Sunday is big family dinner day at my parents’ house. Yesterday there were fewer people there than usually are and there were still 7 people at dinner. So we’re eating our dinner, enjoying each other’s company, when my brother-in-law turns to my cousin and asks, “So…what’s wrong with your Red Sox this year? Last place, huh?”
You’ll note I didn’t write that he said this to me. He knows better. My cousin is a pretty mellow guy. He laughed my brother-in-law off, said something about winning the World Series in 2013 and it was over. But it stuck in my craw.
After watching the Red Sox beat the Orioles, I watched the Rangers beat the Rays. The Sox win got them into October baseball for the first time since 2009 and the Rays loss knocked the magic number for the Red Sox down to one…one Boston win or Tampa Bay loss and the Red Sox clinch the division.
I know it’s real…but it doesn’t completely feel it yet.
(And now for a God-awful sentence that will hurt the brain of anyone who cares about proper sentence structure:)
Running the risk of sounding absolutely obnoxious, I have to admit that knowing there is a good chance the Red Sox will clinch the division this weekend in Boston…against the team so many experts – including a few in Boston – predicted would be the American League East leader and who isn’t even sniffing a chance to be in the playoffs…makes my heart ridiculously happy.
(Sorry about that but I’m both giddy and tired. I’m lucky I can type, let alone write coherently!)
When the Red Sox won tonight I tweeted that Bobby Valentine could suck it. Really, though, there are a boatload of people I could have tweeted that about because there were a boatload of people who not only didn’t see this happening but who REFUSED to see it happening. Well, it has. The first part anyway. The Sox have one foot in the door. This weekend (hopefully on Friday night. Please let it be on Friday night so I can just enjoy the next week of baseball without any stress) the other foot will cross the threshold and this team will have “shocked the world” one more time.
I missed the entire game yesterday.
I was very upset about that while this was happening. I convinced myself that yesterday’s game would be smooth sailing and the Red Sox would be sweeping Toronto out of Fenway and I wanted to see it. But I had a prior commitment that I couldn’t change and kept me away from a television or even my cell phone…and I suppose it turned out all for the best.
Everyone has bad stretches, I get this. Heck this entire team has had their share of bad stretches, so I hesitate to overreact about Daniel Bard. Truth is, though, I just can’t shake the idea that he’s either just gassed from the long season or we’re seeing some breakdown that might have longer lasting implications for Bard. In any event, a phone call from my father after the game told me how things went. I keep reading about how Terry Francona is in love with Bard and that’s why he keeps bringing him in. When my father called me, he began the call with “I don’t think Tito likes Bard all that much”. I knew that meant he brought Bard in and Bard blew another one and I knew that meant I would be avoiding the likes of Twitter all night because as much as I was thinking “Can we just maybe rest the kid for a few games and try to nip this in the bud?” I didn’t want to read all the rantings from everyone else (rantings that tend to be much more colorful than mine!).
Okay…so that happened. Rays are in town for the weekend and I have three friends coming in from all over (Florida, North Carolina and California, to be exact) and they will all be spending some time at Fenway for this series…the baseball gods and the Red Sox won’t let them down…right?
One day we’re watching the Red Sox finish the weekend with a five-game losing streak, the next we’re watching them pound the Toronto Blue Jays (the team that began the Red Sox losing streak by winning a series in Toronto) with 18 hits and 18 runs and helping Tim Wakefield gain his 200th career win. Which is exactly why we continue to watch.
Well, except for me. Last night I had other obligations and didn’t get home until the 8th inning. The score was 11-5 by that time and it was smooth sailing. I checked the score while I was out and every time I did it seemed the score was flipping back and forth. When it was 6-5 in the sixth inning and I saw that Tim Wakefield was still in there I stopped checking the score (sorry, Wake, but I did). I was enjoying myself and almost convinced if I kept checking my mood would change. Yeah, it still sometimes gets to me.
Reading on Twitter that the fans were chanting for Wake when the game ended didn’t surprise me. We love him. The media knows it and it seems he does too. It was fantastic that we could enjoy a night like last night before the end of the season. Put me in the perfect frame of mind for the rest of this month.
