Friday, June 06, 2008

Sox Anti-Win

Had the game on radio for most of the night. In the first, Colon had to make a throw to second to start a DP. As we know, pitchers eff this play up like 80% of the time. Including this time. The Sox would never recover.

I pretty mich missed our one attempt at a rally, because that inning, the "junior broadcaster" contest winner was a middle-aged man. They even said to him, "it's not often we ask our junior broadcaster what he does for a living." I was so embarrassed for the guy, I couldn't listen. He wasn't saying much, anyway. (Not the trait you want out of a radio announcer.)

After the game, we watched the ninth inning of the Yanks. The mustache brigade lost 2-1, despite Michael Kay's best attempts to will the events of the previous day to repeat themselves. So one minute it was all hope, thinking they'd finally crack the .500 mark, and the next, they were a game under, in last place again.

The Coco Brawl Game Pix!

It was early June, but between the cool weather, the drizzle, and the wind hitting us up in the pavilion, it wasn't the most comfortable of nights. But Kim and I were psyched to get to hang out with our friends who went with us. This was one of the sets of four tickets I got to make up for the ones that got killed by the ticket office.

The game was moved up to 6:05, so people could see game one of the NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers later in the night.

John Havlicek threw out the first ball.

In the first, Manny hit a three-run dong, his 503rd career homer. Oh, when I left for Fenway, the Jays were way up on the Yanks--so I was in the horrible position of trusting the Blue Jays with a lead as I left my car in a 6:00 metered spot on Huntington Ave. They would not hold it. BJ Ryan had a two-run lead to start the ninth, got the first two guys, and then A-Rod hit a grounder that apparently went off the shortstop's glove. Shemp got on, and then Giambi homered and it was over. I'm not gonna worry too much about a game in which Wang shat the bed. They're still 6.5 back and still shitty.

Another pic to add to my "Red Sox Logos in Nature" series! So we're havin' a ball, takin' nut pictures, and waiting for Kim who's still at work. Then Coco Crisp comes up in the second. In the first, Pedroia had been hit by a pitch. I figured that was their retaliation for the previous Coco-related activity. So my camera was off, lens cap on, in the bag when....

Holy shit! Coco charged the mound, and this was the first pic I got, after everyone was out at the mound. Click all these to enlarge. They're in order. It's fun to see who goes where and does what. Actually, the pic below is just a close-up of this one--I just love that person's reaction: "Hey, look what's going on in that direction!"

In the bottom left of this one, you can see someone's face on the ground facing up, with someone on top of him.

Look at Masterson's face!

Maddon and this other guy tried to keep Shields, the pitcher, away, but it didn't work... Shields goes right back in....

...until the umps stop him.

I don't know what the deal was between Manny and Youk, but Manny was right in the middle of things for a while.

Meanwhile, Coco's been buried the whole time, and here they're trying to fish him out.

I love this shot. It almost looks like Tanner Boyle fighting the whole third grade.

Of course, the bullpens got involved. Timlin defended his guys, then walked away still glaring back at the Rays.

I liked how you could see gloves and hats and shoes all over the place. So that was the fight. We were next to the suites, so we could see the TVs, and Oh my lord, that was amazing how Coco avoided the punch! That was like real boxing. Which makes sense since Coco was a boxer. He comes out, see that prick winding up, and then whoooaaaa, he backs off and then counters with a landing blow. The look on that guy's face was like, "How the hell did you do that? How'd you even think to do that?" And then the Tampa cheap-shot machine went into full swing. I loved Coco's interview after the game, too. "They were scratchin' my face like little girls."

Kim didn't arrive until after the fight--but it turns out she'd been looking for us in the regular standing room section and got to see the whole thing.

Back to the game, we had a nice lead, and Jacoby made a great catch, but hurt his wrist on the play and had to come out.

And Youk went into right field.

Chris Carter's first major league at bat.

And Carter gets a hit. First time a Red Sox player got a hit in his first two plate appearances since I was 20 days old.

Night starting to fall.

Dude watching Manny's at bat from the scoreboard.

So we heard that Manny and Youk fought in the dugout, but I didn't see it, even though I had a great view of the dugout. I figured out what I'd been looking at at that moment. This broken bat!

Fenway under the lights.

Night time in Boston.

Wicked Lester only gave up one run, and got the W.

The Main Man Manny, The Maine drink's logo, and the Maine Man Stephen King (far right).

