Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

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?

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

Rainy Randomness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A good time in spite of the score

Highlight of last night:  While waiting in line to get into Fenway with the other members of Red Sox Nation to watch BP on the Monster, I checked Twitter and read the announcement that Michael Bowden would be posing for pictures on Yawkey Way before the game.  So after BP we went to Yawkey Way and got our photos taken with him.  It was silly and totally fangirlish but I enjoyed the heck out of it and it made the night not a total disaster.

2nd highlight of last night:  Darnell McDonald tossing a ball to a kid sitting near us on the Green Monster during batting practice.  The kid didn’t call for it.  He and his dad were just really enjoying being on the Monster for batting practice when suddenly a ball appeared.  The father caught it and the two of them were yelling and celebrating and really just thrilled beyond description.  Dad called the friend who gave him the tickets, bragging on it and the boy was cradling the ball in his glove like it was a baby.   The game ended up being terrible so at least this kid has this one fabulous memory (and now he knows who Darnell McDonald is).

It’s all about what you take away from it.  Winning isn’t always the only thing that guarantees a good time.

September 22, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , | 2 Comments

The Final Countdown

Mike Lowell looks pleased while Yunel Escobar seems to glare at him. One of the shots I took yesterday.

Mike Lowell looks pleased while Yunel Escobar* seems to glare at him. One of the shots I took yesterday.

It never fails.  The better the seat I’m in, the less photos I’m compelled to take.  Saturday night I was fortunate enough to be invited to sit in one of the luxury boxes.  Not a prime spot for taking photos of the game but, I won’t lie, my favorite spot to watch the game.   We were on the first base and the view of the entire park is spectacular.  Yesterday, I was invited to the game and didn’t know where we were sitting until I got there.  First row on the visitor’s dugout.  Really fabulous seats with the wonderful view of Jose Bautista casually giving out baseballs to the fans.  The Blue Jays on the whole were very generous to the kids yesterday.  Many went home clasping a baseball.  It was a great weekend to watch baseball and I’m very grateful for the invites.  I take pictures at the park mostly for me, so I can look back on them and remember the games.  Once in a while I’ll post a photo or two but I don’t go to the games focused on getting photos (and if Kelly O’Connor and I are at the same games, I know she’ll get all the good shots anyway!), I get them just to have (if that makes any sense).

So I only have a handful of photos from the weekend but I have a ton of memories.  I saw a loss (and had a perfect view of poor Ryan Kalish’s long walk back to the dugout on Saturday night), I saw a win (with a view of Josh Reddick making himself comfortable on the dugout stairs), and I had a wonderful time.  While I haven’t been to nearly as many games this year as I usually go to, I know I’ve still been to many more than a lot of people get the opportunity to see in person…and there are still more to come.  The plan is to be at Fenway on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and then back again for the last two games of the season.  Six games in less than a month’s time is more than any average fan could ask for and I’m thankful I’ve been given these opportunities.

While the focus this weekend was on digging the view and seeing how the other half lives, tomorrow begins my true Goodbye to Fenway tour.   I saw Beckett and Lester pitch this weekend.  I get Buchholz and Lackey this week.  Throw in a Daisuke start before the end of the year and I’ll have seen them all one last time.  I’m hoping for a Tim Wakefield sighting at some point as well.  Seeing Mike Lowell standing on third yesterday (as a baserunner) made me truly realize it was one of the last times I’ll see him play.  Regardless of what is going on during that last Sunday game, the idea that after it Mike Lowell won’t be playing baseball again tears at my soul a bit.

Yesterday was a great day for baseball.  The weather was perfect, the park was full of kids and everyone seemed happy, regardless of the standings.  The day started watching Victor Martinez’ and David Ortiz’ sons, in full uniform, playing ball with Victor.  It then moved toward Victor playing with, seemingly, every kid that was in the dugout (ending in a dogpile on Victor).  Three of the bullpen pitchers (including Michael Bowden) signed many autographs out in right field and then the crowd got a treat when Daisuke jogged over and started signing.  A group of girls who had been right up front, all wearing their Daisuke t-shirts and jerseys, started screaming like mad when he approached.  KellyO likened it to Beatlemania and she hit it spot on.  We were worried that security (which seemed to continually be reminding Daisuke that he needed to step it up) would force Daisuke past the girls before they could get their autographs but he was having none of it.  Kelly told me that she has seen him sign for ridiculously long amounts of time and this time seemed to be no different.  As we walked away (having only wanted to be sure the girls got to meet him, not looking for autographs ourselves) we decided that the events of the day to that point had made the day a “win” regardless of what happened in the game.  Thankfully, the day just kept getting better!

