Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

New Year Ramblings

Spiffy yet rarely-seen photo of Kyle taken by Kelly O'Connor at the 2007 Boston Baseball Writers dinner (Used with permission)

So in an effort to do things in the new year that are better for me, I’ve tried to limit my daily online time.  Because of this, I was late in getting the news that Kyle Snyder has a cool new job.

The Rays announced their Minor League on-field coaching and medical training staffs for the 2012 season on Thursday.

Two new coaches are in the mix, both of whom played in the Majors Leagues: former Rays catcher Paul Hoover, who will manage the Gulf Coast League Rays (Rookie), and Kyle Snyder, who will serve as the pitching coach for Hudson Valley (Short-Season A).

While I am always sad when a player decides it’s time to stop playing, coaching in the minors seems like the perfect beginning to a new career for Kyle and I’m excited for him. The Hudson Valley Renegades will be playing a series against the Lowell Spinners (in Lowell) August 18th through the 20th. It’s been a couple of years since I hit Lowell for a game…this might be the year I get back there!

The fact that my email accounts pretty much blew up with people excited to tell me about Kyle’s job amused me greatly.  Though I might sometimes get disillusioned by MLB, there are always little things that will remind me why I love it so much.

Slowly things are happening that are getting me excited for the new season.  On Saturday, January 14, the New Stars for Young Stars charity event at Jillian’s in Boston will be happening with, among others, Bobby Valentine and Jarrod Saltalamacchia appearing.  As I’ve mentioned before, the “special guest” at that event is Pedro Martinez.  If Pedro Martinez can’t get you excited for baseball you’re either without a soul or a Yankees fan.

And while it seems ridiculous that this event yearly gets me as happy as it does, Saturday, February 11th is Truck Day.  While this off-season has left me sad and full of doubt, Truck Day is, for me, like New Year’s Day.  It’s the beginning of the season and it erases the previous season, reminding us that spring is coming and with a new baseball season anything can happen.  This year, especially, I’ve been holding on to the idea of  Truck Day being the day when I finally snap out of this funk and embrace this team I love again.  It’s been a strange off-season for me.  I wouldn’t say the worst I’ve experienced but definitely the strangest.  I can’t remember a time when I had such conflicting feelings about the Red Sox and, really, baseball in general.

Am I the only one stuck in this ambivalent quagmire about the 2012 team?

Advertisements

January 7, 2012 Posted by | 2012 | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

More Randomness

Is there some rule that states if your name is "Charlie" you have to be a knuckleballer? (Charlie Haeger photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission)

* “Big Game James” is one of the dumbest, least appropriate nicknames in baseball and it makes me irrationally dislike James Shields. (There are plenty of legitimate reasons for a Red Sox fan to not like James Shields but I feel like my dislike crosses into irrational territory because of his dumbass nickname.)  And while I have to grudgingly admit that having 9 complete games is impressive, and Shields doesn’t exactly stink, watching one of those complete games be a loss to Boston yesterday gave me much pleasure.

* One of the only benefits to my still being unemployed is getting to watch weekday, afternoon baseball.  Baseball should be played in the afternoon.  Then again, baseball should be played when people can watch it.  So, once I get a job, I’ll be conflicted.  Not so much right now.  Getting baseball in the afternoon yesterday AND today is like having Christmas two days in a row.  (Especially given I missed most of last night’s game.)

* On Monday, the St. Louis Cardinals suspended their number 1 prospect, Shelby Miller, indefinitely, for violating team policy.  Word is that it was most likely due to alcohol-related matters.  Now I’m all for reprimanding players for legitimate violations but I find it both interesting and hypocritical that these guys get reprimanded for alcohol-related instances (even though they aren’t publicly telling folks that) and then when they get to the bigs they can get arrested for DUIs whenever they want with nary a slap on the wrist.

* It’s bad blogging etiquette to publish consecutive posts without the courtesy of a few hours in between.  You’re supposed to space them out so folks come back at different times and pump up your traffic.  I’ve been slacking lately and instead of leaving gaps in days on the blog, I thought I’d fill them all in.  I know you folks don’t mind!

* I miss Kyle Snyder.

* Speaking of missing, I’ll be missing the Futures at Fenway games this weekend.  I think this will be the first time I don’t go to Fenway for them since they began and I’m a bit bummed about it.  Fortunately, Kelly O’Connor will be there and we’ll get a lot of fabulous photos of the young’uns!