Manny being checked on after hurting himself swinging.

What with the Celts starting, and the crappy weather, and a six-run lead, getting sweet seats at the end of the game was easy. Above and below: Timlin.

Triple F, Cliff Floyd.

The view.

Youk up, Pedroia on deck.

The Celtics were consistenly urged to "go" by Fenway Park, and they would beat the stupid Lakers in game one. We got home in time for the second half....

...though we stayed till the final out.

TJ By Hay May (& Co.)

My photos from last night will be coming soon. But I just wanted to say something. It seems like whenever I watch SportsDesk with Hazel Mae, she says something either totally inaccurate, or just generally gives an opinion that seems way off. And I don't blame Hazel herself--depending on how much of a hand she has in writing the copy. But what comes out of her mouth always seems to be from some sort of outsider's point of view, instead of from the network which shows and is owned by the Red Sox. Do you ever get this feeling? It's like, Hey, if you're unsure, just go over and ask TC or or somebody else who's actually paying attention. They're right there!

Latest example: Last night, Hazel mentions Youk going out to play right field, and adds that it was "his first time ever" out there. You don't even have to be a die-hard to remember that within the last month, Kevin Youkilis has played right field. Anybody who casually tunes in most nights had a good chance of seeing him out there on May 13th. Even if you didn't see it, you still may have read about this rare occurrence in the next day's game story. But if you are the network that shows every game, YOU HAVE TO KNOW THIS. The only excuse I can think for them is that maybe she meant it was his first time in right field at Fenway. But anybody watching that would assume she meant "first time playing the position." Terrible job.

Did That Just Happen?

Click to enlarge. Photo by me.

Last night, when the fan ran on the field, I thought, Aw, man, I could've gone to this game and seen it! But I got to witness a much cooler thing at Fenway tonight. One minute I'm taking pictures of a weird-looking peanut, and the next, Coco's bobbin' and weavin' and blows are raining down left and right. One of the people I was with pointed out that Coco used to be a boxer--and then it all came back to me: His dad was a fighter, and Coco boxed as a youngster. (And went 19-1--I looked it up.)

An action-packed day, which I will sum up/show pictures of tomorrow.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Mariners Hate Love, Love Hate (With Yankee Updates)

Maybe the Mariners should spend less time telling people not to kiss each other and more time telling their manager to stop droppin' F-bombs.

Red Sox vs. DEVIL RAYS tonight at 6:05, not 7:05. I'll be at Fenway for this one. Jays leave 'em loaded in the third, and trail the 29-30 Yanks, 2-0.

Update: Yanks with another squander, and the Jays come back with a two-run dong by the Stair-Matt-ster to tie it in the 4th!

Awesome Update: Jays explode against Wang! 7-2 in the 5th! The first few innings of this game looked like a definite Yankee win. I love it.

Anti-awesome update: McGowan is back to his first few innings self, loading the bases with no outs after his team gives him a 5-run lead. In other news, I re-uploaded my Manny 500 video with better quality. And now it's 7-4 after 5. The Yanks have scored their runs on two sac flies and two ground outs.

Okay, gotta go to Fenway. You're on your own for the rest of this Yanks game.

Bostons Leap To Top

thanks, Shutterbug KrupaIn their last eight-teen innings, Florida's American League reps have looked less like league leaders and more like the yannigans of yesteryear whom the rest of the circuit regularly ransacked in the naughty nineties. The Bostons re-occupied the top floor of the eastern tower with a 5-1 victory at the Fens to-night.

The Franconamen were up to the task again without their jumbo jolter Ortiz, and have prevailed in the last dozen contests played in the Commonwealth. Ma Nature played Misty for the nines, but only the boys in white seemed privy to tricks that allowed for clear vision and dry rags. Chicken necks were hung up in column B by the BoSox, three more than the Sea-Rays' snowman. Boston men of four different faces socked two hits a-piece: The Nimble Native Ellsbury; the Hebrew Hammer Youkilis; and the black-and-white cookie crunch of Crisp and Drew. The hometown "rooters" reveled in this rainbow, which led to a melting pot of golden scores.

Beckett lanced for the locals, scattering seven slaps in six squares. No free bases were given, and five Fish flailed fruitlessly. The Sunbeams scored but once off the testy Texan on a stick-splitting snort to center. Del Carmen and Okajima agreed to do an inning of shut-down when their turn came, and proved not to be fibbers. Hansen locked up shop with a goose egg-shaped key.

