My relationship with John Lackey is an odd one. Especially given that we’ve never met.**
I wasn’t a fan when he was with the Angels. I thought he was a good pitcher but a little obnoxious. It felt like he never missed a chance to throw his teammates under the bus and that’s something that never sits well with me. So while there were plenty of non-Red Sox players I enjoyed watching, John Lackey was not one of them.
Then I sat at Fenway Park one night in 2008 while the Angels were in town and watched him almost no-hit the Red Sox…against Clay Buchholz no less. When that game was over (Dustin Pedroia broke up the no-hit bid in the 9th and the Angels won 6-2) I found myself a little sad that Lackey didn’t get his no-no…and I started to actually kind of like him.
I am superstitious by nature. Well, probably by nurture given how prevalent superstitions were in my family when I was growing up. In any event, while I try to fight most superstitions, I am occasionally seen tossing salt over my shoulder, NOT walking under ladders and, as anyone who knows me will attest, NOT mentioning a no-hitter by name unless it’s being pitched by someone I don’t want to succeed.
Let me share a story I’m sure I’ve shared before. It’s a Sunday in October of 2004 and the Red Sox have lost the first 3 games of the ALCS to the New York Yankees. The third game, having just ended the evening before, was an especially painful thrashing that saw the Red Sox lose 19-8. That Sunday, I went with my family to a birthday party for one of my aunts. Even though the Patriots were also playing and everyone was happy to see each other, it felt more like a wake. All people were talking about was how the Red Sox were going to get swept by the Yankees that night. My parents and I think we’re the only people in the house who aren’t convinced the Red Sox are going to lose, until my cousin’s boyfriend, who was also a bartender around the Fenway Area, starts telling everyone that the Red Sox could win the entire ALCS. He basically spends the afternoon telling everyone the same thing Kevin Millar famously told anyone who would listen at Fenway that day.
“Don’t let us win today. This is a big game. They’ve got to win because if we win we’ve got Pedey coming back today and then Schilling will pitch Game 6 and then you can take that fraud stuff and put it to bed. Don’t let the Sox win this game.”
So while he didn’t use the same words as Millar did above, the sentiment was the same. If the Sox could win on Sunday, Pedro was pitching game five and Schilling was pitching game 6…and it could all come down to game 7. And we all know what happened.
We left that party invigorated and excited for the game to begin. After game 4 went the way it did, I took myself to work the next day…in the same clothes I had worn to the birthday party. (Hey, the game ran late, I got up late and grabbed the clothes I had easiest access to.) I came home that night, didn’t get changed and watched the Red Sox beat the Yankees again. As I sat down to watch game 6, I looked down at my clothes and thought “I really need to go put on what I wore for the last two games” and I did. So for games 4-7 of the 2004 ALCS I wore the same outfit (well, except for the underwear…I figured the Baseball Gods would understand I needed clean underwear…) and things worked out swell for the Sox.
After the Red Sox won it all in 2004, I realized I could let go of a lot of my baseball superstitions. (I will never be able to truly let go of not mentioning a no-hitter by name. I absolutely know this is ridiculous, I promise you.) I’ve spent the better part of the last 9 seasons (including this one) rolling my eyes at people who worry that the same fate will befall the Sox as it has in the years before 2004. But September of 2011 shook me. More than I thought it had. Here I sit, night after night, watching this absolutely amazing Boston Red Sox team come back from deficits, pound good pitching and act like nothing around them fazes them at all and still I worry.
I have three pictures hanging on the walls of my cubicle at work. One is of my niece and the other two you see above. Because of Clay’s plight, I considered taking down those two (I was also tracking Clay’s wins and losses on that photo and wondered if I was testing the Baseball Gods). But I worried that if I took down the pictures of Clay and Jonny that it would somehow mess with the team. (Heck, Clay hasn’t pitched for half the time I’ve had him up, but still…)
So the pictures remain, Clay came back the other night to win his tenth game of the season and Jonny Gomes is doing just fine, thank you. (Because he is, according to this, Bruce Willis from Unbreakable.) And yet I still worry.
