Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

The Day After

I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful for the day off today.

Hopefully, if you were in one of the towns hit by the tornadoes and harsh weather last night, you made it through safely.  I can deal with blizzards and hurricanes but I don’t mind admitting that tornadoes freak me out.  Let’s hope it’s a long time before we all have to deal with angry weather again.

So either Daisuke IS getting Tommy John surgery or he isn’t…I’m so glad they could clear that up for us.

Even without baseball to be played, I’ll find myself at Fenway tonight – hopefully with some entertaining bits for the blog.

I see the sun!  I’m going to head out and take advantage of it!!

June 2, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | Leave a comment

Salt defeats Rain

Good for Salty! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

I keep replaying that Jarrod Saltalamacchia hit over in my mind.  I wasn’t at Fenway last night, but I imagine many who were weren’t thinking he’d be the one to get them home just a little sooner.

An almost half an hour rain delay near the tail end of a game that at some points you couldn’t see the dugouts, wasn’t what people were hoping for.  Especially with the score being 0-0.  But the Red Sox came through and won 1-0.  The weather wasn’t pretty but the pitching was.  I won’t be complaining about that.

It’s interesting to me that the Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers have the exact record this morning, yet the Red Sox are only two and a half games out of first place (in third place, a half game behind the Yankees) and the Tigers are five games out of first, yet in second place in their division.  Ah, baseball, how you mock us sometimes.

Heidi Watney said something interesting last night that I might have already heard but had forgotten:  She said the general rule of thumb is that a pitcher will need the same amount of time to rehab as he had time without throwing.  So, theoretically, if Daisuke Matsuzaka doesn’t pick up a ball for two weeks, that’s four weeks we won’t be seeing him on the mound at Fenway.  Except Terry Francona doesn’t think Daisuke will be able to start throwing after his two weeks on the DL…so that pushes him back even more than one would expect.  Gabe Lacques of USA Today speculates that Daisuke might need Tommy John surgery.  I can’t decide if he’s jumping a tremendous gun here or he knows what he’s talking about.  It’s a huge jump from “elbow soreness” to “Tommy John surgery” but when it comes to the Boston Red Sox I suppose nothing is too panicky when you want to worry the fans.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for reasons to think the universe isn’t against the team, look at last night’s game.  Before that rain delay, Clay Buchholz, who pitched a great game but threw a lot of pitches, was taken out and Daniel Bard was in (he threw one pitch before they called for the tarp).  Phil Coke, Detroit’s starter, was still in the game, having only thrown 78 pitches through seven innings (compared to Clay’s 127).  Coke and Buchholz were throwing similar games but because of pitch count we most certainly would have seen Coke again in the 8th.  Then the sky opened up and began to pour rain down on Fenway. (Watching the game on NESN last night felt like watching an old black and white movie on a very old television.  It was tough to determine from my cozy spot at home when the rain really began and when it was “just” foggy out there.)  About a half an hour later, Jim Leyland had made the decision to not send out Coke and brought in Ryan Perry for the 8th.  Perry got the first two outs and Leyland went to Daniel Schlereth who walked Carl Crawford, gave up and RBI double to Saltalamacchia and hit Jacoby Ellsbury before being relieved by Al Alburquerque who got the third out.  That’s one heck of an inning courtesy of the rain and Leyland not wanting to bring his starter back out.

I want to mention Jacoby getting hit. Less than a handful of Tigers fans mentioned they thought it was “payback” for Clay hitting two batters last night.  One even suggested it might be the start of a rivalry between the two teams.  I don’t get any of this.  There was no reason for Clay to purposely hit anyone last night, so why would a team retaliate for what were obvious mistakes?  My other question is, even if you feel like you have to retaliate just so you show the opposing team you’re not down with watching your guys get plunked, would you do it in such a tight game right after you gave up (what would end up being) the game-winning RBI?  I think it’s more likely Schlereth was frustrated by how his inning was going and got sloppy.  But who knows?  Maybe it was on purpose?  If it was, that’s very stupid baseball.

I hear birds singing and can actually see without a window of fog between me and the outside world, but it still is gray and chilly out there.  Those who have been to Fenway this week have earned some stripes, I have to admit, and you’ll be earning your way a little more tonight.  June is not so far away (as long as Armageddon doesn’t come this weekend) and soon we’ll be complaining about how hot it was at the park!

