Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Oh, Danny Boy

I missed the entire game yesterday.

I was very upset about that while this was happening.  I convinced myself that yesterday’s game would be smooth sailing and the Red Sox would be sweeping Toronto out of Fenway and I wanted to see it.  But I had a prior commitment that I couldn’t change and kept me away from a television or even my cell phone…and I suppose it turned out all for the best.

Everyone has bad stretches, I get this.  Heck this entire team has had their share of bad stretches, so I hesitate to overreact about Daniel Bard.  Truth is, though, I just can’t shake the idea that he’s either just gassed from the long season or we’re seeing some breakdown that might have longer lasting implications for Bard.  In any event, a phone call from my father after the game told me how things went.  I keep reading about how Terry Francona is in love with Bard and that’s why he keeps bringing him in.  When my father called me, he began the call with “I don’t think Tito likes Bard all that much”.  I knew that meant he brought Bard in and Bard blew another one and I knew that meant I would be avoiding the likes of Twitter all night because as much as I was thinking “Can we just maybe rest the kid for a few games and try to nip this in the bud?” I didn’t want to read all the rantings from everyone else (rantings that tend to be much more colorful than mine!).

Okay…so that happened.  Rays are in town for the weekend and I have three friends coming in from all over (Florida, North Carolina and California, to be exact) and they will all be spending some time at Fenway for this series…the baseball gods and the Red Sox won’t let them down…right?

September 15, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | Leave a comment

Goodbye Yankees

You're up, Andrew. (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

People last night were virtually fist-pumping about how great Jon Lester was as he left the game (“virtually” as in, “doing it on the Internet). I’ll just say this about Crabby: He goes a more acceptable amount of innings for an “ace” pitcher, and it’s more than possible the Red Sox win last night’s game. Five innings for him and five pitchers total for the Red Sox in a game the pitchers only ended up giving four runs…the Red Sox needed him to pitch like the ace he wants to be and he didn’t. Aces don’t have to leave the game after five innings.

Having written all that…was last night that horrible?  I mean, sure, I always want the Red Sox to hammer the Yankees and any time a game goes the way last night did (both Bard and Aceves not pitching the way we have come to expect them to pitch and the Red Sox getting to Mariano Rivera AGAIN and not being able to capitalize on it) it’s a disappointment, but the Red Sox are still in first place, still have plenty of games to go to pick up MORE games on the Yankees and entertain us in the process.

Andew Miller, Érik Bédard and John Lackey will be leading the way against the Rangers this weekend and Friday’s (MLBN) and Sunday’s (TBS) will be on the (hopefully) non-annoying national broadcasts.

Here’s hoping everyone has a safe and fun Labor Day weekend!

September 2, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

My Harshed Mellow

Aviles at Fenway 2010 (Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor used with permission)

I’ll be honest, as a woman, Mike Aviles makes my eyes happy.  And since, lately, I’ve been looking for things to be happy about instead of focusing on the negative, I’ll take it.

Unfortunately, the universe seems to like it when I focus on the negative, so forgive me while I rant about the “unwritten rules” of baseball.

By now, pretty much everyone who follows baseball knows what happened in the Tigers/Angels game on Sunday.  Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver were both pitching great games (Verlander brought a no-hitter into the 8th inning) and things got testy.  Weaver thought Magglio Ordonez pimped a home run and barked at him, ala Kevin Gregg, to get to first base.  (General consensus is that Maggs wasn’t pimping, he was watching to see if the ball went foul.  Maybe he should have still taken first but I don’t think it’s the pitcher’s job to point this out.  Nonetheless, Weaver got cranky.)  So Carlos Guillen decides that he will definitely pimp his home run when the time comes, and if you haven’t see it you really need to check it out.  Manny Ramirez could take home run pimping lessons from Guillen.  Weaver, obviously, doesn’t like this and barks at him as well.  The homeplate umpire senses the tension and warns both benches before poor Alex Avila steps up to the plate but that doesn’t bother Weaver, who sails a fastball over (at?  I guess that’s up for debate) Alex’s head and gets himself immediately ejected.  (Home run pimping doesn’t generally bother me.  I like Dennis Eckersley’s belief that if you don’t want a batter to show you up you don’t throw him a pitch he can hit out of the park.   But much like Verlander’s attitude after the game annoyed me, so did Guillen’s.  You did nothing valiant by pimping that homer, Carlos.  All you did was get Alex Avila thrown at.)

But wait, there’s more.

