkly clothes but I would love jerseys and t-shirts cut to fit a woman’s figure without that figure having to be a size 2.  I don’t need (or want) free lipstick night or teach women about baseball night, but I could do with being acknowledged as being just as important a member of the paying fandom as men are.

Some will disagree, and many on Twitter have, but interviewing a Victoria’s Secret model on the first day of the “Fan Cave” screams to me that there was no intention ever of having a woman be one of the winners.   Having an underwear model be your guest on OPENING DAY tells me exactly what kind of viewers you want.  If your plan was that women would get involved since this model was going to be talking about clothes for women, why didn’t you just have them interview women baseball writers to talk about baseball instead?  Caryn at Metsgrrl has a great list of women I would tune it to hear talk baseball here.  You know what would be nice?  Your new, exciting experiment being about baseball.

This isn’t anything personal against the two men who won.  They aren’t the ones who created this and they’re basically at the mercy of whatever MLB wants them to do.  But instead of us getting exciting and original baseball content , we get a social networking rehash of The Man Show or The Best Damn Sports Show Period?  (In fairness, I base this only on what they have planned for the first day but, you know, usually the first impression is the one that reflects the road the program will take.)

Already this month I’ve written about women and their online presence on sports-related websites.  If Major League Baseball refuses to respect their women fans why should other sites?  I’ve been often told that many sites use pictures of half-naked women because it’s what the men sports fans want to see.  I don’t fully believe this.  I mean, I certainly know that men want to see half-naked women but I don’t think they would stop visiting their favorite sports sites if those sites stopped showing scantily-clad women.  Am I silly to assume most men watch sports for the same reason most women do…because they like sports?

I feel the need to mention this again:  Thursday is Opening Day and we’re being introduced to this gig with an underwear model instead of something related to baseball.  I have to type it out to wrap my brain around it.

This won’t be something I’ll watch and Major League Baseball knows this.  Major League Baseball doesn’t care about this.  All they care about is getting the eyes something like this attracts.  Yes, I know I’m spitting into the wind because I can complain about this until my fingers cramp but it’s not going to change.  It’s 2011 and MLB thinks this is the way to attract fans.  That sound you hear is my head banging against my computer.

Thursday is Opening Day for Major League Baseball.  My mind will be on wins and losses and pitch counts and such and, oddly enough, not on what a Victoria’s Secret model is talking about on a, supposedly, baseball-themed program.

*Tonight on NESN Heidi Watney told a vendor in Houston that she wanted her ice cream in a pink cup “because I’m a girl!”.  There aren’t enough words to describe how much it annoyed me.

…also, it’s fair to say I was very emotional while writing this.  I understand many won’t agree and some will but if I only wrote to appeal to the masses I’d be pretty damn boring wouldn’t I?

March 31, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

End of pre-season randomness

I had it in my head that the Red Sox weren’t playing the Astros until tomorrow.  Which, knowing the season starts for MLB tomorrow sounds ridiculous as I type it out.  So it was a pleasant surprise to be reminded that it actually happens tonight!  The MLB Network and NESN will cover the exhibition game at 8:05pm with Josh Beckett on the mound for the Red Sox.  Very much looking forward to watching it and saying a true goodbye to pre-season baseball!

Yesterday I was pleasantly surprised to be asked, along with a few other fellow bloggers, by Gordon Edes to offer up a prediction for the 2011 Red Sox season. Trying to stay true to myself (I don’t usually offer predictions and I get easily annoyed by negative predictions before the season even starts) I came up with a truly giddy and positive one for Gordon to use.  A note of thanks to him for including me in his piece this morning.   (Gordon asked for somewhere between 100 and 150 words.  If you read my blog you can imagine how difficult it was for me to whittle down my response!)

On Monday I went on a job interview where the office of the person interviewing me had a view of the new video board at Fenway (where they were doing testing and you could see the different colors showing up on it).  That is a view I could stand to have.

One of my goals for the blog this season is to share blogs or blog entries of interest.  It never hurts to spread the support around and there are a few good blogs out there that folks might not know about.  So in an effort to start the season off right, I’m going to direct you to an entry by a friend of mine, Alexis Boucher.  She blogs about the Tampa Bay Lightning for Aerys Sports but also just began contributing to the Red Sox blog over there and her first entry is now up.

I wasn’t lying in that blurb I sent to Gordon…I have truly high hopes for this team and the idea of waiting two more days has me eager to get it started!

March 30, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 1 Comment

Top Ten Reasons Evan Longoria Owns an AK-47

10.  In case Manny Ramirez tries to steal his Gold Glove.

9.    The assault rifle store was all out of AK-74s.

8.     He’ll get that cap back one way or another.

7.    Makes a good replacement in a pinch if he breaks all his bats.

6.    It goes well with the camo cap.

5.    Notice how you don’t hear The Heckler anymore?  That’s not a coincidence.

4.    It’s the only way to keep David Price and Reid Brignac from touching his stuff.

3.    So he’s ready for the next smartass who calls him “Eva”.

2.    Have you seen the size of the alligators in Port Charlotte?

1.    He’s finally going to put a stop to those cowbells.

March 29, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 4 Comments

Congrats Carl!

