So last weekend was the second annual Red Sox Winter Weekend at Foxwoods. I was at last year’s event and noticed that I didn’t write about it at the time. (I even brought a recorder for the good stuff and still have audio files from that weekend that I’ve done nothing with but listen to them myself.) I am a pathetic excuse for a blogger these days.
Anyway, this year’s weekend was loads of fun. I was a little disappointed that there weren’t panels for the minor leagues as there were last year (last year, Kelly O’Connor and I attended almost exclusively panels that covered the minor league players and operations) but the panels we attended this year were informative and entertaining.
If I had any doubts about Dave Dombrowski, last weekend erased them for me. (Sure you could argue the team acquiring David Price should have erased them for me but I’m nothing if not stubborn.) The first panel we attended on Saturday was the Baseball Operations update with Dombrowski and Mike Hazen. Two people more eager to discuss baseball operations with the lowly fans you will not find, I promise you. It was less of an update and more of a casual Q&A about the team peppered with some interesting stories from the vault of Dave Dombrowski.
I had conveniently forgotten that Dombrowski was the GM of the Florida Marlins when Kevin Millar was getting his start in baseball and last weekend he shared the story about how Millar ended up as a replacement player in 1995. It came up as Dombrowski and Hazen were making that point that regardless of what Baseball Operations folks see in a player, it’s not an exact science and every so often a player comes around that surprises them. Dombrowski was also making the point that some players, the prospects, get special treatment. Kevin Millar was not one of those special players; they didn’t expect him to go anywhere.
“We also had players in our minor league system at that point and we invited some of them to come play exhibition games, pre-season games at the big league level. We broke those players down, we would not invite prospects to play in those replacement spring training games because we knew that the Player’s Association would frown on them being part of the Association in the future so we really spent a long time – Kevin Millar played in those spring training games for us so we did not think Kevin was a prospect at all at that time. And he worked hard continued to hit basically and he went on to have a very fine big league career and now he’s a top broadcaster with his personality, so we were really surprised. There’s an example of somebody that completely caught us off guard unfortunately for Kevin because we never would have done that if we would have thought he had that type of ability. To this day he’s not part of the Player’s Association; they don’t allow him in because he played in those Spring Training games and they’re not forgiving in that regard.” – Dave Dombrowski
If I need a specific reason to encourage people to go to the Winter Weekend if the Red Sox offer it next year, sound bites like this one would be my first example. It also doesn’t hurt that Dombrowski speaks relaxed and freely – and is personable enough that you want him to keep speaking. The only disappointment from this panel was that it only lasted an hour.
We also sat in on a panel called Covering Ground where we were entertained by Jim Rice, Fred Lynn and Dwight Evans along with Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Rusney Castillo. Sure it was fun to hear Rice, Lynn and Evans recall the good old days – (and I promise you not one of them has forgotten those days and they all seem to be in agreement that they were pretty much the best. Not age nor the fact that none of them brought the team a World Series win has affected their egos – it was glorious!) – but the interactions between the old guard and the new was what made this panel a must see. If NESN wanted to take the sting out of Don Orsillo not being on our tvs anymore they would give Jim Rice and Mookie Betts a reality show. Mookie’s incessant teasing (among other things, telling the three veterans that he didn’t know who they were) finally culminated in Jim Rice telling him to talk to the hand. (Okay, so Jim Ed is a decade behind the rest of us…it was still adorable.)
There were other highlights, I got to meet John Farrell and welcome him back, got a picture with Jerry Remy (and my second picture in as many years with my honey Fred LynN!), we saw Brock Holt giving up his #26 jersey to Wade Boggs at the Friday night town hall meeting, Wally’s little sister Tessie being the belle of the ball all weekend (if I heard one kid scream “THERE’S TESSIE!” I hear ten) and we almost shared an elevator with Roger Clemens (the baseball gods helped me out there and the Rocket ended up not taking the elevator) but they really did save the best for last. The two final panels on Saturday were the Kid’s Press Conference and Red Sox Game Show.
