Thursday, September 29, 2011

At Least the Sox aren’t Gutless Wimps

The Yankees had a choice to make. They could try their best to hold a 7-run lead in the eighth inning and possibly face the Red Sox, or they could blow the lead and increase their chances of facing the Rays. They chose to avoid the Red Sox. Contrast that with the Phillies. The classy team still had Rollins, Utley, and Pence in the game to ignite an extra innings rally. They only took Ryan Howard out for a pinch runner late in the game, just like any of the other 161 games they played. It’s amazing that an organization that everyone claims is so professional would duck and cover like that.

Were the Red Sox eliminated because the Yankees are cowards? Not entirely. They certainly could have taken care of things on their own. All they had to do was win two more games than they did this year, and it wouldn’t have mattered whether or not Girardi can look at himself in a mirror. Frankly, just one more win against the Rays would have done it.

There will be several more posts coming trying to determine just what went wrong. (At the moment, I’m pegging season-ending injuries to the #3 and #5 starters, and clean-up hitter.) But, I’m tired today. Not just because the ridiculous games didn’t decide to end until midnight. I’m tired from an entire season of negativity. Since day one I’ve had to fight people who needed this team to be horrible. They can’t recover from an opening series sweep! They can’t take two of their last three games! They should have known they’d need eight starters and had all-stars stocked in Pawtucket! It’s exhausting to battle idiocy for so long. Looking back, I realize that I didn’t enjoy this season nearly as much as I should have because it was always such a battle with the EEIdiots. This was a great team, and nobody would let themselves believe it. Well, nobody except the Yankees. The Yankees obviously still feared them.

Go Phillies!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Red Sox 1-36:

3 is for…

Game 3 of the 2004 American League Championship Series

Anyone remember what happened during that game? Let’s review, shall we? 2004 Sox fans were riding high. The team that lost the 2003 ALCS was improved and ready to battle. The Red Sox cruised into the playoffs. During the season, they often looked like the best team in baseball. They hardly broke a sweat as they dismantled the Angels in the ALDS. They swept them away in walk-off fashion. Then they came to New York. They were hot. They were powerful. They were favored to win the series. Then, they crashed. In game 1, their supposed advantage laid an absolute egg. The pitching let them down. Curt Schilling gave up six runs in only three innings. The Sox bats were held in check until they tried to come back. But, the damage was done. The Sox had another ace ready for game 2. But, despite that fact, bad luck, and bad breaks, and inept hitting put the Sox down 0-2 in the series. But, they were coming home. Things would be betting in Game 3. Damon would find his groove. He had to, right? Speedy free agent outfielders can’t be lousy forever. What happened? The Sox were smothered in game 3. That’s not even the right word for it. Never had it been clearer that the Sox were just overmatched. That they were cursed. I can’t remember a time when any team looked less likely to even keep a game close. Of course, we all know the significance of game 3 of the 2004 ALCS. It was the last game the Red Sox lost that postseason.

The switch was turned the very next night, by a stolen base of all things. Suddenly, the hitters remembered how to hit. Overnight it seemed. Suddenly the pitchers remembered how to pitch. Just like that. The Sox went from a team that couldn’t do anything right to a team that could do nothing wrong. When they needed the wins, they got four. Once they got going, even the National League champions were powerless to stop them. The team went from being painful to watch to the greatest joy in the history of Boston sports. Overnight. Sometimes you need to hit bottom to make the climb to the top more enjoyable.

3 is for game 3 of the 2004 ALCS.

Monday, September 26, 2011

And the Magic Number Drops Again!

The magic number for the Red Sox to reach the playoffs is 3 games. Three. With three games to play. As lousy as they have been this month, they still sit controlling their own destiny with three games to play. And, what a way to knock a game of that magic number!

If you was a turning point, how about Jacoby Ellsbury’s 3-run home run last night. The Sox were in a must win situation. They did NOT want to lose, and fall into a tie with the Rays. I have to give the team a ton of credit for hanging in there. They battled back. They had a great game. They pulled it out. Ellsbury doing his best impression of Carl Yastrzemski had three home runs yesterday in the double header. None were more important to the Red Sox season than the one in the nightcap. There were plenty of chances to simply pack it in. Last night’s victory showed the heart that so many people assumed was long gone. It was just fantastic.