We’re in the top of the 8th and the score is 3-0 and JustinVerlander is throwing a no-hitter.  Erick Aybar comes up to bat and bunts.  Yeah, yeah, bunting is against the unwritten code and Verlander isn’t happy.  He fields the bunt and throws it away, sending Aybar to second base.  If Verlander’s eyes were lasers, Aybar would have been vaporized.  Justin was none too happy about Aybar bunting (calling it “bush league” after the game) and this is where (since I was watching the game) I finally lose it.  Verlander (and the Detroit broadcasters and at least half of the people in my Twitter timeline) was pissed because Aybar dared to bunt to get on base in a 3-0 game.  I “lose” it because I’m become blind with the stupidity that in a game that is not out of reach (and a game being out of reach is debatable as well) a player shouldn’t do whatever he can to get on base and possibly generate runs.

When Verlander was eventually taken out of the game (after the Angels scored and the no-hitter was gone) he was scene in the dugout using hand gestures to tell Aybar that he was going to get one in the back the next time they met.  (Unfortunately for Verlander, unless that happens in the playoffs,  that won’t be until next year.)  That’s how pissed Verlander was about Aybar bunting on him.

(Fake edit because as I finished writing this entry I remembered that there was a crazy play where Aybar was in a rundown and, according to Verlander, who messed that one up to, allowing Aybar to score, Erick threw an elbow into Verlander’s ribs.  Now, if true, I’m sure it was in retaliation for Verlander staring him down after the bunt.  Still, is there anyone on either of these teams who knows how to act like an adult?)

Of all people, Torii Hunter had the best quote to sum up the day:

“It was stupid. All stupid. Everybody was stupid.”

Well put, Torii.  Everybody was stupid.  Unfortunately for the Angels, the only stupid that will be reprimanded is Jered Weaver’s.  Reports are he could be looking at a six-game suspension.  Most likely, he’ll find out today and if it is six games that means he’ll be missing one start for purposely throwing a fast ball at/around/over a batter’s head.  If he had actually hit Avila would he have gotten seven games?  (I really don’t get the system for suspending pitchers.  I think purposely chucking the ball at another player’s head, even if  you don’t hit him, should be good for missing at least two starts, no?)

Anyway, my ire isn’t so much for all the stupidity in Sunday’s game but for the opinions being tossed around.  Joe Posnanski does a great job here of covering the mind-numbing opinion that Guillen not only was right to pimp that homer but that he did in in defense of Ordonez.  More ridiculous to me is how many people are so put off by Aybar bunting his way on in the 8th.

Listen, I love pitchers, obviously.  It’s more fun for me to watch a strike out than a home run most of the time.  And in the past I have defended many the unwritten rule because who am I to tell the guys who play the game how they should play it, right?  But this one…ANY unwritten rule that prohibits a team from trying to get on base or score just because of certain other circumstances in the game…makes me crazy.  The score wasn’t 17-3 in the 9th inning with two outs.  It was 3-0 in the 8th inning with no outs.  Who in their right mind wouldn’t try to get something started in the 8th inning if their team was losing, regardless of the circumstances?  Why should Aybar have cared about breaking up a no-hitter if he thought it would get him on base?

Now, as an important aside, given what transpired before Aybar’s at-bat, there is no doubt in my mind that he was trying to tweak Verlander AS WELL AS trying to start something on the field.  So if you are okay with Guillen uberpimping his home run, I would think you’d be okay with Aybar bunting to get on base, yes?  (As Joe Posnanski noted, Guillen, in “defending” Ordonez, knowingly put Avila at risk.  How is that okay but Aybar just trying to get on the darn base isn’t?)

My take in a nutshell:  Ordonez didn’t pimp his homer and Weaver overreacted to it.  Guillen overreacted to Weaver’s overreaction by being a total jackass and Avila paid the price for both Weaver and Guillen being idiots.  Aybar, while probably wanting to stick it to Verlander because his team was being no-hit and embarrassed, also saw an opportunity to get on base and possibly score and by bunting he ended up doing both.  Unless he did elbow Verlander, he did nothing wrong.  Verlander acted like a baby on the mound, in the dugout and after the game when talking to the press.  And, really, that’s all I have.  The entire lot of them should just STFU.

Red Sox lost to the Cleveland Indians last night while the Yankees beat the White Sox.  I’m not happy any time the Sox lose an entire game in the standings but I have a difficult time beating up on Daniel Bard.  Kid’s been amazing for the Sox and he’s going to have a bad game now and then.  It happens.  Beckett on the mound tonight will, hopefully, perk us up.

August 2, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Early Exits

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!

May 24, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 2 Comments

Morning

I like that even after getting upset during a game I can wake up and think “Yeah, that happened.  On to another game”.

