Saturday, May 04, 2013

Chicagoes Everywhere

Red Sox lose 7-0. Yanks lose 2-0. Orioles lose 4-0. Jays lose 4-0. Rays do something different. I wonder when the last time four of the five A.L. East teams were shut out on the same day? I wonder if every team in any given division has been shut out on the same day. Or shut out other teams. Someone look it up. I have to hit the sack, it's like three in the morning.

Saturday night, 8:05, Lackey against Ogando.

Friday, May 03, 2013

I Honestly Do

My "musicians who recently died" playlist:

Gotta lead off with Richie Havens.

Then Divinyls set the table...with fruit, and then kick it on the floor with knee-high boots.

Kriss Kross dumps some rap & bullcrap....

And Slayer takes the final swing.

You can add in your own P-Funk or George Jones if you want. I think Jones is from the era of country that's acceptable for those with teeth to like, but I'm not sure.

P.S. Bonus connection to the previous post: Dana Carvey did a character based on his brother. This would become the inspiration for Garth Algar, who teamed up with Mike Myers' Wayne Campbell character. One one episode of Wayne's World, Wayne talks about Kim Basinger: "I don't want anybody else, when I think about Kim Basinger I touch myself."

SOX @ Rangers, 8:05, Doobie against Holland. Too bad Dempster pitched last night--it woulda been the battle of the Harry Caray impersonators!

New Beginnings, New Beginnings

New background at! A sunrise shot of Fenway. This looked like it might be impossible to figure out at first...and it might have been, had I not recognized the photo. I remembered that on the day of the Home Opener, the team sent out an e-mail with a picture of Fenway at that morning's sunrise. I think they did it the year before, too. Anyway, I went back to April 8th in my inbox, checked the photo, and it matched. And since that e-mail included the time of day on the photo, we know that, too. The answer is: 6:35 a.m., April 8, 2013.

As for the special background for the scoreboard page, which I asked you to try and figure out a few days ago: Nobody entered, so nobody won. Here's how I figured it out: Instead of trying to find a day that matched the pitchers' numbers of the two games shown on the board, I looked at the standings. It was fading to black at that spot, but it seemed like it showed 1, 1, 1.5, 3.5 in the games behind column. Figuring this had to be very early in a season, I started with this season and checked the early standings. No match. Went to 2012, and found it. April 20th, standings matched. (Actually end-of-day April 19, so that's how they'd appear on the scoreboard on the 20th.) Then went to the other games, checked the pitchers' numbers in the ATL-ARI and PHI-SD, and they matched too. Actually I only checked one since I was certain at that point based on the fact that those teams were playing each other. So that pic was from the 100th anniversary of Fenway's first official game. If you could pan up from that spot, you'd see me in the Monster Seats.

The post title I use above is one I've used before. If you don't get the reference, you probably think I'm being all serious, or at the very least, quoting some super-serious song or movie. But it's really from this.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

The Water Will Run

That was a bigger win than my subconscious seems to be letting on. Tight game all the way, and several chances for the Jays toward the end. TazManiac gets out of the 7th with bases loaded; Ue "Scarlett O" hara blows away JP Lix and the Soured Melk Man with the tying run at the plate to end the 8th; and Hammer sounds the bell because school's in, sucka, getting three quick outs after letting the leadoff man get on in the 9th. It was a nice surprise to get that game-ending DP. For some reason I just wasn't thinking it, but rather thought "get this guy and then we're one out away."

So we're the first team to 20 wins, at 20-8, 2.5 up on the idle Yanks. And 10.5 over the preseason champion Blue Jays!

Carp-athian had another big Hit-tite tonight, though his average dropped to .464.

Whenever David Ross is batting, I think it's Mike Lowell for a second.

Papi's note he held up to the camera said, to the best of my memory, "Saludo a Robinson en Villa Juana." Anyone who took the mandatory third-of-a-semester of Spanish in 6th grade (per East Ridge Middle School's policy circa '86) knows that he was basically saying hi to someone named Robinson in a place called Villa Juana. A quick check on the town name tells me it's a section of Santo Domingo, which would make sense. It's funny how Remy was clueless. Come on, at least know that Robinson means Robinson! [P.S. In Jane's Addiction's "Stop," didn't you always think it was weird how the girl at the beginning says "Juana's Adiccion" instead of "Adiccion de Juana"? There's no apostrophe-S in Spanish! Maybe there's an exception for proper names....]

