Red Sox Chick/Toeing the Rubber

Because you always need a backup plan

We’re number…four?

What the hell?  This wasn’t the plan.  Jon Lester is the Cy Young winner for 2011.  Daniel Bard is going to “All About Eve” Jonathan Papelbon’s ass.  This team was going 162-0 this season!  What happened?

Meh, what are you going to do?  While I can’t argue with the notion that games in April count as much as games in September, I certainly can’t get worked up about the Red Sox losing one game.  Even if it was a game they had an opportunity to win.  There were a lot of positives to take from this game (among them being Jacoby Ellsbury getting on base three out of four at-bats, Adrian Gonzalez going two for four with three RBI, David Ortiz getting his first home run of the season to not only tie the game but to shut up all the sports writers who had their “When will Big Papi hit his first home run” stories at the ready and a bullpen that, until Bard, did their job handily).

They’ll be back at it today…well tonight really at 8pm ET…and that’s what I’m happy about.  More baseball that counts, baby!

Mike Lowell made an appearance last night on the Marlins broadcast (where he mentioned not going back to baseball until his children were older) and while he was there John Buck hit a grand slam.  He looked and sounded very happy (and good!) and it made me miss him all over again.  Here is a screen grab (terribly quality thanks to Extra Innings not being in HD on all channels and my using the computer to take the picture!)…good luck Mike!

The question of live chats was brought up in comments yesterday.  I definitely plan on bringing them back but it won’t be (at least) until after the first homestand next week.  My only obligation day currently is Thursdays and I’d like to hold them during the week so I’m looking at Tuesdays or Wednesdays again (and I’m happy to take suggestions in the comments!).

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Random stat that means nothing, really, but sounds good:  The Red Sox lost on Opening Day in both 2004 and 2007.

Blog suggestion for the day:  Jere over at A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory is in Arlington for the opening series (and got a sweet shot of Papi at home after his home run).  He’s already promised more pictures over the weekend!

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April 2, 2011 Posted by | 2011 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Thank US!

The "thank you" signs on the field as the fans left the bleachers after the game

The "thank you" signs on the field as the fans left the bleachers after the game

I’ll have other entries about this weekend and about the end of baseball in general, but I wanted to get this one out while it was fresh in my mind.  Yesterday, during an Twitter conversation, I was telling Caryn @ Metsgrrl about the different things the Red Sox did to thank the fans this weekend and thought it was something that should be shared with everyone.

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October 4, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | 7 Comments

Thanks, Mike

From People en Español and used without permission.  Thanks for EVERYTHING, Mike!

Photo lifted from People en Español and used without permission. A fan favorite! Thanks for EVERYTHING, Mike!

October 2, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , | Leave a comment

It's a thin line

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I need to purge

(This is long and cranky.  I don’t want to be cranky today so I’m working on another entry as you read this!)

This is the first season where I told myself I would read less and less of the local sports writers and I actually stuck to that promise.  I credit Twitter and Facebook, really.  It gives me easy access to writers I want to read and not kick in the privates while also letting me find out things I don’t know about in the baseball world without having to read them from people I hate.

But this week has been a little different.  I haven’t had much online contact and took the easy way out this morning:  I read a Dan Shaughnessy  piece.  Rather, I began to read a Dan Shaughnessy piece.  I got to the quoted text below and decided I couldn’t make it all the way through.  But I share it with you so you remember, as I do now, why my dislike (hatred?  Hatred is a strong word but I’m compelled to type it) for the CHB is so damn strong.

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September 26, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | 7 Comments

I don't think it means what you think it means

Here's hoping the baseball gods stop messing with Mike Lowell (Photo taken by me in 2006)

Here's hoping the baseball gods stop messing with Mike Lowell (Photo taken by me in 2006)

Just received an email from one of the Yankees fans who reads the blog (and one I have verified is actually a Yankees fan and not someone pretending to be one) that including this nugget:

…so be happy that your wonderful Beckett and Papelbon still suck and your team has no bullpen.  I’ll be happy that my team is going to the playoffs!

