Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

In spite of the loss, a really good day

Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald greeting the fans yesterday (the rest of my photos from the day are over at my Flickr account - accessible using the button at the top right of the blog!)

Bill Hall and Darnell McDonald greeting the fans yesterday (the rest of my photos from the day are over at my Flickr account - accessible using the button at the top right of the blog!)

First things first:

Lights on the field so the teams can play night games

Artificial turf

The designated hitter

Interleague play

The All Star Game’s outcome having meaning

(Many others)

None of these things were in the original game that was major league baseball but they all are now because things change and MLB needed to grow with the times.  (You’ll notice I didn’t include minorities playing.  To me that goes way beyond MLB having to change with the times and gets into the ugliness of the world back then and is a separate subject for another entry.)  We have the technology available to make sure the correct calls get made and we should be using it.  Don’t give me the “purity of the game” crap or the “human element is what makes it fun” stuff.  I don’t care if it means longer games, what’s more important to me is that it would mean games that were actually called correctly.  Maybe we don’t need robot umpires just yet but instant replay on close calls or maybe more specifically calls that affect the outcome of the game (like, say oh the last out of the game).  If you don’t want to allow it for every play or call make specific rules but expand those rules to the entire game not just home runs.  Why is it such a big deal?  Just use the damn replay and get the call right.

Okay, I’m done for now.

Yesterday was a great day at the park and I have the sunburn to prove it!  Sure it didn’t end the way we wanted but it was still a really good game and a lot of fun to watch.  Since that three-game losing streak that ended with that horrible extra innings game in New York, the Sox have split a series with New York, won each series against Minnesota and Philadelphia, swept Tampa Bay, split with Kansas City and won the series against Oakland.  They won 12 out of those 17 games with half of those wins being on the road.  So, sure, it was a little disappointing that they didn’t sweep the A’s but I’ll take the series win any day.

It was the last day of the Red Sox fan appreciation homestand and the Sox ended it on a high note with “picture day”.  Some of the players, coaches and Tito walked around the field shaking hands, posing for pictures and interacting with the fans.  John Lackey seemed genuinely excited to get to meet folks and talk.  Darnell McDonald, Bill Hall and Adrian Beltre posed with, I’m guessing, every person in the park.  Mike Cameron not only posed for photos but was taking them for folks as well.

A digression:  I wanted a hug from Mike Cameron.  I didn’t know this until I saw him across the field.  There is something genuinely dynamic about his personality and I asked Kelly if it was odd that I didn’t want a picture with him, I just wanted a hug.  He ended up being the last player on the field and security was rushing him away but he was trying to get photos in with those fans who were left.  As he turned to finally walk away Kelly called out to him and asked if “we could get a hug”.  He came bounding over to us and gave me a big hug and I got to wish him well.  It was teenage fun for a few minutes and I really appreciate the Red Sox doing it.

I know many other teams do stuff like this a lot, but the Sox don’t so it was pretty special.  I also got a picture with JD Drew which made for a nice start to the day.  Drew was great.  Engaging the kids in conversation, posing for everyone, talking to folks.  I know I favor him but yesterday proved that favoritism well-placed.  It really was a great way to begin the day and I hope they consider making it an annual event (this is the second year they’ve done such a thing at Fenway).

Wanting to be at another weekday afternoon game, I bought the ticket for yesterday’s game last week and did something I never do – I bought a standing room only ticket.  Cost me $8.  I figured that, at the very least, I’d be in the park and I could worry about where I might possibly sit later.  I ended up sitting on the aisle in the first row of the grandstand behind the visitor’s dugout.  Good seat and, aside from the woman who had a two year-old she let play in the middle of the aisle so people walking the stairs had to step over or around the kid, had a good crowd around me.  By the fifth inning, I was sitting in what was an empty seat in one of the field boxes thanks to a text from Kelly alerting me to the open seating.  It never rained until well after the game, the team was doing it’s best to come back and win, I had a good seat and friends all around the park…a win would have made the day perfect but it was damn well close to perfect anyway.

