Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

The people demand to have a say

Artsy version of a favorite picture of mine that I took in 2006

Artsy version of a favorite picture of mine that I took in 2006

If I learned anything from last night’s game and live blog chat it’s that the fans who I tend to surround myself with (whether my friends or fans of this blog) are made of better stuff than the bandwagoners and the sports writers.  (Thanks to all of you who stopped by and made last night much more bearable than it would have been had we not done the live chat!)

There is no way – absolutely no way – to spin anything positive about a 20-11 loss.  Sure the team came back and scored 11 runs (actually, that is a positive…the Yankees hammered away last  night but the Sox didn’t give up, not even in the ninth inning) but the loss was still tough.  But the comments last night and emails I’ve received since seem to reflect similar attitudes.  No one is  happy with Brad Penny.  Most feel sorry for Michael Bowden getting thrown into that situation and just about everyone thinks that a team giving up all those hits and runs is more fluky than anything else.  The Yankees are a good team, no doubt, but so are the Red Sox.  Of course, Nick Cafardo writes that last night shows that the Yankees are a championship -caliber team.  Now, they very well might be but I don’t think a 20-11 blowout is an indication of that.  Games like this, in my mind, are an aberration.  The Yankees exploited the suckitude of Brad Penny but the Red Sox also got 11 runs on 12 hits.  There was some bad pitching going on with the Yankees as well, the Red Sox just took longer to capitalize on it.  So you’ll pardon me if I don’t look at a game like last night’s and automatically crown the Yankees the World Champions of 2009.

Today’s game is on Fox so it doesn’t start until 4:10pm EST.  Since I’ll be at Fenway I will, thankfully, be spared the ramblings of the ballwashing McCarver and Buck but I’ll still be in the middle of drunken Sox and Yankees fans so it’s a bit of a wash.  I don’t usually go to a game thinking “PLEASE let them win” it’s always usually “I HOPE they win” but today I’m going to ask the baseball gods to please let them win.  I’m not sure I can deal with Yankee fan jerkiness or the fights started by drunken and annoyed Red Sox fans if they don’t.

Junichi Tazawa doesn’t automatically instill a sense of calm when pitted against A.J. Burnett and the Yankees but I’m still going into this game hopeful.  Why not?  I’m a baseball fan.  I’m a Red Sox fan.  Today I get to sit in the park and enjoy a baseball game.  There’s no reason to feel down about that.

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August 22, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | 11 Comments

A Crowd of People Turned Away

The “Welcome Back Jerry Remy” Live Blog!

August 21, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Whatever you're looking for

Hey, look at that!  A handsome man who also plays well.  (And, apparently, can dance too!)   Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Hey, look at that! A handsome man who also plays well. (And, apparently, can dance too!) Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

I wrote almost an entire entry about how sick and tired I am of trolls coming here just to get personal digs in that have nothing to do with baseball or anything I write about and then I thought “Why?  Why bother validating anything those schmucks write?”.  So, instead, I’ll write about how damn happy I am that JD Drew went 4 for 4 with 3 RBI and two home runs on Thursday night.  Does that show the “Nancy Drew” asses that he has “heart” or “passion” or whatever the hell it is they’re looking for him to have?  Probably not.  But I enjoy JD giving a giant middle finger to all the jerks who want to point to him as the reason this team struggles.

Sweeping the Blue Jays wasn’t totally unexpected (although many had written off the Buchholz/Halladay game, I’m sure) but it was exactly what they needed to do.  Just keep winning games and everything else will fall into place.

