The baseball (and weather) gods getting me back for mocking the Yankees:
Red Sox-Indians Opening Day postponed
It’s Monday, April 4, 2016. At the time of this writing, it is 35 degrees in Cleveland. At 4:00 pm EST, it is being guessed that the temperature will be about 33 degrees with an 11% chance of precipitation (read: snow). Out my window here in Boston all I see are grey skies and snowflakes. There is nothing about this day that screams “BASEBALL SEASON” yet here it is. Cardinals, Pirates, Rays, Blue Jays, Mets and Royals fans got their opening day yesterday and for the rest of us TODAY is it. (Well not all of us. Astros and Yankees fans have to wait another day thanks to Mother Nature, who is apparently NOT a Yankees fan.)
Outdoor sports that don’t involve boots, skates, or layered clothing should not be played in 33 degrees. It’s uncomfortable for the players, for the fans, for the folks who work at the parks and stadiums…it’s pretty much miserable for everyone. But know what? We don’t care. None of us. Because MOST of us will be sitting at home watching on television or listening to the radio/Internet while everyone else languishes in the cold. We get to enjoy the fruits of their labor and suffering from the warmth of our couches and bar stools because, dammit, baseball season will not be halted. Not even for a little bit of snow. (Again, unless you’re in New York today.)
Diehard baseball fans will argue that the season isn’t long enough. Just when it starts to get really good, bam, it’s over. So we accept that our teams play in the snow in April and sometimes in October as well because the alternative is no baseball…and what the hell is the point of that?
Seven years ago this past weekend I was at the opening of Citi Field for exhibition games between the Mets and the Red Sox (apologies for the lack of photos on those links – archiving the old blog entries didn’t go as well as I had hoped). It was a cold, grey, rainy weekend and at one point while we were walking around the brand new park shivering and practically getting blown over by the wind, I overheard a couple behind me. He was ranting about how he had told her before that they weren’t going to any games in April and she literally just laughed in his face. She knew he was full of it (either that, she knew the next April game she went to would be on her own or with someone who wasn’t him) – we ALL complain about the miserable April weather but we all show up at the games or turn that television on come opening day. We are baseball fans and we are a little bit crazy.
The 2016 season is a snowy blank canvas and the Red Sox have David Price as their artist in residence. I’m looking forward to some beautiful, winning tableaus this year – sprinkled with a little carnage every now and then.
Let’s go, Red Sox!
I was never really a fan of Josh Beckett’s. Young and cocky is definitely not the way to my heart. But that changed on the evening of Saturday, October 25, 2003 when I got a phone call from my sister demanding that I put on Fox to watch the end of Game 6 of the World Series.
Up to that point, I hadn’t watched on second of the World Series or any coverage around it. If you’re a Red Sox fan, you know I’m not exaggerating. 2003 almost made me give up baseball altogether and I knew if I actually watched the Yankees play in another World Series, let alone win it, I might never watch another game.
It was the seventh inning when my sister called and Beckett was cruising. The Yankees starter Andy Pettitte pitched seven innings and closer Mariano Rivera pitched two…but Beckett pitched all nine. By the seventh inning my sister was convinced no one was beating Beckett and she wanted me to watch the Marlins beat the Yankees right there on the field at Yankee Stadium.
I wasn’t as confidant as my sister. While she decided to spite watch the World Series in the hope that the ALCS had worn out the Yankees, I couldn’t bear it. But she finally wore me down and in the 8th inning I put on the game and it was the most glorious patch of baseball I had seen since the final inning of the 2001 World Series. (A joy that also was shared with my sister over the phone…we have a history of enjoying memorable sports moments that way even though we don’t live that far away from each other.) And after that game, Josh Beckett was a hero to me. A flawed hero, certainly, but a hero nonetheless right up there with Luis Gonzalez.
So when the Red Sox traded for him in 2005, I was overjoyed. Hmmm…that could be a little bit of revisionist history. Let’s go look at the archives* and see how I felt:
I thought for sure Kevin Youkilis getting thrown out of the game last night for arguing a third strike call in the 8th inning was a sign that last night’s game wasn’t going to end the way I would like. Youk gets the boot, Papi gets intentionally walked, putting men on first and second, and Carl Crawford pops out to end the inning. It just felt, to me, like things were about to go downhill.
Then Tito does the one thing I genuinely hate for him to do: He puts Jonathan Papelbon into a tied game. While I prepared myself for a home run (I’m not proud, that’s exactly what I did), Papelbon came up with a ground out, a pop out and a strike out in 10 pitches.
Oh me of little faith.
Bottom of the ninth and a fly out followed by three singles (which included Jarrod Saltalamacchia as a pinch runner for Jason Varitek which, at the time, seemed like pinch running Adrian Gonzalez for David Ortiz), and the Red Sox win. I suppose the fact that the Yankees were clobbering the White Sox in a game that was rain delayed (and eventually called) gave me that extra bit of anxiousness over the result of this game. I like the Red Sox being at least a game over the Yankees. It makes me happy. Especially with the Yankees coming to Boston this weekend. So I wasn’t too happy with the idea of the Yankees and Red Sox being tied for first place in the East. The one game lead might be a little scrawny, but I’ll take it.
I wanted to take this space to do something I don’t often do, and that’s highlight a comment from yesterday. I’m doing this for two reasons: 1) It made me laugh out loud and lately not much does that and 2) when I first read it, I did so without knowing who wrote it and finding out that it was Kelly only made me laugh more. Without the two of us ever discussing it, she absolutely nails how I feel about Justin Verlander (and others) complaining about Erick Aybar bunting during Verlander’s no-hit bid. So in case you missed it, here is the part that stood out for me:
If batters have to respect an opposing no-hitter, why don’t pitchers respect things like batters maintaining hitting streaks or going for the cycle? Hey, maybe bunting is NEVER fair. It’s always a sneaky play, tried only by weasels who can’t get hits the old-fashioned way! Know what else is unfair? Picking off baserunners! They got there fair and square (unless they bunted)! That’s bush league to try to take that away from them!
And NOW I’m done writing about the Tigers/Angels game.
We get Wake on the mound tonight, newly 45 (happy belated birthday!) and going for his 200th win – as if we needed to find reasons to watch the Red Sox!
The Boston Red Sox are, currently, 0-3 on the season (but you knew that already). The Cleveland Indians are currently 1-2 on the season (with their one win coming behind a Justin Masterson start and a triple-play against the Chicago White Sox). This upcoming series that begins tonight at 7:05 will have many fans on both sides sitting on their hands in anticipation of a win.
I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was one of those fans. I want the team to get that damn first win down so the rest will come flowing behind. But to me, tonight is more about watching Josh Beckett and seeing how well he performs. My relationship with Beckett is odd. I don’t have that love that so many do and I don’t consider him the commander of any kind of ass, let alone ass kicking. But there is something about him that I like (aside from the fact that he foiled the Yankees in 2003 when the Red Sox couldn’t and then came back to help bring the Red Sox the championship in 2007) and when he struggles it hurts my brain.
So tonight I want him to do well. Hell, I want him to throw a perfect game but I’ll settle for him keeping men off base and getting the win. What I really want is the 2007 of Josh Beckett back not only so the Red Sox can flourish behind him but so that the doom and gloom of the “Oh he’s not really a good pitcher, Theo was a fool to extend his contract” talk can end once and for all.
I hate that it feels like the fourth game of the season is a must-win game….how about a please-win game instead?
Random stat that means nothing, really, but sounds good: In 2010, Josh Beckett’s ERA against the Cleveland Indians was 1.13 with eight strikeouts and three hits. Of course, he only pitched eight innings against them last season…
Blog suggestion for the day: Yesterday, Dan over at Red Sox Monster came up with five good things we can take from the weekend series in Texas. Just in case you need to read some positive reinforcement.
For as many “Oh no!!!’ tweets sent out throughout the weekend, talking with fans about the way the Texas series went was a better way to find out how Red Sox fans are feeling right now.
It seems that there are a lot of NON Red Sox fans out there claiming all of the Red Sox fans are panicking when it seems most Red Sox fans seem terribly disappointed and/or annoyed at how things worked out. I haven’t read ANY panic, just a lot of frustration. And there is a huge difference (and, frankly, frustration is completely warranted).
So I’m not going to write a “We don’t need to panic” post because I know that you all know that we don’t need to panic. Most annoying for me is having an off-day the day after such a crappy weekend. I want them to get back on the horse and start kicking butts; I don’t want to have to wait until tomorrow.
Last night I had the opportunity to speak with David Mitchell and Mark Donahue of Battle Of Ohio Baseball on Blog Talk Radio for about a half an hour about the Red Sox, the Indians and how almost everyone except Red Sox and Reds fans think the Red Sox won the 1975 World Series. It was a lot of fun for me and if you have some time to spare check it out here. It was nice of them to have me on and I thank them for it.
Let’s all take a deep breath and look forward to the Red Sox taking over Cleveland starting tomorrow!
Random stat that means nothing, really, but sounds good: After 41,721 fans showed up at Progressive Field on Opening Day, the Cleveland Indians drew crowds of 9,853 on Saturday and 8,726 on Sunday against the Chicago White Sox this weekend. If Red Sox fans decided to hit the road for this series, they could possibly turn Progressive into Fenway Ohio.
Blog suggestion for the day: Beth over at Cursed to First with some fan-submitted photos from Opening Day. Apparently the Claws and Antlers movement isn’t dead.
I wouldn’t say that I dislike the Indians but I’ll say this: After the bush move of bringing Josh Beckett’s ex-girlfriend in to sing during the ALCS, I would imagine Beckett doesn’t think much of them. So while the logical part of my brain says Beckett wouldn’t be so stupid as to hit Shelley Duncan and Shin-Soo Choo on purpose because the team has been struggling and putting men on base is pretty damn stupid, I can imagine a scenario where every so often Beckett would feel like he could get a little personal justice with no one being the wise – and maybe the Indians felt like they finally got wise.
Or did they? Duncan got hit in the first inning with a man on and two outs. While I suppose you could stretch it and say Beckett was mad because he struck out the first two batters he faced and then Choo got a hit before Duncan GOT hit, I think that’s a bit of a stretch. Then in the third, Lou Marson hits a first pitch home run and then in five pitches Beckett gets the first two outs of the inning. Was Beckett mad about the homer and taking it out on Choo three batters later just because he has good numbers against Beckett? Again, this all seems like a bit of a stretch. The Mason homer made the score 2-1 Red Sox but the Sox still had the lead and Beckett still had two outs. Makes no sense to me.
Of course, regardless of intent I get that some teams feel like two of your guys getting hit in a game is cause for some kind of retaliation. I don’t agree, because how many games have we all watched when something like that happens and it’s obvious there was no reason behind it and the game just goes on? In any event, hit your guy and get it over with. David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre both came up to bat in the bottom of the third inning. Then they came up again in the fifth. Ortiz appeared in the bottom of the 7th, and they threw behind him. It was so obvious it was ridiculous. It reminded me of when the Mets finally got their chance and threw at Roger Clemens. In the bottom of the 8th, the Indians made a pitching change and decided to sacrifice Jensen Lewis to the Baseball Gods by having him throw behind Adrian Beltre . It’s worth noting that neither Ortiz nor Beltre were ever actually hit by a pitch. Throwing behind one guy sends a message. Throwing behind two shows the world that you just didn’t do it right the first (nor the second) time. Ortiz got it by the feet but Mr. Lewis was stupid enough to throw his pitch behind Beltre’s head. Beltre did this great staring thing at Lewis as he approached the mound and then as people were pushing him away. Lewis probably had nightmares last night that involved Adrian Beltre and his psycho eyes. Here’s a tip, Indians: If you’re throwing at someone, hit them and be done with it. (Or throw behind one guy and be done with it.) You didn’t look “tough” last night, you looked inept. On the other hand, I should be thanking Manny Acta because his making his pitchers throw at our guys caused one of the more exciting, non-baseball moments at Fenway this season. Beckett lost his mind on Shelley Duncan and for a moment I really believe Terry Francona was going to take on the entire Indians team all by himself.
If the non-fight provided the excitement for the night, Mike Lowell provided the pure happiness. NESN decided to let us hear Fenway Park public address announcer Carl Beane announce Mike Lowell’s first at-bat in the second inning. We barely had enough time to process the enormous ovation the fans were giving him before he knocked the first pitch he saw into the Monster Seats. (If you watch the video, you can actually hear Jerry Remy laughing while Orsillo is calling it…even the RemDawg got giddy!)
I have no idea what the rest of this season will bring and what we’ll all be doing in October…but if you’re a baseball fan and can’t appreciate the absolute beauty of Mike Lowell’s first at-bat last night, then you have no heart. Remy later called it the “nicest” moment of the season and while it’s a bit of an understatement, I totally agree. This team might be beaten and battered but don’t tell me they don’t have any heart and don’t tell me they aren’t fun to watch or worth rooting for.
A little off my game this morning so there was no blog entry…but there is still a live chat tonight! Join us as we go 8 for 8!
Because I, apparently, will never learn, I was genuinely surprised by the amount of bitching and moaning by some Red Sox fans online late yesterday after the Orioles got the walk off win.
The Sox won the series, in a pretty damn forceful way. The O’s won the last game in extra innings. There is no shame in the Sox losing a game to the Orioles, regardless of their standing in the league. The team is still made up of professional players who, on occasion, will show signs of why they belong in the big leagues. Being greedy or entitled is unappealing and annoying. The Sox are playing great right now, why not just enjoy that? I hate when the Sox lose too, but they had a great weekend and losing a game in extra innings will always be, to me, an indication that the winning team just had better luck.
I missed both weekend games, as I expected, but found myself in Portland for an unexpected trip to Hadlock Field to see the SeaDogs play in a double-header on Saturday (they split it). Sunday was a group game in honor of a friend I met online (at a Red Sox blog, no less!) who passed away this year. There was a good group of people there to honor Andy’s memory but, sadly, the weather didn’t cooperate and the SeaDogs game got rained out. All in all, not a terrible way to spend a couple of days. God speed, Andy.
Sox work on the beginning of another winning streak tonight in Cleveland where they start a four-game series against the Indians. Daisuke Matsuzaka is on the mound tonight against old friend Fausto Carmona.
Unless something really strange happens, like a storm that knocks my power out, we’ll be here tomorrow night for the Tuesday night live chat…with Tim Wakefield on the mound.
I have many friends traveling all over today…safe travels and much love to you all.