Ooh…and a reminder: Today is the last day you can register for the private tour of Fenway Park! Click here to sign up for the chance to win. You have until 6 o’clock tonight! Good luck!

May 19, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rainy Randomness

Kind of a letdown to have a postponed game the day after the sweep and the walkoff but what are you going to do?  It’s another rainy day in New England and I’m uninspired to write about a game that is supposed to be played in sunshine and fresh air but there are a few things going on worth mentioning.

It is pouring where I am right now (about 9 miles north of Fenway) at 9:55am. I’m not one who watches the weather so I have no idea what it’s supposed to be like tonight; I just hope that the game gets in.  Two days without baseball in May is just two days too many.

I watched almost an entire hockey game last night.  I actually fell asleep for the last five minutes, if you can believe it.  6-5 score in a very exciting game and I fell asleep.  It seems obvious that hockey really isn’t my game.  Still rooting for the Bruins but taking the rest of the games in small doses, I think!

So sad to hear of Harmon Killebrew’s passing.  Wonderful, though, to read all the good stories about him.  I’m always impressed when someone famous is more remembered for being a good person than for what made them famous.

We now have both John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka on the disabled list.  Better now than in September, I suppose, but still I’d rather we have a full and healthy rotation.  The upside for me is hopefully getting to see Michael Bowden pitch at Fenway again.  That I look forward to!

I don’t know how people in Seattle live in this weather.  All it does is make me want to sleep.

May 18, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Walk Off Happiness

Photo capturing genuine joy taken by Kelly O'Connor last night and used with permission.

Many is the time a game stresses me out so much that I shut off the volume…why I’m not sure.  To drown out the disappointment of the crowd or announcers?  Maybe I think if I don’t HEAR it then it didn’t happen (or isn’t as painful to deal with).  In any case, I didn’t shut the volume off last night because the game was stressing me out.  I shut it off so I could hear something else and then I just didn’t turn it back on.  This happened at the start of the ninth.  With Ellsbury and Pedroia both on base, Adrian Gonzalez up and the volume still off, I stood up in anxiousness. I had a good feeling about it but I was still bouncing around a bit. itI didn’t even have time to pace when I saw the ball heading toward the Green Monster and I just started saying, calmly, “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…”.

It was a nice way to end that game.

If you watched this game, I don’t have to tell you that the first six innings were a terrible letdown after the weekend the Red Sox had.  By the bottom of the sixth, I had resigned myself to the idea that they just weren’t going to take this one.  But by the top of the seventh, when the score was 6-5 Orioles after having been 6-0 Orioles at the top of the sixth, I was convinced they would pull the game out. It’s amazing what can happen in four innings, isn’t it?

Chris Tillman pitched a good game and left the game with that cushy 6-0 lead.  His teammate Jeremy Guthrie can commiserate with him on what it’s like to lose that lead and have the team lose the game. I’d like to feel sorry for them but, really, I don’t.  I’m greedy.  I want my team to win and if they have to crush the spirit of their opponent in the process, well, so be it.

Not so incidentally, Kelly O’Connor, as she was for the Mother’s Day Miracle, was in attendance at Fenway Park last night and, along with the above photo which is on the short list of my favorite Red Sox celebration photos ever (Jed Lowrie looks positively giddy!), she got some fantastic shots that you must check out.

Dustin Pedroia added to his legend last night with a classic at-bat in the ninth that followed a Jacoby Ellsbury stolen base and set the stage for Adrian Gonzalez to, once again, be the hero.  But, really, the win was a team effort.  These guys didn’t give in after being down 6-0 in the sixth.  It was a beautiful game to watch from that point on.

Adding to that happiness is the New York Yankees squandering their 5-1 lead over the Tampa Bay Rays last night in the sixth as well to end up losing the game 6-5.  The sixth inning was good to Red Sox fans last night and I thank the Baseball Gods for that.

Yesterday the Red Sox put John Lackey on the 15-day disabled list with a strained elbow.  What this means, aside from sparing us a Lackey outing tonight and this weekend versus the Chicago Cubs, is that Tim Wakefield is on the mound against Baltimore tonight (and against Chicago, most likely, this weekend).  I’m always eager (yet anxious) for Tim Wakefield starts this season.  I’m not ready to let go just yet…I’ll admit it.