I wax more poetic on Wake when the season is over but for now I’ll just bask in the knowledge that he isn’t chasing 200 any more and the Sox gained some ground last night in the playoff race.
Don’t forget that this Blue Jays series is only two games and today’s game is a 1:35pm event with John Lackey on the mound. Once again, I have a prior commitment that will keep me from watching the majority of the game. Hopefully this works as well today as it did yesterday.
So apparently I’ve taken on a new rant, complaining about people who complain about how long Major League Baseball games take to play. I really don’t get it.
I’ve mentioned it here, and on Facebook and on Twitter and, on the whole, most fans agree with me that, for the most part, there’s no such thing as a baseball game that goes on for too long. (I say “for the most part” because I know there are definitely times when, as fans, we want or need the game to end. Especially fans who are at the games that go long and are concerned about public transportation home or fans who have been sitting in the rain or bitter cold for nine long innings.) It seems that the people who complain the most about the games going too long are those who get paid to cover them (or, in the case of Mark Teixeira and I’m sure other players, those who get paid to play in them). So I was happy to be pointed to this article (thanks, Beth!) about John Farrell and his opinion of long baseball games.
For Farrell, a long game can mean two things: batters are working deep counts to their advantage and/or pitchers are controlling the pace to their advantage – meaning they pitch when they are good and ready.
How do people (read: writers and Mark Teixeira) not get this?
My only criticism of the piece is that addition of this line:
When Boston’s Jonathan Papelbon took 24 minutes to deliver 27 pitches in the 10th inning in Monday’s game, Farrell – unlike many fans – did not bat an eyelash or squirm in his seat..
It isn’t “many fans” who have been complaining about the length of games and I’m getting tired of media projecting that on to us. Many fans want the games to last as long as they need to. Many fans would rather watch more baseball than less. Many fans understand that long games are long mostly because there is good baseball being played.
The Yankees and Orioles played a game last night that, instead of beginning at 7pm, started at 11pm. There were still fans in the stands (not many, true, but there still were some there) and there were definitely fans online following the game. Generally speaking, regardless of the conditions, fans want to watch baseball. I wish the media (and Mark Teixeira) would stop telling us that we’re wrong for enjoying the game.
Labor Day is one of my favorite days of the year. I love the fall and have always looked forward to things like the new school year beginning, the new television season starting and things just, generally, changing from a long summer. My love of autumn doesn’t mesh that well with my love of baseball given September is the beginning of the end of the regular baseball season but even still it’s my favorite time of year.
Children going back to school and television fans getting new shows aren’t the only people who enjoy a fresh start in September. Thanks to the call-ups, there are many players in the minor leagues who get their first taste of the bigs in September. Just this morning, with the final regular season game in Pawtucket being played tonight, Ryan Lavarnway, Nate Spears and Kyle Weiland all got called up and will be in Toronto this afternoon. Ryan and Kyle have been called up before, but this is the first time for Nate. After playing in Portland in 2010 and helping Pawtucket make it to the playoffs this year, Nate will most likely see his first Major League at-bat in Toronto. (Nate isn’t currently on the 40-man roster so a move will have to be made before he gets officially activated.)
I’m always happy for the guys who get called up and given how much I’ve learned about Nate from Kelly O’Connor, who has been following his career much more closely than I (or probably ANYONE) for a few years now, I’m especially happy that he gets his shot this week. But the one thing that always interests me is how the fans of the Minor League teams react to losing players once the playoffs begin. I know plenty of people who follow the SeaDogs the PawSox and even the Spinners who don’t pay that much attention to the Red Sox. They live near the MiLB parks, they go to the MiLB games and aren’t concerned with what the “big” team is doing and they’d rather see their guys in the Minor League uniforms for the playoffs. If your team gets into the playoffs and then suddenly players start being plucked out to join the parent team (only to be sent packing for home once the regular season ends) it has to be frustrating. I imagine it’s frustrating for the players who don’t get called up as well given that they’re being left behind to take on the playoffs without their teammates. The playoffs for the PawSox begin on Wednesday and by all accounts Kyle Weiland was going to start the first game. Now he’ll most likely be sitting in the Red Sox bullpen in Toronto while Matt Fox gets the start for Pawtucket. While getting the big league time is what they are working for, I wonder how they feel about missing out on the playoffs (especially since they won’t be in the playoffs with the Red Sox this year)? I’d imagine for someone like Nate getting the call for the FIRST time, the excitement about actually getting called up outweighs any disappointment there might be in regard to missing the playoffs.
