Friday, July 13, 2007

Human Highlight Reel ('nique)

Crap. Another totally unique baseball game. I'm gonna eat some ice cream and then I'm gonna write about it.

The game, not the ice cream. Although the ice cream was good. Would've tasted better if we'd won, though.

Timlin pitching two and a third perfect innings is good. So is coming right back after Tavarez blew the lead. It really looked like we had that one in the ninth, but, oh well. 10 games up over Toronto and the Yanks. Team Dunbar lost to the D-Rays with Clemens on the hill tonight. Love to see that.

I never mentioned that I thought it was a terrible job by Leyland on not getting Okajima into the All-Star game. First he's not picked for the game, which is a travesty. Then, the fans vote him in, righting the wrong. He goes all the way out there, and sits around the whole game. K-Rod was shitting the bed in that ninth. Maybe that would've been a good time. But nooooo, Leyland's gotta be his usual prick self. TJ by him, also, for saying he chose to start Haren, while sitting right next to him, because he pitches in a city near the All-Star city. He said if the game had been in Cleveland, he would've started C.C. "DeVille Wasn't In Black" Sabbath-ia, etc. Good to know he's picking by region instead of performance.... (He lucked out, as Haren actually was the best at the break.)

Oh, and I guess the reason we had two ASGs in a row in NL cities is so that they can get the game in at Yankee Stadium next year, in it's last godforsaken season. Should've known the answer to my query would be: "to appease the Yankees."

One minor nerdy baseball card update. Actually, this is one rung below that--baseball stickers. First some quick background. In '81, Topps introduced the Sticker Album. You'd buy packs of stickers, and put them in your album. I loved this as a five-year old, and completed the whole thing. (Even then I noticed the egregious error on the cover--George Brett batting right-handed. I guess their "excuse" was that his team logos were airbrushed out. With no lettering, they assumed he was a righty and let the photo go out reversed.) Anyway, after a few years, the "sticker book" concept had grown stale. After "gold foil" stickers and stickers that made up pieces of a larger photo when placed side-by-side, there was nowhere left to go. Then in 1987, my friends and I all got a letter in the mail from a company called "Panini," advertisig their new baseball sticker book. They may have even proclaimed themselves the official sticker of Little League, and maybe that's how they got to us, through the master Little League World Domination mailing list. For whatever reason, my friends and I, now in middle school, became addicted in sticker collecting again. Recently, I found this on the internet, while Gedman-hunting:

This is the year [1987] that Topps switched from the soft paper stickers, as made for them since 1981 by the Italian company Panini, to the "hardback" card stock issue.... Following this "test" year, The Topps 1988-1990 stickers were produced with hardbacks.

So after 20 years, I finally see what went on. Panini got the shaft from Topps, and found themselves with a big, empty, sticker-making factory. We'll make our own fucking book, they said. That's why '88 was their first year. And I have to say, they kicked Topps' ass. Then we all went to high school.

Check out the videos up at Jason's blog (he's back from blog-hiatus!). Really interesting speeches from war veterans.

In case you missed it, my mom and I are writing a book. Should be fun. See the press release right below this. Thanks.

Hall of Fame Press to Publish Red Sox Mystery

[Note: Book is called Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery and is available now.]

Hall of Fame Press is proud to announce that it will be publishing in 2008 a Red Sox mystery authored by acclaimed mystery novelist Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and her son Jere Smith. For Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, it will be her 10th book and will feature the return of Rocky Patel, the Boston homicide detective who first appeared in her novel SHE SMILED SWEETLY. Jere Smith is a fourth-generation Red Sox fan and first-generation Red Sox blogger. This book is the first in a planned series of baseball mysteries to be written by the Smiths and published by Hall of Fame Press.


Mary-Ann Tirone Smith has published nine books since 1985. Following the success of her acclaimed memoir, GIRLS OF TENDER AGE, which NPR named one of “The Year's Best Books: Mystery and Nonfiction,” she welcomes a return to mystery, and to Boston cop Rocky Patel. Smith is currently working on a Civil War novel and one of her main characters is Captain Abner Doubleday, First United States Artillery, Fort Sumter, 1860-1861, who may have invented baseball after all. She has lived in Connecticut all her life except for the two years she served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Cameroon.