It’s probably no more than any other season and I just don’t remember it, but this year there seem to be an awful lot of two game series.  After these two games against the Orioles, the Detroit Tigers are in town for two games before interleague play begins on Friday against the Cubs.  The Red Sox have a good chance this week to keep up the streak…I’m looking forward to more of the happiness!

May 17, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

.500 looks good on you

I really wanted this sweep.  Really wanted it.  I know the Sox are still 3 games out of first and it looks like the rain isn’t going to stop all week and a million other things could go wrong but dammit today I am basking in the glory of a three game sweep against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium and no one can bring me down.

The Live Chat was a lot of fun, thanks to all involved for stopping by!  It seemed to work too…I’m considering it again for this Sunday’s Sox/Cubs game on ESPN (it’ll help dull the pain of Bobby Valentine!).

Daisuke on the mound tonight against Baltimore at Fenway barring rain delays and/or postponements.  While the Sox are on a Yankees sweep high, the Orioles are on their own high after taking two out of three (in fine fashion) against the Rays this weekend.  So while the Rays and Yankees will hopefully be beating up on each other down south, the Red Sox have some business to take care of.  Here’s to an exciting week of baseball coming up!

May 16, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 2 Comments

Wow

I don’t believe you win any points for staying up late or sitting in the rain to watch a baseball game.  So, I will say sincerely, win or lose, I am not sorry I didn’t make it for the entire game.  The idea of a game ending at 2:45 in the morning, the morning of an early afternoon game, is absolutely ridiculous to me.  Even more frustrating is that my team lost.  So, no, missing the majority of the game doesn’t upset me in the least.  (I didn’t even make it the full five innings.  Watched as the game restarted after 11pm and fell asleep.  I am definitely not sorry things worked out that way for me.)

And as difficult as I’m sure it was for the team to lose in extra innings almost 8 hours after the game began, it isn’t exactly something I can hold against them.  By that point in a game, the team with a bit more energy gets the win.  Good for the Angels for holding out.  (I would also like to say that the people heavily criticizing Daisuke for last night can go jump in a lake.  The guy came out of a game with a funky arm and then gets put into a game taken place much later than a game should be taking place.  Not exactly perfect circumstances for his return game.) They’ve lost one of three in this series, thus far, against some of the best pitchers in the league right now.  Not exactly a reason to hang their heads.

There is no time to dwell as there is a game at 1:35 this afternoon and John Lackey has a game to win.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 1 Comment

As an aside…

Peter Abraham last week on Daisuke Matsuzaka:

…there’s not a shred of evidence to suggest Matsuzaka will be a reliable pitcher in the AL East any time soon.

Two things: 1) I’ll never argue that Daisuke isn’t a frustrating pitcher to watch more often than not and 2) While dedicating an entire entry to how horrible Daisuke is, Abraham ends his piece by acknowledging that Daisuke was a success in 2007 and 2008.

But Abraham’s article went beyond that.  Because of the horrible game he pitched a week ago (a game I was at), Abraham claims that if offered tickets to a Red Sox game, we as fans would think twice about going.  I have yet to meet the fan who thinks twice about going to a Red Sox game for any reason other than deciding if they have the time and money to go to a baseball game.  Abraham also compares Daisuke to Julio Lugo and Oliver Perez.   Abraham is no fool, he chose two players (one who isn’t even a pitcher) to compare Daisuke to whose names incite violently visceral reactions from fans.

Money is what leads the heated dislike toward Daisuke.  He makes a lot of money.  The team paid a lot of money just for the opportunity to make him an offer.  (Neither of these things, not so incidentally, are his “fault”.  You can’t blame him for people wanting to throw money at him.)  As far as I’m concerned, Daisuke earned his money in 2007 and 2008. 2009 was a bad season.  One many blame on Daisuke’s involvement in the WBC.  I’ll say this about that:  I hate the WBC but the fact is MLB loves it and as long as they encourage their players to play in it I’m not going to continue to harp on how I think it affects certain players, especially pitchers, for the regular season (which I believe it does).  Daisuke participated because he wanted to represent his country (which he did extremely well) and MLB supported that.  Although I’m with folks who were upset that he hid his injury from the Red Sox, he didn’t break some rule or any trust by participating in the World Baseball Classic.