Now, there’s still work to be done. The victory did have two rather annoying effects. The Sox yet again had a long night before needing to travel. Hopefully they’ll be able to recover in time to take care of business tonight. The game also wiped the Yankees out before their series in Tampa. I wouldn’t expect much help from them tonight.

Speaking of a lack of help, I have been pondering a question. Russell Martin is on record saying he hates the Red Sox. He doesn’t want them in the playoffs. He’s ready to do whatever it takes to keep them from making it. I have to wonder. If the Rays score the winning run because of his error, or he strikes out looking with the tying run on base, does the commissioner’s office need to investigate? Is he saying he’s going to throw games? At what point does coincidence trigger something larger? Does he need to play hit butt off in these three games to prove the fix isn’t in? I know the Yankees as a team aren’t trying. They’re resting players. But, not trying to win is different than trying to lose. I would think that Martin set himself up to straddle that fine line this week.

The job for the Red Sox this week? They need to win these next two games. They need to ride the momentum. They need to remember that they’re the Red Sox, and that they’re playing Baltimore. Hopefully the Rays will drop one of their next two. That makes the Wednesday game meaningless. That way, Lester doesn’t have to start on short rest and the rotation is set up perfectly for the postseason. The Sox just need to take care of business. This is where the fun comes in.

Just win!

Saturday, September 24, 2011

List of 36

Not too long ago, I noticed that someone stumbled upon this blog by doing a search for “Red Sox conversation starters for girls.” Naturally, this led to two questions. How did they find this blog looking for that? Second, what were they actually looking for? Was it pick-up lines to use on girls? Was it pick-up lines for girls to use on guys? Was it something girls could use to start a conversation without sounding like a pink hat? Naturally, I wanted to help. After all, if they were coming here anyway, I might as well have the answer for them. Right? But what answers to provide. I eventually decided that the cheesy pick-up lines were more fun to come up with. So, here they are. Some work best on guys. Some work best on girls. Some can go either way. As you’d expect, I’m offering 36 of them. I’m sure there are more.

Pick-up Lines and Conversation Starters

1. Have you ever been to Section 36?
2. Do you know how to score?
3. Do you know a knuckleball grip?
4. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble finding your strike zone.
5. I have fingers like Pedro.
6. Are you a switch-hitter?
7. I could be your bat boy.
8. Is that a “C” on your chest?
9. Want to see my monster?
10. I never thought I would find (name of player on jersey girl is wearing) attractive, until now.
11. I don’t know about you, but I just can’t get enough Sox
12. I’ve been told I know my way around the bases.
13. Have you ever touched Pesky’s Pole?
14. Are you always faithful?
15. Did you know the Red Sox changed their logo in 2008?
16. You must be here from LA, because you’re an Angel.
17. You make my Sox go up and down
18. You know…Jeter’s not the only one.
19. Do you put designs in your grass?
20. When was the last time you scored?
21. And I thought the concession stand had big cups!
22. Can I see your Red Sox?
23. Want to play extra innings back at my place?
24. Can you help me with a role-play? I’ll be Varitek, you be Foulke.
25. I’m drafting a new fantasy team. Want to be my catcher?
26. You better not be a Yankees fan.
27. Will you be the Coco in my Crisp?
28. We must be in Section 36, because you’re a home run.
29. Have you been to Pawtucket? I’m going to have to send you down.
30. I have an extra ticket for tonight. Want to come with me?
31. You know, they call me “big papi” too.
32. Are you a Rich Gedman fan? Because you’re a ten.
33. Can I help you score?
34. I hope you’re familiar with Yaz.
35. I need to make sure you’re wearing a jersey under that Red Sox sweatshirt.
36. Didn’t I see your picture on Pix from 36?

Let me know if they work.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What in the World is Wrong with Everyone?

So, I’m listening to the game last night. The Sox lost when they couldn’t quite score enough runs. Then, as the last out is made, I hear this weird sound in the background. I must have been mistaken. It almost sounded like boos. Boos? The fans couldn’t have been booing this team. That’s not the Fenway Park I know. That’s not the park I was in when we all stood and cheered after the Sox were eliminated from the playoffs for giving us a good run. No, those certainly couldn’t have been boos.