The PawSox play their final regular season game today at 1:05pm (all the women fans in attendance get a rose) and the Red Sox play their first of a four-game series against the Blue Jays at 1:07 this afternoon. In Toronto, Josh Beckett will be on the mound to, hopefully, put an end to the two-game losing streak. The Yankees just finished beating up on the Jays…I’m hoping this doesn’t encourage them to take out their frustrations on the Red Sox. I’d like a bit of carnage coming from the Sox this week.
This season has been one in which, for me, I haven’t traveled much to Fenway, so it was a pleasant surprise when I was gifted with, essentially, a day at Fenway yesterday.
It was supposed to begin with a tour, but at the last minute we decided to bail on it. (As an aside, if you have never been on a Fenway tour, it is best to not go with me or Kelly, the friend who gifted me with the day of joining her at Fenway. We don’t react well to a lot of it given it is full of misinformation used just to amuse those who don’t pay attention. See? I’ve already thrown water on it and we aren’t even there. Really, don’t bring me to a Fenway tour…you’ll regret it immediately.) So after a morning enjoying some caffeine at Eastern Standard, we made our way to Fenway for the boSox Club meeting in the EMC Club featuring Terry Francona, John Farrell and Larry Lucchino.
Highlights included Tito mentioning that the thought MLB was brilliant for having David Ortiz ask players to perform in the Home Run Derby (he said he loves watching it and the fans enjoy it but the players really try to avoid it but no one could say “no” to Papi!), and Larry Lucchino telling a Trot Nixon fan that the Red Sox have been discussing with Nixon a scenario where he could come back as a Red Sox player and retire the way Nomar Garciaparra did. (After I tweeted Larry’s comment it was retweeted as Larry having said they ARE bringing Trot back and the Red Sox are planning on retiring Trot’s number. Good Lord, it was like the telephone game.) There was also a brief discussion of the call at the plate to end Tuesday’s game. It’s fair to say that regardless of Tom Caron (host of the afternoon) telling John Farrell that the replays were, at the very least, inconclusive, John wasn’t buying it and believed the call to be a bad one. In spite of this, John was genuinely pleasant and had nothing but nice things to say about Sox fans and his former team.
When the luncheon was over, having tickets to the game that wasn’t starting for another five hours, we decided to make our way to Jerry Remy’s to hang until we wanted to make our way to the park. We had lunch (yes we went to a luncheon before hand…where they ran out of food, so we went to Remy’s to eat. Live and learn.) and enjoyed the air conditioning. After some oddness (we had a pleasant waitress most of the time and then she switched tables. Our next waitress we never met because, we were told, she refused to serve our table. Very odd…I wasn’t aware waitpeople could refuse to serve a table (our guess is because we weren’t going to be a big enough tab for her). All in all, though, in spite of the weirdness at Remy’s, and not getting lunch at the luncheon, the afternoon was a heck of a lot of fun.
Even more fun was the evening. Kelly scored us really great tickets (field box behind the Red Sox on-deck circle about five rows off the field) so we had a wonderful view of Tim Wakefield and the entire field. The weather, hot, definitely, hot, wasn’t as oppressive as we expected it to be, we even got a little bit of a breeze, and even when the rain came it was refreshing (until it was overwhelming and we took cover until it ended.) We stayed until the end and got to see a great game. I could have lived without the guy who, even though he didn’t have tickets for our section, brought his camera and his child (I’m guessing to be not even one or JUST one year old) to the wall of that section making his child a prime target for foul balls just so HE could get some pictures and beg for a ball (which he didn’t get – thank you baseball gods).
You get a lot of interesting moments sitting near the on-deck circle. Seeing Jacoby smile at the chorus of “JACOBY” yelled by a group of women was amusing. Watching Papi wave at the little kids calling to him was just so sweet. For the most part, we had a good crowd around us (although, really, the tradition of kids yelling “here! here!” or “ball! ball!” drives me crazy. Not that I begrudge the kids who want a ball, but the process is so rude and you almost never hear one of them thank a player, ball or bat person or umpire for getting a ball) and the well-played game, fun fans and not so horrible weather really put together a great night.