Not every day at the park are as good as yesterday was, but knowing that there are days to be had like we had yesterday is what keeps me always wanting to get back to Fenway as soon as I can.  Knowing that, in a few weeks, I won’t be able to hit up the park for a game for a few months has me a bit melancholy on this gorgeous day.

*Did you know that Escobar pronounces his first name “Janelle”?  I’ve never heard it pronounced like that until I heard Carl Beane saying it this weekend.  See?  Going to the ballpark can be educational too!

September 20, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Who doesn't love a walk off? (Maybe not Cliff Lee!)

Now appearing in the bullpen!  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

Now appearing in the bullpen! Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

When the Rangers scored that second run last night, my first thought was how disappointing it was that John Lackey genuinely pitched well enough to win but probably wouldn’t.  Kevin Youkilis must have been thinking the same thing because he meant business when he tied that score in the ninth.  One of the most amusing visuals of the night was of Youk hitting that sacrifice fly in the 11th, flipping his bat and just hanging around waiting for Scutaro to score.  He had that “Yeah, we totally had this one all along” look on his face.  After those last two games, it sure was a helluva lot of fun to watch.

Gustavo Molina was DFA’d today to make room for Michael Bowden who will be pitching out of the bullpen.  Now there is something that could be fun (but I’m sorry it came at the expense of Gustavo).  I totally missed that Dusty Brown had been called up so it was a pleasant surprise to see him on the bench (and then in the game) last night.

The end of this month will bring me to my fifth anniversary with blogging.  I started back on July 30, 2005 at MLBLogs with my first post being about Alan Embree going to the Yankees.  I feel like the 5th anniversary is a good time to shake things up (at the very least with my blog entries being more “me” and less blah as I feel they’ve been lately) so I’ll be working on a few different things.  I’m hoping to get back to doing some random blogging as I did so often in the beginning (which now has been replaced by Tweeting…I won’t give up the Twitter but I feel like I need to pay more attention to the blog to make it as entertaining for me – and everyone else – as it used to be!).  So fair warning.  🙂

Crabcakes on the mound this afternoon.  There could be worse things in baseball than a series split.

July 18, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 4 Comments

Confusion on the ground

Dustin Richardson made his Major League debut last night.  In 1.1 innings he gave up two hits, no runs and no walks!  One of the very few decent photos I took last night.

Dustin Richardson made his Major League debut last night. In 1.1 innings he gave up two hits, no runs and no walks! One of the very few decent photos I took last night.

Scenes from Fenway/September 28, 2009:

*  While waiting to get into the park, I notice a couple walking down Landsdowne Street holding hands and looking very much in love.  “Oh my God, do you see that?” a shrill voice behind me gasps to her husband.  “Well, honey, we are in Boston”, is his reply.  The couple, you see, happened to both be women.  I turn around and note that two people remarking on this are wearing Blue Jays gear.  The Blue Jays are from Toronto where gay marriage is pretty damn common.   Or more notably, as this website states, Toronto is “One of the world’s most gay-friendly cities”.   Fortunately, that was the only time, last night, that I wanted to punch a Blue Jays fan.

*  Still waiting to get into the park.  Another couple approaches.  The woman is wearing a Red Sox hat and the man is wearing what I think is a Yankee-hater hat.  As they get closer, I see that they are bickering and I realize the hat he’s wearing is a Yankees cap and I hear his girlfriend/wife bark “You just HAD to wear that cap, didn’t you??”.  Given that my reaction to his cap was “What a dink”  I was, again, pleased with my decision to not wear Sox gear to the Yanks/Rays game.  Normally, I think you should represent your team no matter where you are but walking into your rival’s house when your team isn’t there and wearing their gear screams “I’m an asshole who wants you to start a fight with me!”.

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September 29, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Let's burn up the night, baby

This shot of Javier Lopez I took while he was chatting with KellyO

This shot of Javier Lopez I took while he was chatting with KellyO

Two bad final scores (for the PawSox and the Red Sox) and the annoying news that the Red Sox picked up Porno Paul Byrd couldn’t ruin the good night that I had.  Headed down to Pawtucket early to hang with KellyO and then wait in the rain to get into McCoy Stadium for their annual autograph night.

They had ten tables set up with players, coaches and mascots at each one ready to sign.  When we approached Javier Lopez, Kelly thanked him for signing Steve and he responded by telling her what a great photographer she was.  The night only got better when Kris Johnson’s dad approached her and asked her if she was Sitting Still and then went on to not only also compliment her on her photos but ask if he could get some to print up because he likes the photos so much.  Because of time constraints and the amount of people who showed up, we didn’t get to the table where KJ was signing so his dad took the pics Kelly had brought of Kris and promised to get them signed for her.  He was amazingly sweet and seemed sincere.  It was a treat to be there when a player and a member of a player’s family both gave KellyO the props she deserves for her wonderful photographs.