Why all this ranting about Daisuke? I received an email last night from a friend asking how the game was.  I responded with enthusiasm at how much fun it was especially watching Daisuke.  I received this long, drawn out response about what a waste of money Daisuke was and how he should be traded complete with a link to the Peter Abraham column linked above.

Now I won’t pretend for a moment that Daisuke has pitched like Cy Young since 2008.  I too have attended (or just watched) many games where his pitching made me want to bang my head.  I’m also not against people throwing around trade ideas.  But when a professional writer comes up with “This guy needs to be traded” and offers reasons like “Last night’s debacle was hardly a surprise” after a game where the opponents scored 16 runs on 19 hits…well I almost don’t even know what to say.  If the opposition scoring 16 on 19 isn’t a “surprise” you must be freaking Nostradamus.  Abraham seems to love to bait fans (he did so when he covered New York as well) and then get into arguments with them, including insults that almost always end up involving his invoking the words “pink hat”, when they disagree with him.  And he gets paid to do it.  (In this same piece he suggests Tim Wakefield as a workable replacement for Daisuke.  I love Tim Wakefield unconditionally but even I can see what a ridiculous statement that is.)  I didn’t bother reading the comments as Daisuke is a favorite whipping boy right now and Abraham pretty much took the safe route here so there would be no disagreeing with him from his readers.

Daisuke had two successful seasons, one season where he was hurt and one season where his supposedly healthy performance was disappointing.  Regardless of anyone’s expectations, while he probably won’t be seeing the Hall of Fame without buying a ticket, he has NOT been a bust and he certainly hasn’t been a “mistake” the Red Sox should “eat” as Abraham suggests.

Ironically, this entire article by Abraham reads like someone who doesn’t really follow baseball or the team but only gets his information listening to the minority of fans who decide to call WEEI and rant about how much the team stinks. (If we’re being honest, more stories about how, right now, baseball execs don’t think Daisuke can be traded, have come out but Pete still thinks SOME team would want him.  He also totally excuses away any issue that could arise from Daisuke having a no-trade clause.IF a fan said those things to him, he’d rip the fan apart verbally.)  He likes to insult fans he thinks know nothing about baseball by calling them pink hats.  Pot calling the kettle pink there, Pete.

April 19, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | Leave a comment

The series isn’t over

I didn't take all that many pictures last night because I was too busy enjoying the view...but here's one I got of Papi

“We lost as a team. Every time we lose, we lose as a team.” ~ Adrian Gonzalez

Yes, indeed, Adrian.

We were fortunate enough to be sitting in an area last night that when the herd starting thinning the fans who decided to stay could move up and sit in the good seats with us.  This meant that for the last couple of innings we were surrounded by good fans who were cheering on the team and yelling encouragements.  Well, all except for two jackasses who used the opportunity to move up and insult any of the players in the on-deck circle.  (We ended up behind the Red Sox on-deck circle for the game last night, which was not in the original plan, and reportedly we were shown on ESPN.)

The two jackasses were shut up quickly enough by a polite but large man who asked them if the seats they were in were actually theirs and who then suggested he could call security and find out.  Like I said, we had a good crowd around us and after a game like last night’s, that makes a big difference.

If you watched the Red Sox win their first series against the Yankees you know that they have some power and talent that just isn’t consistently showing itself.  The Red Sox could still very well win this series against the Rays, which is all they need to do.  Keep winning the series and everything falls back into place.  So if you were one of the asses who spent money to go to a baseball game and then used that time to boo your own team, then you got the game you deserved and I hope it’s the only game you are able to go to in person all season long.

It was definitely painful to watch the numbers keep moving up for the Rays, but games like that happen.  At one point it went from painful to humorous.  How do you stay at a blow out for almost the entire game and then decide the 11th run of the night was the final straw for you?  The number of people who did just that (jumping up and waving their hands in disgust as they made their way to the exits) and it made for good entertainment.

I’m not a fan of claiming staying at a ball game is a badge of honor and there are many legitimate reasons why someone might have to leave a game early, but I don’t think right now is the time to be giving up on your team.  I don’t care how famous they are, I don’t care how fabulous their personal lives are and I don’t care how much money they make…the team is struggling and needs support not abandonment.  Support the team or jump on a train and become a fan of a New York, DC or Baltimore team.  Maybe that will be more fun for you?