What in the name of Terry Francona would they be booing? Do the fans think the players chose to lose the game? Do the fans think they’re not trying their darndest to win the game? Do they think that boos are going to make a curveball break more than it did before? I thought Boston fans were supposed to be the smartest fans in baseball. That was embarrassing.

There are plenty of times when it is permitted to boo. If a player chooses to wear pinstripes on their uniform…boo them. If they think that Toronto is closer to Texas than Boston…boo them. If they beat their wife before the game…boo them. (assuming, of course, it’s actually true) I’ll even let you boo them if three players stand on the pitchers mound and watch a pop fly fall to the ground. Those are all choices made by the player that you can disagree with. You cannot boo a player just because he’s not as good as you wish he were. Do you think boos will make him better? This isn’t football. Giving it your all can’t change the outcome. Didn’t we always laugh at Steinbrenner for confusing the two sports? The rah-rah stuff doesn’t work in baseball. We giggled to ourselves as he took the credit for turning the team around by giving a speech. In baseball, more than any other sport, effort takes a backseat to ability. So, I ask, what are the boos supposed to accomplish?

Are you frustrated? Fine. I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that people are being so gosh darn irrational about this whole thing. The Red Sox are two and a half games up with six games remaining. Why on earth would I be jumping off a bridge? The magic number has dropped the last three days. The Sox control their own destiny. Isn’t that exactly what you want? It’s all I look for.

I can’t help but wonder what the reaction would be around here if the roles were reversed. If the Sox were 2.5 games back with six left, would anyone think they had a shot? Let me think. When the Sox were down three games with 150 games left, nobody though they had a shot. So, if everyone would be certain the Sox couldn’t make up the ground, why is everyone so sure that the LA Rays will? Or, what if the Yankees were struggling in September. If the Yankees had a 5-15 stretch, would anyone be counting them out? No. All you’d here is about how they’ll turn it around when they need to. Why not the Sox? Shouldn’t it be telling that the national media still picks the Sox to be the wild card?

The best line I’ve heard lately came from the EEIdiots a couple days ago. They were complaining that the Sox were going to never hold off the Rays because they weren’t playing well. Someone commented that the Sox had actually pitched pretty well against the Rays. They were told that it didn’t matter because the Rays weren’t very good. You couldn’t take any credit for beating them. So, let me get this straight. The Rays are too good to be caught. But, you can’t take any relief from beating them because they’re not very good? Which is it? Why is everyone so determined to beat this team down? They’ve been doing it since Opening Day. I’m getting a little tired of it. The Red Sox Magic Number is 5.

See you in October

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Magic Number Drops by One!

That’s right. Say what you want about yesterday’s doubleheader. The end result is that the Red Sox are one game closer to clinching a playoff spot. The Red Sox magic number stands at 8 games. Let’s just keep counting.

That’s the main reason I’m still amazed at all the doom around these parts. I mean, isn’t this the City of Champions? Ten-year old kids have almost had more championships in their lifetime than not. Kids born in the summer of 2004 have seen two Red Sox championships, and one each for the Patriots, Bruins, and Celtics. Incredible. And, still, people seem to treat a two-game lead like a five game deficit. What gives? This is Boston. Act like it!

I know. It used to be eleven games. So? It used to be tied. How about that? Why doesn’t that come up? Since Opening Day, they have increased their lead by two games. Isn’t that the one that matters? What if this all happened in reverse? What if they had done the losing first, then the winning? So, instead of being up eleven in August, they were down seven. Instead of losing nine games they made up nine games. They’d still be up two games at this point. In reality, they did that too. After that 2-10 start that doomed their entire season, they’ve made up ground until they have a 2 game lead. Why don’t people mention that? Why do they always pick the wrong sample sizes?

I don’t care when the Sox lose their games, or when they win them. They are going to end their season with at least 93 wins. They are going to make the playoffs. Does it matter if those 93 wins come in 9 ten-game winning streaks balanced by seven ten-game losing streaks? Or, if they won two games, then lost one, and won two, and lost one. It’s just the way the match-ups happen to fall on any given day. That’s why the baseball season is so long. It balances things like that out. That’s why a sixteen game season would be ridiculous. They need to have enough games to allow water to find it own level. The Sox are still the dominant team everyone thought they were. They’re just going through a stretch at the moment. It happens.