The German-gestated Georgian Jackson jousted Josh for five frames, but couldn't stay the hitting of the Boston batters, his throws returned to the tune of six hits and four scores. His mates refused his pleas for help post-deportation, and soon his fifth loss sat lethargically in his lap.

The lack of a legal re-viewing device has been the cause of much wrangle, and was again to-night, when second-sacker Pedroia sliced one seemingly inside the Pesky Pole for a would-be dong. The officials cried "foul," and after a frazzled Francona fought for fairness, the verdict remained uncorrected. The incident did not prove fatal, and at eve's end, the skipper had surpassed rodential ex-Boston chief Zimmer on the all-time Bo-Sox victory sheet. "Tito" now claims 412, and is two shy of the total of Mgr. Williams of a decade ago.

The squads tussle for the first place flag again Thursday at 6 o'clock, sixty minutes early to accommodate the basket-ball championships in this city.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Screw It

I was never a fan of the phrase "words can't describe." That's what words do. They describe. It's even worse when the person who uses the phrase follows it up with...words that describe. Like, "You just threw a no-hitter, how do feel?"* "Words can't describe it, it's awesome."

Now we have something even worse. Something that says to the world "I'm stupid" even more that admitting that you can't think of one word to describe something that just happened in front of your eyes. That phrase, of course, is: "It is what it is."

I just saw a piece on ESPN about the Olympic protests. There were two consecutive clips from Olympic athletes who were asked their opinion on the subject. The first person's answer was "it is what it is." The second person's answer was "they are what they are."

If you don't know, just say so. If you have no opinion or don't want to talk about it, say that. But if all you're going to tell me is that, for example, a piece of shit is a piece of shit, you might as well just keep your mouth closed.

*Maybe idiot sports reporters never coming up with a better question than "how do you feel?" contributes to these ridiculous answers!

Can You Win If You Don't Exist?

"alclem," where are you? Whoever and wherever you are, for picking the exact date of Manny Ramirez' 500th career home run, you have won:

1. A signed copy of Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery by Mary-Ann Tirone Smith and Jere Smith aka me when it comes out this summer.

2. A couple of soaps from Stella Marie Soap Company aka my girlfriend.

Leave me a comment or an e-mail if you exist. Thanks.

Also, I've added a whole new section on Alfred John Smith. It's at the bottom of his post. (The only reason I found this is because I was looking up info for the next Smith, who is also an Al Smith, and came across it. (The Smith after that is yet another Al Smith, too.))

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Red Sox Beat Front-Running Tampas

The slab toed by the cancer kid on the day of his Missouri Monarch mastering was presented to young Lester tonight by head honcho Lucchino. It was a different babe, though, who would take the remodeled mountain for the Bostons at game time. "Bat" Masterson allowed his club's wood warriors to stay close to the Sunshine Foes of Florida. They proceeded to reward him with a four-point play in the sixth, qualifying the rook for his second W.

Amazing Manny returned to the Fens after wowing the home-away-from-home crowd in the Charm City with dong the five-hundredth on Saturday last. And gifts of noise were granted by the Bostonian "rooters." Our friends at the television network were quick to focus on the spectators rather than the spectatee, and would fail to show the Latin Lumber Lord's helmet-doff. A re-play of the occurrence had to suffice for domicile-peekers. Ramirez's one-bagger against Garza set up Lowell, who quadrupled the effort to the flintational delight of onlookers from bleacher to bench.

Right fieldsman Drew was a wonder to watch with the wood as well as the web, smacking a long-one and a half-blast, and tracking down a few deep hits with gazelle's grace.

Delcarmen, Lopez, Hansen, and Papelbon each put in single frameworks, each matching the goose egg of the other three archers. Though the Southerners went Deep on two occasions and matched the Carmines in the hit hall, the final run count was Bostons 7, Tampa Bays 4. The absence of the pickle-pawed "Papi" would not prove a hindrance to the BoSox against the league leaders.

In Fun City, it was the portly preemie, Chamberlain, making the transition from back to front for the Greater New Yorks against the Maple Leafs. A pinstriped pitch limit of six or so dozen was put in place by the brain trust, but the lad didn't even make it that far. By the third, he was but a Bronx Bummer of a memory, and by the end, Team Torontonian had proven too tough for the River Avenue Gang, who again find themselves battling to stay out of the basement, seven games behind the leading Tampas, and six and one half away from the rival Bostons.