Screen grab from a video over at MLB.com

I’m sure, no I’m POSITIVE there have been times whether on this blog or in person I have said something negative about Carl Crawford.  Probably starting with “Son of a bitch!” which is to say that usually he was getting the best of the Red Sox when I said it (also there is that whole “almost beheading Matt Clement” that I’ve yet to get over).  But he’s always been a player I secretly coveted.  Guy works  his butt off and it shows in the way he plays. Plus, if he’s on the Red Sox he isn’t stealing bases on our pitchers and catchers, right?

But I’m finding that there is a bit of animosity from some in Red Sox Nation against Crawford.  It seems it comes mostly from his part in the basebrawl most famous for Coco Crisp losing his shit on James Shields.  Meh.  The guy wears red stockings now and I can forgive and forget…well, except for Clement but that’s totally irrational on my part since it isn’t like Crawford planned to hit him in the ear now is it?* See, I know when I’m being irrational!  Bottom line is that I like Crawford and it seems I’m not the only one:

Prior to the Grapefruit League finale at City of Palms Park between the Rays and Red Sox on Tuesday, the Tampa media presented Crawford with the BBWAA Rays MVP and the Paul C. Smith Champion Awards. The Champion Award, named for the MLB.com writer who died in February 2005, goes to the player who best exemplifies the spirit of true professionalism on and off the field.

It’s a nice honor for Crawford and a nice little legacy to leave in Tampa Bay as he begins his career in Boston.  I’d love him to bookend his first season with the Red Sox with these awards to begin it and maybe a couple of MVP awards (LCS and World Series would work for me!) to end it!

Congratulations, Carl.

* I’m mostly joking.  I will admit this, though:  I never see Carl Crawford that my first thought doesn’t go to Matt Clement.  My memory, for certain things, can be very long.

March 29, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 2 Comments

Joe Posnanski, your Writer of the Year

I’m a proud member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and as such get to vote on awards and then share the results with folks.  This week the BBA announce the recipient of our Writer of the Year award and it probably won’t come as a surprise to most which writer won:

POSNANSKI NAMED INAUGURAL WRITER OF THE YEAR BY BBA

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance today named writer Joe Posnanski the winner of the inaugural Writer of the Year Award, honoring the top internet writer. Posnanski, who writes for the print version of Sports Illustrated as well as maintaining his own blog and Twitter account, was the overwhelming selection from the BBA membership.

The Writer of the Year Award was created by the BBA to honor those writers who, beyond being exceptionally great at their craft, have taken to the Internet in a full and vigorous fashion. Voters were instructed to take into account not only the writing abilities of the nominees but also their online presence, whether via blog or other media, as well as how they interact with their followers and fans.

“After a week where the ugly side of writing was put on display on two different occasions, it is an honor for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance to honor one of the great writers of the day. Joe Posnanski is a treasure to anyone that spends time online. Whether from reading his great blog entries or following his Twitter account, rarely a day goes by without a follower finding a gem,” stated Daniel Shoptaw, founder and president of the Alliance.

Voters were allowed to vote for three of the fifteen nominees, casting a first, second and third place ballot. Those ballots were tabulated based on a 5-3-1 point scale.

Posnanski received 218 points, including 35 first place votes from the 110 ballots cast. Rob Neyer, formerly of ESPN and now at SB Nation, was second with twelve first place selections and 136 points overall. Rounding out the top three was former Boston Globe writer Peter Gammons, now working at MLB Network and MLB.com, with 134 total points and 20 first place votes. ESPN writer Buster Olney and Hardball Talk blogger Craig Calcaterra were the only other nominees to tabulate ten percent of the total vote.

The BBA is planning to honor the inaugural winner by changing the name of the award next year to the Joe Posnanski Award to fit their existing award naming scheme. The Alliance votes on postseason awards including the Willie Mays Award for top rookie in each league, the Connie Mack Award for top manager, the Goose Gossage Award for top reliever, the Walter Johnson Award for top pitcher, and the Stan Musial Award for top player.

The Baseball Bloggers Alliance was formed in the fall of 2009 to encourage cooperation and collaboration between baseball bloggers of all major league teams as well as those that follow baseball more generally. As of this writing, the organization consists of 275 blogs spanning all 30 major league squads as well as general baseball writing.

The official website for the Baseball Bloggers Alliance is baseballbloggersalliance.wordpress.com. They may also be followed on Twitter with their account @baseballblogs and hashmark #BBBA. The BBA also has an app at both the Apple App Store and the Android Marketplace.