The press conference was what you would expect – kids asking the players questions (“What kind of car do you drive? Where is the best burger?”) but the true highlight of the entire weekend was the game show. Three teams (the alumni, the coaches and the players) competed in adorableness like Lip Sync Battle, Celebrity Name Games, Lil Picassos and the Doo Doo game (where you have to sing a song only singing “doo-doo”. It was a ridiculously entertaining way to end the day and it gave us the chance to see these guys more relaxed than we’re used to seeing them. Fred Lynn especially stood out as being a bit more silly than I would have expected. Steve Lyons was exactly as you would think he’d be and Hanley Ramirez completely won over the room with his huge smile, infectious laugh and the fact that at one point he jumped into the audience and sat with the fans so that he could applaud his own team.
As an aside, Hanley Ramirez is my binky this season. He completely seduced me last weekend and he has my support because I can’t believe someone with that much life and happiness in him can be bad.
The biggest surprise of the game show was Carl Willis, Red Sox pitching coach and guy you want at your party to keep things lively. I can’t do his personality justice, so I offer you the below shaky, blurry at times, video that I took of Carl and the rest of the coaches lip syncing “Uptown Girl” with the alumni at the end giving their props. I honestly walked out of that room in physical pain from laughing so much. (And the coaches got hosed…they should have won!)
Truck Day is February 10th – my plan is to be there because if I know anything it’s that I’m itching for some baseball and this weekend taste has me hungry for more. The entire weekend was a great way to get excited for the upcoming season but now I just want more!
…and sadly it isn’t the Red Sox. 0-6. All I have to say is we need our boys to come home (also, if I hear booing tomorrow while I’m at Fenway you’ll most likely be reading my name in a police blotter Saturday morning).
But we are not here to dwell, we’re here to celebrate. We have a winner of the two tickets to Opening Day at Fenway Park. Reader Mark from Burlington correctly identified Fred Lynn as the answer to who the player is who got me interested in baseball and who I consider my “all-time” favorite. Congratulations to Mark! He’s bringing his son and I hope they both have a wonderful time and get to see a win!
Once again, I’d like to thank Tickets for Charity for these tickets. It was generous of them to offer them up and I truly appreciate it.
The majority of people who responded answered with Kyle Snyder. Now, given his feet grace the banner for the site, this wasn’t such a crazy assumption. Except, as Anita noted in the comments, I’ve been a baseball fan for a lot longer than Kyle has been a player. (Dare I say it? I’ve been a fan for longer than Kyle has been alive!)
For the record, Fred Lynn is not worried about these Boston Red Sox but Kyle Snyder has yet to comment.
Thanks to everyone who played along! I plan on having more giveaways this year. Hopefully more ticket giveaways but next up will be a book! (Holding off on it but might have to trot it out if the Sox keep this up.)
Keep the faith, people. Right now it’s pretty much all we have.
The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates are the team that truly made me realize and appreciate that there was baseball outside of the Boston Red Sox. I always credit the 1979 World Series and especially the Pirates for giving me an appreciation of the rest of Major League Baseball that I didn’t have before and keep with me to this day.
I was 10 years old in October of ’79. A sixth-grade girl who had just written an essay on the person I most admired: Fred Lynn. (True story. According to my father, I was the only one in the class who didn’t choose a parent or other relative.) I was serious about my baseball. Coming off the Bucky Dent home run in 1978, the Red Sox finished that season in third behind both the Orioles and the Milwaukee Brewers. But I wasn’t deterred, I still wanted more baseball.
Somehow, I talked my parents into letting me stay up to watch the World Series that year. I don’t remember watching any of the seven games with either of them, although I’m sure I probably did. I only remember going to school after each game and getting harassed by the boys who were all rooting for Baltimore because I had made it clear in class that I was rooting for Willie Stargell and the Pirates.
As an aside, I fell in love with Willie Stargell that fall. Just fell hard. He gave Fred Lynn a run for his money in 1979.
I’m remembering all this because the first thought I had when I heard about Chuck Tanner dying was that I had written “Tanner’s Terrors” across most of my books in school and kept them that way throughout the school year, long after the World Series was over. Chuck Tanner was the first manager, aside from any who managed the Red Sox, who I actually paid attention to.
