Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

Like a Bad Penny

Me with Kevin Millar - September 2003 (It was either this or a picture of Pete Rose...)

Me with Kevin Millar – September 2003 (It was either this or a picture of Pete Rose…)

In September of 2003 a friend and I went to a baseball card show solely for the purpose of meeting Kevin Millar and David Ortiz who were there doing signings.  At the time they were both new favorites of the fans and not the icons they are now but we knew they were special and wanted to share our affection with them.

It was a fun, if not relatively expensive, day and the memories from it include getting my photo taken with Kevin Millar (at the time my favorite player on the team) and getting to see Millar and Big Papi interacting off the field the way we would become used to seeing them on the field, like two kids just enjoying the heck out of where they were in life.

The friend I attended with was someone I met online (Hi Pam!) and this was our first time meeting in person. We’ve since become close friends but you never know how these things will work out. Would we get on each other’s nerves? Would we find each other weird? The moment I knew we were destined to be great friends was when, after we met the players and just were walking around the event, she stopped to talk with someone who was promoting the idea that Major League Baseball should reinstate Pete Rose. Pam, who is quite the soft, spoken, gentle soul, lit into this man and gave him a lesson in why she didn’t think he belonged there. I knew right then we’d be lifelong friends.

Any baseball fan can tell you what a polarizing subject Pete Rose is when fans start the discussion. I’ve witnessed an argument that turned into a broken friendship over this very subject. I wish that was an exaggeration but it isn’t. The argument became so heated that other unrelated things came out and before anyone knew what was happening we watched the friendship dissolve right in front of us.

I don’t know that I’ve ever met any baseball fan whose stance on Pete Rose was “I don’t care.”  (And please feel free to tell me you don’t care!) People seem to either absolutely not want him anywhere near baseball (Cyn raises her hand) or they bring up all of the other horrible people who are currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame (or in a position to be in the Hall of Fame eventually) and compare them to Rose.  “Is gambling as bad as being a racist?” (Say hey, Ty Cobb)  People bring up the players with domestic violence in their history, or the drug addicts or the players who collect DUIs the way we used to collect Garbage Pail Kids. Compared to their failings, Pete Rose defenders think gambling isn’t close to the worst a player in MLB could do.

Listen, I get it. Generally speaking people can be pretty terrible.  Including, if not especially, athletes. So if we’re looking for 30 teams in MLB to fill their rosters with choirboys we will be extremely disappointed. No one, least of all me, is expecting these men to be perfect. I’d just like the bar to be set a little higher than, say, “At least he isn’t a murderer.”

While I am certainly in the camp of fans who are happy that 2015 begins the era of a Bud Selig-less MLB, one of my worries about a new commissioner was how he or she (she, ha-ha…I crack me up) would treat the Pete Rose situation.

Earlier this month, new MLB commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Pete Rose has sent him a formal request asking that his lifetime ban be lifted. Manfred has essentially said that he’s going to go over the Dowd Report and Bart Giamatti’s decision and mull all of that over along with giving Pete Rose’s argument consideration. This all sounds perfectly fair in my mind. Go over the evidence presented and make a decision based on a request his office received. So even though I find it completely logical to do it, why does it chap my ass so much?

If I think about it long enough I can figure it out.  People are, for the most part, a forgiving group. Tell us your sorry and we’ll forgive you. Even if we never forget, more often than not you’ll get your second chance. So I think part of my concern is that Rob Manfred might be looking at Pete Rose, who’ll be 74 this month, and instead of focusing on what he did and that he agreed to the ban and then spent years denying he did anything wrong, he’ll think about an older man who only wants his accomplishments acknowledged and he’ll give in. And that truly annoys me to no end.

If you take a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame (which every fan should definitely try to do) you’ll find that Pete Rose and his accomplishments are well represented there. Now I understand Rose and his supporters want is that plaque. They want his face cast in bronze with his Reds cap on and a brief bio below in that elite group of his contemporaries and those who paved the way before him. In my opinion, he should have thought of that before he knowingly broke what was at the time pretty much baseball’s most serious rule (and then, after agreeing to the ban, lying about it for years).