Smiths of Baseball: Al Smith (Alfred John Smith)

3. Al Smith. (1934-1945)

The October 12th, 1936 issue of Time magazine states*:

Feeblest of the Giant pitchers was Alfred J. ("Al") Smith. When he had failed to retire three of the four batters to whom he pitched in the third inning, a spectator squealed: "Take out Al Smith and put in Roosevelt."

FDR was president at the time, but had been governor of New York a few years earlier, succeeding the politician Al Smith. I've read enough of these old articles to surmise that either the writers invented witty quips by baseball fans who happened to be within earshot, or crowds were as creative with their heckling back then as writers were with their descriptions.

But the ballplayer, Alfred John Smith, had a fine 12-year career, despite giving up a grand slam to Tony Lazzeri in the blowout that was game two of the '36 subway series mentioned above.

He pitched to a winning record with an ERA around the league average in his four years with the Giants--leading the NL with 4 shoutouts in 1936--before being sold to the Cardinals in December 1937. Later that month, the Phillies claimed him off waivers. After a horrible 1938 campaign, he spent much of 1939 nursing a sore arm with Buffalo of the International League. Cleveland picked him up that September, and he turned in a fine 1940 season, going 15-7 with a 3.34 ERA, and helping his own cause at the plate hitting over .300 in 62 at bats. He would be a staple of the Indians' starting rotation for the next five years. His best season was 1943, when he made the All-Star team and even scored some MVP votes, and finished 17-7 with a 2.55 ERA.

Al never got a World Series ring, his Giants losing to the Yanks in '36 and '37, and getting knocked out of the NL pennant race by the rival Dodgers in the penultimate game of his rookie year, 1934. Young Al pitched in the ninth against Brooklyn on September 29th, but only hurt his team's cause in front of a pro-Dodger crowd at the Polo Grounds. (The linked book also mentions presidential heckling, this time citing fans asking if Herbert Hoover would be coming into the game. Maybe they weren't being creative, but totally obvious. Maybe things haven't changed too much after all.) Then in 1940, his Indians lost the AL pennant to the Tigers in the final series of the season, in a game that saw Birdie Tebbets get knocked out by a basket of tomatoes, but was later allowed by police to punch the fan that dropped it on him!

But Smith was one of the pitchers who put a halt to Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hitting streak in 1941. In three plate appearances against Al in game 57, Joe walked and hit two stinging grounders, both famously fielded by Ken Keltner. And a year after his rancid performance in the '36 World Series, he fared much better against the Yanks in '37, though the first batter he faced, Lazzeri, took him deep again. He got a third shot at Lazzeri, and drilled him.

It looked like Al might have a shot to stay with Cleveland after 1945, but with lots of players returning from World War II, he found himself out of baseball for good. His final line is very Even Steven: An ERA of 3.72, right about at the league average, the same number of walks as strikeouts (587), and had one more of his losses been a win, his career record would've been 100 wins, 100 losses.

Al was born in Bellesville, Illinois--Brian Daubach was also born there--and died in Brownsville, Texas in 1977 at age 69. He was cremated. Uniform numbers worn: 14, 18, 21, 27, 32.

This is the latest installment in my ongoing series, The Smiths of Baseball. Note: I planned on doing several Smiths per post, but I think the players with long careers will get their own post.

*With the good of those old articles, comes the bad of the racism contained within. The first paragraph talks about the guy who waited 12 days, first on line for World Series tickets, noting that food was brought to him by a "colored friend" whom he refused to be photographed with. Terrible job.

[Bonus section, 6/4/08, 1:00 AM: I noticed that retrosheet has the next Al Smith on the list of Smiths (Alfred Kendricks Smith) as having been a coach for the Giants in 1933. (That Al only played one game, in 1926.) While looking into that, I found articles that proved that the 1933 Giants' "coach" named Al Smith was actually Alfred John Smith, i.e. the guy who the above post is about. He pitched for the Giants in spring training in 1933, but then was converted to "coach" to keep the roster at the league maximum of 23, as reported by the New York TImes on May 14th, 1933. For the rest of the season, Al would only pitch in exhibition games, including a 9-3 win over Sing-Sing on September 25th. (In front of a crowd of 2,000 inmates!) He even made the 1933 World Championship team photo, listed as a "pitcher." (see pic) Then he started his career for real the following season on May 5th, 1934. Other articles I found from '33 refer to Al as being from "sidewalks of Kansas City" and "the plains of Kansas." So I guess he grew up in...Kansas City, Kansas? And not Bellesville, Illinois, where he was born. Anyway, I've contacted retrosheet about their mistake, as is my tradition, so you don't have to lose any sleep over it.]