I thought Chuck Tanner was the best, most personable manager ever. I liked him better than Earl Weaver. Heck, I liked him a whole lot more than Don Zimmer! I wanted him to manage the Red Sox in 1980 because I was convinced that if he did the Red Sox would win the World Series. And that was all before the 1979 Series had even finished.
At nine your world view is based on what is going on in the moment. For those seven games, Willie Stargell and Chuck Tanner were, in my eyes, the best. And as man things from our youth do, the feelings about them stuck with me my entire life, even if I wasn’t always consciously aware of them.
So hearing about Tanner’s death brought immediate tears to my eyes as if someone I knew had passed on. This April it will be 10 years that Willie Stargell has been dead. While there are plenty of other players from that team still alive, he and Tanner were the links my brain made to that era…and now they’re both gone.
That makes me sad. It also makes me want to appreciate how much joy this game has given me, especially the people involved in the game.
I own both boxed sets of the Red Sox World Series wins from 2004 and 2007. The only other World Series boxed set I own is that of the 1979 World Series. Thanks to that, I’ll always have an opportunity to remember that October.
Sad is no way to begin the new season. So let’s dance!
“We are Family” was the rally song of the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates. To this day that’s the only reason I like the song!
I have vivid memories of my childhood. Growing up, Sunday was the day we spent at my grandparents’ house. They had five children and seven grandchildren (yes, this is the smaller side of the family) and each Sunday, no matter the season, we all got together for Sunday dinner at Nana’s and Papa’s. Until I was 12, my great-grandfather lived with my grandparents. Noni lived in his own small house in the back of my grandparents’ house and, when he was too old to be on his own, he moved into the basement apartment my grandparents made for him. He had a wine cellar there and made wine himself, which he shared with his great-grandchildren at our Sunday “lunches”. We’d head downstairs to hang out with him and we each got a shot glass full of wine. An immigrant from Italy, my great-grandfather spoke a wonderful mix of Italian and English and we loved just hanging out with him listening to him speak.
My favorite part of Sundays at my grandparents’ house was staying downstairs with my father and great-grandfather and watching baseball and football games. This side of my family, my mother’s side, never really embraced being a sports fan (in her later years my grandmother became a die-hard basketball fan and my mother has always been a big sports fan but the rest of them never really joined in) so if my father wanted to watch sports on Sunday he had to do it out back or downstairs with Noni and I’d tag along. My first memory of seeing Fred Lynn was at my Noni’s “back house” with he and my father. My great-grandfather had a soft spot for Lynn because his only son, my grandfather, had the same first name. So whenever Freddy Lynn made a great play or got a hit my Noni cheered a little louder and I did too. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Fred Lynn is my favorite all-time player and the one I credit with getting me hooked on watching baseball.
My Noni’s favorite baseball-related joke was to say to my father, “That pitcher’s no good. He hasn’t hit the bat one time.”
He was 95 when he died, he’ll be gone thirty years this October and I think about him often. I was fortunate enough to have been old enough to appreciate him and the time I got to spend with him. There aren’t a lot of people who can say that about a grandparent, let alone a GREAT-grandparent.
There’s no one reason I decided to write about this today. I was sitting alone on the porch with the summer breeze blowing through the yard and remembering those summer Sundays on his couch having a shot of homemade wine and watching the Red Sox and wanted to get these thoughts down before they escaped.
I think I’ll have some wine tonight when I watch the Red Sox game.
|Yes, another picture of Kyle. So there you go. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net on May 19, 2009 and used with permission.
I don’t like to pick on other blogs but I’m making an exception today.
Yesterday a blog that shall not be named here because it makes my skin crawl (oh hell, you all know what it is….Boston Dirt Dogs) posted a whiny, ridiculous entry about the Red Sox marketing scratch and sniff, pink, baseball caps for little girls. I did about a second and a half of research and found out, unlike what BDD would have you believe, the Red Sox did not create this, MLB did and ALL the teams have them. I also found that people had been writing about these caps since FEBRUARY so the BDD site kind of missed the boat on this three months later.