So, if you’re worried about the Sox recent performance you need to ask yourself a few questions. Are you worried about how Kyle Weiland will perform as a playoff starter? Nope. He won’t be pitching. But, the Sox did lose three of his games during this slide. Including two Rays games that really closed the gap. So? How about Sunday’s loss? They got embarrassed, mostly by horrible fielding from Mike Aviles. Does that concern you? Nope. He won’t be the starting third baseman in the playoffs. What about the lack or runs scored yesterday afternoon, or the shotty fielding in left by Darnell McDonald. Concern you in the playoffs? Nope. Crawford will be back in left for those games. The real line-up will be back.

So, why is anyone concerned?

Monday, September 19, 2011

This Could Be Fun!

I actually heard someone on the radio say that as much as they didn’t want to say it, the Sox had to cheer for the Yankees this week. What? What? Why on earth would I ever do that? Now, I admit. I have wished for the team the Yankees are playing to lose before. I have never wished for a Yankees win. I know. It’s semantics. But, I feel better. This isn’t one of those cases. I want the Yankees to lose, and lose big the rest of the season. An eleven game losing streak would be perfect. The Sox just need to play decently.

The Sox have ten games left. The Rays have ten games left. The Yankees have eleven. The Rays and Yanks play each other seven times! So, let’s assume the Sox go a rather pedestrian 6-4 against the Orioles and Yankees. That puts them at 93 wins. In order for the Rays to catch them, they would need to go 8-2. But, in order for them to go 8-2, the Yankees would need to roll over for them…remember those seven games. So, if the Rays are 8-2, the worst they could have done against the Yankees is 5-2. Which means the Yankees were 2-5 against the Rays. That puts the Yanks, Rays, and Sox all within a game or so depending on where the Red Sox wins come from. If the Sox 6-4 includes three wins against the Yanks or zero against the Yanks. The math, I admit, gets a little nutzo.

What does all that crazy math mean? There’s no reason to cheer for the Yankees. Not now. Not ever. The Sox just need to play their game. They need to win more than they lose the last ten games. Lester and Beckett should each pitch twice more. The Red Sox offense gets to play Baltimore. The Sox just need to play their game. After all, even with the moronic start to the season and this incredible slump at the end, the Sox have played .572 ball. That’s the six wins they need out of ten. Just go a do what they’ve been doing all season.

The rest will take care of itself.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Knuckler, By: Tim Wakefield with Tony Massarotti

Tim Wakefield burst onto the national scene as a playoff hero with the Pittsburgh Pirates almost 20 years ago. He fell off the scene almost as quickly. Since then, his career has followed a long but bumpy path, mimicking the bumps and jumps of his signature pitch. This book follows his career as he changes teams, and changes roles. As he hits the highs and lows that are found in any career. How does he handle his success, and his disappointment? How did he last 20 years?

This is a fantastic book. Terry Francona has often said that he think he’s a good manager because he knows what it’s like to be a phenom, and what it’s like to be washed up trying to hold on. Tim Wakefield certainly knows how both of those feel. Those experiences have formed him into the player and teammate he is today. He was a slightly cocky youngster who assumed baseball would be easy. He was almost released before finding a role using the knuckler. He starred with the Pirates. He was released not long after. With the Sox he’s been a Cy Young contender, a long reliever, a closer, and a struggling starter. It was fascinating to see how all those experiences made Tim Wakefield. What did he think of being a closer? Has he been frustrated that the Sox use him as a utility knife? How much does he want to be the Red Sox career wins leader? This book had a great flow to it. Even the factual errors that seem to be present in any book associated with Tony Massarotti couldn’t detract from that. It was a fun read, that I had trouble putting down. Tim Wakefield’s career has a way of sneaking up on people. 200 wins? From that reliever? After reading this book, you’ll see that it never should have surprised anyone. Go read it. Quick.

Rating: 4 bases.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Here We Go!