Jere Smith spent the first 29 years of his life in the one county in New England that gets the Yankees on TV, but not the Red Sox. He’s got a 10-game plan at Fenway and regularly travels to watch the Sox in other cities. In 2005, he moved to Manhattan where he wore his Sox cap proudly, and worked with the elderly. He’s written about the Red Sox on his own time since April 2004 on his blog, “A Red Sox Fan from Pinstripe Territory” (letsgosox.blogspot.com). He recently moved to the Boston area, where he has fulfilled his life-long dream of getting to see the Red Sox on TV every night.


Dan Doyle, Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for International Sport (www.internationalsport.com) at the University of Rhode Island, conceived Hall of Fame Press with the objective of publishing high-quality sport-themed books. “Mary-Ann Tirone Smith is one of the most respected mystery writers in America,” Doyle said. “The Red Sox mystery will be the first in what we plan to be a series of annual baseball mysteries written by the Smiths. One of the many exciting aspects of this announcement is the notion of an annual ‘rite of summer’ in the form of a first-rate baseball mystery. The series will bring much joy to thousands of baseball fans and other readers. It will also be great fun to see which franchise Mary-Ann chooses each summer as the base for that summer’s mystery.”


Hall of Fame Press is also exploring similar series in the sports of basketball and football.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Sox Bite Jays' Butts Through A Sheet

I still don't know who to blame on that play where Coco got caught off third. They never showed a replay and we were watching in a bar with no sound on the TV. How does DeMarlo allow that? But maybe Coco was just assuming there'd be a throw to first. Either way, we could've had more than four that inning, and because we didn't, we had to do a little sweating.

We ended up holding the lead, and opening it up on a play almost missed by the world. After a play that should have been the third out had the first baseman not come off the bag to allow Pedroia to reach, NESN cut to commercial. The weird thing was, even if it had been the third out, shouldn't they have waited for the end-of-inning music and linescore to come up before hitting the button? So I'm sitting there, knowing the game's going on, yet I'm watching commercials. And losing my mind over it. (Adding insult to injury, it was one of those local commercials that blows your eardrums out.) A second, then a third ad comes on. I call my dad in Connecticut to see if this is a local problem. He answers the phone with "Isn't this unbelievable?" Yes. That's what I said. Right after that, the game's back. We're barely able to look at the count, which is 1-2 on Ortiz, before Papi launches one to center for a run-scoring double. Someone needs to be fired over this. And if they'd missed the double--entire staff, fired!

TJ by that Bartman in left, interfering with Manny's could've-been-catch.

Interesting how Lugo is not only hitting the ball, but that's he's starting to get breaks. A single on the play mentioned above where Crisp was thrown out, and then called safe on the grounder where the Jays' skipper argued. On the first replay, I saw the tag made, then moved my eyes down to Lugo's foot, only to see lots of space between it and the bag. Remy and Orsillo missed this, saying it was inconclusive from all angles.

Funny moment when Lowell got the ball in the on deck circle, went to a Yankee fan guy, held the ball out, and at the last second, gave it to a little kid instead. Great job by the guy for laughing about it, and even switching hats with the Red Sox fan kid next to him in a second attempt to get the ball. (Although it was a TJ by the kid to put the Yankee hat on! Give him your Sox hat for the purpose of the joke, fine, but no need to put on his Yankee hat.) (And yes, I could give my old speech about how only a Yankee fan would be so quick to put on a rival hat for, well, for anything, but this was a funny moment, so, whatever....)

Now we've got Oka doing a nice job, and Pap in for the ninth as I type. Below, a test of the new Blogger video (thanks for the heads-up, Laura). Looks like it works. This is video I shot of our cats, who are named after a horrorpunk-turned-metal singer, and a character with a bit part in a Pee-Wee Herman movie. Enjoy (click play button at bottom):

video

And Wells lines out. We win. Manny, for his sweet toss-out of Frank Thomas, on top of a nice offensive day, is Jere's Player of the Game.