But I’m not here to complain about BDD.
During my research, I found another site that had an entry (Last week. BDD got scooped even as recently as a week ago on this) about the caps. Except this site decided to use their own definition of a “pink hat” as an introduction to their rant about the caps.
If you know anything about the Red Sox, you know what a Pink Hat is. A Pink Hat is a young woman who gets free tickets from her work, shows up to the park with her pink hat, and doesn’t know a goddamn f**king thing about baseball apart from wanting to have Jacoby Ellsbury’s baby.
I’ll put it this way: If you went to either of the Red Sox parades, but you can’t tell me what channel NESN is on, you are a pink hat.
They can often be overheard saying things like “Why isn’t Clay Buckhalter pitching? He’s so hot!” and “Remember that guy Cocoa Crispies or whatever? LOL” and ask questions like “When is the game gonna be over?”
So if you show up to the park with your buddies and you find that a Pink Hat is sitting behind you, you might as well move to an obstructed view seat because you will have a better time sitting alone behind a f**king load-bearing pillar.
This person seems to have issues with women, huh? Now my initial reaction was to leave a comment on this guy’s blog and point out that his definition was wrong. I’ve made it well-known that I hate the term “pink-hat” because it singles out women and everyone who has argued against my complaint claims it is all-encompassing. So this guy (whose blog I never read before so I admit I have no idea if he’s always this eager to insult or just wrote this to get a rise out of people) creating his own definition pretty much says all there is to be said about him. Then I decided it wasn’t worth my time or anger to leave a comment there, thus giving him more traffic during the ensuing “discussion” we’d inevitably have. I’m not giving him traffic by linking to him either but if you Google “red sox scratch and sniff” and look under “blogs”, you’ll find him.
|Pedro’s return – photo taken by me in 2006|
There’s a meme going around Facebook right now called (among other titles) “25 Random Things About Me”. So, because I’d rather poke my eyes out than write something about Jason Varitek (no offense to the Captain. The entire affair has just made me weary), I’m going to steal that idea, make it specific to baseball and cut it down to ten. (This will probably become an ongoing feature whenever my brain has trouble focusing on the task at hand!)
1. The first time I went to Fenway Park, my dad took me and it happened to be the same night where Wade Boggs hit his first home run (I got my first game and my first walk-off out of the way in one shot!). Wade Boggs was my favorite player from that point until all of the Margo Adams stuff came out. When I saw him riding that horse in Yankee Stadium, it was probably the first time I ever felt true rage in my life.
2. I was able to take my Dad to Opening Day when Manny Ramirez hit his first home run (in his first at bat) as a Red Sox player. It was a grey and rainy day and we were sitting in the bleachers and my father was proudly telling everyone that he had never been to Opening Day and it was the first time his daughter brought him to a game. 2001 turned into a truly horrible season for the Red Sox and this game is my only good memory of that entire season.
3. More Manny: I was in Baltimore at the game where Manny hit his 500th home run. I was sitting with two friends and we had other friends scattered in the park. Many of us (including me) cried. I still have the empty Twizzlers bag from that game (we were convinced that, somehow, our Twizzler eating made all the difference. Don’t ask. I’m not sure that I could explain it!).
4. I have been to a few games when ex-players have made their return. Dave Roberts, Orlando Cabrera, Kevin Millar and, most notably, Pedro Martinez.
5. I once got in an argument at Fenway Park that almost turned into a fistfight with a male Yankees fan who called me a “Masshole” because I wouldn’t stop cheering for Pedro Martinez. The only things that stopped the fight from getting physical? My dad was there (and I didn’t want to get arrested in front of him), Pedro was pitching (and I didn’t want to get booted while he was on the mound!) and an usher came over and kicked the guy out.
6. I broke my ankle when I was in high school and on that same day went to Fenway. My mother scored field box seats on the third base line so I wasn’t NOT going. With my mother, I clumped along in crutches I barely knew how to use. We had a great time even though, I’m sure, I annoyed many people around me. We also got to see Kevin McHale in the stands. These things I remember. I have no idea who the Sox were playing and which team won the game.