I’m hurting a little this morning. Not because I enjoyed myself too much, but because, even in almost 80-degree weather, the person behind me enjoyed himself a cup of clam chowder and then deposited the remains of it under my seat. After a small allergic reaction, Kelly kindly disposed of the killer food and I used Bud Light as an antihistamine and all was well. (The after effects of an allergic reaction, even small, for me end up making me feel like I was in a fight where I took quite a beating.) I’m a lot of fun to be around, huh?
Did I forget to mention that, while at the luncheon and waiting in line I turned around and was face to face with Wally? I collected myself quickly enough before I screamed but, really, he scared the heck out of me. Just wasn’t expecting a giant, green monster to be standing next to me. I got a handshake and a kiss on my hand for my troubles. I’m a goof; I love Wally.
It was also fun to follow the Yankees/Cleveland game on the scoreboard (and, during the rain delay, on the video board). I know full well that it’s relatively meaningless right now, but nothing baseball-related would make me happier than the Red Sox going into the All Star break in first place. It’s a small dream. Not too much to ask, right?
I have probably watched that final play at the plate twenty times now and every other time I think “he was out”. Which means on the opposite times I’m thinking “he was safe”, which was my initial reaction to seeing the first replay.
Between the position of the umpire and the fact that Jason Varitek has a great reputation when it comes to blocking the plate, I can understand why Edwin Encarnación was called out. (Regardless of John Farrell’s complaining that it was obvious he was safe, it wasn’t. Heck, even Farrell didn’t complain when it happened and waited until he saw the replay. If you need to see the replay in order to determine what the correct call should have been, it wasn’t an easy call to make.) On the other hand, I wouldn’t blame Toronto Blue Jays fans for being outraged at how the game ended even though it wasn’t clear cut in real time. Me? Well it’s been a long year for me and I won’t lie, give me a Darnell McDonald throw to the plate to end a game and I’m a happy gal.
The Sox needed that win last night and not just because the Yankees are pounding the Cleveland Indians this week. Watching Matt Albers warming up in the bullpen while Jon Lester was pitching no-hit baseball into the fourth made folks sick with worry. Tweets and blog posts from the official Red Sox accounts calling his departure due to “an apparent injury” long before they announced his strained left lat muscle didn’t help quell the fires. (One would think the official account of any team wouldn’t rush to spread fear before the announcements get made. You’re the OFFICIAL source for team news…you don’t have to try and “break” news because you get it first anyway! NESN joined in with bringing the fear as well before any announcements were made while ESPN Boston stuck with saying he left for reasons unclear. Or, I suppose they all could have gone the way of Peter Abraham who chose to complain for the thousandth time that fans at Fenway were doing the wave.)
Sox are 1.5 games out of first place (the Tampa Bay Rays? 5 games out. I’ll take it.) and, right now, all I want is for them to win. Gloves are off; just go out there and win the damn games.
Not getting hurt…that would be nice too.
The front page of MLB.com this morning leads with the Red Sox/Blue Jays game and gives us this title: Ol’ McDonald has an arm. I can dig it.
I turned off the game when it was over, not even staying up for the post-game breakdowns, and I fell asleep. I dreamed of people I haven’t seen in years and woke up feeling a bit melancholy and not even thinking about the Red Sox. So it’s tough to get into the blogging groove today.
I will say this, I’m an increasingly happy for Carl Crawford every time he gets a hit and/or an RBI (both of which he did last night) and seeing Adrian Gonzalez hit not one but two home runs was quite enjoyable. Heck, even Jarrod Saltalamacchia tried doing his part. All for naught, sure, but there still were some enjoyable parts to last night’s game. Alas, Crabby’s pitching wasn’t one of them.
Oh well…we get another game tonight. Splitting the series is better than nothing!
Last call for the Baseball Miscellany quiz! The winner will be announced tomorrow. (At last check only two people had 100% on the quiz!) Good luck!
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!