I get that they wanted to rest Bard.  But I hate the idea of not using your closer (when he’s only one of two pitchers available in the bullpen) because you don’t want him in there for a two-inning save in May.  I also don’t get the action of not using Morales earlier than they did.  But the game is over and lost and thankfully there isn’t much time to dwell on it.

Of course, if/when Bard gets into tonight’s game, after our being told he got a couple of nights off to rest him, my head just might explode.

May 22, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | 1 Comment

Random Bits

Get well, Bronson. (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

After all my complaining about people complaining about the team in Spring Training I have to fess up and admit that watching last night’s game was painful. I’m not proud.  The game drove me crazy.  Good God, it’s already started, hasn’t it?

It’s going to be a fun year.

Speaking of pain, send good thoughts to Corey Patterson who left the game after being hit by a Daniel Bard 95 mph fastball.  It was a frightening moment during the game punctuated by the obvious remorse Bard showed while Patterson was being attended to.  I can’t remember seeing a pitcher applaud someone he just hit as they walk off the field.  Bard did that last night (he also spoke to Patterson after the game).

In one of the more unique stories of the week, Bronson Arroyo, thought to possibly have been suffering with Valley Fever can rest easy now knowing it’s Mono.  Apparently the move to Arizona for the Reds has taken it’s toll on my favorite active right-hander. (A comment on the original ESPN story about the possibility of it being Valley Fever now seems more entertaining than when I originally read it:  “some get pneumonia then get better, some are sick for months or years, and some die”.  In either case, Bronson could probably use some positive vibes sent his way too!)

Previously, I mentioned Pedro Martinez getting a portrait in the Smithsonian this week.  After reading the story about it and how he felt (and seeing this picture of him and his mother next to the portrait) I have a hankering to watch some old Red Sox games pitched by him.  It’s interesting to me the kind of emotions Pedro can stir up.  At least for me.   I’m so proud of him and touched by his reaction to the honor.  It also makes me sentimental for the Pedro Martinez days of the Boston Red Sox.

Including the exhibition game against the Houston Astros on the 30th, there are five games left for the Red Sox before the regular season begins.  Three of them, including the Houston game, will be shown on NESN and two of those three (the Houston game and tonight’s 7:05 game against the Minnesota Twins) will also be shown on the MLB Network.  So there are still plenty of opportunities to get a look at your 2011 Boston Red Sox before the games officially mean anything.

March 26, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , | Leave a comment

It's a thin line

At the very least, this man deserves a bit of a rest (and a stiff drink!).  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com and used with permission.

At the very least, this man deserves a bit of a rest (and a stiff drink!). Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.smugmug.com and used with permission.

May I just tell you how much I hate this weekend?

I don’t hate it solely because the Red Sox won’t be in the post-season.  You win some, you lose some and I can deal with that fine.  And it isn’t that I don’t like the playoffs.  I do.  Even when the Sox aren’t in them they are usually compelling and fun to watch.  Especially this year when there is really only one team I absolutely don’t want to see get past the first round.  It’s nice to have a bunch of teams to watch that you know you’ll enjoy watching.  I’m hoping for a Reds/Twins World Series but, really, as long as it doesn’t involve the Yankees, the World Series won’t be a disappointment for me this year.

The main reason I hate this weekend is because of the loss of every day baseball.  During the season, there is almost no weekday evening where I don’t spend the majority of it watching baseball.  If I’m home, pretty much from 7pm until at least midnight, there is a ballgame on somewhere in my vicinity thanks to the Extra Innings package.    I just love baseball and I want to watch as much as I can.  So marking the end of the regular season always makes me a bit melancholy.

There’s also the off-season to think about, which always gets me a bit emotional.  Players we’ve grown to love (or at least really want around) might not be coming back, so the last weekend of the season turns out to be a longer goodbye for some of us and the players than others.  I wonder if next season we’ll be witness to more dugout tomfoolery with Adrian Beltre and his head or if we’ll get to see Victor Martinez and his son playing on the Fenway grass.  I wonder if we’ll be clapping and singing to “Shipping Up to Boston” in the top of the ninth or if it’ll be “Strange Hold”  (is that even still Bard’s entrance music?).   Come December, I’ll be a lot more eager to find out the answers to these and other questions but right now I’m a little blue thinking about them.