I got to tell Javi that he was missed in Boston.  Hey, I miss him so I was being sincere.   The PawSox are struggling this year (unlike last year when they were playoff contenders, the only team in their division worse than them right now is the Buffalo Bisons) and it didn’t surprise me to hear Javi say he misses being in Boston.  I also got to thank the players for taking the time to do the signing.  It was an awful lot of fun and now my 8 year-old niece has a poster with a bunch of autographs of the “young guys who aren’t Red Sox players yet”.  She’s happy…I’m happy…in spite of the scores, it was a good night.

We didn’t stay for the entire game because we had a train to catch – and because the fourth inning alone seemed to last about two hours – but we got to see Michael Bowden’s entire appearance.  It’s fair to say that Wednesday night wasn’t a good night for pitching in Pawtucket.  (Final score at McCoy:  8-7 Norfolk.)

And now we head into the Bronx for four games.  I’ve already decided I won’t be live blogging any of the games.  Regardless of whether I want to admit it, the games stress me out too much to put the focus of a live blog on them as well.  So on Thursday we get John Smoltz v Joba Chamberlain.  I have no idea what to think of this game…I just hope Joba keeps his pitches from hitting Youk.  Injuries and suspensions this team certainly doesn’t need.

My hope is for a split of this series.  My dream is for the Sox to take the series and I don’t even dare to think about a sweep.  One game at a time.  Here’s hoping Smoltz pitches well enough to win and the offense lets loose on Joba.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , | 4 Comments

I am falling safely to the ground

Youk gives me great hope!  Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Youk gives me great hope! Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Still have a little left to write about Baltimore but there’s no way I can’t first comment on last night’s game.

Bottom line?  If you’re going to lose, Red Sox, let’s do it in less time, okay?

Then again, it bothers me less to see them lose a 13-inning game.  It sucks that they lost but, at that point, you have to think when you leave the bases loaded on the road in extra innings that it will come back to bite you on the ass.  It did and they took the loss.

Brad Penny is on the mound today.  It seems like he pitches a lot on Wednesdays – I’m usually live blogging his starts.  Tonight there won’t be a live blog.  I’m not even sure of being able to see the game since I’ll be heading to Pawtucket early today for tonight’s game.  (Given it’s a weekday and my mode of transportation limits my options, I might have to leave the PawSox game early but we’re heading down nonetheless.)  Michael Bowden has the start tonight and it will be the first time I see him pitch since his Major League debut at Fenway last year.   I’m looking forward to seeing him on the mound again even if it turns out to only be for an inning or two!

I’m considering live blogging Thursday’s or Friday’s game (although the idea of live blogging a Sox/Yanks game really doesn’t fill me with joy) but we’ll see how those plans go.  We have a beautiful day to get past last night.  It’s tough to do, I know, when the loss is as annoying as this one, but it’s just one game.  A win tonight and the Sox split the series heading into New York.

August 5, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , | Leave a comment

Monkey business on a sunny afternoon

Josh Reddick and Daniel Bard in January 2009 - Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

Josh Reddick and Daniel Bard in January 2009 - Photo by Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission

Day one of my three days in Baltimore has been over for a few hours…and I missed it!

KellyJ and I didn’t get to Baltimore (at least not to the hotel) until after 11pm.  Yep, we missed the entire first game.  Nice to see the fellas won even without us there!

We spent many, many hours in New York on Friday.  One of those hours was spent at, of all places, the MLBPA office.  KellyJ has a family friend there who showed us great hospitality and sent us on our way with bags of stuff!  (Including Dustin Pedroia jerseys for each of us!)  It was an unexpected yet welcomed and appreciated surprise.  The rest of the time was spent sitting around in traffic.  I got up at 3am on Friday.  Was on a bus at 6:30am and then a train at 8:50am before I met KellyJ around 10:15am to head to Baltimore.  At 1:37am on Saturday morning, I’m still up.  An hour and a half longer and it’s an entire 24 hours that I’ve been up – and I still haven’t seen a ball game!

The time at the MLBPA was a lot of fun, though, and honestly worth missing the first game for – especially given we have tickets for the next two.

Received updates galore all the way down on the trades.  I’m quite sad to see Justin Masterson go but I AM excited to see Victor Martinez with the Sox.  Both Martinez and Manny Delcarmen cried over this trade.  Which was a bummer to read about.  Hopefully they’re both feeling better about it soon.