As an aside, last night Joe Maddon tweeted that Sam Fuld not staying on base and collecting his cycle showed integrity.  Why?  Near the end of a blowout game where it has become clear extra runs will be just that, what does it show integrity.  I feel like that’s something you would say if the team lost, not when they’ve just pounded their opponent.  Besides, I have a difficult time believing Sam was fully cognizant of the fact that if he pulled up he’d have the cycle.  Even if he was, having the view I did made it seem obvious that he was just doing what was natural, running because he could.  No need to make it more than it was, Joe.  (Also, to give you an idea of the crowd around us by that time, many in our section were yelling for him to stop because they wanted the New Hampshire native to get the cycle.  Like I said, the good crowd around us helped make the game less painful.)

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Random stat that helped make the evening fun:  Alfredo Aceves, in relieving Tim Wakefield (who relieved Daisuke Matsuzaka) went 2.2 innings, struck out 2 and gave up no hits nor any walks.  I’ve now seen him pitch twice this season and both times came away happy that he’s with the team.

Blog suggestion for the day:  In an effort to keep the fun in the game, Soxy Lady has, once again, taken on the task of compiling at-bat and entrance music for the Red Sox.  Check it out (and help her fill in the gaps if you can!)

April 12, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Theeeee Red Sox Win!

You're up next, Daisuke! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

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.

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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!).

April 11, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

They can only get better!

Because Johnny Pesky can always make me smile! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

Well this sucks.

Seriously.  There is no sugar-coating that your team, the team the entire freaking world has predicted will win upwards of 100 games and then go on to win the World Series, can’t win a damn game.  Four losses in a row to start the season is like  someone pulling a perfectly healthy tooth out of your head in slow motion with no pain killer.  There is nothing positive to say about watching your team begin the season losing four games in a row.  Nothing.

But…

There have been positives in these games.  David Ortiz is hitting.  Jacoby Ellsbury is getting on base.  Heck, Josh Beckett didn’t look half bad last night.  Go check out a box score from any one of these games and you’ll find little things to give you hope.  Just because it sucks now doesn’t mean it will for the rest of the season.  No team ever went 0-162, right?

Received a fun email last night from a newcomer to my blog who wrote that he didn’t comment because I would probably have deleted it (let it be known, if you are a fan of a different team you are welcome to comment here.  I only delete offensive comments or comments that bait other people into a flame war).  The person didn’t identify their team affiliation as being New York, but he (she?) was crowing about the Red Sox losing while the Yankees were beating up on the Minnesota Twins again.  As I read it, Rafael Soriano was busy giving up the 4-0 lead the Yankees had.  I get my entertainment where I can when the Red Sox play this way.

Just think about how much fun it will be tonight to watch Daisuke Matsuzaka put 327 men on base while none of them score!

So this 0-4 thing.  Do we start genuinely worrying?  Does it mean that the team isn’t as good in reality as it is on paper?  I have to say my answer to both questions is no.  I mean, again, it’s terrible.  Who the heck wants to watch their team lose four in a row ESPECIALLY to begin the season?  I can tell you I don’t.  It’s bringing me physical pain to watch it.  While watching the game last night, I said a couple of words last night repeatedly that I would never write on this blog.  It’s not fun at all.  But to be at a point where I’0m worried that the Red Sox will play this way all season?  I’m not there.  Not even close.  It’s worrisome to see the rest of the AL East winning (well, except the Rays) and to look at the hole the Sox are digging for themselves but it’s not something I’m ready to genuinely get upset over.  It’s a long seasons and there will be other teams with losing streaks.  Heck, if I have to put SOME kind of positive spin on it I suppose it’s that I’d rather they have their crappy spell at the beginning of the season than in the middle or near the end like it often comes for the Red Sox.  Let’s get all the misery out now so we can thoroughly enjoy our summer!

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Random stat that means nothing, really, but sounds good:  According to Scott Lauber at the Boston Herald, even though none of them began the season, every team to win a World Series since 1988 had a four-game losing streak.

Blog suggestion for the day:  Over at the Fenway Faithful Report today the focus is accentuating the positive.  The positive being the Red Sox bullpen.  I have a feeling we’re going to be grateful for that a lot this season.

April 6, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | 3 Comments