Now, the team going from a tremendous lead to a, let’s say, NOT so tremendous lead would be unsettling in July or August…but in the second to last weekend of the season? Not so much. Yes, I hope that Beckett’s injuries and troubles don’t spill over to next season and sure I would like to know exactly what the hell is going on with Jonathan Papelbon, but there is nothing that happened last night with either pitcher that hasn’t happened already during this season.  I’m more amused by the fact that a Yankees fan took the time to send me an unsolicited email telling me I shouldn’t be happy about the Red Sox beating the Yankees.

Let me tell you something:  I’m freaking delighted that the Red Sox won last night.  Who knows what the next five games against the Yankees will bring?  I’m living in the moment and there is no denying that the moment is pretty damn satisfying.

Many people, fans and especially media-folk, have written today (and last night after the game) that last night’s win was “meaningless”.  Now, technically, it wasn’t meaningless because the Red Sox still have not been mathematically eliminated.  But even if you are unable to sustain the pipe dream* that the Red Sox could still make it to the post-season this year, if you are a Red Sox fan in any form I don’t see how you can call a Red Sox victory over the Yankees meaningless.  ESPECIALLY when it helps knock the Yankees down in the division race.  Last night’s game was NOT meaningless.  This afternoon’s game isn’t meaningless and, regardless of which team wins today, tomorrow night’s game isn’t meaningless.

The losses of my enemy are victories for me.

The only thing that truly concerned me last night was Mike Lowell being hit in the temple.  Ever since Natasha Richardson died, I’ve been hyper-sensitive about head injuries and seeing him get hit my first thought was “Get him the hell out of the game!”  So I wasn’t too happy with his staying in the game, even just to finish out that inning.  All reports are that he’s fine and Lars Anderson is playing first today so Mike is getting a day off to rest his rung bell.  It was a frightening moment and thinking that Mike Lowell might not be around for Mike Lowell Appreciation Day freaked me out more than just a bit.

Fox Sports will do their best to ruin our enjoyment of today’s game.  Don’t let them, people, fight the power.   I debated muting today’s game and using Joe Castiglione instead but curiosity will get the best of me.  Often times,  listening to Fox makes me realize how fortunate we are to have Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo.

Looking forward to this “meaningless” game.  How about you?

* I keep telling people that I realize the Red Sox season is over but, truthfully, deep inside I still have a glimmer of hope.  It’s tough for me to give up.  It’s not in my blood.

September 25, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , | 6 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

MVP

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

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

Oh Mike, I’ll miss you:

“I’m retiring,” Lowell told the Boston Herald before Boston’s game against the Oakland Athletics. “I just don’t want to make it a song and dance because I don’t think that’s necessary, but if someone needs something official, yeah, I’m going to retire. This is going to be my last year.”

Sure we all knew this was probably coming but expecting it doesn’t bum me out any less now that he’s made it official.  People throw the word “class” around far too much in professional sports but, really, I challenge you to find a classier guy in baseball than Mike Lowell.

This season has not panned out the way anyone expected it to and oddly enough the weirdness of it all is what helped keep Mike Lowell with the team and has made it possible for him to retire in Boston instead of somewhere else.  In spite of the standings, this year has been a lot of fun and part of that was realizing that Mike Lowell was not only still with the team but getting an opportunity to try and contribute.

As all right as I’ve been with the way things have gone for the Sox this year, Mike’s coming out and announcing officially that he’s retiring has brought a bit more peace to me in regard to this season.  There are still more games to play, fellas, winning more than you lose would be a nice way to send Mike home at the end of it all.

Good luck and thank you Señor Doubles!

September 12, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | | 5 Comments

Tuesday Night Fights

At least they didn't rub his head

At least they didn't rub his head

I wouldn’t say that I dislike the Indians but I’ll say this:  After the bush move of bringing Josh Beckett’s ex-girlfriend in to sing during the ALCS, I would imagine Beckett doesn’t think much of them.  So while the logical part of my brain says Beckett wouldn’t be so stupid as to hit Shelley Duncan and Shin-Soo Choo on purpose because the team has been struggling and putting men on base is pretty damn stupid, I can imagine a scenario where every so often Beckett would feel like he could get a little personal justice with no one being the wise – and maybe the Indians felt like they finally got wise.