I know people aren’t perfect and I really don’t even believe in striving for perfection. As long as you aren’t a jackass, we’re good. But in Pete’s case he knew from the get-go that what he was doing would run him the risk of losing what he loved…baseball. And yet he still did it and then lied about it for years. I have no problem living in a world where Pete Rose isn’t enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame. ESPECIALLY because his achievements are there. What he did as a baseball player won’t be forgotten but neither will what he did to get himself booted out of baseball.  Fair’s fair.

April 1, 2015 Posted by | 2015 | , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Goodbye Captain, Hello Baseball!

Until the last game of the World Series...the Red Sox are still the World Series Champions! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill and used with permission)

Until the last game of the World Series…the Red Sox are still the World Series Champions! (Photo courtesy of Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill and used with permission)

So I feel compelled to write something about Derek Jeter.  Had I written this last week it would have been a rant about how Major League Baseball, all of the networks that air Major League Baseball and almost every Yankees fan I’ve ever encountered both in real life and online wanted me to be devastated that Jeter retired from baseball.

But this past week of playoff baseball has taken the aggravation out of almost this entire season of Jeter love.

The Kansas City Royals have played and won THREE extra-inning games to put themselves one win away from going to the American League Championship Series. The Kansas City Royals have played some of the most exciting baseball I’ve seen not related to the Boston Red Sox in just three games (and 34 innings).  And there was nary a mention of Derek Jeter at any of these games save for the occasional viewing of that Gatorade commercial (that Deadspin made even better). Major League Baseball might not want to admit it but so far baseball is not only still living without Captain Intangibles but it’s thriving.

Okay, thriving only to baseball fans who enjoy the hell out of watching exciting baseball regardless of the size of the team’s fanbase – but tell the fans it’s all for them and eventually we’ll start to believe it.

And this was the issue most people had with the narrative that the baseball world was going to end when Jeter tipped his cap for the last time: We knew it wasn’t true.

I will not argue that Derek Jeter wasn’t a better than average player. (I will argue that had he played anywhere other than the New York Yankees he’d be remembered pretty much the exact way Craig Biggio is remembered – which isn’t so terrible, is it?) But he wasn’t bigger than the game just because he played with the same team for his entire career, never got accused of or caught cheating and played well on a consistent level for the majority of his career.  Those things make him fortunate, possibly a good guy and a very talented player.  They don’t make him the best player to ever take the field.  They don’t even make him the last great player MLB will ever see.  He was a good/sometimes great player who will most definitely make it into the Hall of Fame.  The thing is, if you go to the Hall of Fame you will see an awful lot of good/sometimes great/really freaking amazing players already there.

According to the Baseball Hall of Fame website:

The Hall of Fame is comprised of 306 elected members. Included are 211 former major league players, 28 executives, 35 Negro leaguers, 22 managers and 10 umpires.

So it isn’t as if when Jeter gets the call his plaque will be hanging in there alone. There won’t be some angelic lights shining upon it to single it out from all the others (although I’m sure some folks, probably Jeter himself, would dig that).  It’ll be there with all the other players in baseball who have made an impact on the game impressive enough to get elected to its Hall of Fame.  Which is wonderful. Jeter’s parents should be very proud. And I’ll be happy for him and not begrudge him his place in baseball’s history one iota.

But he didn’t historically change the game and the the game isn’t worse off for his deciding to leave it.  It moves on, like everything does, and so far it’s still wonderful.

So goodbye, Derek Jeter. You weren’t my least favorite Yankees player but I’m still not sorry to see you go.

October 4, 2014 Posted by | 2014 | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Thoughts While Trying to Ignore the Blow Out

Mike Napoli and Jake Peavy Celebrating the Red Sox winning the East last September (Photo by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill and used with permission) I will miss Peavy but am happy for the opportunity this trade affords him.

Sunday is big family dinner day at my parents’ house. Yesterday there were fewer people there than usually are and there were still 7 people at dinner.  So we’re eating our dinner, enjoying each other’s company, when my brother-in-law turns to my cousin and asks, “So…what’s wrong with your Red Sox this year? Last place, huh?”