7. Although I try my best to not be an obnoxious fan, I DID, once, boo a player in his own park. But the player was Jay Payton, so I don’t feel as terrible about it as I probably should. (In my defense, we were in Baltimore. It FELT like we were in Fenway. I forgot myself for a moment!)
8. I once blew off a cousin’s wedding to go to an autograph signing so I could meet Kevin Millar. (I’m not proud.)
9. When I was in 6th grade the boys all ostracized me during the 1979 World Series because I wanted the Pittsburgh Pirates to win. I went from being “cool” because I was the only girl in class watching the World Series to an “outcast” because I wrote things like “Tanner’s Terrors” and “We are Family” on all my book covers. I now own the dvd box set of this World Series and have watched all the games more than once!
10. Also in sixth grade: We had to write an essay about the person we most admired. Everyone else wrote about their mom or their dad or even the President. Me? I wrote about Fred Lynn. Oddly enough, my parents totally understood.
You’re going to find this hard to believe, since no one except this guy has mentioned it this week, but I won the Rookie of the Year award AND the AL MVP award back in 1975. That’s right, I won them both in the SAME FREAKING SEASON. But has anyone discussed that this week? No. All we keep reading about is how Cal Ripken, Jr., Ryan Howard and now Dustin Pedroia (good kid, by the way, I’m very happy for him) are the only MLB players to win Rookie of the Year and follow it up with the MVP award. Can you believe that shit?
Go ahead and Google me…you’ll see. I’ll wait.
Good, you’re back. So what did you see? You didn’t find any recent articles mentioning my Rookie of the Year and MVP award in the same year did you? What the hell is up with that?
Oh yeah, and did I mention that I also won the Gold Glove in 1975? Mmmhmmmm. I did. Probably would have won the damn Silver Slugger too if it existed in ’75. (And, lest you forget, I was on the All Star team that year too. Damn straight.)
Hey, I’m not here to take attention away from Dustin Pedroia. Pedie is an ass-kicker of the highest degree. Kid deserves every award and accolade thrust upon him. But, seriously, WTF? If it’s such a big deal to get these awards in consecutive years, think about how friggin’ hard it was to get them both in the same season. It wasn’t a damn cakewalk people, I busted my ass. And I was TWENTY-THREE years old! Two years younger than Pedroia when he won the MVP, FIVE years younger than Howard when he got HIS MVP and the same age as Cal Ripken, Jr when he got his. It wasn’t a fluke, it wasn’t an easy road and it gets me a little cranky when people conveniently FORGET that it even happened.
I’m not asking for a lot, folks. Just a little recognition. Don’t be so mesmerized by what’s happening now that you forget what’s happened before, peeps.
In closing, I’d like to congratulate Dustin Pedroia on his accomplishments. Does me proud to see the Red Sox developing players like him from within. And if you’re so inclined, check out my website and learn a little something about the past.
PS: This guy says “hi” too.
(Photo from PawSox.com)
The PawSox lost again tonight. They haven’t scored a run in twenty innings straight and Kyle is the scheduled starter for Wednesday night.
Scoring needs to start NOW boys. Kyle best be getting the win.
Alex Cora will be starting his rehab assignment on Wednesday too. And then Sean Casey will be joining in at the end of the week. So if you’ve been thinking of taking in a PawSox game (and you can get tickets!), this would be a good week to get down there. (Not that you need major-leaguers as an excuse to go. The team is fun to watch without the Coras and Caseys of the world too!)
Another great game for the Red Sox. Lots of scoring and fabulous pitching. (The two “old” guys got it done!) More of this, please. (Cherry on sundae of day: Joba Chamberlain blowing a lead in the 8th by giving up a 3-run, pinch-hit homer.)
Wake really looked great. I love seeing him pitch well. Makes me want to say “told you so” to those who want to put him out to pasture just because he’s over forty. My man Mike Timlin pitched well in the ninth after not having pitched for a while – so it was fun to watch the guys dominate. 🙂