August 17, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Walk-off into the Weekend

Meet Drew Sutton. The latest infielder to be called up from Pawtucket. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission.

Some time in April I was at a game with Kelly O’Connor where we were talking about the people right there at the game as well as people ranting on Twitter who were complaining about what a terrible signing Carl Crawford was for the Red Sox.

While having to admit that he (along with about 80% of the team at the time) was struggling, we both wondered the same things:  Why were fans acting like Crawford was a rookie the team through a crazy contract at OR why were they acting as if they had never seen Crawford play before he got to Boston?

That it wasn’t obvious to people that he was having a bad month still boggles my mind.  May has been a bit of a different month for Crawford.  He has three game-winning hits.  It’s still slow-going for Crawford but all signs, including his knack for getting hits when the team really needs them, are pointing his his returning to form.  He might not have Adrian Gonzalez numbers but it’s far too early to decide signing him was a bad idea. Here’s to many more walk-off hits for Carl Crawford.

On the one hand, their ability to win these close games is impressive.  On the other, I’m getting tired of every game being a nail-biter.  During this six-game winning streak, the only “blow out” game played was the 6-0 win against the Yankees.  The other two Yankees games were won by one and two runs and the last three games the Red Sox played were won by one run.  I’d like a piling on of Red Sox runs this weekend.  My fingernails need some time to grow back.

It occurs to me that I don’t know all that much about this year’s Chicago Cubs.  Unfortunate given they’ll be in town all weekend.  So let’s catch up a little bit.

The Cubs are currently at 19-23, putting them 5th in the NL Central and 5.5 games out of first.  The pitchers we’ll see this weekend?  Doug Davis, Carlos Zambrano and old friend Matt Garza (going up against Jon Lester, Alfredo Aceves and Tim Wakefield…again I ask for many Red Sox runs).

Davis had elbow tendon surgery last year and has only one start this season since he went on the DL last July.  In that one start, he pitched five innings, struck out six and gave up one run on four hits (he also got the loss).

Zambrano had a ten-game winning streak on the road until the Cubs lost his last outing.  He has pitched against the Red Sox only one time, when the Sox visited Chicago in 2005, and the Sox took him for four runs on five hits in five innings.  Repeating history would be nice here, fellas.

We all know Matt Garza.  Feels like he was the bane of the team’s existence for way too long.  If the Red Sox can get to him early and shake him up, could be a fun night for baseball.  The Garza/Wakefield game is the game we’ll be live chatting this week…Sunday at 8pm once again.  If memory serves, we have good luck with Garza starts that take place during live chats.  More of that, please.

Old friend Carlos Pena is with the Chicago Cubs this season and Alfonso Soriano, once a hated rival (wow, that was so long ago) will be back too.  Honestly, I have not much about the Cubs.  Pay they very little mind until about September usually.  But they aren’t a team I dislike, so at the very least having them back for this historic series will be fun (especially on Saturday when both teams wear their throwback uniforms).

Jose Iglesias and Michael Bowden will get sent back to Pawtucket for this series.  In even sadder news, Hideki Okajima has been designated for assignment.  Among many other more serious things, what that means is the only original “pirate” in the bullpen now is Jonathan Papelbon – and he was never one of the bullpen band…one of my favorite eras in Red Sox bullpen history is truly over.

Whither Kyle Snyder???  (Seriously…dude seems to have fallen off the face of the earth.)

If you’re looking for information on the Cubs, I’d like to suggest checking out Julie DiCaro’s blog “A League of Her Own“.  She can get you caught up to speed on the enemy.  (I can’t even type that without chuckling.  I have a difficult time considering the Cubs the enemy.)

A nine-game winning streak sounds nice, doesn’t it?

May 20, 2011 Posted by | 2011, Featured | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We have a winner…

Joe Cronin was quite the looker in his day.

…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.

April 7, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My Red Sox Confessions

Kyle Snyder in '06 - Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor and used with permission.

I’m not one who complains about Daylight Savings; I dig it being light out at 7, 8pm. But, apparently, it has been messing with my sleep patterns because this week I have gotten up every day at least an hour later than I usually do. So, once again, my post today is late and, this time, more of just a bit of rambling than any one cohesive thought.  How about some confessions that you might or might now already know about me?