I’ve discovered the problem with John Lackey. Now, I have no numbers to actually back this up, so I’m just working off of memory and impressions. He always seems to be on the wrong end of things. Sometimes he gets spanked, and just loses it. He gives up a ton of runs and has no business even being on the field. It happens to everyone. Or, he pitches really well, but the Sox don’t score and he gets a loss. Or, he pitches really well but the Sox score a ton and isn’t the story. So, you look back and say he didn’t win much. You remember the bad games. You see the run support and forget that it was just a couple blowout wins. He doesn’t get enough credit for when he pitches well, and too much credit when he doesn’t. He pitched well yesterday. That should be remembered. And, it should be an encouraging sign heading into October.

Daniel Bard did not pitch well. He didn’t pitch poorly. It’s too kind to say he pitched poorly. That’s a couple games recently where he has been an abomination. That’s not great. If anyone on the team needs to find himself again, it’s Bard.

So, where are the Sox right now? By the numbers, the magic number to clinch the division dropped to nineteen despite the loss. Likewise, the magic number to clinch a playoff spot dropped to eleven. The Sox have a four game lead over the Rays. They start a series against the Rays tonight. At the end of the series, the Sox could be eight games ahead.  They probably won’t be. I’ll admit that the Price-Wakefield match-up on Sunday doesn’t make me all warm and fuzzy. Although, newly released from the chase for 200 Wake may just pitch the lights out. Nor am I thrilled with starting Kyle Weiland tonight. Even though he pitched pretty well when he faced the Rays last weekend. If the Sox split, the playoffs magic number will be down to seven with ten games left. Not a bad spot to be in.

Would I prefer that the Sox were 8-2 over their last ten games instead of the other way around? Sure. Although, a big end of the season winning streak didn’t help the Rockies in 2007. I’m pretty happy with what the Sox are getting. The Sox have some time to heal their nicks and bumps. They got their slumps out of the way. Beckett can have a couple games to be a badass again. Go back through the last month or so, and take out every Andrew Miller start. Take out Tim Wakefield starts. Just go with Beckett, Lester, and Lackey. You’re already feeling better. Now, add in Youkilis and Ortiz at the same time. That’s what October will look like.

Not too shabby at all.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Hit Traded!

When I recently posted that I had some “hits” available for trade, I got a couple immediate responses. One of those was from Colbey of Cardboard Collections. He commented that he’d like the Frank Thomas jersey card I was offering. In exchange, he was offering a “GQ David Ortiz jersey.” I was thrilled! It was a textbook trash for treasure trade. Flipping a Frank Thomas Jersey for a David Ortiz? I couldn’t ask for much more. In my excitement, the “GQ” portion slipped my notice. I’m not sure why. Maybe I had the magazine on my mind for some reason. Whatever it was, I was blown away when this beauty fell out of the envelope.

I’m almost glad I didn’t immediately relate the GQ to Gypsy Queen. It made the package all the more exciting. What a great card. A fantastic shot of Ortiz doing what he does best…wasting time between pitches. I like how the shot involves so much movement, but is still not obscured by the jersey piece. It’s a well-composed card.

Thank you Cardboard Collections! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Doom! The End is Near! More Doom! And, Doom Some More!

Yeah, I don’t get it either. Here’s where we sit. The Red Sox Magic Number for winning the division stands at 21 games. The Red Sox Magic Number for clinching a playoff spot stands at 14. Let the countdowns continue!

Did the Red Sox have a great weekend? No. Did the Yankees have a great weekend? No. Did the Rays have a good weekend? Yes. Does it mean much of anything? No.

The Red Sox trail the Yankees by 3.5 games. For some reason, some people seem to think this is an insurmountable lead with only 16 games remaining. Why is it, then, that those same people thing it’s an almost certainty that the Rays will erase their 3.5 game deficit to knock the Red Sox out of the playoffs? Because the Red Sox have lost a couple games? I’m fairly certain every team will lose a few games. I’m fairly certain that every team has lost a few games. Just because a team loses doesn’t mean they’re doomed.

The Red Sox are a good team. No. The Red Sox are a great team. If they lose a game, it doesn’t change that. Are some of the players in a rough patch at the moment? Yup. Are some players playing well at the moment? Yup. Is that always the case with every team? Yup.

A quick look at the numbers should really be enough to quell anyone’s fears. People are actually worried about the Rays catching the Red Sox. The Rays have seventeen games left. An astounding nine of them are against the two best teams in the American League. Six of those nine are on the road. Why is it suddenly a sure thing that they will make up 3.5 games?