Or did they?  Duncan got hit in the first inning with a man on and two outs.  While I suppose you could stretch it and say Beckett was mad because he struck out the first two batters he faced and then Choo got a hit before Duncan GOT hit, I think that’s a bit of a stretch.  Then in the third, Lou Marson hits a first pitch home run and then in five pitches Beckett gets the first two outs of the inning.  Was Beckett mad about the homer and taking it out on Choo three batters later just because he has good numbers against Beckett?  Again, this all seems like a bit of a stretch.  The Mason homer made the score 2-1 Red Sox but the Sox still had the lead and Beckett still had two outs.  Makes no sense to me.

Of course, regardless of intent I get that some teams feel like two of your guys getting hit in a game is cause for some kind of retaliation.  I don’t agree, because how many games have we all watched when something like that happens and it’s obvious there was no reason behind it and the game just goes on?  In any event, hit your guy and get it over with.  David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre both came up to bat in the bottom of the third inning.  Then they came up again in the fifth.    Ortiz appeared in the bottom of the 7th, and they threw behind him.  It was so obvious it was ridiculous.  It reminded me of when the Mets finally got their chance and threw at Roger Clemens.  In the bottom of the 8th, the Indians made a pitching change and decided to sacrifice Jensen Lewis to the Baseball Gods by having him throw behind Adrian Beltre .  It’s worth noting that neither Ortiz nor Beltre were ever actually hit by a pitch.  Throwing behind one guy sends a message.  Throwing behind two shows the world that you just didn’t do it right the first (nor the second) time.  Ortiz got it by the feet but Mr. Lewis was stupid enough to throw his pitch behind Beltre’s head.  Beltre did this great staring thing at Lewis as he approached the mound and then as people were pushing him away.  Lewis probably had nightmares last night that involved Adrian Beltre and his psycho eyes.  Here’s a tip, Indians:  If you’re throwing at someone, hit them and be done with it.  (Or throw behind one guy and be done with it.)  You didn’t look “tough” last night, you looked inept.   On the other hand, I should be thanking Manny Acta because his making his pitchers throw at our guys caused one of the more exciting, non-baseball moments at Fenway this season.  Beckett lost his mind on Shelley Duncan and  for a moment I really believe Terry Francona was going to take on the entire Indians team all by himself.

If the non-fight provided the excitement for the night, Mike Lowell provided the pure happiness.  NESN decided to let us hear Fenway Park public address announcer Carl Beane announce Mike Lowell’s first at-bat in the second inning.  We barely had enough time to process the enormous ovation the fans were giving him before he knocked the first pitch he saw into the Monster Seats.  (If you watch the video, you can actually hear Jerry Remy laughing while Orsillo is calling it…even the RemDawg got giddy!)

I have no idea what the rest of this season will bring and what we’ll all be doing in October…but if you’re a baseball fan and can’t appreciate the absolute beauty of Mike Lowell’s first at-bat last night, then you have no heart.  Remy later called it the “nicest” moment of the season and while it’s a bit of an understatement, I totally agree.  This team might be beaten and battered but don’t tell me they don’t have any heart and don’t tell me they aren’t fun to watch or worth rooting for.

August 4, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Enough is Enough

Ryan Kalish made his MLB debut this weekend and was involved in two walk-offs.  I'm guessing HE doesn't think this team is boring.  Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

Ryan Kalish made his MLB debut this weekend and was involved in two walk-offs. I'm guessing HE doesn't think this team is boring. Photo courtesy of Kelly O'Connor/sittingstill.net and used with permission.

I visit other blogs occasionally, but there are a few storylines in Red Sox baseball right now that have been causing me to avoid them because I’m so sick of people doing nothing but complain about the team.