*  I like Daisuke Matsuzaka.  Sure it’s convenient for me to say that after he pitched so well yesterday, but I do.  I’ve liked him from the beginning.  I don’t fret over the money the Red Sox put out just to bid on him and I think, as far as making money in the bubble of the world known as MLB, he has been worth the money he’s being paid.

*  I don’t like Jon Lester.  I have my reasons just like everyone has their reasons for liking or not liking a player.  Having written that, if he isn’t the starting pitcher for Opening Day, I will suspect Terry Francona was dropped on his head just before making the announcement.  While I could also see Tito starting Clay Buchholz and being more than happy with that, I think Crabcakes has earned getting the nod first (and next).

*  Ever since Mike Timlin left the Red Sox I haven’t developed a deep down, true favorite player. The seasons between 2002-2008 were magical for many reasons not the least of for me was the abundance of players to fall for.  Kyle Snyder and Mike Timlin are the remnants of those years – both my last “favorite” players who are both no longer playing (hopefully that won’t be the case for Kyle much longer but who knows).  I love the team and if I had to quickly pick the one whose being traded or DFA’d would rip my heart out I guess I’m looking at either JD Drew or Clay Buchholz.  But it still isn’t the same.  Ask anyone who went to a game with me while Mike Timlin was active and they’ll tell you how physically and emotionally involved I got in his appearances.  You can also ask the handful of friends who spent the day texting me to find out if I was all right the Saturday Kyle was designated for assignment (yes, without looking I remembered it was a Saturday and they were in Toronto.  The pain is burned into my memory).  There’s no one on the team I feel that deeply for.  Maybe that’s a good thing?  I do know it changes the way I watch the games just a little bit.+

*  I’ve never not had Bronson Arroyo on a fantasy baseball team and this year he’s on my team in two different leagues.  So, in reference to the confession above this one, were he still on the Red Sox HE’D be the favorite.  (I also still hold out the unrealistic hope of his returning to the Red Sox some day.  I’m an optimist.)

* I’ve discovered (or maybe RE-discovered) that if I have any hard feelings for ex-Red Sox players (and goodness knows I do) they are stronger for Johnny Damon than they are for Manny Ramirez. I know the Yankees thing and the out and out lying thing are big parts of that but it struck me odd that I watched Manny and had NO feelings about how he did at bat (I felt “meh”) but just seeing Johnny holding a baseball bat my first thought was “I hope you strike out”.  In real life, I’m a fairly rational person.  Obviously this doesn’t translate well to my baseball fandom.

+If the Red Sox trade or DFA Tim Wakefield this year, I have no idea how I will handle it.  They can only trade him with his approval because of his time in the league and on the Sox, so I guess I’d be more okay with that than with them just dumping him.  He’s on a different level than a “favorite” player; he’s Tim Freaking Wakefield.  I can’t write any more about it because it’s upsetting me just to think about it.

March 16, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Best. Birthday. Present. EVAH!

Friday night when my friends said “Wait, the night isn’t over!  Kelly wants to give you your birthday present before we leave!” , the last thing I expected to be extracted from her trunk was a six foot long, heavyweight poster of Kyle Snyder from his first season in Boston.  And when I say  “heavyweight”, I’m not kidding.  This thing is, essentially, a giant tarp with a photo of Kyle on it.  There was a time when it hung in a shadow box above the Yawkey Way store (an example here, for those not familiar with the display), alerting us that Kyle would be pitching that night.  But a few weeks ago it sat in Fenway at the bottom of a pile of ex-Red Sox players waiting for someone to come along and claim it.

It was my good fortune that there was someone there who claimed it just for me.  Kelly O’Connor is not just an amazing photographer and one of the smartest people I know (and not just about baseball), but she’s a dear friend who knows me much too well.  It was also, as far as I can recall, the first time in my life that I was so pleasantly surprised by something.  It’s tough to surprise me.  I have great instincts and can usually guess gifts and such quite easily, even though I never betray that to the gift-giver.  Not so this time.  Not at all.  My friends who were there on Friday can attest to the fact that I, the one who never seems to shut up, was speechless.  Hell, just typing this entry I’m smiling ear to ear.

I’m just, still, so genuinely touched (and tickled) to have been given this present.  The photo above doesn’t do it justice (I took the photo after spreading it across my bed and this photo doesn’t even capture the entire poster).  Once I put it up (after I figure out just where the hell to put it!), I’ll take another photo which will, hopefully, give you a better idea of how enormous it is.

Seriously, though, how cool is this?