It was funny when Papi stuck his finger in Salty's ear. Did anybody ask what that was about?

Don and Rem moment of the night: Remember when (I think) Drew bluffed toward second? It seemed like an obvious, pre-planned bluff. He took a fake running step or two, followed by the big-step-and-stop a la Ike Hilliard (keep it rolling for the replay, he not only fools both defenders but the cameraman). Yet Remy kept going on and on about how sometimes you don't get a good jump and you have to stop and go back. To me it was obvious from the get-go, as you could see him stop on the live shot before they cut to the home plate view. (Yet Don--who's AT the park mind you, was still fooled and originally said "he's going" before realizing he wasn't.)

Don and Rem other moment of the night: I know we all get excited on a strikeout where the ball gets away and the guy runs to first, before we realize that there was a guy on first, and there were fewer than two outs and therefore the batter is out regardless. All I'm saying is, it took Don *quite* a while to realize this. I do think that some of the blame when it comes to these guys' skills goes to the fact that they are forced to read so many ads and promos at a near constant rate, it's kind of hard to pay attention to what they're presumably supposed to be doing. I'm just talking about their actual game-announcing. I still love it when they goof around and laugh hysterically.

Two Random Fenway Things

1. We all, meaning some of us, know that in the lower seating "bowl" at Fenway, you can go anywhere, unlike at most other ballparks. The exceptions are the owners' boxes on the home side of each dugout, and, for the last few years, the two field box sections behind home plate. I've always been under the impression they did that to stop fans from going down there to wave at the camera while talking on their phone, and worse, standing up at the same time. This year, I've been noticing way more of the "I clearly don't have a ticket in this section" types behind the plate during broadcasts, so I wondered if they finally went back to leaving these sections unprotected, like all the other field boxes. At my last Fenway game, I was walking around there toward the end of the game, and I'm pretty sure there were no guards at their old stations, and that little chain was down. So I'm not 100%, but we may have the old freedom back. I'll have to try and sit down there next time.

2. Last Sunday, while the Astros were taking BP, one of the grounds crew was walking along the warning track in left field, pushing a wheel barrel/barrow. Hitter lines one toward the Wall. It's right near the guy. He sees it's going just over his head so he doesn't flinch, just keeps right on walking. Ball clanks off wall, goes straight into his wheelbarroewl and stays. He doesn't break stride. All the Astros cheer. It was probably the highlight of their year.

Sox/Jays, latex game, 7:07. Then it's off to Tejas.


10-1 win tonight. Still best record in baseball. Still up 2 on NY. Napoli hit two mammoth dongs tonight. You'd think after NESN missed the first one landing, they wouldn't have made the same mistake on the second one. Remember, this is the same network that sometimes shows the goddamn moon on balls that end up being caught shy of the warning track.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Today's "Other" Batting Practice Moment

I shot this video during BP at Fenway on Sunday. It's Astros pitcher Paul Clemens throwing a ball into the stands. And the kids take waaaay too long to retrieve it. Check it out:

I'll set the scene: this unrelated Clemens threw a ball to the crowd early on, and also made himself known as a fun-loving player (things like dropping his glove and sarcastically clapping for the batboy for catching a ball he threw to him), therefore becoming a fan favorite. At one point, some boy scouts halfway up the bleachers get his attention, and he throws the ball up there.

0:05: After a wind-up, he realizes the kid he's aiming for isn't paying attention, so he throws his arms up, as if to say "do you want the ball or not?"

0:10: He's got authorization, so he heaves it. (I love when players throw balls to someone beyond the front row.)

0:14: Ball hits stands (look under the Dunkin' Donuts sign), and bounces way up, and a few rows down. One scout almost gets the rebound but it's just out of his reach. Kid in his party (we'll call him his brother) immediately runs out to aisle to go down a few rows to try and get ball.

0:24: Kids approach ball from all sides as the original scout seems to see ball a few rows below him, and starts directing his brother to where he thinks it is.

0:30: Scout still pointing (as opposed to just climbing over rows to GET THE BALL); brother in area but still not seeing ball; kid in black now climbing over rows, coming from below; second scout over at aisle going up towards the correct row.