I wish Justin a lot of luck.  He’s a good guy as well as a good pitcher and I hope he kicks ass in Cleveland (unless he’s pitching against the Sox)l.

I am beyond thrilled that the team still employs the trio of Buchholz, Bowden and Bard.  I was really dreading the possibility of any of them leaving the team.  Safe, for a little while anyway.

Three player sightings even though we got into town so late.  As we got off the elevator in the hotel, Brad Penny was walking through throngs of fans, high fiving them all.  He would have high-fived us as well, but Kelly and I were wiped and just wanted to check in and ended up just giving him a “Dude, can you get out of the way so we can get by?” look.

Incidentally, the uniform does not flatter him.  Folks think he’s overweight but he looked to be in quite good shape in his civies.

Meeting up with the rest of our friends and having a drink I noticed Marcus McBeth walk into the hotel bar.  I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the place who recognized him.  He walked to the back of the bar, spoke to someone then turned around and left (both he and the person he spoke to had security or, at least, a type of handler with them).  The person he spoke to?  Clay Buchholz.   We didn’t bother any of the players – it really isn’t my style.  I have to admit to being freaked out by the way the fans were acting in the lobby when Penny came in – they cheered him.  It just seems odd to me to cheer people as they come into their hotel.  Baltimore police and hotel security were threatening to kick folks out who tried to take photos – and they meant it.  I wasn’t the one who chose the hotel we’re staying in and I think if I were to choose a hotel, the team hotel wouldn’t be the one.  It makes me a bit uncomfortable.

Ah well…it’s going on 2am and I should try to fall asleep before it is 24 hours in a row that I’m awake.  Joshua Patrick on the mound Saturday night.  A win when I’m actually present for the game would be nice!

August 1, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

You don't have a chance if you don't move now

Michael Bowden – waiting patiently. Photo taken by Kelly O’Connor/sittingstill.net in April 2009 and used with permission.

Well he didn’t get to pitch last night but Clay Buchholz still has everyone talking about him. Well done, Clay, well done.

Clay told NECN’s Mike Giardi that he wanted to pitch in the bigs, whether it was for Boston or another team. The nerve, huh?

Do I think maybe it would have served him better to say the things Michael Bowden did? Sure. Everyone wants to hear “Id rather stay in the minors an extra year or so to play with Boston, and to play in Boston at Fenway, with that group of guys.” instead of “If not that team, then I want be in the big leagues and I do want to go where I’ll be able to play and go and pitch every fifth day.”. But, really, the bottom line seems to be that both pitchers want to play – and isn’t that what you want to hear? Don’t you want your players to be eager to jump into the fray? I sure as heck do. Is there a small part of me that would have preferred Clay to use all the cliches you learn when dealing with the media? I suppose. But I agree with those who think it’s refreshing that the kid isn’t afraid to say what’s on his mind. He didn’t disrespect anyone or insult anyone he just told Giardi how he felt and where his mind is at right now. I don’t have much of a problem with that. (NESN’s headline “Bowden willing to wait longer than Buchholz” killed me. Bowden’s younger than Buchholz and has less time in the bigs. It would make sense that he’s more patient. Not too hard to figure that out, NESN.)

The biggest disappointment yesterday regarding Clay was that the PawSox game got rained out. Sure, they’ll play a double-header today but NESN won’t be airing it so many folks will miss getting to see what all the hub-bub is about.

I don’t think I’ve made a secret of how I feel about Buchholz. When he finally comes up with the big team he’ll be on my list of “favorites”. Getting to see his first two MLB appearances – including the no-hitter – has made me quite fond of the kid. But I’m willing to wait as long as it takes (though I really hope it isn’t that long) for him to make his return.

Regarding another pitcher: Ian Browne reminds us that Jonathan Papelbon is quietly coming up on breaking the Red Sox all-time saves record held by Bob Stanley. At 129 career saves, Papelbon needs three more to tie and that extra one to go ahead of Bigfoot. As Browne points out, how amazing is it that Stanley did it over the course of thirteen seasons in MLB and Papelbon will do it before he’s even through his fourth season in the league? Papelbon might make me bite my nails down to the quick…but there’s no denying how impressive he is on the mound.

The Florida Marlins are in town! The last time they were here, they began the series by losing25-8. The losing pitcher? Carl Pavano. Even more amusing? The winning pitcher was Byung-Hyun Kim. Tonight, Tim Wakefield takes the mound against Chris Volstad. That same kind of run support would be greatly appreciated fellas!

June 16, 2009 Posted by | 2009 | , , , , | Leave a comment