December 19, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , | 11 Comments

Call it a (fingers crossed) comeback

Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor (sittingstill.net/sittingstill.smugmug.com) and used with permission.

I will have an entire season (and, most likely, many more) to write about Adrian Gonzalez.  Tonight I write about something that made me very, very happy to read.  Two tweets from our friend Alex Speier on Twitter Monday evening:

Just ran into Kyle Snyder. After shoulder surgery in spring, he’s healthy, throwing in Dominican

He’s going to pitch for Aguilas in Domin winter lg, hope velo creeps up to 90 so he can get an invite somewhere

First off, Alex deserves props for fitting a lot of information into 280 characters (or, two tweets).  Well done.  Secondly, the news delights me.  I knew Kyle was aiming for winter ball but hadn’t heard anything in a while and worried that he wasn’t healing as well as he had hoped.  As a friend put it tonight:  “It’s nice to have an update that he still has two working arms.”  Indeed it is.

Speier used a few more characters on his blog that give us some insight to what Kyle has gone through this year:

Kyle Snyder, a member of the Red Sox’ championship team in 2007, is at the Meetings to meet with his agent. He had shoulder surgery in spring training (he said that throwing a baseball was so painful before the procedure that he would almost throw up), and is getting ready to pitch in the Dominican for Aguilas, where he will be reunited with Pawtucket pitching coach Rich Sauveur.

That’s quite the vivid picture.  I suppose, if nothing else, we should be delighted that the surgery has at least helped the whole vomiting from throwing a baseball thing.  I’m just happy he’s healthy and is pursuing the possibility of getting a Spring Training invite.  I hope this surgery has worked for him and he gets another shot to play, whether it’s in the minors or the bigs.

The roster page for the Aguilas Cibaenas is here (you might recognize a name or three) and I’ll be checking it to see when Kyle’s name gets added.  Looks like he could be throwing to our own Luis Exposito while he’s there.  Just one more reason to be excited about this off-season!

Sending out wishes for much luck and good health to Kyle!

December 6, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , | 4 Comments

Score one for the underdog

Scree grab of Javi being interviewed on the MLB Network (where they called him a "fan favorite").

Screen grab of Javi being interviewed on the MLB Network last night.

No one ever questions the fan who claims one of the superstars of the game as his or her favorite player.  This is why they’re superstars, because their talent and their fame create an aura of perfection that people want to be near.  I understand the allure and fall victim to it plenty.  But for me, and for many of my friends, one of the things that makes baseball so enjoyable is watching the players who don’t get all the publicity.  The ones who don’t get their jerseys sold in the fan store.  The players low enough on the totem pole that they have to make all the appearances at fan meet and greets and the ones who get relegated to “you’re signing autographs before the game so we look more fan friendly” status.

So you can imagine my delight (and that of many of my friends!) to see that Javier Lopez is becoming the darling of the 2010 playoffs.

Continue reading

October 29, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , | Leave a comment

Birthdays and Dreams

Charlie Zink in Pawtucket.  Courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Charlie Zink in Pawtucket. Courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Forty-three years ago today, both Trevor Hoffman and Scott Cooper were born.

Cooper made his MLB debut in 1990.  He was an All-Star twice (both times being the only player from the Red Sox chosen for the ASG) and hit for the cycle.  He spent six years in MLB (playing on three different teams) with a one-year break in there spent playing in Japan.  Over the course of his career, he made just under $3 million total in salary.

Hoffman made his MLB debut in 1993.  He’s been on seven All-Star teams.  He has a list of impressive accomplishments and has been in the league for 18 seasons and is still an active player.  He’s only been on 3 teams (with 16 seasons on the Padres), he’s considered a lock for the Hall of Fame and over his career has, thus far, made over $80 million in salary.

I don’t mention the two to compare their talents.   I write it because, upon finding out they both share a birthday, it struck me how these two men, born on the exact day, had the exact dream and it turn out quite differently.  Every fan of Major League Baseball knows who Trevor Hoffman is.  How many know the name Scott Cooper?  It just gets me to wondering how the Scott Coopers of the world feel once their time in baseball is over.  Cooper left MLB after signing with the Rangers for the 1998 season and never playing a game with them.  He just quietly faded away.  Hoffman won’t get that treatment.