Now, I get it. Some time ago the goal of a newspaper changed. The goal switched from reporting the news to selling advertisements. They need to sell newspapers, even when there’s nothing to report. So, I get that reporting “Sox on the way to the playoffs” for 30 days in a row gets stale. They need something else in order to attract readers. So, if there’s nothing there, they need to invent something. It’s the same reason that newspapers in Spring Training report that a player is struggling since he only hit one home run in 15 batting practice swings. They need something. Contrary things sell better than not. So, they can’t say the Sox are cruising to the playoffs. They have to be the ones who will tell you that they might not. Heck, they’ve been doing it since opening day!

It doesn’t mean we have to listen to them.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Free Tickets?

I keep watching games in other parks, and see all the empty seats. I see it over and over, and I wonder…are they giving away free tickets?

I know, it’s a tricky proposal. The idea is to make money. You don’t make money by giving away your product. I get that. But, maybe long term it would make sense. Are they giving them away only to have them go unused? Are they not even giving them? Why wouldn’t they?

The ballpark is there, whether the seats are filled or not. Why not get the butts in the seats. Maybe those butts will buy a hot dog, or a jacket. Maybe those butts will become fans. Maybe it’s a snowball effect.

Having people in the stands makes the experience better for everyone else too. I was at Pittsburgh in an almost empty stadium earlier this year. It was creepy. It was sad. It was uncomfortable. I walked into the empty restroom, by the boarded up souvenir stands, past the closed concessions, and felt like I wasn’t supposed to be there. I could actually imagine that icky feeling being enough to keep people away. I bet it does, in some cases.

Having a full stadium also helps with ticket sales. When I was going to Pittsburgh, I knew I didn’t have to buy my ticket ahead of time. I could just walk up right before game time and get any seat I wanted. In Boston, I know I need to get that seat ASAP. So, I get a ticket way in advance, just to be safe. But, what if the weather wasn’t very good? Would I change my mind? If I have my ticket bought and paid for, I’ll tough it out. If I don’t have any money spent, might as well find something else to do. So, Boston sells more tickets just because they’re always sold out.

Which is the only real problem with giving away tickets. If you can get a ticket for free, why ever buy one? There are a couple ways around that. You could only give away the bad ones. Or you could do a buy one – get one sort of deal. Or, what about a short period where you can buy four season tickets for the price of one, and that offer will stand when you renew every year as long as you have the tickets? Say, one week, or one day, or first 200 people. Imagine if you could get three free season tickets. A family of four would have to consider it, right? The Pirates will be good again. Wouldn’t you want to get in now while the getting’s good? Or, four buddies could get them just by splitting the cost of one ticket. Not a bad deal. I know I’d do it. And that would help everyone.

It would get those butts in the seats, which would create a fan base, which would lead to more ticket sales, which would earn money, which would make the team better, which increases ticket sales onto eternity. It’s a perfect plan.

Unless, of course, these teams are already doing it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Dear Section 36

A couple months ago, I received the following e-mail:

I just wanted to drop you a quick line and get some advice on where to sit in Section 36. I ran across your blog on the web and it seemed like you would definitely be the person to talk to!  Do you know how many rows are in Section 36? I have an option to buy 2 sets of tickets for the Sox/Yanks on 8/30. One is on row 21 and the other on row 11. The price difference is around $28 for the pair. Didn't know if the 10 rows would justify paying the extra money. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!



Right off the bat, I had a little problem. Believe it or not, I have no idea how many rows there are in Section 36. Rest assured, on my next trip to Fenway I will be walking all the way to the top of the section to see for myself. (Especially since a lot of people seem to stumble upon this blog by looking for the answer to that very question.)

The second part of the question wasn’t really any easier. Are ten rows enough of a difference to justify a cost increase? One row difference would be a definite no. Five rows? Ten rows? That’s starts to be a grey area. My advice was to go for it, and get the close seats. As it happens, I have sat in row 11 before, and know they were great seats. I felt it was a good idea to stick with that known entity.

Thankfully, with the game now having passed Brantley wrote back to say the seats were good ones. Even though the Red Sox lost, the game was good, and the seats were worth it. I couldn’t have been happier. I’d hate to have given lousy advice. Brantley was even kind enough to send along some pictures from the game. Go check them out in Pix from 36. Thanks for writing, Brantley!