As a gift to we fans who have stood by this team all season long, the baseball gods have given us a final weekend of baseball at home…against the Yankees.  Really, baseball gods?  We haven’t suffered enough?  Oh well.  The bad news is that along with my boys, my last visuals of Fenway this season will include the likes of Slappy, Captain Intangibles and freaking Mark Teixeira.  The good news is that the Red Sox could end up being the reason that the Yankees go into the playoffs on the dreaded (only by them) Wild Card instead of winning the division.  The thought of this gives me joy-filled goosebumps.

I think it’s fitting that the two pitchers I’ll be seeing (if the weather doesn’t mess things up) are Clay Buchholz and John Lackey.  Clay because he’s my guy in that rotation and Lackey because I feel like I’ve been one of his only supporters all season.  I know how he’s pitched and I still think, when that contract is over, we’ll have gotten more good than bad from  him.  So I’m excited for the pitching this weekend and I’m excited to be able to be there to say goodbye to Mike Lowell (although not excited about saying goodbye).  My hope is to shoot video of the tribute to share with folks but I can’t guarantee I’ll be in a good position to do it (nor can I guarantee my hands will be steady enough to shoot it!) but I promise I will at least make the attempt!

How is it possible that I’m dreading AND looking forward to this weekend?

October 1, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

On to Texas

The put up or shutting up time has come.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

The putting up or shutting up time has come, Josh. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Don’t you hate blown saves?  I hate them myself.

But, honestly, look at Papelbon’s numbers.  As someone said to me last night, “Red Sox fans seem  mad that he’s not Mariano Rivera while overlooking the fact that NO ONE else is Rivera and their closer is pretty damn good”.

Given, so far, 35 save opportunities, Papelbon has 29 saves under his belt this season.  Not one of Paps’ six blown saves was fun to watch but they also don’t indicate that the man can’t do his job.  Daniel Bard has had seven opportunities to get a save yet only has three saves.  Small sample size, sure, but he hasn’t been “lights out” (using the definition of the people ready to hang Papelbon) either yet folks are ready to crown him tomorrow’s closer today.  The fact is, more often than not, when Papelbon takes the mound the game is in the bag for the Red Sox.  Sure it would have been great for the Sox to have swept the Jays, but winning the series still keeps them in the hunt.  (Before I forget, special thanks to Jere who pointed out to me, for the second time in the comments section, that the teams not MLB decide what time the games will be played.  I, apparently, have a blind spot in my brain for remembering!!)

The Papelbon hate, in my mind, is misguided and reactionary.  It saddens me when members of the Nation start acting like entitled Yankees fans.

More frustrating than the Sox loss, to me, is this tweet from Jared Carrabis, Red Sox Nation Governor of Massachusetts:

The Red Sox are in third place in the AL East and have more wins than any other first place team in the AL.

All the people whining that this team “isn’t good enough” can stick a sock in it.  I know the competition is among the Sox, Yanks and Rays and they have to be better than the Yanks and Rays (or at least much better than just one of them) to get into the playoffs, but the superiority of the American League East, while fun to brag about, hamstrings teams IN the AL East every year. (This is why I’m such a fan of the Wild Card but would prefer a system where the four, six or eight best teams (have to stretch it out so MLB makes their money, I know) went into the playoffs.  In what world does it make sense that the best teams don’t get to compete for a championship?  Sure it would mean that, most years, the Yankees were in the mix, but the Yankees are a separate issue all their own.  (And don’t get me started on the creation of the MLB schedule.  Sox get the Rangers this weekend while the Yanks play the Royals and the Rays play the Orioles.  The computer, she is a Red Sox hater, plain and simple!)

You’ll all have to excuse me today if I’m not ready to tar and feather Papelbon and if I don’t lament my team not being “better”.  I’m enjoying the heck out of this season.  Sometimes it’s more fun to wonder what’s coming next than to know every move.

August 13, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , | 2 Comments

I'll take the split. Let's make it banana.

"We Not Me"  I love that.

"We Not Me" I love that.

I don’t often say this because I don’t often believe it but as annoyed as I was at the way the game ended last night, the Celtics winning made up for it.  Mind you, the Celtics won’t be in the finals in September, so Daniel Bard, you’re on notice.  🙂

How I would love a closer that doesn’t make me want to turn the channel in the ninth and hope for the best.  On the other hand, I guess there aren’t that many out there who can pull that off.

Sox just lost two games started by Buchholz and Lester and won two games started by Wakefield and Matsuzaka.  This, in my book, is good news.  Lester and Buchholz will win more than they will lose this season so getting Wake and Daisuke to start games that end with a “W” is huge.  I wanted the series win but I’ll take the split and be done with it.