Monday, June 02, 2008

Dumb Night

Sox and Yanks fans were pretty much going through the same thing tonight at the exact same time. We both lose late in a game we maybe both should've had.

Early reports about Papi suggest he'll miss a month but could need season-ending surgery. Which would stink, of course, but like I've said a million times, our lineup is good enough so that if a piece falls out, we can still win. That is, if the pitching holds up. You'd rather lose your best hitter than your #1 starter. Hopefully Papi is back soon.

I love how the night before Joba the Slut makes his first start, the Yanks have to bring in Farnsworth for the 8th inning role, and he gives up the winning run. Maybe he'll blow Joba's start, too!

The decision on the old-timey wrapups: I have decided I want to do them all the time. But I reserve the right to change that. Sometimes after a loss the last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time trying come up with descriptive phrases and wacky nicknames. Then again, isn't that what I've always done? I don't know, it would be cool to be known as, among other things, the blog that does the 1910's-style wraps, but I think I'm still easing into it.

Sox At O's, 5/31/08

Camden Yards, our home away from home. It rained our whole way down to the Charm City, so there was no batting practice.

In one of the restaurants on the main concourse, a few jerseys are hanging up. Incredibly, '80s semi-star Doug DeCinces made the cut along with the HVC and Ripken.

The view from up in our seats. Our bestest Philly buddy got us these, on the club level. Wait service and a great view of the whole park.

Jon Lester going to the 'pen--and popping his bubble if you look closely.

My favorite member of the Orioles' Hall of Fame? Definitely Cheese Sauce. This was on the club level. I walked all the way from one end of the park to the other up here. It's got a bunch of little rooms to hang out in on the outside, facing out, and then all the party suites on the field side. (Our seats were the normal seats in front of the party suites.) And all along, you've got the O's team picture from every year.

Here are the 1976 Orioles, with their black hats with orange front panels, and orange shirts.

Looking out at the football stadium from club level.

The 1954 Orioles--a year after moving from St. Louis. They finished 57.5 games out, but they had great socks. And check out the O in Orioles.

View of the warehouse and scoreboard (and revamped right field board) from out on the far left field edge of club level.

From here you can see the location of my famous (in my mind) near-capture of an Ortiz dong. This section is now closed off unless you have a ticket for it.

The batter's eye/batters' eye.

The classic Papi leg stretch.

The Oriole wears stirrups!

Jacoby in a weird straight-legged position.

Papi at the plate.

Jacoby's last step before sliding into third with a stolen base.

Manny on the proverbial day of his daughter's wedding.

Look, I found an Orioles fan! Look closely.

A little spot of sunlight gave Manny a shadow.

Papi crosses the plate, completing back-to-back dongs by he and Dustin. I've seen them do that twice now this season.

Manny swings.

Now it is night.

Manny swings at night.

Pee-Wee on the board!

The outfield at night, with Manny in the foul pole.

With Papi up and Manny on deck about to hit his 500th home run, the infield was half in, yet shifted.

So after Manny's 500th (click here for my video), in the commotion, a lot of people started looking behind us. We turned around to see Doug Flutie in the party box! And they seemed to be making bets. You can see money in his buddy's hand in this picture. Later, on a Lugo walk, they all whooped it up, and I turned around to see everyone handing Flutie money! A BC guy involved in gambling, that sounds normal--but betting on Lugo? Come on. Talk about a hail mary. But Lugo came through for him.

Okajima's craziness.

And the home crowd celebrates after the Red Sox win.

Outside Camden Yards after the game. What an awesome night. There was an Oriole couple behind us, and the guy kept ripping Manny. He even said that "any Red Sox fan can tell you he's the weak link in the outfield." Then he came out with this gem: "Boston would be better off if they'd just DH Manny." At that point I said very loudly that maybe that way we'd even win a World Series or two. And then the guy next to him pointed out to him that David Ortiz is our DH. So it was so incredibly sweet that Manny hit his 500th and that dude just had to sit there while his own park went completely nuts.

We got the win Sunday, too, so tonight we go for the sweep with Wakefield.

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