I hope you’ll keep visiting.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

196, 197, 198, 199, 199, 199, 199, 199, …

Well, the Red Sox did it again. Once again Terry Francona took Tim Wakefield out of a game too early, in order to save him from himself. Once again, the Red Sox bullpen managed to blow it anyway. I don’t know what to think about things at the moment.

Part of me says that this is just everyone trying too hard for Wakefield. They’re just pressing trying to get him the 200th win. Then, it occurs to me. Isn’t that what the playoffs will be like? Was Bard wild because he was pressing? Will he be pressing in the World Series? Is that going to be a problem in October? In the playoffs starters are given a quick hook. Is this showing bad judgment on Francona’s part? Is his hook too quick? Is this going to hurt them in October? It’s easy to say the team is distracted. But, it’s not a good kind of “distracted.” If the Red Sox really wanted Jacoby to reach 30 home runs, and they altered things a little bit, I could brush off any struggles. I could say that the team was just focusing on the wrong thing for a game or two. It doesn’t really mean anything. But, in this case they’re altering things in order to win a game. And it’s not working. That’s not cool.

The only thing I can hold on to is that it is just a little different. Not only are they trying to not lose, they need to hold the lead. But, perhaps if Wakefield were going for win number 201, Francona would let him face a batter representing the tying run. Not last night. Maybe Bard would be a little looser with the bases loaded and two outs knowing that even if the run scores, the game is only tied. That’s my only hope. Although, it’s not a great relief.

From here on out? Maybe the Sox need to try some different things. If a starter gets another 11-0 lead after four innings like Lester did the other night, Francona should pull him and put in Wake. That way, all Wake would need to do is not give up 11 runs over five innings, and he’d get the win. It wouldn’t be ideal, but it would get the milestone out of the way.

Then, maybe, the Sox can just play baseball.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Card of the Week: 2003 Bowman #31

The Bowman cards have evolved into a pretty standard design. A black border. Some sort of secondary color. A picture. Sticking to a design like that does one of two things. It makes the design feel safe, classic, comfortable. Or, it makes it boring. I think, in this case, I feel the latter.

I like this card. It’s a nice tight picture of Wake. The knuckleball grip is clearly shown. I can’t think of a picture that is more classic Tim Wakefield. The border gets out of the way. It has a style to it, that doesn’t go too far. The facsimile autograph isn’t splashed across the middle of the shot. It’s tucked at the bottom next to the position. The name is in gold foil, which is a little annoying when you’re flipping through a stack of them looking for someone. But, a name at the edge like that makes that a little easier.

Nicely done

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Where’s My Head?

Right now, I have no idea where I am. It was a bit of a confounding weekend, Sox-wise. How did I come out of it? I’m not sure.

Let’s get the 1000-pound gorilla out of the way. Josh Beckett better be just fine. It would be possible for the Sox to do it without him. After all, if you take out Beckett, the Sox rotation is pretty much the Yankees rotation. Even so, it’s certainly not the preferred option. So, I’m going to have to move forward assuming Beckett will take the mound in game 1 on the 30th fully prepared to dominate.

From there, did the weekend tell us anything? Sure. Andrew Miller shouldn’t pitch in the playoffs. But, we knew that. Honestly, that’s the silver lining to the whole mess. Andrew Miller and Michael Bowden got knocked around this weekend. They’re not pitching in the playoffs anyway. The people who will be pitching in the playoffs? Beckett, Aceves, Bard, and Papelbon pitched superbly. Bedard pitched just fine from where I sit. Even Lackey, you could convince yourself, didn’t pitch terribly. He was going right along until one big inning. And, many of the runs charged to him scored while he was in the dugout. Not that it excuses it. But, if the inherited runners don’t score, doesn’t your feeling of Lackey’s outing take a dramatic turn?

The offense? If you look quickly, you could be worried. That’s why you shouldn’t look quickly. They got shutout yesterday. That’s true. But, the starting pitcher they faced was a youngster, so they probably didn’t have much scouting to go on. It seems though the years the Sox have had a lot of trouble with similar pitchers for the same reason. Plus, I’ll forgive some sluggishness on a day game following a day game with travel in-between. I just can’t bring myself to worry about a line-up that has three contenders for AL MVP in it. And that’s just the top three hitters.