Congratulations, Joe!

March 29, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , | Leave a comment

Talk baseball for a good cause

Red Sox fans get criticized a lot. Maybe more than any other fan base in baseball. As a Red Sox fan, I am guilty of criticizing my own from time to time. In spite of that, there is one criticism that always annoys me. Red Sox fans are known for buying into whatever marketing idea the team comes up with. Selling dirt from Fenway? We’ll buy it. Selling the seats they tore out when they were working on different sections of the park? Please sell them to us! Slapping the Boston Red Sox logo on dog bowls and baby seats? We’re in! I’ve written lately about the different things I’ve saved that have some relation to the Sox. I’m all for taking advantage if there is something out there to be had that will make you happy as a fan. I don’t see buying items that support your team as being a negative thing. The bottom line is, Red Sox fans will spend their money and, frankly, I think that’s a very good thing.

The best part about that is, in my experience, not only will they spend their money on material things that relate to the Red Sox but they are willing to open their wallets in the name of charity any time they are asked.  They are a generous people, Red Sox fans, which is why I’m usually happy to help promote various charitable events that involve the Red Sox or their fans.  Today is one of those days.

The Sons of Sam  Horn came up with a really interesting way to make money for the Jimmy Fund while indulging the baseball geek inside you.

A weekend baseball-centric seminar titled Sabermetrics, Scouting, and the Science of Baseball will be held on May 21 and 22 at Harvard University. All proceeds from this event will benefit the Jimmy Fund as part of the SoSH March to 100K. Help cure cancer while talking baseball with some of the top minds in the game including Jared Porter, Tom Tippett, Mitchel Lichtman, Andy Andres, Jonah Keri, Dan Brooks, Alan Nathan, Jeremy Greenhouse, David Gassko, David Sheinberg, Michael Richmond and other members of SoSH.

Planned seminars include an explanation of offensive assessments like linear weights and WPI/LI, a discussion of pitch f/x and how that tool is best utilized, the bio-mechanics of a baseball swing, the visuomotor aspects of the game including the psycho-physics of hitting, what the most advanced defensive stats entail and where they are going, forecasting player performance, modern technologies for tracking the baseball, a discussion of why a ball curves, and question and answer sessions with Red Sox Director of Information Services Tom Tippett, and Assistant Director of Pro Scouting Jared Porter. The more advanced baseball statistics will be discussed alongside more traditional scouting assessments, with science helping bridge the gap between them

Two days of discussing baseball with some of the best minds in the game and all of the proceeds go to the Jimmy Fund.  It’s a stat fiend’s dream.

The Red Sox play the Cubs the weekend of the seminar and all three games that weekend are night games, so you can attend the seminars on both days and still not miss a pitch!  That, my friends, is how you make sure your fan base can happily be charitable and enjoy themselves at the same time!

March 29, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | Leave a comment

Random Bits

Get well, Bronson. (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

After all my complaining about people complaining about the team in Spring Training I have to fess up and admit that watching last night’s game was painful. I’m not proud.  The game drove me crazy.  Good God, it’s already started, hasn’t it?

It’s going to be a fun year.

Speaking of pain, send good thoughts to Corey Patterson who left the game after being hit by a Daniel Bard 95 mph fastball.  It was a frightening moment during the game punctuated by the obvious remorse Bard showed while Patterson was being attended to.  I can’t remember seeing a pitcher applaud someone he just hit as they walk off the field.  Bard did that last night (he also spoke to Patterson after the game).

In one of the more unique stories of the week, Bronson Arroyo, thought to possibly have been suffering with Valley Fever can rest easy now knowing it’s Mono.  Apparently the move to Arizona for the Reds has taken it’s toll on my favorite active right-hander. (A comment on the original ESPN story about the possibility of it being Valley Fever now seems more entertaining than when I originally read it:  “some get pneumonia then get better, some are sick for months or years, and some die”.  In either case, Bronson could probably use some positive vibes sent his way too!)

Previously, I mentioned Pedro Martinez getting a portrait in the Smithsonian this week.  After reading the story about it and how he felt (and seeing this picture of him and his mother next to the portrait) I have a hankering to watch some old Red Sox games pitched by him.  It’s interesting to me the kind of emotions Pedro can stir up.  At least for me.   I’m so proud of him and touched by his reaction to the honor.  It also makes me sentimental for the Pedro Martinez days of the Boston Red Sox.

Including the exhibition game against the Houston Astros on the 30th, there are five games left for the Red Sox before the regular season begins.  Three of them, including the Houston game, will be shown on NESN and two of those three (the Houston game and tonight’s 7:05 game against the Minnesota Twins) will also be shown on the MLB Network.  So there are still plenty of opportunities to get a look at your 2011 Boston Red Sox before the games officially mean anything.

March 26, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | Leave a comment