So Friday begins the Yanks series.  I’m not overjoyed with the pitching match-ups but, then again, I’m a big believer in “anything can happen” so I’m not worrying about any of the games this weekend.  (Also a tip of the hat and thanks to Jon Lester for going 8 innings, thus saving the bullpen for the Yankees.)  Brad Penny might be the first on the mound but the main focus for me during the first game is the return of Jerry Remy.  I know a lot of people are fans of Dennis Eckersley (and in the context of baseball, I am as well) but he got to the point where if I heard him say “cheese” or “salad” one more time I was going to poke out my eardrums with an ice pick.  So I’m pleased to be getting the Rem Dawg back.  And it’ll be sweet to be live blogging not only the game but Jerry’s return.  It’s just a good thing you all won’t be able to see how dusty it gets at my place when the game starts.  Welcome back, Jerry!

Based on some comments I received this week, I think there are a few things I need to make clear about posting comments just so there are no surprises for first-time commenters.  Now is as good a time as any to cover them.

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August 21, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

But strength rained down

He just doesn't care, the bastard!  (Is this where I should write "kidding"?)  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

He just doesn't care, the bastard! (Is this where I should write "kidding"?) Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

I have to give a shout-out to my friend Beth, who not only trekked 140 miles (each way) this weekend to see Tim Wakefield pitch with the PawSox but who also clued me in to this article in today’s Pawtucket Times.  Terry Nau the “Sports Editor” over there entitled the piece “Red Sox should shut up and play baseball”.  Now you may ask yourself, “Are the Red Sox doing a lot of jawing and not much playing lately?”  And I hope you will tell yourself, “No, that’s pretty ridiculous.” if you’ve been paying attention.

Here’s how the piece begins:

When Kevin Youkilis returns from suspension and rejoins Boston’s lineup in Toronto on Tuesday night, his teammates ought to follow his example and play the game like they really care.

On Friday night, the Red Sox were down to their last out in the ninth inning and the Nation was ready to chalk up an L for the night. The team had other ideas and mounted a comeback that resulted in their winning the game. Granted, it was the only game they won in Texas this weekend but there wasn’t a player in the bunch who was playing like he didn’t care. The above quote is the writing of someone lazy who wants to jump on the media panic-bandwagon just to rile up the fans. “Your players don’t care! Why should you?”

Then there’s this gem:

The first incident came in the eighth inning of Friday night’s game as Boston trailed 4-2. J.D. Drew sidled over to manager Terry Francona and told him he wouldn’t be able to play the field in the bottom of the inning because his groin pull was hurting him. “Tito” went ballistic, asking Drew in colorful language who he expected him to put in right field. So the laconic Drew strapped it up, went back in the field, and finished off Boston’s amazing comeback with a ninth-inning homer that provided insurance in an 8-4 victory.

Now, according to the Boston Globe’s Adam Kilgore:

“I said, ‘Look at the the scorecard. You have to,’ ” Francona said. “We already put a pitcher into run. That’s all we got to do, put somebody out in [expletive] right. It would have been like a circus.”

I don’t doubt for a moment that Tito wasn’t happy. But Nau makes the exchange seem like he dressed Drew down where Kilgore’s account makes it seem like Francona acted like a manager and basically said “Do what I say”. It might be nitpicking, but Nau’s version is written specifically to get the “Nancy Drew” crowd all up in arms about how Drew doesn’t care, has no passion, blah blah blah. In the line following the above quote, Nau goes on to write that Drew’s injury is “obviously real”. Yeah, imagine that. Someone who was hurt thought maybe he wouldn’t be able to play. The nerve of some people.

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August 17, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

I remember, long ago, another starry night like this

Wake and Kottaras this past week at Fenway. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Wake and Kottaras this past week at Fenway. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

So an amazing win on Friday that I didn’t have time to write about gets followed up by a terrible loss on Saturday.  Wee.

But before I get into Saturday with the Sox, a mention about Tim Wakefield on Saturday with the PawSox.  According to Dan Hoard:

“My good friend Chris Scott at the Capital Grille in Boston made some arrangements for the Capital Grille of Atlanta to come up here,” Wakefield said. “It took them 45 minutes to an hour to get up here, but it’s nice to treat the guys to a nice spread from the Capital Grille – filet mignon and some lobster mac-and-cheese.”