So, the Sox trail by 2.5 games. Yup. They should still catch the Yankees. They might not. I still can’t decide if I’d rather face Detroit and Verlander, or Texas in a short series. So it really doesn’t matter to me. So, the Sox can just plug along on their way to the playoffs.

Please, just stay healthy.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Why Do the Brewers Have Sausage Races?

I know it’s not just them. I’ve mentioned the pierogi races in Pittsburgh. The Washington Nationals apparently have president races. The Texas Rangers seem to have legends like Sam Austin run around. I’m sure there are others I’m not familiar with yet. My question is, why do they all have them?

And, I know the short answer. Because it’s fun. They want people to have a good time at the games, and this is one way everyone goes home happy. Blah, blah, blah. I think it’s a waste, and not just from a purist angle thinking it’s a tacky thing you’re only supposed to see in the minor leagues. If parks want to have silly races, that’s fine. I just don’t know why they would.

What’s the goal of any baseball owner? Put the butts in the seats. It’s that simple. The best way to do it is by winning games. If you’re not winning, you need to find other ways to do it. I understand that. But, why a sausage race? Are people going to the park specifically to see the sausages? I doubt it. Do they have anything to do with a baseball game, or the Brewers? No. So, why do them? Why not just show the newest Harry Potter movie on the scoreboard during the games? It has nothing to do with baseball either. And, I bet more people would pay just to see it than would pay to see a five-minute sausage race.

If you’re going to have an extra fun activity like that, shouldn’t it be an opportunity to grow your fan base? I was at PNC this summer for a Pirates game. I saw the pierogi races. I thought they were cute. I even bought a pierogi magnet. It’s a corny little stuffed pierogi hanging on the fridge. It’s even wearing a baseball hat. You know what it’s not wearing? A Pirates logo. Any indication whatsoever that it’s affiliated with a major league baseball team. So, in reality, the Pirates almost did their job. The park got me to go to the game. The fun pierogi race got me to buy the magnet. But, it’s not growing from there. When people see the magnet on my fridge, they ask what it is. I say it’s a pierogi, and the conversation drifts into what exactly a pierogi is. Or, they ignore it. But, if it were something with a Pirates logo on it, the conversation would start with, “Oh, you went to a Pirates game. Did you have fun?” And the conversation would be about the Pirates, not pierogies. Or, even better, what if they had Pirate races? Or a Pirate, and a parrot, and a sword? Or just put a Pirates jersey on the Pierogi? What if the sausages wore Brewers jerseys? Or, what if they had stuffed versions of the current players? Then, instead of a pierogi on my fridge, I’d have a stuffed Andrew McCutchen magnet. If kids bought one, maybe they’d become Andrew McCutchen fans, instead of pierogi fans. The Rangers have the legends races. But, only the Nolan Ryan has anything to do with the team. Why? Why not have Nolan Ryan, Michael Young, Ted Williams, and Mike Whitt? Then when a kid asks about the races, they’d be asking about the Rangers. Why is Ted Williams in a Rangers jersey? Was Mike Whitt good? Interest would be piqued. Maybe the kids would read up on these other players when they got home? And the conversations in the stands would be about the Texas Rangers.

Not the Alamo.

Friday, September 2, 2011

A True Genius Move

So, I’m guessing this was the conversation between Theo Epstein and Tito Francona yesterday afternoon in the manager’s office.

Theo: Just make sure the guys go easy today. Burnett may be a Yankee, but we don’t want to show him up.

Tito: Yeah, I know. I was just going to have a team meeting about that. What a month he just had. You hear there’s talk of leaving him off the Yankees postseason roster?

Theo: I’ve heard. Can you imagine that?

Tito: To be honest, that might be bad for us. If we were to meet them in the ALCS, I’d sure like to have that guaranteed win to count on.

Theo: I know but he’s pitching so badly, I doubt we’d be that fortunate.

Tito: Maybe he’ll luck out and have a good start before the end of the year. That might be enough to give the Yankees false hope and put him on the roster.

Theo: I know. One good start... One good start… against, say, the best team in the American League.

Tito: Are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?

Theo: I have no idea what you’re talking about. Go have that team meeting.

It’s the only explanation I can come up with.

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