Now the Sox are on the road and can hopefully build on their good record.  In spite of the absolutely obnoxious and embarrassing promo on NESN calling the Orioles the “doormats of the AL East”, playing the Orioles is always tough for the Sox, so I don’t automatically assume anything, I just hope for a good series!  Sadly,  at 9:30 this morning, the Orioles are scheduled to announce the firing of their manager Dave Trembley.  Along with my hating to see folks lose their jobs, I hate seeing a team lose their manager mid-season, regardless of the state of the club.  This wrinkle will certainly make this weekend in Baltimore a bit more interesting.  Juan Samuel, Baltimore’s third base coach, will be the interim manager.   In the time that Peter Angelos has become the principal owner of the team, the O’s have gone through eight managers.  Samuel will be the 9th in 17 years.  I wonder if it has occurred to Mr. Angelos that maybe the managers aren’t the problem with this team?

I leave you with this:  Do you know what the JD in JD Drew’s name stands for?  If you didn’t, would you pretend you did and yell it at him when you were in field box seats and close enough for him to possibly hear you?  I’ll give you a hint before you Google, it isn’t Jason David.  Hell, his initials aren’t even JD.  I thought this was, relatively speaking, common knowledge among baseball fans.  The guy didn’t even sound like he was being ironic or funny.  That coupled with the guy behind me calling him and Fred Lynn over-rated and soft (“Fred Lynn wouldn’t play if he had a hangnail”) AFTER he complemented them both on how fluidly they run/ran through the outfield,  proved that even sitting in the good seats brings out some, let’s say “interesting” folks.

Ooh, wait, one more JD story!  During the pre-game fan photo thing, some guy kept yelling to Drew “Ruben Amaro is waiting for your call!” He said it at least 3 times.  Made a point of addressing JD and getting his attention so he could make sure JD heard him.  JD responded by telling him that he didn’t know who “Ruben Amaro” was and the guy scoffed (I swear he really scoffed), said “Of course you do, he’s the GM for the Phillies!”, laughed and walked away.  I need it explained to me why you would waste such a unique opportunity to taunt one of the players.

Beat B’More!  (Seems more appropriate than chanting “Beat LA” at a Sox/A’s game.)

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June 4, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Is this thing on?

When all else fails, there's always Bill Hall.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

When all else fails, there's always Bill Hall. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

So yesterday was one of those games that I  missed because of other obligations and then didn’t mine missing at all.

Let us not speak of it again.  (Ugh!)

I will be watching tonight’s game so Mr. Buchholz can feel free to pitch another no-hitter or, heck,  just a one-hitter will work too.  I won’t mind.

I guess if one thing upset me about missing the Sox it’s that I missed Bill Hall pitch a perfect ninth.  Have to love a position player coming in and getting the job done.  (I lie, you realize.  The idea of a position player finishing a game, and the fact that TWO have done so already this year, makes me want to bang my head.)  I dvr’d the game but might just fast forward through it to see Kevin Millar hassling Tito.

And, as much as I love the dude and I promise you I adore the guy, the Sox are 0-2 in the Kevin Millar on NESN era.  Something’s gotta give.

One pitcher-related note:  Ted Lilly:  You cheated.  Casey Blake isn’t the bad guy because he called you out on it.  You’re the bad guy because you did it and John Hirschbeck is the bad guy because when Blake questioned it he refused to do anything about it but, make no mistake, you did it.  We all know you did it and pretending you didn’t makes you look a bit, well, makes it look like you think we’re all stupid.  We aren’t.  Folks who weren’t Casey Blake picked up on it, most specifically CJ Nitkowski.  Also, saying something along the lines of “everyone cheats” doesn’t  make what you did right.  If you don’t want people calling you out as a cheater, here’s a tip:  don’t cheat.