Now THAT is the way to treat the minor league guys! Wake also went 3.2 innings and gave up 2 runs but out of 63 pitches 40 were strikes and he seemingly had no trouble being out on the field (fielding his position has been the biggest concern right now). Expect Wake to pitch at Fenway on Friday night against the Yankees. (Figures I’d have the Saturday game – I really enjoy the Wake games!)

But back to Texas.  For me the loss was “terrible” because of all the stolen bases.  Hell a loss is a loss but the Rangers went one step ahead and embarrassed Jason Varitek (Frank Viola wants to blame Brad Penny but Penny wasn’t the only pitcher last night who was run on).  According to a tweet by Amalie Benjamin last night, Tek has allowed 91.1 percent of runners stealing to reach safely – which is , obviously, the worst in the majors.  I was genuinely embarrassed not by the loss but by all those stolen bases.  Victor Martinez and Jacoby Ellsbury were the only bright spots for me last night – and Ian Kinsler being hit in the head was the darkest.

I have a hard time believing that Fernando Cabrera meant to hit him and Tito was quick to defend by saying that the way Kinsler covers the plate you have to pitch inside, but the kid went 2-3 last night (with a walk, strike out and home run mixed in before he was hit).  While I’d hope that, at the very least, Cabrera wasn’t aiming for his head, the timing of it all felt somewhat intentional to me.  I choose to believe Cabrera, though, when he says it wasn’t.

David Wright was hit by a 94-mph Matt Cain fastball yesterday and taken to a hospital where he was diagnosed with a concussion.  Ironically, the Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda was also hit in the head on Saturday by a line drive off of the Diamondbacks’ Rusty Ryal.   Both Wright and Kuroda stayed in the hospital overnight for observation.  Scary stuff happening in what is supposed to be just a game.

Michael Silverman wrote that as he got up and made his way to first, Kinsler said something that upset the Red Sox and then called back down to Tek to apologize for it. Now this I find interesting.  What could he have said that was so bad that he felt like he had to apologize after HE was the one hit in the head?  I probably don’t want to know.

Interesting moment (maybe only to me!) during the post-game interview of Brad Penny.  Heidi Watney started to ask him about all the stolen bases and he responded with:

“…I answered that earlier, so…”

and then he turned away.

I’m sure I read too much into this, but he was only slightly less insulting to her than his pal Josh Beckett was earlier in the year.  Aside from the buddy connection, there’s something else.  Both moments happened on the road.  I wonder if it just takes Heidi longer to get from the field where she does her work, including the post game interview on the field to the clubhouse where the rest of the interviews are being held than it does in Boston?  Then again, Penny was dressed.  I suppose that alone should have given her enough time to get there.  Maybe she just likes to say “so and so told me” so she asks the same questions.  Maybe she just doesn’t have that many questions to ask?  Maybe Beckett and Penny need etiquette lessons?  Or maybe none of this means anything except Heidi’s questions annoy people?  I’d say that last one is  a fair bet!

Junichi Tazawa on the mound at 2:05pm (Boston time!) today for the rubber match.  It’ll be interesting to see him in another start.  I like the offense’s chances against Dustin Nippert.

Monday is a day off for the Sox and then they head to Toronto for three games before the Yankees series back home.  More wins, fellas, more wins.

August 16, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , | 7 Comments

There's a place that I go that nobody knows

Junichi Tazawa courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstilll.net and used with permission

Junichi Tazawa courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstilll.net and used with permission

Well that was nice, huh?  Sox win and both the Yankees and the Rays lose. THIS is the way to start a home stand.

Brad Penny pitched as well as we could expect him to (and as Texy points out, we might need to pay someone to make him throw up the day of his starts) and the offense took off.  Detroit isn’t an easy team to beat – and they didn’t make it easy last night – but I’m happy with the result.  Here’s hoping this starts a nice string of wins for the guys.

I don’t have tickets to a Sox game now until Saturday, August 22nd. Yes, the Saturday game against the Yankees.  As  much as being at a Sox/Yanks game wears on my nerves, the upside is that it’s a Fox game so I get to avoid Buck/McCarver.  I’ve definitely come out on top with this one. (That Sunday game is an ESPN game just like this past weekend.  No wonder all the other fan bases hate the Yanks and Sox.  Two weekends in August where they are the Fox AND ESPN games?  I’m a Sox fan and it annoys me.)

Junichi Tazawa gets his first major-league start tonight.  After giving up that bomb to Slappy on Friday, the kid is going to need some love.  I hope the Fenway Faithful give it to him tonight.

Wednesday live blogging is back!  (I know I said it wouldn’t be this week but that’s only because I need to learn how to read a calendar!  NEXT Wednesday we won’t be having the live blog/chat.  THIS Wednesday it’s totally on!)  13-4 Josh Beckett (ERA = 3.12) is pitching tomorrow night against 6-10 Armando Galarraga (ERA = 5.23).  I like our chances for a good, fun, live blog!

Even I have to admit that the day after a win (coupled with that Yankees’ loss) is a ton better than the day after a loss.

August 11, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | 2 Comments

I am falling safely to the ground

Youk gives me great hope!  Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Youk gives me great hope! Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Still have a little left to write about Baltimore but there’s no way I can’t first comment on last night’s game.

Bottom line?  If you’re going to lose, Red Sox, let’s do it in less time, okay?

Then again, it bothers me less to see them lose a 13-inning game.  It sucks that they lost but, at that point, you have to think when you leave the bases loaded on the road in extra innings that it will come back to bite you on the ass.  It did and they took the loss.

Brad Penny is on the mound today.  It seems like he pitches a lot on Wednesdays – I’m usually live blogging his starts.  Tonight there won’t be a live blog.  I’m not even sure of being able to see the game since I’ll be heading to Pawtucket early today for tonight’s game.  (Given it’s a weekday and my mode of transportation limits my options, I might have to leave the PawSox game early but we’re heading down nonetheless.)  Michael Bowden has the start tonight and it will be the first time I see him pitch since his Major League debut at Fenway last year.   I’m looking forward to seeing him on the mound again even if it turns out to only be for an inning or two!

I’m considering live blogging Thursday’s or Friday’s game (although the idea of live blogging a Sox/Yanks game really doesn’t fill me with joy) but we’ll see how those plans go.  We have a beautiful day to get past last night.  It’s tough to do, I know, when the loss is as annoying as this one, but it’s just one game.  A win tonight and the Sox split the series heading into New York.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

Monkey business on a sunny afternoon

Josh Reddick and Daniel Bard in January 2009 - Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

Josh Reddick and Daniel Bard in January 2009 - Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

Day one of my three days in Baltimore has been over for a few hours…and I missed it!

KellyJ and I didn’t get to Baltimore (at least not to the hotel) until after 11pm.  Yep, we missed the entire first game.  Nice to see the fellas won even without us there!

We spent many, many hours in New York on Friday.  One of those hours was spent at, of all places, the MLBPA office.  KellyJ has a family friend there who showed us great hospitality and sent us on our way with bags of stuff!  (Including Dustin Pedroia jerseys for each of us!)  It was an unexpected yet welcomed and appreciated surprise.  The rest of the time was spent sitting around in traffic.  I got up at 3am on Friday.  Was on a bus at 6:30am and then a train at 8:50am before I met KellyJ around 10:15am to head to Baltimore.  At 1:37am on Saturday morning, I’m still up.  An hour and a half longer and it’s an entire 24 hours that I’ve been up – and I still haven’t seen a ball game!

The time at the MLBPA was a lot of fun, though, and honestly worth missing the first game for – especially given we have tickets for the next two.

Received updates galore all the way down on the trades.  I’m quite sad to see Justin Masterson go but I AM excited to see Victor Martinez with the Sox.  Both Martinez and Manny Delcarmen cried over this trade.  Which was a bummer to read about.  Hopefully they’re both feeling better about it soon.

I wish Justin a lot of luck.  He’s a good guy as well as a good pitcher and I hope he kicks ass in Cleveland (unless he’s pitching against the Sox)l.

I am beyond thrilled that the team still employs the trio of Buchholz, Bowden and Bard.  I was really dreading the possibility of any of them leaving the team.  Safe, for a little while anyway.

Three player sightings even though we got into town so late.  As we got off the elevator in the hotel, Brad Penny was walking through throngs of fans, high fiving them all.  He would have high-fived us as well, but Kelly and I were wiped and just wanted to check in and ended up just giving him a “Dude, can you get out of the way so we can get by?” look.

Incidentally, the uniform does not flatter him.  Folks think he’s overweight but he looked to be in quite good shape in his civies.

Meeting up with the rest of our friends and having a drink I noticed Marcus McBeth walk into the hotel bar.  I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the place who recognized him.  He walked to the back of the bar, spoke to someone then turned around and left (both he and the person he spoke to had security or, at least, a type of handler with them).  The person he spoke to?  Clay Buchholz.   We didn’t bother any of the players – it really isn’t my style.  I have to admit to being freaked out by the way the fans were acting in the lobby when Penny came in – they cheered him.  It just seems odd to me to cheer people as they come into their hotel.  Baltimore police and hotel security were threatening to kick folks out who tried to take photos – and they meant it.  I wasn’t the one who chose the hotel we’re staying in and I think if I were to choose a hotel, the team hotel wouldn’t be the one.  It makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Ah well…it’s going on 2am and I should try to fall asleep before it is 24 hours in a row that I’m awake.  Joshua Patrick on the mound Saturday night.  A win when I’m actually present for the game would be nice!

August 1, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

I can never hear enough

The

July 29, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | 1 Comment

Somehow happiness will find you

JD Drew and Brian Roberts somehow find a way to smile! Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

One of the people I follow on Twitter wrote last night that if your team gives up 21 hits then you shouldn’t expect them to win. You could say that about the team that gave up 14 hits as well. Too bad it wasn’t possible for both teams to get the loss.

Last night was ugly and it’s too bad because it had the potential to give the Sox a game up, give Clay Buchholz a win and honor Jim Rice on his big day. None of this happened and we had to wait until past 11:30pm to get the news.

I know there were errors involved. Defensive indifference also came back to bite Papelbon and the Sox in the butt. Still, I’d much prefer that the next time Jonathan Papelbon talks about wanting to get paid like Mariano Rivera someone show him this game. It seems he can’t get his focus against “lesser” teams or when the pressure isn’t on. I tire of wondering what he’s going to do every time he takes the mound. There’s no argument about his talent but, to my mind, closers are supposed to be “lights out” and while his stats show that he’s been pretty damn good he certainly isn’t guaranteed to being that consistently lights out pitcher a closer should be. Less drama and more focus, Paps. Thanks.

Brad Penny tonight in another game where we look to him to get the bad taste of another game out of our mouths. My plan is to live blog it but circumstances might force me to change plans. As of right now (8:15am on Wednesday), the live blog is on….I’ll update the blog if things change.

The ceremony for Jim Rice was exactly as it should have been – very well done. Both of Jim Ed’s speeches (at Fenway and at Cooperstown) were entertaining and pleasant and, relatively, short. Jim seems to be so genuinely happy about his induction to the Hall of Fame as well as the retiring of his number. No “It’s about time” coming from him, just genuine gratitude and appreciation. I’m very proud that the Red Sox are so selective with the retirement process and I’m equally proud that Jim Ed finally got his props.

Shake off last night, folks. New day, new game, and a win on the horizon.

July 29, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , | Leave a comment