0:32: With this ball now in the stands for FIFTEEN seconds already, I pan back to the field, where Clemens is still watching the action.

0:36: Back in the stands, the original scout FINALLY starts climbing over rows. It is my contention that he's seen the ball the whole time and, maybe since the original toss was meant for his brother, has deferred to him, and decided to just direct traffic while assuming no one else will get there first. Now he's realized the brother just isn't seeing it, and other kids are swarming, so he makes his move. His reluctance to climb over rows up until this point may have been due to his diminutive stature, but he's just gotten over his fear by necessity. Let's watch...

0:40: Scout has made it down over three rows, and here we realize the ball was well to his left. It's in his sights...but it's in other peoples' sights, too.

0:41: THE FINAL BATTLE: Let's reset the scene: SCOUT is almost there, he's actively going for the ball. BROTHER (white shirt, possibly original target) is wasted away again in Margaritaville, having been clueless for several seconds. SECOND SCOUT who had come from the aisle has raced along the row from right to left, his sights seemingly on the sphere. And THE BOY IN BLACK, who was seen earlier climbing up over rows is right there in the scrum.

0:42: The ball made first contact with the stands at the 14-second mark. Here we are, nearly THIRTY seconds later, and finally, the snag has been made. And your winner is...THE BOY IN BLACK! He holds the ball up high and runs out to the right to the aisle.

And what a journey it was. Let's go back and look at the path this boy took. As early as 0:14, he can be seen BELOW the tunnel, just standing and looking up the seats. At 0:17 he realizes he might have a slim chance, and he bolts left and then up. He's at the top edge of the tunnel at 0:24, but he pauses here, surveying the damage. As another kid to his left starts climbing over a row, he does the same, probably figuring if he's gonna get beaten on this, it better not be by someone right next to him. He makes great strides from 0:24 - 0:31, climbing five rows in the "seat to seat" fashion, which involves pushing each spring-loaded seat down with your foot as you go. At 0:31, aided by the original scout, he starts moving left while still trying to spot the actual ball. When I pan back to the crowd at 0:36, he's seen climbing some more. Up a few rows, then to the right, at which point there's some controversy: was the ball kicked to the right when everybody converges on it? Either way, he runs even farther to the right, to a point way off from where original scout had been pointing all along, and picks up the ball.

Folks, this was a 28-second, 16-row, mid-section (no aisle used) climb, in traffic, to get a baseball. Let's congratulate BOY IN BLACK. I hope this blog entry finds that kid, whoever he was, and finds him well. I feel a little bad for the original scout and his brother, but when you've got 30 seconds to get a ball that's within a few feet of you, you gotta make it happen.

It's also a lesson. When you're snagging balls, and one is anywhere near you, start moving towards it. You've got nothing to lose. Don't give up until someone else is holding the ball. This kid who got the ball never gave up. But who's gonna get the attention today? Not this kid, but the dimwit reporter who almost got killed by a ball the day before this because she was busy facing away from the field taking a picture of herself in the freakin' power alley while righties were hitting.

Almost A Really Fun One

We went down 4-0 early thanks in part to our own mistakes. People probably thought it was a wasted night. Not me, but normal people. We made it 4-3, but again they pulled away at 6-3. But we kept coming back, and Papi's rocket shot 3-run double put us up 7-6 in the 7th. Tazawa got the first two outs in the bottom half, but a walk to Bautista and a dong by Encarnacion gave them the lead again. Jays end up winning 9-7. Our five-game winning streak is severely warmed bread.

Was just noticing the date, and since it's now officially "May Day," I thought of a jersey I recently saw someone wearing on the street. It was a Cheers-themed jersey. It was pretty spiffy--with the logo on the front, a gold-and-white look if I remember correctly. The back said "Mayday" in honor of May Day Malone. But that's where it all goes haywire! The number below the name? 7! Everybody knows Malone wore 16 for the Red Sox! Then again, I guess you could say this is the jersey Sam wore in some mythical softball league that the bar participated in. But even in that case, he'd surely wear the number he wore in the majors, right? Unless 7 was taken when he was on the Sox, and he always wanted it, and here was his chance. Should I just move on with my life? Anyway, I can't find this thing online. Is it possible the guy had it custom-made? It was an intricate, well-made piece of clothing, not something you make with magic markers. I wonder where he got it. I wonder why someone who's such a Cheers fan wouldn't know Sam's uniform number? I wonder if the Pacific is blue as it has been in my dreams. I wonder... Oh wait, that's "I hope." Hmmm, maybe I should take that as a sign that sometimes what stays with us from movies and TV isn't what we saw, but what we remembered. Or maybe that jersey-maker thought he was a goddamn genius for making up a Cheers jersey and didn't have the sense to ask anybody if they knew Sam's number!