I have my cranky pants on today.  I spent a few hours fixing my wireless that was down almost a day (the horror, I know) and I think my Mac is well on its way to its demise.  I’ve already had folks offer me PC laptops as loaners for the day the Macbook Pro finally dies but, man, I will miss the Mac when it finally kicks.  When I finally get back to the ranks of the gainfully employed, first thing on the list will be to get a new one, I think.  (Hey the phone bill can wait, right?)  So while I will definitely be trying to continue posting every day there might be a time when that stops while I get my house in order, so to speak.  As of right now, though, I’m still planning the Tuesday night live chat!  My technology failing me tends to get me on the crabby side, especially since I can’t really do much about it right now, so I chose to hold off on blogging until the crankiness was gone…and then I read about Ted Lilly and it all came roaring back.  I think I’m good now!

Tonight I’d like a well-pitched, offensively active, Sox win.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

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

More wins please

Crabby has his work cut out for him.  I think he's up to it.  (Photo taken by me in Baltimore back in 2008)

Crabby has his work cut out for him. I think he's up to it. (Photo taken by me in Baltimore back in 2008)

Really quite nice to slap on “Breakfast with the Sox” this morning and see the shortened version of last night’s game.  Clay Buchholz pitched great, Big Papi slammed two home runs, JD Drew continued his hitting streak, Pedroia got in on the fun…hell, Bill Hall had a damn pinch hit home run!  There really wasn’t anything to NOT like about last night’s game.

I will admit to flipping over to the Bruins game occasionally.  I’m not one of those people who will pretend to be a die hard.  I stopped really caring about what the Bruins were doing probably in the mid/late 90s.  But I certainly jump on the bandwagon during the playoffs and although I’m not feeling any sting this morning I really do sympathize with the real Bruins fans this morning.  It’s always lousy for a devoted fan base to go through something as gut wrenching as you all are right now.  (Okay, it wasn’t lousy when it happened to Yankees fans…but it is for everyone else!)  I’ll also admit to being a little happy that I don’t have to watch any more baseball games on the God-awful NESN Plus channel.

Back to Papi for a moment.  In his last ten games (against the Tigers, Blue Jays, Yankees, Angels and Orioles) he has 11 hits and 11 RBI.  He’s walked 3 times, scored six runs and hit five homers.  Dan Roche was writing about him this morning as well:

In the month of May Ortiz is hitting .333 with 5 home runs and 11 RBI. He’s got an .OBP of .361 and a Slugging percentage of .818 for an OPS of 1.179.

Also in May? The Red Sox are 8-5.  As Papi goes so go the Red Sox?

My one note of snark on the night?  It was pretty sweet to see Johnny Damon go 0-5 and end the game by flying out to Bill Hall.

Sox send out Jon Lester tonight to go up against Dontrelle Willis.  On paper, this promises to be an exciting game if you’re into good pitching.  In reality?  I’d like to see a replay of last night’s game.  Sox scoring early and often and our starting pitcher going at least six innings giving up only a run or two.  Another win, that would be great, fellas.

May 15, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The inner garden, it seems so frail

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Deliver me from this performance art

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

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

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

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

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

It feels like we're swimming upstream

Josh Reddick will be at Fenway tonight.  So will I.  Oh happy day!  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

Josh Reddick will be at Fenway tonight (sporting much less hair)! Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

I found a silver lining to all this losing.  (I always do, eventually!)

Just think.  If this keeps up…if the Sox become the first team to go 4-158, all the fans who stick it out will be able to buy field box seats at really good prices!  Heck, a Sox losing season could put scalpers out of business!  Ace Ticket wouldn’t be able to afford to pay Jerry Remy to shill for them!  If you look hard enough, there’s an upside to everything!

But the Sox aren’t going to go 4-158 (please, Jesus, please) this season.  The tide is already turning with the announcement of Mike Cameron going on the dl with an abdominal tear and Josh Reddick being called up.  (Now, I’m not saying Reddick is the cure for everything wrong with the Red Sox right now, but anything that puts Bill Hall back on the bench to collect himself and wait for a chance to pinch-hit or sub in the INFIELD late in a game is step in the right direction.)  Poor Bill Hall.  I hope he ends up hitting a walk-off for us this year!  I wonder if they sell a “Hall” t-shirt at the Yawkey Way Store?