Error by other people update: I just watched the Red Sox highlights on ESPN. The anchor said that the Red Sox had the "biggest division lead in baseball at the All-Star break, ten games over the Yankees." The second place team in the AL East at the break was the Toronto Blue Jays. Their winning percentage was .494253, while the Yanks' was a mere .494118. This isn't Billy's Backyard Sports Beat, it's ESPN. How could they ever get something like that wrong? Terrible job.

Post title update: Improved title of this post, from the unintentionally dirtier and wordier "Sox Bite Jays' Butts As The Struggle Under A Sheet." TJ by me on the original title.

Still Defending Pedro In '07

A bunch of anti-Pedro-ness has invaded my senses lately. A few weekends ago, I was in NYC and WFAN was celebrating their birthday by playing all kinds of old audio clips. One was of caller-turned-host Joe Benigno. Joe's a Met fan, and after the 2003 ALCS, he was as mad as any normal, non-Yankee-fan person would've been at the time. But in this old clip from right after the Grady Little incident, Joe was screaming (literally) about how Pedro should never be mentioned in the same breath as the greats because he "spit the bit" in that game. First of all, he didn't know he'd be staying in the game. Second of all, I still say he pitched well (and I seem to be the one Sox fan who will still admit to this day that I would have stuck with him, too) in that eighth inning. Posada's "double" was the bloopiest, Yankiest hit you can get. And everyone says Matsui hit a good pitch on his liner to right. Pedro pitched a good game. Nobody even remembers that was a Pedro vs. Rocket game, because Roger was gone in the fourth inning. Mo Rivera pitched as many innings in that game as Roger did.

The point of playing that clip was that Joe was super-pissed at Pedro, but then his team got Pedro. (After Pedro pitched the Sox to the World Series victory that next year. I never did hear what Joe had to say about that stuff....)

Right after that clip show ended, another show came on, hosted by a woman whose name I can't recall. (By process of elimination, it's probably Lori Rubinson, but don't hold me to that.) She was talking about her "My Jerk Theory": You hate a jerky player until he's on your team. This woman is also a Met fan. One of her examples of "My Jerk" was Pedro. "I used to hate Pedro--this was the guy who threw down Don Zimmer!" Whoa, ginga. Pedro was attacked by Zimmer. Zimmer has admitted it. Video proves it. Pedro grabbed that gerbil's head in self-defense and altered his path like a bomb knocking a big, fat, ancient asteroid out of its orbit. Now, I will grant you this, and I said it the day it happened (Pat can vouch for me): Even before I knew Pedro's move was justified, I thought, That was the single coolest thing I've ever seen in my life. But it turned out Pedro was proven to have acted in self-defense. That shouldn't be forgotten. Fox's camera angle was unfortunate. In regular speed it seems like Pedro is going after the gerb'. But we all know the truth, so let's start telling the truth. But I'm even more mad that a Mets fan is saying this! What kind of Mets fan defends a Yankee against any of their rivals? What is that? It may be that breed of Met fan who's "pro-New York" as a city, and therefore hates Boston. TJ by those people. We should all be united in our hatred of the Yankees.

That Zimmer thing came up again a few days ago, on one of those Best Damn Top 50 Moments of Whatever, on Fox Sports. They started describing it by showing a fake newspaper story of the event, which was dated November 11th, 2003. So that gives you an idea of the quality of the show. They proceeded to show it as it aired that day, complete with McCarver crying about what a travesty it was--again, before we knew what really happened. Did this show say, "But, we learned that Zimmer had charged Pedro like a drunken bull..." Of course not? They led a whole new group of casual fans to believer that Pedro is some evil guy, when he's really a fun-lovin', wacky guy who happens to be the best pitcher of his generation.

And next time someone tells you about how Pedro "hit two Yankees in a row, sending them both to the hospital," show them this:

"Soriano struck out; Jeter was hit by a pitch;"

If Soriano feels the need to send for an ambulance after striking out, that's his prerogative. And if Jeter, who practically holds his hands in the strike zone, wants to go to the hospital after half-swinging at a ball, having it hit his hand, and playing the field the next inning, again, it's his call.