Moving on to, interestingly enough, the background image of the Red Sox dot com scoreboard page, I figured out the date of the photo. Took me 6 minutes or so. I won't tell you this time. I'll let you give it a shot. Since the page itself has a sponsor, I won't link it, I'll just show you what's visible on the left and right sides, which is all I used to get the answer:

First person to get it right gets to yell at me for not sending out the prizes from the Super Bowl contest yet. Don't worry, they're comin'!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Ultimate Big Deal

Here's the article written by Jason Collins, the active NBA player who has come out of the clozz.

There are two types of homophobes. The ones who are out in the open about their hatred, and the ironically named "closeted" homophobes. This second category has come out with muffled engines roaring, saying how "this shouldn't be a big deal."

First, let's not get that confused with someone like me saying it shouldn't be a big deal. When I say it, it means that I think it's ridiculous that society has pressured people to have to hide who they are in the first place. A utopian version of America would have nobody afraid to be who they are, and nobody judging anybody else based on it, with equal rights for all. But as it is now--as Martina Navratilova said, "We don’t want it to be a big deal, but it is, because we don’t have equal rights."

But when the closeted homophobes spring the "not a big deal" line, they mean something entirely different. They're basically saying, "I don't want to hear about your super-gay gayness, keep it away from me and my wholesome family. And my other wholesome family in Cleveland that they don't know about."

This is the same kind of bigotry we heard when that Boston sports journalist came out. The preposterous notion that an oppressed person simply saying who they are somehow oppresses his oppressors.

A few weeks ago, when there was news that there might be a few NFL players coming out as gay, WFAN's Mike Francessa took a call that went like this:

"Mike, this is ridiculous, society is going down the tubes. I mean, if I saw a gay guy, I would treat him with respect, but I don't wanna hear about this stuff. It's always shoved in our faces, people should keep their private lives private."

At this point, I was hoping Mike would come back with, "folks, I let this call go through so you could hear an example of what kind of backwards attitudes still exist about gay people in 2013." The caller was practically writing an All in the Family episode right there on the air, and I thought Mike was gonna jump all over him. I was wrong.

Mike came back with his Mr. Casual routine, saying, "I can see that." To me, not ripping into a caller like that is tantamount to agreeing with him. Any time the subject comes up, Mike will give it the passing "I don't know why it's a big deal" comment. But again, he doesn't mean it how I mean it. He means that is shouldn't be news, and that "we" don't care about the struggles that gay people have, and that maybe if they'd just stop being so damn gay, they wouldn't have to worry about coming out of the closet.

So next time someone gives you the "not a big deal" line, tell them why this IS a big deal. Especially if you're talking with a sports fan, who should damn well know better. Society has a problem. People are afraid to just be who they are, and it's not their fault. We can solve this problem. Steps like "gay guy on the basketball court" are significant. Sports is where machismo lives, and machismo is practically synonymous with homophobia. If we can have a person saying "I'm gay" in a club like that, imagine what things can be like in the everyday world.


Bonus Note #1: I've said this before, but I think the reason homophobia exists is because people hear "gay" and they think "gay sex." The outward gay-bashers aren't reacting to to a guy simply saying "I'm gay," they're reacting to what they're hearing in their head, which is "Men touching men! Penises touching! Male buttholes!!!" If some public figure held a news conference where they unveil graphic pictures of them having sex (with another man, a woman, a dog, whoever), then yes, the proper reaction would be to say "we don't want to see what you do behind closed doors." But a person simply being who they are is not that at all. Not even close. And if it embarrasses you when you see a Pride Parade with men in skimpy outfits kissing each other--first of all, you're missing a great party, and second of all, remember that heterosexuality is flaunted at all times in our society. Remember when you were a kid, and on Mother's Day or Father's Day, you'd ask why there wasn't a "Kids' Day"? What did your parents tell you? That's right, "Every day is kids' day." Gay people aren't trying to push stuff in your face, they're pushing back at the rules and laws and attitudes that have been forced up on them for generations.