You’ll note I didn’t write that he said this to me. He knows better. My cousin is a pretty mellow guy. He laughed my brother-in-law off, said something about winning the World Series in 2013 and it was over.  But it stuck in my craw.

Continue reading

July 28, 2014 Posted by | 2014 | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Keep it Rolling

Possibly the best selfie ever (from Papi's Twitter account) I try not to lift photos from Twitter but I'm pretty sure Papi won't mind us sharing the love

Possibly the best selfie ever (from Papi’s Twitter account) I try not to lift photos from Twitter but I’m pretty sure Papi won’t mind us sharing the love

I couldn’t not post this photo. I just couldn’t.

I defy anyone to find another person as charismatic and lovable as David Ortiz. Especially someone rich and famous. He’s just amazing.

I have nothing to really add to today. I thought the President’s speech was wonderful. So personal and so much about the City not just the team. So because it was a long day but I still wanted to post…I give you my favorite part of the speech, courtesy of whitehouse.gov:

Nearly one year ago, hundreds of thousands gathered on a beautiful spring day to run and cheer the historic Boston Marathon.  But a senseless act of terror turned celebration into chaos, and joy into anguish.  Four young people lost their lives.  Hundreds were injured.  The city was rocked.  But under the guiding hand of somebody who I consider one of the finest public servants that America has known, Mayor Tom Menino of Boston, who is here today, and his lovely wife.  (Applause.) 

Boston stood resolute and unbowed and unbroken.  And as the smoke cleared, we gained inspiration from the injured who gamely tackled their recovery — those who are running and walking again, including the young woman who has returned to professional dancing with a prosthetic leg.  And we took heart from the first responders who put their lives at risk and bravely ran toward danger — people like Officer Richard Donahue of the MBTA Transit Police, who was shot and nearly killed that night.  After months of rehab, Richard is walking again and keeping up with his 18-month-old son, and we’re so proud to have Richard here today.  Give him a big round of applause.  (Applause.)   

Today, our hearts are in Boston again.  We’ve got the families of firefighters Michael Kennedy and Lieutenant Edward Walsh, who gave their lives protecting others from a massive blaze last week.  And their sacrifice, like the sacrifice of those made last year, remind us of the selfless courage of everyday heroes who put their lives on the line to help others.  The first responders, the brave citizens, the resolute victims of these tragedies — they’re all Boston Strong.  And ultimately, that’s what this team played for last season, and every man behind me did his part to keep the team rolling. 

April 1, 2014 Posted by | 2014 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wanna win a DVD?

Road to the Big Leagues 3D

So while I’m still processing this ridiculously wonderful season, I received an email asking if I’d like to give away a DVD to help baseball fans get through the long, cold, MLB-less nights we have ahead of us.

Originally released in 2008, 2013 World Series MVP David Ortiz (woooo!!!!!) is interviewed in this documentary about the Dominican Republic and baseball.  But let the PR people do the heavy lifting:

In the uplifting spirit of the classic sports documentary Hoop Dreams, comes ROAD TO THE BIG LEAGUES, a grand-slam documentary from filmmaker Jared Goodman.  Offering a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the Dominican Republic’s obsession with baseball, viewers will quickly understand that, to the residents of this island nation, America’s National Pastime is more than just a game – it’s a way of life.  And as the 2013 Fall Classic® gets underway, IndiePix® brings ROAD TO THE BIG LEAGUES to DVD.  Featuring interviews with Dominican big league stars such as David Ortiz and Vladimir Guererro, this documentary, called “a well-addressed portrayal of pursuing a dream, believing in your heroes, and putting every obstacle aside,” also features championship-caliber extras including a behind-the-scenes featurette from the Dominican Winter League, David Ortiz in training, an interview with director Goodman and more! 

 IndiePix Films is being terribly generous this November, offering up five copies of this DVD to the friends of Toeing the Rubber. Now I’d love to make this difficult with a trivia contest or the like but I think our brains are all still full of BEARD so I’ll make this easy (besides, I’m pretty sure we’ll be having another DVD giveaway coming up that folks will be excited for and I’ll need to make you all work a little for that one!).  So if you’d like to receive a free copy of ROAD TO THE BIG LEAGUES just leave a comment either here on this entry on the blog or on the thread where this entry is posted on Facebook. I’ll give you the rest of the week…until midnight on Sunday…and I’ll pick five random people and be in touch with you once I pick the winners!

So talk at me, peeps, and you could win a great little prize!

November 7, 2013 Posted by | 2013 | , , , , , | 5 Comments

Don't You Already "Like" the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute?

Who wouldn't want an autographed Papi jersey? (Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill and used with permission)

Who wouldn’t want an autographed Papi jersey? (Photo by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill and used with permission)

Are you on the Facebook?  I am. Toeing the Rubber has its own page (which has been sadly neglected as of late but I’m working on it!) and I have a personal account that I use mostly to keep up with friends and family I don’t often see.  It isn’t as horrible or scary as some make it out to be.  Sometimes it’s a lot of fun…and other times it can even be helpful and get you free stuff! This could be one of those times. The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is looking for more followers for their Facebook page. The short version is, if you are already on Facebook you just have to go to this link and “like” the page.  That’s it.  So what’s in it for you? The opportunity to win a signed David Ortiz jersey.  But let me let them explain:

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Love Big Papi this post-season? If you ‘like’ Dana-Farber, you could win his signed jersey

BOSTON—Would you love a chance to win an authentic Boston Red Sox home jersey signed by designated hitter David Ortiz? Then like Dana-Farber Cancer Institute on Facebook.

            Online now, and running through Friday, Nov. 1, people who “like” Dana-Farber on Facebook, will be entered to win the Ortiz autographed Red Sox jersey. Dana-Farber launched the contest to generate greater awareness about its online community on Facebook, which offers information for cancer patients and their families and friends, and provides an inside look at Dana-Farber, its services and programs, and its employees and volunteers. This year marks the 60th anniversary (#JFRedSox60) of the historic partnership between the Red Sox and the  Jimmy Fund, which together support adult and pediatric cancer care and research at Dana-Farber. From Ted Williams to Mike Andrews to Mo Vaughn to Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox players have been quick to support the Jimmy Fund and Dana-Farber, including visiting patients at the clinics and helping with fundraising initiatives. The chance to win the autographed Ortiz jersey continues this tradition and is part of a season-long celebration of the 60th anniversary. Contest participants must be 18 years of age or older and a legal resident of one of the 50 United States or the District of Columbia as of the date of entry in order to be included in the drawing. No purchase is necessary and only one entry per participant is allowed. Official rules are available online here. The drawing will be held at 5 p.m. on Nov. 1.  

About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a principal teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School and is among the leading cancer research and care centers in the United States. It is a founding member of the Dana-Farber/Harvard Cancer Center, designated a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute. It provides adult cancer care with Brigham and Women’s Hospital as Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center and it provides pediatric care with Boston Children’s Hospital as Dana-Farber/Boston Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders Center. Dana-Farber is the top ranked cancer center in New England, according to U.S. News & World Report, and one of the largest recipients among independent hospitals of National Cancer Institute and National Institutes of Health grant funding. Follow Dana-Farber on Facebook and on Twitter.

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So what do you have to lose?

October 23, 2013 Posted by | 2013 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Eating our own

I wrote this as a comment to someone’s remark about being “embarrassed’ to root for the Red Sox because of the way the front office is (supposedly) acting and figured I’d write it here as well because all of this shame and embarrassed talk has been bandied about an awful lot lately.

I don’t get everyone talking about being embarrassed to root for the Red Sox. You either root for them or you don’t. If folks are so bothered by the team there’s always the option to not support them. But, for me, the idea of not supporting the team because you think the owners are asses makes no sense since I’ve been supporting the team longer than the current ownership has been in place, and the team has had other owners (and GMs) who were assholes too.

And I mean it. Since when do we root for the team based on who owns it?  Prior to this ownership, were things so great between the front office and the players?  Did we have baseball crushes on the General Mangers before Theo?  What happened in 2004 (and then in 2007) brought this magical atmosphere to Fenway Park and made people forget the realities of being baseball fans…especially being baseball fans in Boston.  Sometimes you aren’t going to love everyone associated with your team.  You decide to be a fan and you can decide to not be a fan.  That’s on you, no one else.

For me, the team personalities are more important than those of the folks running the team.  Today we heard from two players, Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz.  Pedroia spent his time defending Terry Francona and talking about how all the controversy and the terrible way the season ended will add fuel to his fire and the team will come back stronger than ever.  Here’s a quote from Papi, courtesy of ESPN Boston:

“There’s too much drama, man,” Ortiz told Dominguez in reference to the Red Sox. “There’s too much drama. I have been thinking about a lot of things. I don’t know if I want to be part of this drama for next year.”

Papi also went on to not rule out playing for the Yankees.

Really?  Your team just pulled off the worst regular season collapse in baseball history, caused your manager to leave, is in the midst of losing its General Manager and has just been outed as a bunch of entitled prima donnas who purposely blew off their manager at crunch time and you decide to react to all of this by fanning the flames this way?

This bothers me more than what the front office is purportedly doing.  We’ve come to expect the front office to leak stories about whichever team member is leaving the fold.  It’s lousy (and regardless of all the media pinning this solely on Larry Lucchino, I’m not convinced there aren’t some players who contributed to this mess) but it really shouldn’t come as a surprise.  The fallout is what I find more interesting and, in some cases, distressing.

Pedroia was asked by Glenn Ordway why he was the only player to come out in support of Tito.  I had the same question.  Pedroia’s response was a muddled reaction of both saying he couldn’t speak for other players and saying that many of the other players don’t like to speak to the media the way he does.  I give Pedroia credit for not only protecting his manager but his teammates as well.  We’ve come to a point where someone needs to stop the bleeding so the team can heal and there should be more than just one player out there trying to do so.

One of the player’s being criticized, Jon Lester, has kept alarmingly quiet.  Much was made of the relationship between he and Tito, at least from Francona’s side.  Terry often mentioned he felt a father/son-like relationship with Lester yet here we find Lester was part of a clique that seemed to help run Tito out (whether it was intentional is up for debate) and now that he’s left the team and is having his name dragged through the mud, Lester is silent.  It’s disappointing and, in my opinion, telling of what kind of person he is.  Sadly, I think we’re finding out what kind of people many on this team are and, for me, they aren’t people I like very much.

Dustin Pedroia spoke with WEEI from Cabo today…yet no one else could find the time to speak up for their manager (or, for that matter, their team)?  And the one other player who DOES decide to speak out just whines about all the drama and throws out a thinly veiled threat to sign with the Yankees?  I feel like, come April, if there are a handful of players on this team that I’m still actively caring about, it’ll be amazing…yet I’ll still be here.

I’m a Red Sox fan.  For better or worse this is my chosen lot in life.  I can remember times when we didn’t like the owners, didn’t like the GM and didn’t like many of the players yet we still rooted for the team.  And that was before the team had two recent World Championships in their back pocket.

So come Truck Day, I will be at Fenway to show my support for the hometown team.  Ultimately, I will refuse to let this crap deny me the opportunity to enjoy the sport and team I love.

I so look forward to the time when we can all be joined in our hatred of the Boston sports media instead of focusing our anger on the team.  Someday.  Someday.

October 13, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Friday Funk

Things I don’t care about but that seem to be what everyone is talking about right now:

*David Ortiz interrupting Tito’s press conference because he was mad about a scoring change:  I’ve seen very little about this as I’ve been offline for about 24 hours, but, really, I couldn’t care less.  As long as he doesn’t make it a habit, I can forgive an instant of him being rude.  He’s human, it happens.  I’m only annoyed because unless something amazing happens in tonight’s game, it’s going to be all Tim McCarver will talk about tomorrow.

*MLB investigating Alex Rodriguez for taking part in  high stakes poker games: Here’s a surprise…I don’t like Alex Rodriguez.  Because of this, there is no way I can garner righteous indignation for MLB going after ARod for whatever he might or might not have done.  Have at him.  Like I said, I couldn’t care less.  Now, do I think they should reprimand the players who get arrested for DUIs or the players with murder charges against them or those accused of domestic violence?  Of course.  As a matter of fact, I would prefer they lob some kind of punishments against those players as opposed to keeping tabs on Slappy’s desperate attempts to go Hollywood.  But, really, I will experience schadenfreude any time ARod’s name is connected to something negative.  It makes my black heart happy.

*Heidi Watney possibly leaving NESN: This might come as a genuine surprise to some of you, but I really don’t care if she stays or goes.  I think she has improved a lot since she joined the NESN team and most of the time actually sounds like she understands the terms coming out of her mouth (one of my biggest issues with her when she started was that any time she used baseball terminology she fumbled over it like it was totally foreign to her.  Not what I want from the person assigned to telling me what is going on with the team) and I have been guilty this season of occasionally being entertained by her visits to the food stands during road trips (although I could live a long time without ever having to see her choke down food…you don’t ask someone without legs to dance and I don’t think you should ask Heidi to eat fried food on camera). But if she were to find a job on ESPN or the MLB Network I wouldn’t celebrate nor mourn her loss.  I don’t think NESN will take a huge hit with her being gone but I would worry they’d try to replace her with some talking head who knows nothing about baseball but looks good.  Maybe the devil I know is better than the one I don’t?

Here’s something I do kind of care about.  Yesterday both Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald and Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe tweeted their displeasure of a sign they noticed in the Red Sox clubhouse that reads: “What You See Here, What You Hear Here, Stays Here”.  The sign doesn’t bother me.  It’s been posted in baseball clubhouses and at AA meetings for decades.  What bothers me is that, once again, the writers need to seek things out to write negatively about.  Amusingly enough, Peter Abraham brings it up in his blog entry from just after 11pm last night, and phrases it like this:

During the game, the Red Sox posted a large red sign in the clubhouse that says, ‘WHAT YOU SEE HERE, WHAT YOU HEAR HERE, STAYS HERE!” Apparently the Red Sox clubhouse is the secret headquarters of planning against terrorist networks in the Middle East.

In all seriousness, these are adult men. They really need signs with hackneyed slogans? The Red Sox should be more sophisticated than that.

When Abraham covered the Yankees, the people who commented on his blog would complain that he came across as if he didn’t like the team and they all blamed his being from New England on his dislike of the Yankees. Now that he covers the Red Sox, his hometown team so to speak, he treats the team with the same disdain he did the Yanks.  I think I’ve written this before, but I’m writing it again.  I’m fine with the writers who cover the team not being “fans” of said team.  But I think it’s completely unprofessional when the writers covering the team show so much outward hostility toward the team, and this is something Abraham does often.  It must be horrible having a job many would sell a kidney for covering one of the most popular teams in baseball history and getting yourself on television every night with millions of people listening to and reading your every opinion.  Tough to bring up any sympathies here.  God forbid writers actually adhere to any kind of code these days.

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

All Star Hangover

Some things will never change, especially in baseball.  The best example of this is how people will complain about the All Star Game.  To be fair to Bud Selig, there will never be anything that could make all baseball fans happy.  There is NOTHING he could do to “fix” the All Star Game that would make us all shut up and just enjoy the game.  So for all of us who complain (myself included), we need to remember that it doesn’t benefit Bud Selig to constantly annoy us and the players as well.  I think he’s doing the best he can (when it comes to the ASG) with the resources he has.  (I also think it might be time for him to bring some fresh blood around him so maybe some new and better ideas can be presented to him.)

So let me list the things that I enjoyed about last night’s All Star Game:

*  D’Angelo Ortiz showing off his version of various batting stances.  This was adorable.  D’Angelo is still at the age where he hasn’t started to get annoying and he holds himself in such a way that you just know he is destined for great things.  And right now, he’s still a million kinds of cute.  The segment didn’t go on too long and they didn’t beat us to death with “See how cute David Ortiz’ son is”…it was a fun, family-friendly moment and the ASG could use more of them.

*  Heath Bell talking with the fans (one being a Red Sox fan) in the stands and then giving them gifts (I’m surprised that “Yoda Backpack” wasn’t a trending topic on Twitter last night).  Between that and his slide into the pitcher’s mound, Bell showed us how a player can be quirky and fun without being overbearing and annoying (See Wilson, Brian).

*  Being a total homer, seeing Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz and, especially, Adrian Gonzalez play was fun even if Youk and Adrian were the only ones to get hits.  Watching Adrian Gonzalez hitting a home run the night after he lit up the home run derby was fun (off of Cliff Lee, thank you very much).  Heck, I even enjoyed the Red Sox players being introduced pre-game.  I’ll admit it, I get a charge out of seeing our guys there even if I pretend I don’t.

*  I liked the “Stand Up to Cancer” moment and honoring the victims of the Arizona shootings before the game even if I do think that maybe the All Star Game could be a place where we don’t focus on the sad realities of life.  Even so, both were beautifully done and made me hate the ASG a little bit less.

That was pretty much it.  I never really care about who wins, regardless of it counting for home field advantage, but there wasn’t much excitement in last night’s game.  I could complain about Brian Wilson’s truly tired act, or Tim McCarver acting like he had never heard the words “Greek God of Walks” before last night (or, really, anything involving Joe Buck and Tim McCarver).  I could scoff at how when Joe Buck was taking about the shootings in Arizona the camera went right to Josh Hamilton as if now he is the MLB poster boy for tragedies and I could complain for the millionth time about how ridiculous it is to continue to sing “God Bless America” at a baseball game “to honor America” when we sing the National Anthem before the game starts to do that very thing.  But everyone will be complaining this morning (save for National League fans, I suspect) and why send out all those negative vibes, right?

We’re stuck with two more days of no Red Sox baseball but if you’re so inclined the Triple A All Star Game is being shown on the MLB Network tonight at 9 ET (pitcher Matt Fox is the lone representative from the PawSox this year).

July 13, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , | 2 Comments

Night at the Fights

Who could be mad at this face? (Photo taken by me on Opening Day this year)

I’d like to thank Kevin Gregg for taking my mind off of sadder situations and helping to blow up my Toeing the Rubber email accounts.  It would be fun to pick the messages I received apart but it is even more fun to just go straight to the source.

Let Mr. Gregg have the floor:

“They are going to whine and complain about it because they think they are better than everybody else. But no, we have just as much right to pitch inside as they do. Everybody’s frustrated. It’s part of the game.”

“You get tired of getting your butt kicked every night when you come in here. I’m going to stick up for what’s ours and try to get the plate back. I think you showed them that we are not backing down. We are not scared of them and their $180-million payroll. We don’t care. We are here to play the game. We have just as much right to play the game here.”

“It is 3-0, they are up seven, and I think there are some ethics to this game and guidelines that you have to stay within. Run. You hit a lazy fly ball, you have to run the bases. And apparently, he didn’t like me telling him that stuff and he came out there. If he thinks there’s something wrong with me saying that, then he has other things he has to check out in this game.”

But wait!  Nick Markakis wants in on this too!

“I like the guy, I like Ortiz, I respect the way he plays the game but I think it was a little bush league, bottom of the eighth, two outs, up by six, swinging 3-0. I don’t think we were hitting anybody intentionally there. But if it’s got to come down to that, it’s got to come down to it.

We’re in it as a team. He knows how to play the game. I think he’s going to look back on it and realize that he screwed up there but what happened, happened and it’s over.”

Kevin Gregg and the Baltimore Orioles…good for what ails you.

I’m feeling a little frisky this morning, so let me try to tackle this.

Whine and complain, everyone is frustrated: Three fastballs right at Papi.  YOUR team is frustrated because you are getting your butts kicked and headed for your fifth consecutive loss, having only won one out of your last ten games before this one.  It was so obvious what you were doing, that the umpires warned both benches without Papi having been hit.  You were not pitching inside, you were trying to hit David Ortiz because your team is lousy and you got called on it.