Candy-Coated Uniformity

Did you know I never got to play baseball with a button-down jersey? My generation really got screwed on that one.

I started with T-ball in '82. From then until '85, we just got a T-shirt to wear with our jeans. Starting with "AAA" when I was nine, and all the way through high school, we got the full uniform--jersey, pants, and stirrups. But the jersey was always the pullover kind. You know why this was? Because that style was all the rage in the seventies. By the time youth leagues "caught up" with "the times," the majors were starting to go back to the classic button-down uniforms.

I remember in the 80s seeing the Brady Bunch episode where they showed Greg playing high school ball. Oh, how we laughed--"Look, it's the old, 60s button-down jersey with piping!" Little did we know that within a few years all the big league teams would be back to the buttons.

Granted, there are things I like about that era. The baby blues that a lot of teams wore were classic. And this was my favorite time in history--late 70s, early 80s. Those unis were the face of that era. So what am I complaining about? I guess I want the best of both worlds. If we could've kept up with the times, instead of being two steps behind, I would've had the pullover in the 80s, and the buttons in the early 90s when I was in high school.

At least I always got to wear stirrups. This current sock-fad is going to end soon. People are already going back to the stirrups, and considering we had those from the 1910s until a few years ago, I have a feeling they'll be right back after these messages.

So, was this jersey thing just a northeast thing or a rural thing? If any of you played baseball in the late-80s and got to wear buttons, let me know.

This candy bar commercial is what got me thinking about this. It's a classic song, and I searched for it and found a version. In this one, from around the early 80s, you see a Little League team, decked out like it's the 60s. Or, should I say, anytime before the 70s or after the 80s.... But getting back to the jingle--it's one of my favorites. Too bad the little birthday girl and the waiter sing some of the lines. But the dynamic moment in this song, to me, is when they hit the word "want" in "any time you want delicious chocolate." It just takes it to the next level. There's almost a sadness to it. Are they trying to convey the melancholy of all the mom 'n' pop chocolate shops going by the wayside? (I also happen to be reading "Candy Freak" right now....) I mean, they cut to the Native American right after that. Come on. He's representing the candy-makers of the past, while his more-naive-than-native son chomps on the addicting, white-man's sugar bar his generation will grow up with. Right? Yeah, I know, the dad's chomping away more furiously than the boy. That's 'cuz they starved him! Also, the violin or cello hit on the third syllable of "delicious"--great stuff.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

27

More on Fisk. I just noticed he used to have his number written on his right stirrup. Here are two different shots, one with a small 27 and one with a larger 27 that might even be in the regular Red Sox number-font:


Pics courtesy SI and the Hall of Fame. And that's all I've got for now. Interestingly enough, even though I noticed this the other day, a conversation arose in today's Uniwatch comments about...Fisk's stirrups. Something else, not the number.

Knees Buckle

Looks like it's been about a year Ortiz' knee has been bothering him. What'd I say, a year and half since he's run out a grounder? Okay, so I was a little off. David, you can loaf it anytime though the end of 2007--whatever it takes to stay healthy from 2008 on. (What's Lowell's excuse?) Let's all pray to our personal deities and non-deities that Papi makes it through this season.

As reported (in her way) on the best PawSox blog, Clay "Double H" Buchholz has been promoted to the Isle of Rhode.

All-Star Game '07

How am I supposed to tell what color the players are??

When I was little, we used to watch the introduction of the starting lineups at the All-Star Game, carefully noting how the white guys, after doffing their caps, put them back on front to back, while the black guys put them on back to front. This year, nobody doffed! That is, except for one Dodger, who, in the face of Giant-fan boos, held his hat high in the air. Other than him, it was a hand wave or a brim-touch. Between this and the non-stirrup style, I don't know how much longer I can watch this sport for....

A guy on the local pre-game show said "There's nothing New Yorkers hate more than happy baseball fans in Boston." Why can't they just say "Yankee fans"? There are plenty of New Yorkers who love to see happy baseball fans in Boston: 1. The Red Sox fans who live there. 2. The Mets fans who live there. 3. The non-baseball fans there. Those three groups cover about 80 percent of the city. Remember, Bostonians, some of the biggest Yankee-haters are the folks who are surrounded by the interlocking arachnid.

Is it just me or did Chris Isaak switch the words "fight" and "night" in the national anthem? And with Paula Cole doing "God Bless America," I'm wondering if some promises weren't made in the nineties:

Giants' president: "Okay, is Fallout Boy or whoever ready?"

Chris Isaak: "Uh, hold on a second. You told me 10 years ago that if you ever got an All-Star game in this town, I'd sing the anthem! I've got a contract!"

Prez: "Shit. Boys, he's got a contract. There's nothing we can do."

Prez's assistant: "Well, what about 'God Bless America'?"

Paula Cole: "Oh, boys...."

All: "Shit."

Papi did his usual jog down to first in the first inning, yet, on a play in which the second baseman literally could've beaten Papi to the bag, the first baseman dropped the throw. Thought that was kinda funny.

Ol' Jimmy Timmy McCarver had never heard the term "busking" until tonight. I admit, I was in a bad and I never hear of it until around 2000, I think. But J.T.'s much older than me--he gets a T.J. for that one. (Then again, I didn't know McCarver's first name was really James until tonight.)

It was cool to see the first All-Star inside-the-park homer tonight. Reminds me of when I saw the first All-Star grand slam, by Fred Lynn, in 1983. If you've been reading this blog for less than a year, here's the story of one of my favorite baseball memories: I was seven years old, and my family was staying, as usual, at the Heritage Motor Inn in Old Saybrook, CT. Our room either didn't have a TV, or didn't get the station that the All-Star Game was airing on. So my dad took us to the main house, where the owner, Si, and his wife lived. Dad asked if we could watch the game with him. Si (whose name may have been spelled C-Y, but, as a kid I always pictured it as S-I) said yes, and we got to see our beloved Fred Lynn hit the first ever ASG grand slam, in an AL rout, the league's first win of my lifetime. (Wasn't Fred Lynn on the Angels at that point, Jere? Yes, but Fred Lynn will always be a Red Sox.)

As I write this sentence, the AL closes the door, despite K-Rod nearly choking. If we get to the World Series, Game 1 will be at Fenway.

As the second half begins, I'm dreaming of October playoff nights. That time is so fun when your team's in it. The Red Sox' last win in the post-season? October 27th, 2004. We need to end that little (*snicker*) drought. So we better get in, and get some (read: 11) wins.

The anti-gun people who always have the huge ads on the Pike right behind the Monster have a new ad up. It's written in ransom note-style, like the banner of this blog: "We have your president and Congress -- NRA" Nice. I like it. Guns are the "pitchers batting" of real life.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

'naries

JoS posted his personal baseball glossary today. It's fun to see people's terms and phrases grouped and explained. You've got some that are totally personal to them, some that came from message boards, and some that everybody's just kinda always said. Like, any Seinfeld fan surely heard of Yankee pitcher Scott Proctor for the first time and immediately called him "The Assman." I know I did.

I should do my own version of this someday. Anytime I can get that Richie Sexson nickname out there.... (Richie Sexson = Rickey Genderson) Oh, and Brian Bruney = The Goose! As in goose-stepping (because he's a Nazi). And being a reliever. Who's not nearly as good as the old Goose. Anyway....

This brings me to another online dictionary I discovered last night. First, some background. To me, there's nothing better, let's just say, "in the world," than walking into an establishment and seeing a Ms. Pac-Man arcade game. It has to be Ms., it has to be fast, and it has to be real--not this 20th anniversary version--trust me, it's not quite the same. A mega-bonus if it's the "sit-down" style, but that's quite rare. I'm not about to tempt fate by wishing any place, even an actual arcade, has a sit-down.

When I met Brian in the late 90s, he started talking about "playing Ms. Pac-Man," as if it was something he was doing then. Not 15 years earlier, while on vacation in Atlantic City, like me, but that day. I said, "Wait a minute, they still have those machines somewhere?" The only place I could think of that would have had them would be arcades, but last I'd checked, all the Pac-Mans and Q-Berts and Donkey Kongs had been replaced by games where you're actually shooting people with guns, or driving in little cars, or, and I still don't get this one, dancing.

Brian explained that not only do some arcades still have the old games (like the place he'd worked, "What's Your Game?", in Bridgeport--and here I was getting jobs at supermarkets), but that Pizza Hut restaurants regularly carry the game....

...and there was one down the street from where we both worked, at the time, in Danbury. So my life changed. Changed back, actually, to a life where playing Ms. Pac-Man wasn't some vague memory.

Soon, we'd started a band and named it The Pac-Men, although I still say it should've been the Ms. Pac-Men. But I guess the thought was that everyone would think we were transvestites, so we kept the male name for a band of four males. We were also coming up with little phrases that described moves in the video game, as we also had moved in together and were constantly eating cheese bread sticks and playing Ms. Pac-Man, often having to wait for some schlub who was waiting for a pizza and decided to pop in a quarter, only to die three times at a point well before Brian or I would've even come close to dying once.

I was naming moves after him, he was naming moves after me. We were both naming moves after Charles Nelson Riley and Rip Torn. We'd even discovered on the newfangled internet that back in the early 80s, some equally geeky video game players had written a virtual thesis on the tricks and hints of the game. A "cruise elroy"--a term of unknown origin--was the name they gave to the moment when Blinky, the red ghost, gets an extra burst of speed toward the end of a board. I even gave myself that nickname when The Pac-Men put out our first 7-inch. (That's a record. A record is a...oh, forget it.) So if anyone wants to call me "Cruise Elroy," feel free, but it didn't catch on then, and it probably won't now.

Brian ended up, I believe, finally topping 1 million points, and having the board go all screwy on him. My best remains at 339,630. I'm still kind of ashamed I never at least made it to the half-million mark. I feel like I always have too many stupid mistakes. Oh well.

So last night, I discovered that some people on GooTube have been putting up videos of their Ms. Pac-Man games. One girl seems like quite the expert. However, it seems like these people are all referring to the "slow" Ms. Pac-Man. (Earlier I said "it has to be fast." There are some versions of the game where Ms. travels a little faster, while the ghosts stay the same speed. This is what Brian and I have always played. If we see a "slow," we just walk the other way.) It's almost like "slow" is the way to go in this modern age. I even found a glossary of terms (I got to the point!) called "The Pactionary," which claims that the fast Ms. Pac-Man is "a charlatan's game." Bullcrap! And on their little list, there's no Cruise Elroy, no Charles Nelson Riley, no Rip Torn.... It's almost like they're trying too hard to be cool, and trying to sound like those stupid sex terms. A "dirty handless"? Come on. That's got no place in the Pac-World. Terrible job, new, slow, Ms. Pac-Man players.

Amat Baseball

Tonight, I watched the Home Run Derby. Or as I call it, The Really, Really, Really, Really, Really Long Home Run Derby. That "Bronx is Burning" show was supposed to start at 10, but it didn't get going until after 11. Any ESPN-made mini-series isn't going to be of the highest quality. But despite it's cheesy theme song, and the terrible jobs they did with the players' stirrups and the right field corner of Fenway Park, I guess it was pretty--well, I wouldn't say "good," but I made it through part one. Still deciding if I'll make a point to watch part two.

Seriously, those stirrups that I grew up with--are they such ancient history that it's a painstaking effort to even come close to capturing "the look" of them? It's as if there are no existing pictures of them, so they went to nursing homes to interview people to find out what these mysterious things looked like. First mistake: It looked like they were painted on. Second mistake: The white showing underneath was just too wide at the top. The stirrups were closer to upside-down digital U's than to, uh, upside-down non-digital U's. Third mistake: They were the exact same height on every player. I imagine some non-baseball fan costume designer studying just Reggie Jackson's uniform from one picture, and then making every single uniform to those exact specs. "Oh my god, there are these weird black lines painted onto white socks!" In reality, Mickey Rivers showed a lot of black below the pants, while other guys had only the sides of the stirrups showing. You did have the option to wear the stirrups how you wanted--they weren't surgically implanted....

I understand Reggie wasn't too pleased with how he was portrayed in the series. I guess the actor wasn't arrogant or pompous enough.

Oh right, the HR Derby. I always like watching this, but this year's wasn't nearly as good as some past derbies. I wanted to see balls flying out to the waiting kayakers in the cove. But only two or three balls went out there. After the first round, all the lefties were out anyway. Terrible. I also don't like the constant music. One of the best parts of baseball is the crowd reaction. Anticipation. The crack of the bat, the slightest pause, and then, with the realization that the ball is going a long way, an explosion of sound. And in a competition like this, those roars and buildups can carry a hitter. But if all you hear is music, it ruins the whole damn thing. If people won't go to the park if they don't get their stupid circus show, screw 'em. But a businessman would never say "screw 'em" to potential customers. (This is why they say the money is the root of all evil--because nothing's immune to its influence. i.e. It effs up everything that's sacred.)

There was one memorable moment, when Papi brought a new bat out for Vlad Guerrero while he was hitting--in a huge wooden case. Not exactly "Wonder Boy," but fun nonetheless.

I also accidentally caught some of the celebrity softball game, and saw a great moment. Dave Winfield hit a little foul pop straight back--and the catcher, Paul Giamatti, turned, took a step back, reached up, and caught it. A dream play if I ever saw one: A classic Yankee hitting an eight-foot high popup to the son of a Sox fan who isn't even a ballplayer. In softball.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Naturalistic As Hell

Another good thing about having Bailey on the Sox: As I've said before, Glenn Geffner's voice and tone remind me of the Knights' announcer in The Natural. One of the Knights was named Bailey. ("Bump" Bailey, played by Mr. Blonde himself.) How crazy would it be if Geffner was announcing and Bailey went through a wall?

I'd also like to ask WEEI or WRKO or whoever's in charge, if they're reading, to STOP playing Jon Sterling Yankee home run calls during Red Sox games. If you must play positive Yankee highlights, maybe try to get the other team's call for a change.

It's 86 in Worcester. 66 here in the Boston area. Can I get a summer, please?

"Professionals"

This weekend on EEI, one of the hosts said it's looking like the Red Sox will be going into the playoffs as the fourth seed. I thought, Hmmm, I know we're pretty close to the best record in the league, but I haven't looked at the full standings in a few days--maybe the Angels, Tigers, and Indians all passed us during our mini-slump. But, I thought, even if they did, it couldn't be by much.

So I checked it just now. Best record in the AL. Best record in baseball. The team with the best record still gets the top seed, right? Or has the rule changed to "team with most radio hosts covering them who don't know what they're talking about" gets the lowest seed?

Something else I heard on that station, involving two hosts talking about the All-Star Game:

Host 1: But shouldn't the leagues try to get the best players in there?

Host 2: No, because the game means nothing.

Host 1 (rightfully mocking the current policy): Yeah, but "this one counts."

Host 2 (in all-knowing voice) No it doesn't.

Uh, hello? We all know how stupid it is that the winner of what's supposed to be an exhibition gets home field advantage in the World Series, but that's the way it is right now! Again, I didn't miss a rule change, did I?

Another thing I'm hearing a lot lately is people calling for Manny to hit ahead of Ortiz. Whenever it's suggested, no one ever notes how this is how it used to be. In fact, I've even heard people debate whether Ortiz would be as good as he's been these last few years were he not hitting ahead of Manny--without mentioning that he used to hit behind him.

In '03, he wasn't hitting 3rd or 4th, as Nomar was in the 3 spot, with Manny 4. So he was always behind Manny then, and he hit 31 homers, with his avg., OBP, and slugging comparable to his '06 numbers. In '04, he mainly hit 3rd, ahead of Manny, but they were flip-flopped in August. His average did drop after the move, but his OBP went up. He stayed in the cleanup spot in 2005, until mid-May, when the two switched spots again, to where they still are two years later. His numbers improved after that switch, but of course they're going to be better with a hitter like Manny behind him. I wouldn't say without Manny there he's "just another hitter," though. But I'm less concerned with that than I am with the fact that nobody at least mentions that Ortiz has spent plenty of time hitting behind Manny.

Tavarez Mania/First Half Mini-Update

Get your Tavarez T-shirt here.

The first "half" is over. While this Tigers series was frustrating, I'm very happy with where the Sox are right now. It's so funny to hear people on sports radio saying, "If it weren't for this and this and this...." Yeah? Then what? We'd be 20 games up instead of 10? What more do you want out of these guys? I take all the bad things (yes, I am guilty of complaining about stuff....) and say, We're 10 up despite that.

We've got six guys going to the All-Star Game. Granted, we've got some guys who'd be voted into the Terrible Job Game if it existed. But the good is clearly outweighing the bad, with only one direction for the bad to go. My prediction for the second half? Awesomeness.

There is no break here at RSF/PT. I'll be spewing out useful and useless facts and opinion at the normal rate. And I'm sure I'll mention Freddy Lynn at least once in these next three days. Also, there may be some surprises. But there's always the chance for those.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

And The Rest

Instead of constantly resting just enough guys to lose games, why don't we just forfeit, say, four games a year? That way, all these guys (who get paid millions of dollars to do this job) can get their (extra) rest, and we all don't have to sit through frustrating games. We'll just take the four losses, and play at full strength the rest of the time. Deal?

I heard today that a Buehrle trade was "imminent." Then I heard the White Sox re-signed him.

Bailey (pictured) got his first hit, a home run. Nice job. As Phil Conners once said, 10, 9, 8, car, 6, 5, quarters, 3, 2....

26 Inning Day

That Yankee loss was so key today. For them to go 13 innings, only to lose and find themselves 11.5 back, makes a big difference. If they'd won, they'd have had serious momentum, and possibly more going into the break with another win tomorrow, especially if we got swept in Detroit. The loss means we clinch being 10 up on them (and everyone else) at the break, with them having at most a 1-game winning streak. Also, I love how another Clemens gem is wasted. Beautiful.

However, the plan was not for us to lose a 13-inning game of our own! Tito has me so confused. If our main goal is to get to the break healthy (as proven by all the resting and keeping guys out longer than necessary to play it safe), why the hell are we keeping Okajima in for a third inning? At that I said Bring in Timlin, if we lose, so what, at least we keep Okajima healthy. We did that, an inning late, but then Tito went as far as pinch hitting Youk. I don't know what's goin' on.

But seeing those Tiger fans all excited, as if it were a playoff game (they're fighting for first right now), made me realize that it could be bad that we'll be playing so many meaningless games. Will these guys even remember what pressure is if we win the division by 10 games and suddenly find ourselves in a tense playoff series? Hopefully, our "rest" will be an advantage over teams that had to claw their way into the postseason.

What the hell was that chef of shit pies, Shef, doing when he crossed the plate? Was he kicking dirt at our dugout? I'm just gonna assume he was. Hey, I wondering if that choking cowchip will keep his mouth shut should the Tigers have a 3-0 lead in the ALCS this season?

Great job by everybody who pitched for us tonight. And Coco--so close on that last play, but, hey, 11 games up....

So, as the Twins scored 32 runs on Friday, a day after capping off their crap-tastic performance in The Bronx, I thought about how often that happens. It seems like every team that goes in there (as I've said since, like, '80) plays with jaws agape, or as my dad's always said, they "lay down and die" for the Yanks. But not only that, they leave town and turn into adults again, beating whoever it is they play, with the confidence you get from not being in that big, loud, sca-a-a-ry toilet shaped/smelling stadium. So I looked it up. I was keeping track in my head as I went through the schedule, so don't blame me if I'm off by a little bit, but I found that this year, teams are 7-1 in games immediately following a series loss to the Yanks in The Bronx. They get out of there, breathe a sigh of relief, and go on about their business.

The one team that lost their next game was Texas, but within a week of that, they lost a series at home to the Yanks, then won their next three games. (Must've been the mere sight of pinstripes that got 'em that time....)

With the addition of Bailey, our team is looking more and more like the cast of WKRP. Bailey, Lester (Les), Drew (Andy), Ortiz (The Big Guy)....

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