Worry is the wrong word. I’m not worried. I believe this team is winning the division and has a damn good chance of winning the World Series. I’m just trying not to mess with anything karmically that could screw things up. What that means specifically, I’m not yet sure…but I’ll say this: Neglecting this blog (as well as not going to nearly as many games in person as I usually do) hasn’t exactly hurt the Sox this season! I have no intentions to purposely stop the blog…but now you know why there might be a few more long periods without an entry!
Of course, all that goes out the window once the post season is here and new superstitions take their place.
Magic number = 8. Single digits, baby!
Wasn’t it nice back when none of the players were responding to the criticisms brought about by Bob Hohler’s article? Remember those halcyon days?
Now we have Jon Lester personally calling just about every sports writer in New England, Josh Beckett and John Lackey releasing statements, yesterday was Jason Varitek fielding softballs from Greg Hill on WAAF and today we get Clay Buchholz on WEEI at 1pm with Lou Merloni. Hooray for mass communication!
While the players all say that drinking in the clubhouse during a game isn’t a big deal, apparently drinking in the dugout is, as that report is what got Beckett and Lackey to speak up. Essentially the players are saying, “Sure we drank in the clubhouse but we wouldn’t dream of bringing those cups of beer into the dugout! The horror!”.
Personally, I find there to be no difference. If you’re drinking during a game, whether in the clubhouse or dugout, you’re drinking during a game. It would be nice if these guys would spend more time trying to break down exactly what happened in September since they’re so certain it had nothing to do with drinking or a fractured clubhouse. My interpretation of what is being said is “We just sucked and there is no reason for it”, which, frankly, doesn’t fly.
All through September I wrote about (and argued) how I absolutely didn’t believe that the team just “stopped caring”. It was unbelievable to me that a team of professionals could not care about the outcome of the games or the season given how hard they worked. I still feel like there were plenty of players who didn’t just give up but I feel like I still have to eat my words because frankly, the quotes these guys are tossing out there right now pretty much feel like they’re saying they didn’t care…and that is much more disappointing than the team losing.
I hope Tito is having a cup of green tea this morning, reflecting on what an amazing run he had with the Red Sox and thanking God that he’s away from the mess they have become.
Seven years ago today, the Red Sox won game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, beating the Yankees and confirming their spot in baseball history. All of this ridiculousness won’t change that but it sure makes me long for those days.
With tonight’s game canceled, we get two on Sunday (Actually, we don’t…the 7pm game won’t be televised because of MLB’s lame ass rules). Unfortunately, I won’t be able to run the live chat (then again, at least we won’t get Fox!!)
It would figure that I get home in time to start the live chat and the first message I read tells me that there is a good possibility of a rain delay…Let’s see how this goes.
The “Fox Blacked Us Out” Live Chat
Last night is what they call a good sports night in Boston. Red Sox (with Tim Wakefield on the mound) won again, then the Bruins won the Eastern Conference finals and are now on their way to the Stanley Cup finals and, to top off the night, the Yankees lost, helping to bump the Red Sox into sole possession of first place in the American League East. It almost sounds like fiction, having everything align so perfectly in one night, but it isn’t…it happened and we get to bask in the glow if only for one day (it will be more than one day but let’s not get ahead of ourselves).
Sadly, I didn’t see one moment of last night’s Sox game, only got to see the last period of the Bruins game and missed the Yankees game altogether. Sometimes life gets in the way of sports, which is okay. They can win without me once in a while, I don’t mind!
Because I usually don’t give much thought to what time the games begin unless I’m planning a live chat, I didn’t discover until this morning that Fox has, yet again, made it difficult or impossible for out of town fans to watch tonight’s Red Sox game. I’ve been icing and resting the arm and this morning as I type this it feels a lot better than it has…so I am tentatively scheduling a live blog/chat for tonight. As long as my arm holds up, we’ll be here for Buchholz v Oliver at 7:00 tonight. This one, while it will include the same chatty banter as usual, will include (from me) more legitimate game updates live blog style for those who won’t get to see the game…join us won’t you?
UPDATED AT 5:00PM
Well, the arm hasn’t fallen off but it’s in bad enough shape that I need to cancel tonight’s live chat. Unfortunately, because of my one-armedness, tomorrow’s live chat might have to be canceled too. It’s a little tough to do this with just one hand. Hopefully by either the end of the week or beginning of next I should be in better shape to be live chatting. Sorry, folks!
I’m not sure what it says about me that watching Dustin Pedroia leave the game last night didn’t freak me out, but it didn’t. I was more bothered by the way Daniel Bard left, if I’m being honest.
There was a moment on NESN last night when the cameras showed Clay Buchholz’ reaction to Bard giving up what would become the winning run. Clay pitched one hell of a game last night and deserved the win but Bard and the offense combined to stick him with the no-decision (along with Bard’s forth loss of the season). Clay’s face went from hopeful the ball would be caught straight to a kind of “oh well” look. No glove slamming, no swearing, no tossing up his hands and turning his back to the field. No one wants to lose, especially games that seem so winnable, and Clay had every reason to be pissed about how his performance was squandered but he didn’t relay any of that in the moment. I was impressed by his attitude.
Losses suck. The best part is they get another chance tonight to win. As long as my left arm doesn’t fall off (a distinct possibility given how it’s been feeling) we’re live chatting tonight’s game. Join us!
You know what? Yesterday wasn’t the worst game I ever attended in person. Think about THAT for a moment.
Great seats, crappy game, good company. It came out as a win for me. Let us not speak of it again.
After the game was a bit of interesting. I was one of many invited to the Charity Wines launch introducing this year’s Red Sox Wines: Jon Lester’s CabernAce and Clay Buchholz’ ChardonClay. Photos taken by my friend (and friend to many of you!), Kelly O’Connor, were used to inspire the artwork on the bottles so there was a lot to be happy about. Plus, there was free wine. I mean, really, why turn that down, right?
It was a very nice event and I truly appreciate the invite. Lester and Buchholz were both there with their families explaining how 100% of the proceeds of the sales of the wines will go to the Jimmy Fund (ChardonClay) and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (CabernAce). If you’re out and about and hit up a liquor store in the Massachusetts and/or Rhode Island area, keep an eye out for these $14 wines.
I’m a red wine fan from way back but after tasting both I was surprised to find that between the two I enjoyed the ChardonClay a bit more than the CabernAce. They’re both good wines that you’ll enjoy AND be doing a good thing when buying them…so get thee to the packie!
Tonight Tim Wakefield gets another shot at at “W” thanks to Wednesday’s marathon game that Daisuke ending up pitching in. Here’s hoping the win actually comes!
(I KNOW I’ve been promising a contest that hasn’t happened yet…I’m going to put it off until the beginning of the week..and this time I mean it! Contest on Monday for another book giveaway!)
Raise your hand if you had John Lackey and Josh Beckett as the first two pitchers to get a Red Sox win.
Now put your hand down because you are a liar.
Where John Lackey got the win on Friday in spite of his pitching, Josh Beckett earned every bit of his “W” last night. 103 pitches over eight innings made me happy enough…but the two hits, ten strike outs and only walking one made me practically delirious. While Carl Crawford was the only Red Sox player who couldn’t get a hit off of the Yankees, Robinson Cano and Eric Chavez were the only Yankees who could hit the Red Sox last night. These are all things we should be happy about.
The Red Sox came into this home stand with a record of 0-6. They were facing the New York Yankees, including their ace CC Sabathia, and needed to at least win the series if not sweep to save any kind of face. The “lowly” Red Sox who were previously swept by a powerhouse Texas Rangers team and a supposedly mediocre Cleveland Indians team got nine hits off of CC. Nine. Last night, Boone Logan was the only Yankees pitcher to take the mound who didn’t give up a run. These things, they are all good.
For various reasons, I was up for most of the night. I passed the time by reading message boards, blogs and Twitter accounts and came out with this: Many people, some Red Sox fans, think that we would be silly in celebrating what happened this weekend. I say foo on you people. Are we supposed to whine about the team until they’re over .500? Do we not celebrate any wins until the team sweeps a series? We wanted and needed the Red Sox to win and they did…two out of three times…I’ll take it any day of the week. (Also, it appears many Yankees fans believe the home plate umpire last night was biased in favor of the Red Sox because MLB wants the Red Sox in the race. I actually read/heard this from handfuls of people from different forums, including email to me, and they were serious. I know it’s tough to lose to a team whose record prior to the series was a whopping zero wins, but this is just sad…especially in April.)
I will happily take the two wins and bring them to this next series. The Rays are struggling as the Sox are so both teams need to step it up tonight. Much to my surprise, I’ll be at tonight’s game thanks to a phone call offering up a seat. (Confession: I had no intentions of going to any games against the Rays this year because of Manny Ramirez. I didn’t want to have to deal with anger at people booing him, anger at people cheering him and my own confusion about what it all meant to me. Sadly, Manny fixed that for me so I don’t have to worry about it. More on Manny later.)
So bask for a little longer, folks and then come back ready for another series that will probably try our patience and test our fortitude.
Random stat that doesn’t mean anything so don’t let the Boston sports media freak you out today: From 2008-2010, Daisuke’s ERA against the Tampa Bay Rays is 6.00
Blog suggestion for the day: Allan over at Joy of Sox details the Clay Buchholz contract extension (which is much deserved and makes me very happy even if the timing of it is quite humorous!).
I’m not one who complains about Daylight Savings; I dig it being light out at 7, 8pm. But, apparently, it has been messing with my sleep patterns because this week I have gotten up every day at least an hour later than I usually do. So, once again, my post today is late and, this time, more of just a bit of rambling than any one cohesive thought. How about some confessions that you might or might now already know about me?
* I like Daisuke Matsuzaka. Sure it’s convenient for me to say that after he pitched so well yesterday, but I do. I’ve liked him from the beginning. I don’t fret over the money the Red Sox put out just to bid on him and I think, as far as making money in the bubble of the world known as MLB, he has been worth the money he’s being paid.
* I don’t like Jon Lester. I have my reasons just like everyone has their reasons for liking or not liking a player. Having written that, if he isn’t the starting pitcher for Opening Day, I will suspect Terry Francona was dropped on his head just before making the announcement. While I could also see Tito starting Clay Buchholz and being more than happy with that, I think Crabcakes has earned getting the nod first (and next).
* Ever since Mike Timlin left the Red Sox I haven’t developed a deep down, true favorite player. The seasons between 2002-2008 were magical for many reasons not the least of for me was the abundance of players to fall for. Kyle Snyder and Mike Timlin are the remnants of those years – both my last “favorite” players who are both no longer playing (hopefully that won’t be the case for Kyle much longer but who knows). I love the team and if I had to quickly pick the one whose being traded or DFA’d would rip my heart out I guess I’m looking at either JD Drew or Clay Buchholz. But it still isn’t the same. Ask anyone who went to a game with me while Mike Timlin was active and they’ll tell you how physically and emotionally involved I got in his appearances. You can also ask the handful of friends who spent the day texting me to find out if I was all right the Saturday Kyle was designated for assignment (yes, without looking I remembered it was a Saturday and they were in Toronto. The pain is burned into my memory). There’s no one on the team I feel that deeply for. Maybe that’s a good thing? I do know it changes the way I watch the games just a little bit.+
* I’ve never not had Bronson Arroyo on a fantasy baseball team and this year he’s on my team in two different leagues. So, in reference to the confession above this one, were he still on the Red Sox HE’D be the favorite. (I also still hold out the unrealistic hope of his returning to the Red Sox some day. I’m an optimist.)
* I’ve discovered (or maybe RE-discovered) that if I have any hard feelings for ex-Red Sox players (and goodness knows I do) they are stronger for Johnny Damon than they are for Manny Ramirez. I know the Yankees thing and the out and out lying thing are big parts of that but it struck me odd that I watched Manny and had NO feelings about how he did at bat (I felt “meh”) but just seeing Johnny holding a baseball bat my first thought was “I hope you strike out”. In real life, I’m a fairly rational person. Obviously this doesn’t translate well to my baseball fandom.
+If the Red Sox trade or DFA Tim Wakefield this year, I have no idea how I will handle it. They can only trade him with his approval because of his time in the league and on the Sox, so I guess I’d be more okay with that than with them just dumping him. He’s on a different level than a “favorite” player; he’s Tim Freaking Wakefield. I can’t write any more about it because it’s upsetting me just to think about it.
I’m a big fan of the Charity Hop baseball-themed wines. I like wine, I like baseball, so what’s not to like about these wines? Especially since the proceeds go to charity?
It’s already time to get your wine on! From the press release:
Debuting from Longball Cellars are charity wines for Boston baseball pitching aces Clay Buchholz and Jon Lester. The players do not profit a single dime. Instead, 100% of their proceeds will raise big league dollars for charity:
– Clay Buchholz: ChardonClay, a chardonnay, benefits the Jimmy Fund
– Jon Lester: CabernAce, a cabernet, benefits Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
The 2011 wines are produced by acclaimed the Selby Winery located in Healdsburg, California. Both wines are expected to retail for about $14 a bottle, and will be available beginning in May 2011 across Red Sox Nation. For wine connoisseurs and Sox fans out of region, wines can be purchased online at http://www.charitywines.com.
Retailers can begin placing their orders beginning today, and wine will hit the shelved in May.
I have to admit, it’s a bit of a stroke of genius to use Crabby and Clay this year. Heck, they’re the two pitchers in the Red Sox rotation that folks aren’t wondering about right now. Strike while the iron is hot, right?
There’s a tremendous irony in the fact that, given my preference for red wine over white, the one I’ll be buying will be Lester’s, yes?
I like the charities the two have chosen. Back in the day when I was selling “K Cancer” shirts to support Lester’s battle with cancer, half the money went to Dana Farber while the other half went to the Hutch, because those were the two places that Jon was treated. I think Dana Farber and the Jimmy Fund are wonderful places that do extraordinary work, but it’s important for people to remember that there are other places out there doing important work as well. Nice of Charity Hops and Jon Lester to remind us.
Also from the press release, a bit of interesting information about how well the Red Sox-themed wines have sold:
To date, Red Sox player wines sales have raised more than $670,000 for various charities. In 2011, the 9th and 10th Boston ballplayers suit up for a wine label to support their cause. Charity Wines debuted in Boston in 2007 with releases from Manny Ramirez (Manny Being Merlot), Curt Schilling (Schilling Schardonnay) and Tim Wakefield (CaberKnuckle). Charit y Wines returned in 2008 with releases from David Ortiz (Vintage Papi), Jason Varitek (Captain’s Cabernet) and Kevin Youkilis (SauvignYoouuk Blanc). After a year hiatus in 2009, Charity Wines returned in 2010 with vino from Jacoby Ellsbury (ZinfandEllsbury) and Josh Beckett (Chardon-K).
For sentimental reasons, I still have a bottle of CaberKnuckle a bottle of Manny Being Merlot and a bottle of Schilling Schardonnay. For less sentimental reasons I also have a bottle of Vintage Papi, one of SauvignYoouuk Blanc and one of Captain’s Cabernet. I never picked up the Ellsbury or Beckett wines (mostly because, as you can tell, I tend to collect things I don’t need to when it comes to the Red Sox and since I don’t like white wine I talked myself out of getting these two!). I’m still a big fan of the CaberKnuckle and hold out hope that they make another wine that tastes like it!
It’s all the little signs of spring that get me excited for the season!!