Tired of getting butt kicked, not scared of the payroll, not backing down: This entire quote reads like the younger sibling whining that the older sibling gets to do more and IT ISN”T FAIR!  Wah, wah, wah, Mr. Gregg.

You have to run the bases: I watched this game as it was happening and because I didn’t expect to be able to watch the game, I dvr’d it as well.  NESN showed the replay of everything that happened in Papi’s at-bat over and over and over…and it is obvious to anyone with eyes that Papi DID start to run to first base.  Gregg was so aggressive in that moment that the umpire came out from behind the plate and ejected him WHILE Papi was running to first base.  And, yes, Mr. Gregg.  he had a problem with it because you didn’t know what the hell you were talking about and after being thrown at three times, he decided to let you know what a horse’s ass you are.  The one who might want to check their game is you, boyo.

And let’s get to Nick.  I’m one of the few who is actually okay with players following some unwritten rules but there is one that I will never, ever understand and that is the “once you have a big lead you need to stop trying to win” rule.  Who gets to decide what the appropriate lead is before you have to stop trying, the losing team?  (For a current example of why this is a ridiculous “rule”, Wednesday night the Cincinnati Reds were up 8-0 in the fifth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals after having scored five runs in the first.  They ended up winning the game 9-8 in THIRTEEN innings because the Cards had a five-run seventh inning and then scored the tying run in the bottom of the ninth.  Had the Reds deferred to unwritten rules about big leads, would they have ended up losing the game?  I think it is genuinely laugh-out-loud funny that Nick Markakis thinks Papi will look back on this and think that not running to first base (when he actually DID run to first base) was a screw-up on Papi’s part.  The “screw-up” was Papi going after Gregg after Gregg got mouthy and was booted from the game.  And then, I only think it was a screw-up because it’s going to get him a suspension.  I have no problem in theory with David Ortiz telling Kevin Gregg that he isn’t going to take  his piddly shit. (And for the record, Nick Markakis, bush league is trying to  hit a player solely for the reason that his team is beating you.  Here endeth the lesson.)

I get that with 2004 and 2007 in their pockets it’s fun for other teams to target the Red Sox, but these teams should pick their battles. They didn’t show anyone that they won’t take anyone’s crap on Friday…they are the ones who STARTED it, so it doesn’t work that way.  Gregg (and, really, Markakis too) comes across as a whiny jerk who can’t deal with being on a bad team and getting beaten by a good team.  Josh Beckett might have had the best comment on the night:

“We’re a good hitting team. You can’t just be hitting our guys because we’re scoring a lot of runs. That’s how the game is played. Maybe they saw something different. Maybe they saw something they didn’t like or whatever. But if it’s just because we scored eight runs in the first inning and they start throwing at our guys, it’s going to be a long year.”

(Expletives edited out for gentle eyes!)

Josh nails it.  If you want to get pissy because your team is getting beat the best revenge is to actually beat some teams.  Orioles will get their chance tonight with John Lackey on the mound.  There are so many scenarios that could come to be…if Lackey pitches well tonight (hey, it could happen!) do the Orioles get more frustrated by losing to a struggling pitcher?  Does Lackey just decide that between the All Star break and his struggles that he could use some time off and get aggressive against the O’s from the beginning in retaliation for Gregg’s post-game comments?  Do both teams just decide to forget it and focus on just winning the game?

One other note about Papi swinging on a 3-0 count.  Let’s review here what happened:  Three fastballs coming at him.  So obvious that Gregg is trying to hit Oritz that the benches get warned even though he hasn’t been hit.  What would anyone do with that next pitch?  Wait to see where it’s headed or just swing and get it over with?  If you have a brain, you swing to try and ensure you don’t get hit.  I genuinely don’t want to see anyone hurt (nor any other Red Sox players suspended) but all the Orioles did with their jawing after the game was most likely ensure there will be many bad feelings on the field for tonight’s game.

Never has it been more enticing to tune into a Baltimore Orioles game.  Well done, Kevin Gregg.

July 9, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | 3 Comments