Bonus Note #2: I'm glad that the player who came out is one I rooted for! You might not know that I grew up as the state of Connecticut's only New Jersey Nets fan in the 80s. All the other kids liked Bernard King--I liked Albert King. Other kids were fans of Larry Bird--I preferred Otis Birdsong. By the time the early 2000s rolled around, the Nets had partnered with the Yankees, and between that travesty and me wanting to reclaim some of the calendar year back from sports, I had to break off the relationship. But those last few years of my Nets fandom were the years they finally got good, and Jason Collins was our center!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Houston Strong

After we took four out of four from Houston, I decided I'd be happy if they could take one of three in New York. Well, the rest is gravy now, as that Astros juggernaut went into The Bronx tonight and kicked some Yankee ass in the first game, 9-1. Hi-larious. That Houston squad is tougher than they look, eh Yankees?!

So we're three up on NY now.

Doing What We're Supposed To Do (Part 4 Of 4)

I took a risk writing "(Part 1 Of 4)" in the post title after game one. But it paid off as we indeed swept Houston. I was at Fenway in my game-worn Levangie jersey for the fourth and final game on Sunday.

This was my second Fenway trip of 2013, but my first photo gallery. I'll do that other one someday. Above, Nava and the boys are happy after his game-ending diving catch. Now back to the beginning....

Got there a little after 11:00 a.m. using my RSN card. Expected to have endless room to roam out in CF, was some kind of boy scout day! Every boy scout in New England seemed to be there, and they were all allowed in 2.5 hours early. There went my chances of getting a BP ball. (That plus the batter's eye, and the fact that only the Astros took BP anyway.) Above, the Eye to my right...

And center and right field packed to my left.

And blue skies (and flying ads) above.

"Found out about Vigo, the Master of Evil, try to battle my boys? That's not legal."

With our hitters not taking batting practice, the pitchers used the infield for fielding drills and bunting practice. Great to see them have to practice throws to second from the mound, as pitchers routinely throw the ball into center field on that play. Above, Andrew Miller makes the dreaded throw.

This is from what would have been my seat. Even though the sun was really nice out there, I decided to get closer to the field for the game.

Some Astros.

Close-up of their BP hat.

Through the tunnel.

Houston's not doing so hot.

The B-Strong thing is everywhere.

It was Maine Day. Here's a lobster, I assume.

I ended up at various standing room spots until the end when I got really close. Here's a dirty Dustin after a double.

Here's "the jersey" in the dugout.

Uehara on the mound.

Middlebrooks, and the awesome standings.

With a 6-1 lead, I was okay with going for a few in-play shots, super-rare for me as I like to watch the actual game with my eyes.

Old friend Carlos Pena.

Middlebrooks to the right of second in the shift. He actually fielded a grounder over there today.

Napoli and Carlos.

Altuve and Pena. Check out those orange unis.

Ellsbury on deck.


Andrew Bailey finished it out in a non-save sitch.

The focus on the crowd in the background was accidental...I mean on purpose!

Can't complain about this day. It's still April after all. It was the classic "if you're in the sun it's an entirely different experience than if you're in the shade or wind" situation.

I think this might be the only good Astro but I'm not sure.

Walked out of the park at 4:32, in my car at 4:37, facing the right way to leave the area. This pic was supposed to show how close I parked to Fenway (my car is the white one at bottom) but it actually makes it look kinda far away. So, trust me, it was close. And free as you don't have to pay the meters on Sunday. Between my car and the park is a parking lot full of cars who paid $30 each instead of $0.

Anyway, it was a good win, with Lackey pitching great after a shaky first. Drew's brother had a key two-out triple to break a 1-1 tie. Ortiz had two RBI hits, but his 2-for-4 day dropped his average to .516. Carp and Pedroia knocked in the other runs, with Carp now hitting .455. We're an MLB-best 18-7, and lead the Yanks by 2.5, the O's by 3, the Rays by 6, and the Jays by 9.5.

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