I love the superstars of the game.  Pedro Martinez is on my short list of favorite players of all-time.  I get the importance of the superstars and why they’re so popular.  But it’s the Scott Coopers of the world who fill up those roster spots more than the superstars.  Those are the guys whose stories I want to hear.  This is why I keep tabs on former players, like Kyle Snyder.  I’m in awe of those who go through the process of becoming good enough to realize their dreams but who also get their dreams shot down (or ended much more quickly than they anticipated).  Of course, while I still hold out hope that Kyle Snyder can make a comeback from his health issues,  there are other players whose dream is totally lost just because they get beaten down by the system.  Charlie Zink immediately springs to mind:

“I don’t love the game anymore the way I used to,” he said. “My dreams of the big leagues are not there anymore.”

How can you read that and not feel sorry for him and his dead dream?

I’ve had plenty of dreams.  Some I still pursue and some I’ve left on the side of the road.  But none that would leave me seemingly unprepared for the real world if they didn’t come true.  Or, at the very least, none that might mark me publicly as a failure if I didn’t see them through.  (Charlie Zink is not a failure.  Charlie Zink is a victim of really crappy circumstances out of his control.)

To many who know of him, Scott Cooper is a side note of a bad time in Red Sox history.  The Red Sox lost Wade Boggs to the Yankees, were struggling while the Yankees were making their comeback after the 80s and the ONLY player good enough to be on two All Star teams for them was Cooper.  What is most likely the highlight of his career is a question to so many (“How did he make the All Star team?” almost always gets brought up when his name does) and that too makes me sad.

They can’t all be Trevor Hoffmans  And while I believe Trevor and those of his ilk should get the praise and respect that they do, I feel that every so often someone (and I’m happy for that someone to be me) should remind people that there are other players out there who work just as hard, give it their all and dream of being the next superstar who don’t get as far or as famous but still are worthy of being remembered and appreciated.  None of these men are failures.  They made it to a level most of us only dream about.  That isn’t failure.  Failure is never even attempting to reach that goal.  There’s no shame in trying and not succeeding.

So think kindly upon Scott Cooper today.  After all, it’s his birthday.  Everyone should feel special on their birthday!

October 13, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | 5 Comments

My curiosity brings you a poll

michaelkaypitch

Some of my tweets from Saturday night.

At times I get self-conscious about how often I use Twitter.  Now, I’m currently out of work and spend most of my time online looking for work and applying for work, so I’m there anyway.  It isn’t my time online that I fret over, it’s how many consecutive tweets I send out in a single time period on any given day.  I don’t want to flood anyone’s Twitter feed.  I hate when people do it to me and I’ve unfollowed many people I enjoy following because I had opened up Twitter and was greeted by nothing but THEIR tweets pushing everyone else I follow out of my feed.  So I’m conscious of the fact that I shouldn’t use Twitter just to ramble on and on and on…but sometimes I forget myself.  The above tweets are examples of that.

But those tweets gave me an idea.  And here’s where I totally change gears:

I don’t want to write about Twitter.  I want to write about pitchers and catchers and how they are perceived by the fans and the media.

I didn’t choose to rename my blog “Toeing the Rubber” just because it was one of the only baseball-related phrases still available to take as a domain name.  I’m fascinated by pitchers.  There are many reasons why I often mention that I’d love to sit down and interview Kyle Snyder and one of them is to try and get an idea of the thoughts are of someone who chooses to put their body through what pitchers do.  Sure, position players play every day, but to my way of thinking, it’s the playing every day that would be easier.  Pitchers have to sit around, whether waiting for their turn in the rotation or waiting for that call to the bullpen, and they’re expected to be on top of their game every time.  They aren’t doing the same things day after day the way position players are and they don’t have 162 opportunities to prove themselves.   I genuinely can’t wrap my mind around the idea that the job of a pitcher is “easy”.

Putting aside the fact that I think Michael Kay is an asshat, I realize that a lot of people probably feel this same way.  And putting aside the fact that I absolutely can’t stand Reggie Jackson, I can honestly say that, given the choice, I would rather have had Nolan Ryan at any point in his career on my team than Reggie Jackson at any point in his career.  To me it’s a  no-brainer.

But, again, I realize to others it isn’t a no-brainer.  So what is it that I’m missing?  Do folks think pitchers have it easier than position players?  Do you think both have it equally as difficult?  Do you think this is a ridiculous question because they play a game and to describe what they do as hard or difficult is a slap in the face to people who have hard/difficult jobs?  Let me know by responding to the poll posted to the right of this entry!

September 13, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 8 Comments