The plan for the live blog/chat (so far) is that I’m going to do one for the Wednesday game this week but, most likely, I’ll be doing it for the Tuesday games this year (we’ll see how that goes).  To get it started, though, I wanted to do it sooner than later.  So tomorrow night, when Beckett takes all of our hopes and dreams to the mound with him, I’ll be here with the live chat for those who would like to join (or lurk, but joining in is more fun!).

Back at Fenway tonight to see Wake take the mound still looking for his first win of the season.  Tonight is as good a night as any to start that winning streak!

April 20, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 3 Comments

Things don't always work out like they should

My favorite of the photos I took today.  Pedroia waiting for Burrell with the ball in his glove.

My favorite of the photos I took today. Pedroia waiting for Burrell with the ball in his glove.

Okay so where do I start?

First off, I had kind of half-assedly planned a live blog/chat for Tuesday night’s game but that won’t be happening this week because I’ll be at the game.  Got an invite today and couldn’t see any reason to turn it down.

Yes, see I know that this has been the month o’ suck but eventually something has to give, right?  And if something doesn’t give, well, the team will need fans still supporting them so either way I plan on being there.

Don’t get me wrong, this sucks.  Sucks in the biggest way something baseball-related can suck.  But I fail to see the point in wailing and hand-wringing and beating dead horses.  We know they suck, they know they suck and the best we can hope is that they stop sucking soon.  There isn’t one guy on this team who I think is dogging it.  No one is walking on to that field thinking they don’t have to give it their all because they cash a good paycheck win or lose.  For the love of God, Bill Hall is an infielder trying to do the job of an outfielder…it isn’t his fault he’s being put in that position and it isn’t his fault he’s not doing well in that position.  Why not put Josh Beckett behind the plate and then boo him with every passed ball?  (I pull Bill Hall’s name out of the hat because he got the most boos today.  Granted, pretty much everyone who wasn’t named Youkilis, Varitek or Pedroia got booed today at some point but the strongest seemed to be for poor Bill.  Give the guy a freaking break, people.  It isn’t his fault he’s playing out of position.)

Josh Reddick is tearing up Pawtucket tonight while we are short two outfielders.  This is, honestly, right now the only thing that genuinely is pissing me off about the team.  There is no reason Ellsbury hasn’t been put on the DL and Reddick hasn’t been brought up (that I can think of).  It’s ridiculous that a team like the Red Sox is playing so short-handed.  For crying out loud, Ellsbury is obviously hurt and Mike Cameron has some exotic baby disease (or just more kidney stones) and instead of putting someone on the DL and using a proven, talented outfielder we are watching Bill Hall get his soul torn apart a little more each day.  I just don’t get it.

As painful as the game was, I had a great day.  Breakfast at Remy’s new place (still not televisions in the ladies room), early dinner at Burton’s…I genuinely enjoyed the day.  Even at Fenway, the weather was beautiful, I was in a roomy seat with space next to me to dump my stuff, and most of my neighbors stuck it out until the end, cheering the Sox the entire time.  There are still fans out there who know that the point of being a fan is supporting the team you choose, regardless of their win/loss numbers.

I’m convinced something will give and the suck will wear off at some point…but what if it doesn’t?  What if Theo’s original idea of this being a “bridge” year actually comes to be?  Do we give up?  Do we say “Thanks for 2004 and 2007 and now go stuff yourself”?

I don’t.  I’ve watched this team win and I’ve watch this team lose so I’ve never felt so entitled that I expect 162 win seasons every year.  Is it painful watching a team struggle?  Sure it is.  Ask Mets fans.  Or Royals fans.  Or Pirates fans.  Hell, ask MOST MLB fans.  Every year isn’t going to be “the” year so you need to decide if this is the team you’re rooting on for the duration or if you’re going to jump off the bandwagon because they aren’t winning right now.

We have five full months of baseball (plus a few days here and there) left.  Digging out of this hole will be tough but it won’t be impossible.  I’m looking forward to being along for the ride.

April 19, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , | 8 Comments