Mike Lowell: I dig Mike and I don’t blame any of this on him.  His situation is frustrating and disheartening for him, I’m sure.  While I don’t feel “sorry” for him (the reality is he’s making a boatload of money for sitting on the bench while I sit here trying to figure out how my bills are going to get paid and while I realize the comparison is a weak one, right now it’s tough to garner sympathy for that situation) I appreciate that he’s frustrated and feeling a bit useless.  Having written that, I think the Red Sox organization as a whole would be crazy to just let him go (although there’s a buzz that exactly that might happen today).  There being no spot for him on the starting roster doesn’t equate his not having value to them (Youk being taken out of the game last night with an injured thumb is a reminder of that) so I’m not ready to call the Red Sox evil for holding on to him.  In my opinion, the Sox are doing what is best for the team and, unfortunately, in this situation that doesn’t totally mesh with what is best for the player.    It sucks but that’s what it is.  There’s a reason Lowell hasn’t been traded and I sense it’s more about the reasons he hasn’t been playing full-time than it is some evil plot by the Red Sox to keep him on the bench until he retires.

Jacoby Ellsbury:  He broke his ribs.  Many of them.  Someone out there needs to explain to me what the purpose would be for him to not go back to playing with the team. So many seem to think he’s dogging it by staying on the disabled list.  Mike Lowell is collecting his paycheck and itching to get back on the field but people think Jacoby is happy just cashing his paycheck and hanging out watching baseball being played without him?  What sense does that make?  How many people out there believe someone would do all the work required to become a professional baseball player just so they could get injured and still get paid?  If the kid is still hurting, he’s still hurting.  I’ll say it again:  Let me break a few of your ribs and then see how quickly you go back to effortlessly doing your desk job.  If your argument is that he’s “soft” I encourage you to take those broken ribs I just gave you and do real physical work and tell me how easy you think it is.   I’d rather get Jacoby back when he’s 100% then get him as a loaner until he tweaks his injury again.

Mike Cameron: He’s injured.  He probably needs surgery.  Neither of these things means it was a bad idea to pick him up.  Maybe Theo should hire a medium who can talk to Haywood Sullivan and find out when everyone will get injured so he won’t sign the ones on the “going to get injured this season” list up in the sky?

This team isn’t exciting or fun: Ratings for Sox games have gone down.  Bill Simmons (and, honestly, many others) thinks they’re boring.  Who knew Jason Bay was such a compelling character?  Seriously, if you can’t find some joy in this team, even when they’re losing, you aren’t paying attention.  Heck, the “Will Victor Martinez try to rub Adrian Beltre’s head?” question after each of Beltre’s home runs is entertaining enough to stick around for on it’s own.   So there’s no Manny doing the wave in the outfield and the bullpen band seems to have died off…that doesn’t mean this team isn’t fun.  Even the new guys are exciting!  In his first MLB at-bat, Daniel Nava hit a grand slam and them went on a tear.  Darnell McDonald introduced himself to the Fenway Faithful by being involved in a few dramatic wins, including a walk-off.  Speaking of which, in the last four games the Red Sox had two walk-off wins and two late-inning surges that were thisclose to being wins.  THAT, my friends, is exciting and fun baseball.

I get that things are rough right now standings-wise.  Exactly a month ago, the Red Sox were a  half a game out of first place and today they’re 6.5 out.  While it’s still not insurmountable, when they lose games like last night, it sure does feel like it is.  I get that.  (On Twitter this morning, Daigo Fujiwara points out “Red Sox are 14-14 vs. Indians, Orioles, Royals, & Mariners, the bottom 4 teams in AL. Yankees: 23-8, Rays: 21-7.” ) These numbers certainly don’t inspire confidence.  Even so, I’m not ready to throw in the towel on August 3rd.  Which is probably why all the negative stories are making me stabby.  Is it so difficult to try and focus on something good once in a while?

At some point, I promise, the live chats will be back if people are still looking for them.  Right now, I have to put it off for another week.  Josh Beckett will have to find a way to get through this Tuesday night without us!

August 3, 2010 Posted by | 2010 | , , , , | 10 Comments