I apologize in advance to those who don’t follow basketball but in my giddiness about the Celts win, hearing this quote almost made my heart explode with joy:  Five foot nine, 180 pound  Nate Robinson jumped on the back of six foot eight, 300 pound “Big Baby” Glen Davis while celebrating last night’s win over the Lakers and said of the pair afterward:  “We’re like Shrek and Donkey.”  You just know t-shirts are being made in preparation for the next game.

Last night Shrek and Donkey and a whole lot of green helped take the sting off of a disappointing loss.  I know it doesn’t mean much to Adrian Beltre (he of the 9th inning heroics last night that got erased all too quickly) or any Sox fans out there who aren’t also Celtics fans but I’ll take the sports happiness where I can get it.

Onward and upward.  Sox back home this weekend to take on the Phillies.  I keep reading/hearing about how lucky we are that the Sox don’t meet up against Roy Halladay (he pitched last night), given that the Sox actually hit pretty decently against him, I’m not convinced that’s such a good thing.  Tonight we get John Lackey against Jamie Moyer.  The old guy vs the man who just pitches like an old guy (I kid you, John Lackey, I kid).

June 11, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 1 Comment

I staggered back to the underground

Mark Wagner knocked in the winning run last night.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Mark Wagner knocked in the winning run last night. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

One of my pet peeves with sports writers (and bloggers and people who claim to be sports fans and comment on sports blogs and articles) is not getting a player’s name right. Drives me crazy. If it’s your job to cover the sport, you should know how to spell the names of the people you’re covering. There are plenty of media guides out there to help with this but if you’re media guide-less how about GOOGLE? Takes no time at all to find out how to spell a player’s name.

I bring this up because I have, on occasion, written criticisms here about not only laziness (such as not finding out the proper spelling of a name) but poor editing on the professional sites. I’m on my own – I’m my own editor. Luckily, you all get right on me whenever I mess up and I appreciate it because, as I think I’ve made clear, nothing drives me crazier in writing than it looking bad. Incorrect spelling, improper use of words (can’t tell you how many times I get an emails saying things like “I don’t think you meant to write “It took four ours to play the game”. For me, most mistakes are really just brain cramps (or a result of writing an entry at 3am!) and I appreciate the editing help. Today I found one such example in someone else’s work and instead of it making me cranky it made me laugh.

See, for all my crankiness about these things, last year I did something for at LEAST half the season that I’m not proud of.  I kept referring to Daniel Bard as “Josh”.  Now last season, Don Orsillo, of all people, admitted on air that didn’t even remember that Josh Bard played for the Red Sox, but I did.  At one time he was Bronson Arroyo’s “personal catcher” on the Reds so when the Sox got him it stuck in my head.  For good, seemingly, since I even almost called Daniel Bard “Josh” to his face.  Now, I know perfectly well the difference between Josh and Daniel Bard but you get a name stuck in your head and it’s tough to shake it.  Which is why it amused me that, in his wrap-up of yesterday’s Sox/Twins game, Ian Browne referred to Denard Span as “Chad Span”.  Google Chad Spann if the name doesn’t ring a bell.  I’m sure more of you haven’t heard of him than have.  Spann spent 6 years in the Red Sox system and never made it to the bigs.   I saw him play in Portland once and in Pawtucket once but that isn’t the point.  The point is, he hasn’t been in the Red Sox organization since 2008, yet he’s still in Ian Browne’s brain.  I know Denard Span is quite a different/better player than Chad but sometimes you can’t help a brain fart.

Of course, I would assume there is some kind of editing on the site, no?  Someone else could have caught this maybe?  On the very few comments left on Browne’s wrap up, he’s being hammered for messing up the name.  Had I not experienced the Josh/Daniel Bard confusion myself, I might have been one of those hammerers.   So cut Browne some slack.  (Quite possibly the last time I write that about a member of the Boston sports media…)

Sox won the first game of the Mayor’s Cup, 2-1, thanks to hits by Dustin Pedroia, Josh Reddick and Mark Wagner.   In two innings, Josh Beckett gave up two hits and a run…but let’s not focus on that just yet.  First game of Spring Training so he’s allowed.

This afternoon, Chad Spann’s buddy Jon Lester will be on the mound to continue the defending of the Cup over at Hammond Stadium.  Today will be the first time Tim Wakefield gets into a game “piggybacking” Lester.  We’ll also get a chance to see Mike Cameron.  Well, wait, “see” isn’t quite right.  The game isn’t being televised nor is it on MLB.tv…Gameday Audio is the only way to get this one (and from the looks of the Red Sox site, we only get the Twins feed).

It’s March 5, folks.  On April 4 we get real, live, televised, baseball.  Hang in there!

March 5, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments