Saturday, August 18, 2007

How Many Games Is Our Lead, Manny?

"This many."

Went to game one today, and it was sweet. Got lots of pics, many of which I still haven't looked at myself. Above, Manny with his headphones on. More about that game, and more pics, to come.

Tonight, we had friends come in from out of town. So I got to do the really rare thing of missing the entire game and then checking the score later. (You know you're having a great time when you don't even think about what's going on baseball-wise all night.) So I only just got the news that Eric Gagne once again pitched like Greg Gagne, ruining what should've been a sweep. And the Yanks won, so we're right back to 5. After the feeling we all had leaving game one, I would not have thought we'd be any less than 6 up right now. But 5 is better than 4. We're still gold. I'll be at Saturday night's game. Weaver spinnin' the wheel of fish against Schilling.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

They Lose

Yanks lose 8-5. Another bad one from Mussina. Every one of their starters is capable of completely crapping the bed. We're 5.5 up. I'm at Fenway for the day game Friday.

BucHHolz

I got up this morning, still hoping against hope that Buchholz would be called up to pitch game one tomorrow, as I'll be attending the game. Nope, still Beckett, with the game two starter undecided. But I kept willing it to happen. And a few hours later, word came in that Double-H is coming up, and is pitching game one. Solid gold. At least, for now. Things could change still.

I have good luck seeing major league or Fenway or Red Sox debuts. Abe Alvarez, Jon Lester, Dice, Hansack, uh....Kelly Shoppach. I'll have to make a complete list one day.

So, with Double-H coming up for game one, and Ellsbury then taking his spot for game two, where does this leave Wily Mo? DFA'd is where it leaves him. Maybe. I still haven't heard official word on this, though at least one site is linking to an article that says "could" and then turning that into "will be." Somebody's gotta go, and it'll probably be him. You know, the other day, I thought, Maybe they're not ready to give up on Wily Mo--maybe they've got some radical plan. This team (unlike me) is just so sure that he can be good, maybe they're gonna hold onto him at all costs. And I thought, If they keep him after all this, we're all gonna have to get behind the guy anyway, so we might as well jump on board. Then, the next morning, Wily Mo said "I want to be traded." And I was right back to where I started with the guy. So, whatever, get him out. Hopefully the bag of magic beans somebody gives us for him will be better then the beans he turned out to be.

This will be a nice test. All these other teams will have a chance to trade someone for him. He stunk as a Red and we traded an experienced pitcher for him. He stunk with us, and now we'll see if anyone will say, Sure, take this really good dude for him, we know Wily Mo will be great--we just have to suck it up and play the guy every single day. I just can't see any team giving us anything at all, let alone anyone good, to get Wily Mo. We will see what happens.

Oh, and apparently, if you donate money to charity, you can cheat at your job and get away with it.

Also, San Diego and some other new cities are now in "street view." I just started strolling around SD. Haven't seen cousin Kara yet, but I did find this right away. What kind of robots is that guy building? Update: Dog taking shit on lawn.

Infomania!

I've noticed two infomercials lately that have brought back some memories...of infomercials of the past. I'd like to call the 90s the "golden age of infomercials," but I think that's just the decade in which I stayed up the latest...

But there were some classics. The Tom Wu ones, the twin midgets, Ron Popeil, Deal-a-Meal and Sweatin' to the Oldies, both with Richard Simmons, the Ginsu Knife, the thing that shrink-wrapped your food, the dozens of music ones from different eras and genres, freakin' Pearl Cream.... Many of these were parodied on SNL--so maybe it really was the golden age. If I sat here and thought about it, I could come up with a lot more. But I'll save that for another day. For now, I want to talk about two infomercials whose participants are back in the infomersh biz....

The obvious one I'm talking about is Kevin Trudeau. This guy is currently doing the infomercial for these Natural Cures books. The guy is well-known for having been in trouble with the law. Man, those books look shady. I totally agree that the medical community keeps people sick to sell more drugs, but at the same time, if I was really sick, I wouldn't just blindly hitch my wagon to Trudeau's star. I can see how vulnerable seniors would be sucked in by his voice, though. And if you listen closely, you'll hear his Mass. accent. (A quick check of wikipedia proves it--he's from Lynn.)

But what I remember Trudeau from is the Mega-Memory System. Remember? The premise of the infomercial was that Trudeau was appearing on the real-life (I think) "Danny Bonaduce Show." There was a cheesy band and everything. Danny was totally amazed by Trudeau--who told us that we all had a photographic memory that we just needed to "untap." He came out and had completely memorized the names of audience members. Then he had the crowd come up with 15 random words, which he repeated back. One, I remember, was "hamhock," and another was a phone number. Kevin would say "Number 1, of course, was hamhock, number two, of course, was 555-2368," or whatever. I was on to his little scheme of stalling by throwing in "of course"s.

So that's what happened to ol' Kevin. But what about the smug man who told you that if you placed tiny classified ads in over 300 newspapers across the country, you'd never have to work again? Hey, he did it, and it worked--then he made even more money telling you what to put in your ad! (Lemme guess, a number to call which told people to place more ads--for what? Well, you're just gonna have to call the number in that ad! And so on, and so on...)

I'll tell you what happened to that guy. He's back, and now he's telling you that if work four hours a week from home selling "our terrific product," and do $550 in sales, they'll give you "up to $12,000 a month OR MORE." I love it. Up to....or more. Which is it, guy? But he doesn't appear in the ad. You just hear his voice telling you to pick up the phone and call...right now. Then it cuts to a girl who's totally not on a sweet desert island, but she is in front of a looping video of a beach, and she does have a fan blowing on her. She repeats the rules of the game, and reiterates that you need to pick up the phone and call...right now. Then we see real tales of regular, hideous Americans who get checks in the mail for sitting on their butts.

"Pay to the order of...up to 12,000 and 00/100 or more."

So that's what happened to that guy, though I don't know his name. I wonder if his two late-night stints also sandwiched jailtime.

This post wouldn't be complete without a mention of the cream of the current crop--"Hot Springs Village!" Eric Estrada has a new job. Selling YOU real estate in various warm-weather climes. Take a free trip down there, you'll see what your life is definitely missing. Old? Tired? Cold? Move to a gated community in the southeast while you slowly become a memory to your dot-com-job-havin' children as they pop out baby after myspace-surfin' baby in an area where all the black people have been pushed out to make room for coffee shops with mildly clever names.

Past areas Estrada has promoted include "Palm Coast!" and some other Florida ones. Palm Coast was the first one I remember, and seriously, I almost bought some land. It's like five bucks a pop. Buy an acre and build later! When Ponch talks, I tend to listen. He's quite convincing. Somebody make me change the channel before I find myself knee-deep in Arkansas real estate!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Another Crazy Day

We come all the way back from a 6-0 defecit to make it 6-5. Man on second, none out. Pedroia up with Youk and Papi behind him. You bunt. Right? Definitely, you bunt. Bunt. B-U-N-T. Only option. Would make it man on third, one out, sac fly ties it. Again, with Youk and Papi coming up. Pedroia does bunt the first pitch, but it goes foul.

And then they take off the bunt! That was the moment it was determined we deserved to lose. You have to bunt in that situation. End of story. We're trying to win the World Seires, right? Or are we shooting for worst team in baseball? It doesn't seem clear to me.

And during all this, I'm having DOUBLE heart attacks, as the effin' Orioles have a 3-0 lead with tow outs in the ninth, and that psychopathic ghoul, Shelley Duncan, hits a game-tying homer.

Fortunately, the O's get three MORE in the 10th, off the great Mariano. As I type, they're one out away from the win, with A-Rod up.

...

Here's the Joy of Sox comment thread where you can see how everything happened at once.

A-Rod singles, two out, one on for Mat-screwy. What another crazy day. Both teams looked dead, then it looked like the Yanks would gain on us. Then it looked like both would pull one out of their asses against bad teams. And now--RIGHT NOW--Matsui ends it, Yanks LOSE!--it turns out both teams lost, but gave their fans crazy hope, only to disappoint. You know my take on this--because Yankee fans had to go through that, I'll take it! (Bonus, they were TIED with a chance to win, AND had Mo on the mound. Great day.) 5 games up.

Dayseball

Sox and Yanks both play at 1:05 today. We've got Dice vs. some Constantine Emporer, and they've got Huggies vs. the O's ace, Birdy Bedard.

Commenter and back-to-back Quiz champ AJM told me about this. Former Red Sox curmudgeon Jose "Opera Man" Offerman has gone bye-bye. The Long Island Duck (yes, he's still playing baseball) attacked a Bridgeport Bluefish pitcher with his bat after being hit by a pitch in the leg. It's never good for your career when you get arrested at work.

Chan gave me this. It's a pretty funny call by Rizzuto during a lightning storm, from the 8/24/1974 Yanks-Angels game at Shea.

Son Of A Sarge

So I'm sittin' there, in the eighth inning, thinkin', I know a team that needs a magical, walk-off win that sends them hurtling toward the playoffs. That team's name, my friends, was the Red Sox of Boston town. And Lowell comes through in the ninth, tying it up. Then Jason and Coco get the winning run home. Fun.

What a great win on the night of Lester's return to Fenway. And what a great job Jon Simon Richie Lester did.

Yanks lose, 12-0, so we're five up.

Last season, I was at a Sox-Rangers game at Fenway. It was Lester's first start. I'll never forget this group of college-aged dudes to the right of me heckling Gary Matthews, Jr. We were sitting right by the visitors' dugout, and every time Gary came off the field, these guys would be all over him. I remember my girlfriend and I trying to figure out why these guys hated Matthews so much. It definitely wasn't random heckling. You have to figure he did something to be singled out, right? There were definitely no racist remarks. If there were, we and/or others around the area would've gotten them tossed. But they seemed really pissed.

Now, Matthews has said some pretty bad stuff about Sox fans--and I wonder if whatever went on that day had anything to do with it. As per the common tactic, he went the "say Yankee fans are better to make us mad" route. Because nobody actually thinks Yankee fans as a whole are "couth." Cyn did a great post about all this today. You can see why I call that one section of Yankee Stadium the "Bleacher Cretins." What you see in the video she shows is not a one-time thing or "one bad apple." It's just the way it is out there.

So, Gary, I hope you have fun in a few years when you finally put on your Yankee pinstripes and talk about how you "just"feel something special deep inside." It'll be even more fun to root against you then. In the meantime, enjoy Fenway this weekend! We'll show ya "couth"!


Above: A previously unseen photo of Matthews from our sweet seats that day last June.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Phil "Scooter" Rizzuto Dead (Or "How To Get The Words "Ass" And "Nuts" Into A Memorial Piece")

Holy cow, the Scooter is really gone.

It's safe to say that the TV announcer's voice that I've heard the most in my life is that of Phil Rizzuto's. If you're not from the tri-state area, you probably know him from either:

A. His voice in that Meat Loaf song. (I remember Phil once saying that Loaf, that huckleberry, tricked him into doing it, as he was unfamiliar with the whole "going all the way around the bases" euphemism.)

or B. That scene in Billy Madison where Miss Vaughn shows up Billy by giving him a word with those tricky Zs in it to write in cursive on the board.

or C. His playing career--that was a little before my time.

or D. The Seinfeld episode where Goerge gets a Scooter bobblehead doll and loses it under the street. [Edit: was the talking keychain doll, not a bobblehead. Thanks to the prick who corrected me on this. I'm not sorry I disappointed you with this post, Mr. Anonymous. (Who I know from my statcounter is that same old TrotMan7, workin' for that same company that starts with M. I'm gettin' real close to callin' that guy's boss. Good to know he still checks in with my blog that he hates so much, so often.)]

But I used to hear this guy every night. (Okay, whenever we didn't have the sound off because we were listening to the Red Sox game on the radio.) My memories of him go beyond "holy cow" and him talking about his wife, Cora, and his tales of leaving the game early to "get over the bridge."

I just hear his voice saying things like, "LLlow," to describe a pitch, preceded and followed by about a minute of silence. And when a ball would be headed for the fence, he'd sometimes say that the hit "didn't sound right," meaning the ball wouldn't carry out of the park. Or when he said Ed Jurak doesn't pronounce the J like a normal J because "that's how those huckleberries in New England say it." Or when a ball would hit the catcher in the nuts, upon seeing a replay, he'd say, "Oh, it rung the bell!" Or him calling his colleagues by their last name. Bill White="White." Tom Seaver="Seava."

Of course, I also will never forget those classic Money Store commercials. "Holy cow, the Money Store does it again! With rates as low as seven and a half pa-cent. That's right, seven and a half pa-cent!" And if they ever come out with a "Best of the Scooter" DVD, buy it. Trust me. They used to do montages of his "finest" work during Yankee rain delays on WPIX. (When they weren't showing Twilight Zones!) This guy once said a ball was gone, renegged and said it wasn't gone, then went back to his original prediction, all while the ball was in the air. It was like watching a game with your buddy who was rooting for one side.

Scooter was a big-time homer and a less-than-stellar announcer. But he was quite a character. I'll give him that. And I swear to Ken Coleman, if those Yankees use this to rally around, I will kick their asses.

When I was 6, we were asked to choose nicknames for ourselves, to be placed on the back of our Little League uniforms, which were just T-shirts. Mark Giacoia chose "Slider." I chose "Scooter." Not because of Phil, but because the Red Sox second baseman, Jerry Remy, was sometimes known as "Scooter," too. My dad didn't allow me to have that nickname, because to him, it was a Yankee nickname. I can't blame him for that call. Ironically, Remy went on to become, essentially, the Phil Rizzuto of the Red Sox--the little, lovable, offbeat announcer who used to play for the team, who's there with you every night. In a few more years, by my estimate, the "other Scooter" will pass Phil as my most-heard TV announcer, as I'm finally able to get the Red Sox on TV these days.

Scooter, we'll miss you--as your Yanks will miss the playoffs.

Up Four Anything

Great job by Wake tonight. NESN's camera-delay ruined this one for me, like they did the last one. You could hear Orsillo's voice indicate the ball was going into the hole before we even saw that view. Granted, it's gonna take a split-second for the camera angle to switch after the batter hits the ball--and that's why they do that, so that the ball's not in the outfield by the time we're seeing the angle that shows it. But it causes the problem of the announcers being a split-second ahead of every camera except for the center field one.

I like how our starters have been doing lately. Since Lester pitched last, the four other dudes have given up 4 runs in 29.6 innings. Two of those came after Lowell missed that ball with two outs in the ninth on Saturday, and one was thanks to that Lugo play on Sunday. And now we get Lester for the first time at Fenway, against the D-Rays. Should be a confidence booster for him. And assuming Gagne goes back to what he's supposed to be, we do have that great 'pen. And pitching's the key. So we're lookin' good. Best record in baseball. We can't control what the Yanks do.

Although, I like to think my mind has been controlling Mariano lately, as he's done extremely shitty in his last two appearances. Tonight, he blew the save, but the Birds put in Bradford, who promptly hit a batter to start the Yanks' ninth inning "rally," which culminated in a Jeter grounder that, had it hit a dandelion, would have bounced back off the weed and taken itself and gone home crying. Bradford nicked it, it went to Roberts, and the winning run came home from third. The day before, Mo, claimed to have been "money in the bank" by Sterling, almost blew it, and would have, had the Indians known to just get the bat on the ball--two sac flies would've tied it.

So, like, I assume you don't mind my complaining about these things which I've complained about all year long, now that they're four back, right? I've enjoyed this season, but I always keep tabs on those A-holes, and if all these little bullshit plays that seemed meaningless at the time had gone the other way, they'd be 20 games out. That's why I try to will the Yanks to lose at all times, no matter how many games back they are. But this season feels like '04--the way that if you watch the Yanks, you can see that their pitching will disappoint in the end (if not before). And you can see that the Sox are capable of beating anyone, you just hope they turn it on at the right time. But knowing they can, and knowing they've still got the best record, makes me eve more confident than I was during that long stretch in '04 when people really doubted them. I knew they had a good chance of pulling through, and I knew their main competition had a good chance of choking. This year feels like that year. Good sign.

Of course, I say this stuff every year, don't I? Quit grillin' me under these hot lights.

That Mr. Opportunity voice--that's Matt Gallant, isn't it? Remember, MTV News...and, uh...that wacky animal blooper show.... I think it's him.

Great moment before the Yanks game tonight. A-Rod got this big, weird-lookin' bat-related award with a big 500 on it. It was sitting on an easel, and the whole thing fell over. That's clutch.

A better moment came in the Sox game, when Papi was nearly hit in the foot by a pitch. He ended up on the ground, completely stretched out, balancing on his arms. He paused a second, then, realizing he was in "push-up position," broke into the push-ups, to the delight of the crowd. Only his "rundown hug" beat that moment.

Finally: A few weeks back, the topic of one of the two offcial hounds of RSF/PT, Jhonny Peralta's dgo, was revisited. Fittingly, the Sox recently played in the home of the other OH-RSF/PT, Lampy, Seattle's lampshade dog. Lampy's doing well, although it appears there's a puke line going down the bottom of his lampshade. I grabbed a screenshot during that series. Check it out:


My pics from Saturday in Baltimore are below. And the video of Camden's crazy vendor is here.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Sox @ Baltimore, 8/11/2007

This post is dedicated to the memory of Casey the cat.
Took my third Camden Yards trip this weekend. The first was with Chan, April 2002. (video stills from that day here.) The second was with Pat, August 2003, which I wrote about here, and then provided a special video of here. (I also have still pics from both trips, which I still have to post someday. Keep in mind I hadn't started this blog yet at the time!)

This time, my girlfriend and I drove down--our friends in Philly got us the tickets and we stayed with them the night before. Pics of me on the Rocky steps to come later.... Click these to embiggen. Above: on Eutaw St.

One of my favorite features of Camden--the little markers where all the Eutaw St. homers have landed. Here's an Ortiz blast. We also saw a Carl Everett one, and years ago I took a shot of a Mo Vaughn one.

Looking the other way down Eutaw. Incredibly, an Oriole fan is visible. Five years ago, it was amazing how many Sox fans would fill Camden Yards. In 2007, it's no different than a home game for Boston. There was once a time when O's fans would try to boo down the chants and cheers of Sox fans. They can't even do that at this point because they just aren't there. The scoreboard says "Let's Go O's," which is read by the crowd as "Let's Go Sox." At the seventh inning stretch, it's "...root, root, root for the Red Sox." With two outs in the ninth and the Sox winning, the crowd is on its feet cheering for the final out. I counted three Orioles fans in our section--including the one we were there with. So much for whoever it was on EEI three years ago wondering if "interest in the Red Sox, let's say three years from now, will wane." Not only do we still sell out Fenway, we still sell out Camden Yards. The O's should try making tix available to only Maryland-area residents for the first few weeks or something.

Varitek: "This guy again? I look the same, dude."

Tavarez, Papelbon, and the area where we'd sit for the game.

A scorcher in the Charm City. Once the shade hit us a few innings in, though, it was quite the perfect day.

Dustin Pedroia. Looking up and to the right.

This is what the back of the field level seats look like.

That's not Pedroia in left, that's Timlin's kid (or whoever that kid is that always hangs around him), making nice catches as usual.

Beckett planted this ivy, then stretched for a really long time.

The many fine moments in Orioles history.

Papi during America's "Oh, Canada."

Ratio of Sox fans to O's fans: Approximately all to none. (I originally took this shot thinking, "Hey, I'll see if I can take pics of jerseys of the entire '86 team!" Until I realized nobody would be wearing a Joe Sambito jersey, etc.)

I used to have this painter's cap! (Still do, actually.)

The two most recent Red Sox to wear number 15.

Our sweet view, looking right down the line.

Beckett on the hill.

One of 1.5 million shots I took of Manny. It's fun to watch him all game long, the way he messes with his glove and his hangnails and waves at the crowd. The life of an outfielder is a boring one.

Sox fan Nick Markakis. I love that diagonal shadow behind him.

The foul pole to foul pole view.

Jay Payton, who I loved until he made that comment that the Sox and Yanks were the same (don't get me started on that again), after throwing the ball back in. Manny stops at third.

Close-up of the left field foul pole.

Does Millar know there's a giant bird above him?

Beckett and the bird through the foul pole.

Gagne, who Lugo'd two games for us in this series, and Pap, heading for the 'pen.

Manny and Coco.

Finally, a shot of Manny looking our way.

Manny up with Youk on third.

Manny glove-waving to someone in the crowd.



Two shots of Coco and his bird friend.

Tavarez heads back to the 'pen after warming up Wily Mo.

Pena, who replaced Manny in left. I finally got a shot of him with his tilde ON the nameplate. Gagne's accent mark is ABOVE his nameplate.

The crowd stands and cheers for Beckett, a strike away from a complete game shutout. Instad, Lowell missed a grounder, then he lost the shutout, and the complete game. MDC came in, and it was suddenly a little scary as he walked his only hitter. Pap came in and shut the door on the 6-2 victory. Unbelievably, this was the only game Papelbon pitched in. On Friday, after Lugo's "nice play, don't ever do it again"-style bunt led us to a 5-1 lead in the eighth, Gagne blew the game, and Pap never got a chance, as the O's won in the bottom of the ninth. That was ridiculous. There we were, consoling the O's fan we were staying with, and they come up with a late rally against our bullpen, which was supposed to never give up another run, nor throw another ball even, for the rest of the season. Then we almost blow game two, and then Sunday, it's another late lead, and again we go with Gagne, who blows it again, and we never get Pap in, as the O's win in extras. My theory that Lugo hates Curt Schilling comes into play again. In the first inning, a double play ball goes right through his legs. We had lots of chances to pull away in that game, but if Lugo doesn't do that, I think we win. That's three games of Schilling's that Lugo has seriously messed up with fielding miscues.

Fortunately, Tampa Bay comes to town. Before heading down to Philly/Balty, we stopped in CT for a little family party. Plenty of swimming in the Sound and Wiffle Ball action. While in Old Saybrook, I noticed this bug that my girlfriend's car, uh, killed, on our way there. It looks like it made a nice, smooth landing on the hood, judging from its final resting position. But it was not to be. So here are two different angles on it. Also, really cool reflections in the hood. Enjoy:




Baltimore Teaser Vid

video
I'll have my Baltimore pics up on Monday. For now, enjoy this video I shot of a crazy Camden Yards beer vendor.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Worst Best Bullpen Ever Ever!

Gagne, don't get on my bad side. I went into this weekend thinking we were just about guaranteed to stay even with the Yanks, minimum. With a good chance of gaining. And we LOSE TWO GAMES in the standings. Terrible job. And at various points of the eighth innings of the three games in Balty, we were up 5-1, 6-0, and 3-1. With the best bullpen in the whole wide world. And we only won one of those games. At least the game I went to in Baltimore was the fun one. Pics to come from Saturday.

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